Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Towers, John

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TOWERS, JOHN (d. 1649), bishop of Peterborough, was born in Norfolk. In 1598 he entered Queens' College, Cambridge, as a scholar, graduating B.A. in 1601-2 and M.A. in 1606. On 15 March 1607-8 he was elected a fellow, and on 9 July 1611 he was incorporated at Oxford. He graduated B.D. in 1615, and obtained that of D.D. per regias literas on 13 Dec. 1624. Previously he was appointed chaplain to William Compton, first earl of Northampton, and by him was presented to the rectory of Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire, on 11 April 1617. On 11 Oct. 1623 he was instituted rector of Yardley-Hastings in the same county, and on 4 July 1628, being then one of the king's chaplains, he was presented to the vicarage of Halifax in Yorkshire (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1628-9, pp. 190, 192). On 14 Nov. 1630 he was instituted dean of Peterborough, and on 3 April 1634 was installed a prebendary of Westminster. He was an ardent supporter of the royal prerogative, and on 11 Sept. 1637 wrote requesting that the collection of ship-money in Peterborough might be entrusted to him instead of to the sheriff (ib. 1637, p. 416). On 1 Oct. 1638 he was instituted rector of Castor in Northamptonshire, and on 8 March 1638-9 he was enthroned bishop of Peterborough, after numerous solicitations on his own behalf (ib. 1633-4 p. 338, 1638-9 pp. 79, 80, 87, 137, 149, 335, 405).

In his episcopal office Towers showed himself a staunch high-churchman, and zealously supported Laud in his changes in ritual. On 4 Aug. 1641 he was included in the list of thirteen bishops formally impeached by the House of Commons on account of their co- operation with Laud in enactment of illegal canons in convocation, in consequence of which they were prevented from voting while their cause was pending. On 28 Dec., in company with John Williams (1582–1650) [q. v.], archbishop of York, and ten other bishops, of whom nine were among those impeached, Towers signed the well-known protest declaring the actions of parliament in their absence null and void. On Pym's motion, those who had signed were impeached as guilty of high treason by endeavouring to subvert the fundamental laws of the kingdom and the very being of parliament, and on the last day of the year Towers and nine others were lodged in the Tower. After about four months he was released, retired to Peterborough, and thence to Oxford, where he remained till its surrender in 1646. He then returned to Peterborough, where he died in obscurity on 10 Jan. 1648-9. He was buried in the cathedral. Besides a daughter Spencer, who married Robert Pykarell, rector of Burgate in Suffolk, and died on 16 Feb. 1657–8, he had a son William, noticed below.

Towers was the author of 'Four Sermons,' London, 1660, 8vo, edited by his son.

His son, William Towers (1617?–1666), prebendary of Peterborough, born in 1616 or 1617, was educated at Westminster school as a king's scholar. He matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford, on 1 Sept. 1634, graduating B.A. on 11 April 1638, M.A. on 22 May 1641, and B.D., on 17 June 1646. He was installed a prebendary of Peterborough on 20 April 1641, and in 1644 was presented to the rectory of Barnack in Northamptonshire. The successes of the parliamentary troops drove him to take refuge in Oxford, and on the capitulation of the city he was driven to serve a curacy at Upton, near Northampton. In 1660, through the friendship of Mountjoy Blount, earl of Newport [q.v.], he was reinstated in his preferments, and appointed rector of Fiskerton, near Lincoln. He died on 20 Oct. 1666, while on a visit to Uffington in Lincolnshire, and was buried in the chancel of the church there.

He was the author of: 1. 'Atheismus Vapulans,' London, 1654, 8vo. 2. 'Polytheismus Vapulans,' London, 1654, 8vo. 3. 'A Sermon against Murder, by occasion of the Romanists putting the Protestants to Death in the Dukedome of Savoy,' London, 1655, 4to. 4. 'Obedience perpetually due to Kings,' London, 1660, 4to (Wood, Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 736; Willis, Cathedral Survey, ii. 521; Walker, Sufferings of the Clergy, ii. 61; Welch, Alumni Westmon. p. 107; Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714).

[Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 344; Fuller's Worthies, ed. Nichols, 1811, ii. 127; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 233; Britton's Hist. and Antiquities of Peterborough Cathedral, p. 35; Lloyd's Memoires, 1668, p. 601; Lansdowne MS. 985, ff. 127–30; British Museum Addit. MSS. 5882, f. 89; Bridges's Hist. of Northamptonshire, ed. Whalley, i. 346, 398, ii. 502, 560, 563; Laud's Works, passim.]

E. I. C.