Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Whittingham, William

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1904 Errata appended.

948181Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 61 — Whittingham, William1900Albert Frederick Pollard

WHITTINGHAM, WILLIAM (1524?–1579), dean of Durham, born at Chester about 1524, was son of William Whittingham, by his wife, a daughter of Haughton of Haughton (Hoghton) Tower, Lancashire, a county from which the Whittinghams originally came (Visitation of Cheshire, Harl. Soc. p. 248). In 1540, at the age of sixteen, he entered Brasenose College, Oxford, as a commoner, graduating B.A. and being elected fellow of All Souls' in 1545. In 1547 he became senior student of Christ Church, commencing M.A. on 5 Feb. 1547–8, and on 17 May 1550 he was granted leave to travel for three years. He went to France, where he spent his time chiefly at the university of Orleans, but he also visited Lyons and studied at Paris, where his services as interpreter were often required by the English ambassador, Sir John Mason [q. v.] or Sir William Pickering [q. v.] Towards the end of 1552 he visited the universities in Germany and Geneva, and, probably at the close of his three years' leave, returned to England in May 1553. Whittingham had adopted extreme protestant views, and the accession of Queen Mary ruined his prospects for the time. Late in August, however, he made intercession, which was ultimately successful, for the release of Peter Martyr [see Vermigli. Pietro Martire]; but after a few weeks he himself escaped with difficulty by way of Dover to France.

In the spring of 1554 the project was started of making Frankfort the ecclesiastical centre for the English exiles on the continent, and Whittingham was one of the first who reached the city on 27 June 1554, and at once sent out invitations to exiles in other cities to join them [see Whitehead, David]. Difficulties soon arose between those who wished to use Edward VI's second prayer-book without material modification and those led by Whittingham and Knox, who considered Calvinism the purest form of Christianity, and insisted on revising the prayer-book in that direction. Whittingham was one of those appointed to draw up a service-book, and he procured a letter from Calvin, dated 18 Jan. 1554–5, which won over some of the wavering adherents of the prayer-book; but the compromise adopted was rudely disturbed by the arrival of Richard Cox [q. v.], who was an uncompromising champion of the prayer-book. In the ensuing struggle between Knox and Cox Whittingham was Knox's chief supporter, but he failed to prevent Knox's expulsion from Frankfort on 26 March, and is thereupon said to have given in his adhesion to the form of church government established at Frankfort under Cox's influence. He was, however, profoundly dissatisfied with it, and about 22 Sept. in the same year he followed Knox to Geneva (Original Letters, Parker Soc. p. 766). He was himself probably the author of the detailed account of the struggle, entitled ‘A Brieff Discours off the Troubles begonne at Franckford in Germany, anno Domini 1554. Abowte the Booke off Common Prayer and Ceremonies, and continued by the Englishe men theyre to thende off Q. Maries Raigne,’ 1575, 4to. It bears no place or printer's name, but was printed probably at Geneva, and in the same type as Cartwright's tracts; one copy of the original edition is datedmdlxxiv. It was reprinted at London in 1642, 4to, in vol. ii. of ‘The Phenix,’ 1708, 8vo; again in 1846, 8vo (ed. M'Crie), and in vol. iv. of ‘Knox's Works’ (Bannatyne Club). It is the only full account of the struggle extant, but its value is impaired by its polemical object (see also M'Crie, pref. to reprint of 1846; Maitland, Essays on the Reformation, 1849, pp. 104, 106, 196; English Hist. Rev. x. 439–441).

Meanwhile on 16 Dec. 1555, and again in December 1556, Whittingham was elected a ‘senior’ or elder of the church at Geneva; on 16 Dec. 1558 he was appointed deacon, and in 1559 he succeeded Knox as minister. He had hitherto received no ordination of any kind, and declared that he was fitter for civil employment than for the ministry, but his reluctance was overcome by Calvin's insistence. On Mary's death most of the exiles at Geneva returned to England, but Whittingham remained to complete the translation of the ‘Geneva’ or ‘Breeches’ bible, as it is often called, ‘breeches’ being the rendering of the word usually translated ‘aprons’ in Genesis iii. 7. He had already produced a version of the New Testament, which was issued at Geneva in 12mo by Conrad Badius on 10 June 1557, but this differs from the version included in the ‘Breeches’ bible, for which, as well as for the prefatory address to the reader, Whittingham is generally held to be mainly responsible. He also took part in the revision of the Old Testament, and the fact that he remained behind to supervise the completion of the work when most of the translators returned to England probably justifies his claim to the most important part of the work. This version of the Bible is in many respects notable; the old black-letter type was abandoned for Roman characters, the chapters were for the first time divided into verses, and it was printed in quarto instead of in folio. It was in a way a manifesto of the Calvinists; the apocrypha was for the first time differentiated, as regards its authoritative value, from the rest of the Old Testament, and the critical and explanatory notes were of a pronounced Calvinistic character. It was printed at Geneva by Rowland Hall in 1560, and at once became the most popular version of the Bible in England. More than sixty editions were published before the appearance of the authorised version in 1611, four times the number of the editions of the bishops' bible produced in 1568 to counteract the puritan tendencies of the Genevan version. Even after 1611 its vogue was not exhausted, ten editions appearing between that date and 1640. It was the bible on which most Englishmen in Elizabethan England were brought up, and even after the appearance of the authorised version continued to be the favourite bible in puritan households.

Besides the translation of the Bible, Whittingham while at Geneva turned into metre various of the Psalms. Seven of these were included among the fifty-one psalms published at Geneva in 1556 as part of the service-book which Whittingham and his colleagues had been appointed to draw up at Frankfort; the others were revised versions of Sternhold's psalms. A metrical rendering of the Ten Commandments by Whittingham is appended. Another edition in 1558, now lost, is believed to have contained nine fresh psalms by Whittingham; these were reprinted in the edition of 1561, to which Whittingham also contributed a version of the ‘Song of Simeon’ and two of the Lord's Prayer (for other editions see Julian, Dict. of Hymnology, pp. 857–61). Besides these Whittingham translated four psalms in the Scottish psalter, which do not appear in any English edition. ‘His influence on the psalter was, in the first place, that of scholarly revision of the work of Sternhold, and of Hopkins's seven early psalms from his knowledge of Hebrew; and, in the second, imitation of French metres’ (ib. p. 861). Whittingham also wrote a preface to Ridley's ‘Brief Declaration of the Lord's Supper’ (Geneva? 1555, 8vo), revised for press Knox's work on predestination, which was published at Geneva in 1560 (Knox, Works, Bannatyne Club, v. 15* sqq.), and contributed a dedicatory epistle to Goodman's ‘How Superior Powers ought to be obeyed’ (Geneva, 1558, 8vo), in which views similar to Knox's were adopted with regard to the ‘regiment of women.’

Whittingham took formal leave of the council at Geneva on 30 May 1560 (extract from council-book in Original Letters, Parker Soc. p. 765 n.). Soon after his return to England he was in January 1560–1 appointed to attend on Francis Russell, second earl of Bedford, during his embassy to the French court. In the following year he became chaplain to Ambrose Dudley, earl of Warwick [q. v.], and one of the ministers at Havre or Newhaven, which was then occupied by the English under Warwick. His religious zeal, and other services of a more warlike character at the siege of Havre, won him general praise (see Cal. State Papers, For. 1561–3, passim); but Cecil was obliged to complain of his neglect of conformity to the English prayer-book (Camden Miscellany, vi. 14–18). Neither his puritanism, however, nor the dislike Elizabeth felt towards him for his share in Goodman's book prevented his being collated on 19 July 1563 to the deanery of Durham, a promotion which he owed to the strenuous support of Warwick and Leicester. On his way to Durham he preached before the queen at Windsor on 2 Sept. 1563.

Unlike many deans of Elizabeth's reign, when deaneries, being sine cura animarum, were regarded as semi-secular preferments, Whittingham took his religious duties seriously, holding two services a day, devoting much time to his grammar school and song school (Lansd. MS. 7, art. 12), and being ‘very carefull to provide the best songs and anthems that could be got out of the queen's chappell, to furnish the quire with all, himselfe being skillfull in musick.’ Before the outbreak of the northern rebellion in 1569 he vainly urged Pilkington, the bishop of Durham, to put the city in a state of defence, but he was more successful at Newcastle, which resisted the rebels. In 1572, when Burghley became lord treasurer, Whittingham was suggested, probably by Leicester, as his successor in the office of secretary. In 1577 Leicester also promised Whittingham his aid in securing the see of York or Durham, both of which were vacant; but the dean refused to prosecute his suit.

Meanwhile Whittingham's iconoclastic proceedings in the cathedral, a list of which is given by Wood, had offended the higher church party. As early as 1564 he had written a long letter to Leicester (printed in Strype's Parker, iii. 76–84) protesting against the ‘old popish apparel,’ and proceedings had in 1566 been taken against him for refusing to wear the surplice and cope (Camden Miscellany, vi. 22); Whittingham eventually gave way, alleging Calvin's advice not to leave the ministry ‘for these externall matters of order.’ In 1577, however, he incurred the enmity of Edwin Sandys [q. v.], the new archbishop of York, by resisting his claim to visit Durham Cathedral (ib. pp. 26–7; Injunctions and Eccl. Proc. of Bishop Barnes, p. 65, Surtees Soc.). According to Hutchinson (Durham, ii. 143–52) and Strype (Annals, ii. ii. 167) a commission, which does not appear on the patent or close rolls, had been issued in 1576 or 1577 to examine matters of complaint against him, but had proved ineffectual because the Earl of Huntingdon and Matthew Hutton (1529–1606) [q. v.] sided with the dean against the third commissioner, Sandys. A fresh commission was issued on 14 May 1578, including the three former commissioners and about a dozen others. The articles against Whittingham are printed from the domestic state papers in the ‘Camden Miscellany’ (vi. 46–8); the charge that ‘he is defamed of adulterie’ is entered as ‘partly proved’ and that of drunkenness as ‘proved;’ but these assertions are too vague to deserve acceptance, and the real gravamen against Whittingham, apart from his iconoclasm, was the invalidity of his ordination. He had admittedly not been ordained according to the rites of the church of England, but parliament had already passed an act (13 Eliz. c. 12) practically acknowledging the validity of the ordination of ministers whether according to Roman catholic or the rites of the reformed churches on the continent. Sandys maintained that Whittingham had not been validly ordained even according to the Genevan rite, but only elected preacher without the imposition of hands. Huntingdon, however, wrote that ‘it could not but be ill-taken of all the godly learned both at home and in all the reformed churches abroad, that we should allow of the popish massing priests in our ministry, and disallow of the ministers made in a reformed church’ (Strype, Annals, ii. ii. 174). He suggested the stay of the proceedings, and this, besides being the wisest course, naturally commended itself to Elizabeth's habit of temporising. Whittingham's death on 10 June 1579 rendered further proceedings unnecessary. He was buried in Durham Cathedral, where his tomb was destroyed by the Scots in 1640. His will, dated 18 April 1579, is printed in ‘Durham Wills and Inventories’ (Surtees Soc. ii. 14–19).

In the inscription placed on Whittingham's tomb he is said to have been described as ‘maritus Catherinæ sororis Johannis Calvini theologi’ (Hutchinson, Durham, ii. 151), and this statement has been commonly repeated. Calvin is, however, not known to have had a sister named Catherine (cf. Galiffe, Notices Généalogiques, iii. 106 sqq.), no allusion to the supposed relationship has been found in the works of either Calvin or Whittingham, and chronology makes the supposition almost impossible. Similar objections apply to the statement that Whittingham's wife was sister of Calvin's wife; the latter was Idolette de Bures, the widow of a Strasburg anabaptist whom Calvin married in 1540; whereas Whittingham's wife Catherine, daughter of Louis Jaqueman ‘and heire to her mother beinge the heire of Genteron [or Gouteron] in Orleance’ (Genealogist, i. 309), was probably born not before 1535 and married to Whittingham on 15 Nov. 1556. Her eldest son, Zachary, was baptised on 17 Aug. 1557, and her eldest daughter, Susanna, on 11 Dec. 1558; both died young. And Whittingham was survived by two sons, Sir Timothy (cf. Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714) and Daniel, and four daughters. In 1583 she was defendant in a curious action for slander (Depositions from the Courts of Durham, Surtees Soc. pp. 314–16), and her will, dated 9 Dec. 1590, is printed in ‘Durham Wills’ (ii. 18–19).

[The transcript in Anthony à Wood's hand of a life of Whittingham, written about 1603 by a personal friend, formerly Ashmolean MS. 8560 E. 4 art. 5, is now in the Bodleian Wood MS. E. 64; it is the basis of Wood's account in the Athenæ Oxon. i. 446 sqq., and has been printed in full, with many illustrative documents, by Mrs. Everett Green in vol. vi. of the Camden Society's Miscellany, 1871, and also as an appendix to Peter Lorimer's ‘John Knox,’ 1875. See also, besides authorities cited in text, Harl. MS. 1535 f. 297 b, Lansd. MSS. 981 f. 147, Addit. MSS. 24444 f. 45, Rawlinson MS. xxi. f. 207; Burn's Livre des Anglois à Genève, 1831; Visit. Cheshire, p. 248 (Harl. Soc.); Baines's Lancashire, iv. 409; Surtees's Durham, ii. 230; Reg. Univ. Oxon. i. 211; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Le Neve's Fasti, iii. 299; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1547–80, Foreign 1560–6 passim; Cal. Hatfield MSS. ii. 217; Brieff Discours of Troubles, 1575; Knox's Works (Bannatyne Club) passim; Gough's Index to Parker Soc. Publ.; Strype's Works passim (see General Index); Brook's Puritans, i. 229; Neal's Puritans, ed. 1811, i. 114–17; Cotton's Editions of the Bible, 1852, pp. 30, 128; Anderson's Annals of the Bible; Dore's Old Bibles, 1888; Holland's Psalmists of Britain, i. 110; Maitland's Essays on the Reformation; Dyer's Life of Calvin, 1850; Dixon's Hist. of Church of England, vol. iv.; Dalton's Lasciana, 1898, p. 344; Nineteenth Century, April 1899; Notes and Queries, 2nd, 4th, and 6th ser. passim.]

A. F. P.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.279
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line
151 ii 18 f.e. Whittingham, William: for Italian read Roman
18-12 f.e. for omitted, as were the names . . . . the calendar prefixed, read differentiated, as regards its authoritative value, from the rest of the Old Testament,
7 f.e. for Some sixty read More than sixty
153 ii 39 for Doré's read Dore's