Widdowes, Giles (DNB00)

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WIDDOWES, GILES (1588?–1645), divine, born about 1588, son of Thomas Widdowes of Mickleton, Gloucestershire, was probably matriculated at Oriel College, Oxford, in 1603–4 (but there are no records of Oriel matriculations at that date), graduated B.A. at Oxford on 25 Feb. 1608, M.A. on 27 Jan. 1614, was fellow of Oriel in 1610–1621, and therein was tutor to Prynne, with whom he afterwards engaged in controversy. Born in the parish in which Endymion Porter [q. v.] lived, he was patronised by him in later years (cf. Cal. State Papers, Dom. 4 Feb. 1639). In 1619 he became rector of St. Martin Carfax, Oxford, and, after resigning his fellowship at Oriel, he became vice-principal of Gloucester Hall. He was also chaplain to Katherine, duchess of Buckingham (preface to the Schismatical Puritan, 1631), and was highly thought of by Laud (Canterburie's Doome, p. 72). In 1630 he published a sermon preached at Witney ‘concerning the lawfulness of church authority, for ordaining and commanding of rites and ceremonies to beautify the church,’ under the title of ‘The Schismatical Puritan’ (1st ed. 1630; 2nd ed. 1631). It was answered by Prynne in an appendix to his ‘Anti-Arminianism’ (2nd ed. 1630). Widdowes replied in ‘The Lawless Kneeless Schismatical Puritan’ (Oxford, 1631), dedicated to Endymion Porter, in which he defended the church's order of bowing at the Holy Name. This Prynne answered in ‘Lame Giles his Haltings’ (1631). His sermons at Carfax, though popular among the royalists and soldiery, caused occasional riots among the puritan youths. At Laud's trial it was stated that he had set up a window in his church with a crucifix on it. He was generous to the poor, a strong antisabbatarian, dancing with his flock on Whit-Sunday, and worked energetically in his parish during the siege of Oxford. He died on 4 Feb. 1644–5, and was buried in the chancel of his church.

Wood describes him as ‘a harmless and honest man, a noted disputant, well read in the schoolmen, and as conformable to and zealous in the established discipline of the church of England as any person of his time, yet of so odd and strange parts that few or none could be compared with him.’

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Wood's Athenæ and Fasti; Cal. State Papers, Dom.; Laud's Works; Atkyns's Gloucestershire; Fletcher's Church of St. Martin Carfax.]

W. H. H.