Womock, Laurence (DNB00)

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WOMOCK or WOMACK, LAURENCE (1612–1686), bishop of St. David's, born in Norfolk in 1612, was the son of Laurence Womock, rector of Lopham from 1607 until his death in July 1642. His grandfather, Arthur Womock, had held the same benefice. He was admitted at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, on 4 July 1629 (matriculated 15 Dec.), became a scholar on Sir Nicholas Bacon's foundation in the following October, graduated B.A. in 1632, and was ordained deacon on 21 Sept. 1634, commencing M.A. in 1639. He seems to have acted for some time as chaplain to Lord Paget, and to have had an offer of a benefice in the west of England, where he acquired some fame by his preaching. Clement Barksdale, the Cotswold poet, addressed verses to him in his ‘Nympha Libethris,’ headed ‘after the taking of Hereford in 1645;’ allusion is here made to his powerful preaching and to ‘the spice of prelacy’ to which his enemies took exception. At the Restoration Womock proved himself an able literary advocate of the old liturgy and of the decision of the bishops at the Savoy conference. In the summer of 1660 he obtained the prebendal stall of Preston in Hereford Cathedral, and on 8 Dec. 1660 he was made archdeacon of Suffolk. On 22 Sept. in the same year, according to Le Neve, he was installed in the sixth prebendal stall at Ely. In 1661 the degree of D.D. was conferred upon him per literas regias, and in 1662 he was presented to the rectory of Horningsheath, near Bury St. Edmunds, to which was added in 1663 the small Suffolk rectory of Boxford. He contributed 10l. towards the purchase of an organ for his college chapel (Willis and Clark, Architectural History of Cambridge, i. 925). The strong churchmanship of his controversial pamphlets marked him out to Sancroft for promotion, and on 11 Nov. 1683 he was consecrated as bishop of St. David's in the archbishop's chapel at Lambeth, along with Dr. Francis Turner (to Rochester). On 3 Jan. 1683–4 he resigned the archdeaconry of Suffolk to Dr. Godfrey King; he had resigned his Hereford prebend ten years earlier. Womock, who does not appear to have gone into residence at St. David's, died at his house in Westminster on 12 March 1685–6, and was buried in the north aisle of St. Margaret's Church, where a tablet upon a pillar commemorates him. His will, dated on 18 Feb., was proved in March 1685–6. Womock, who is described as a tall man of a plain and grave aspect, had a fine collection of books, and combined wit and judgment with his learning.

He married, first, at Westly Bradford on 18 Nov. 1668, a widow, Anne Aylmer of Bury; and, secondly, at St. Bartholomew-the-Less, London, on 25 April 1669–70, Katherine Corbett of the city of Norwich, spinster, aged 40; she was still living in October 1697. He left an only daughter by his first wife, named Anne, who was buried in St. Margaret's, Westminster, soon after her father. His heir was his nephew, Laurence Womock (d. 1724), rector of Castor by Yarmouth.

Womock's chief writings, most of them controversial, were:

  1. ‘Beaten Oyle for the Lamps of the Sanctuarie; or, the great Controversie concerning set prayers and our Liturgie examined,’ London, 1641, 4to; dedicated to William, lord Paget, baron of Beaudesert.
  2. ‘The Examination of Tilenus before the Triers … to which is annexed the Tenets of the Remonstrants,’ London, 1658, 12mo. This essay being reflected upon by Richard Baxter in his ‘Grotian Religion,’ and by Henry Hickman [q. v.],

Womock returned to the charge in

  1. ‘Arcana Dogmatum Anti-Remonstrantium; or, the Calvinist's Cabinet unclosed. In an apology for Tilenus against a pretended vindication of the Synod of Dort … together with a few drops on the papers of Mr. Hickman,’ 1659, 12mo.
  2. ‘The Result of False Principles; or, Error convinced by its own Evidence, managed in several Dialogues,’ 1661, 4to.
  3. ‘The Solemn League and Covenant, arraigned and condemned by the sentence of the Divines of London and Cheshire,’ 1662, 4to.
  4. ‘Pulpit-Conceptions, Popular Deceptions … an answer to the Presbyterian Papers’ lodged at the Savoy conference in favour of extempore prayer; a vigorous defence of the liturgy against the ‘wild opinions’ of ‘speculative’ divines, London, 1662.
  5. ‘An Antidote to cure the Calamities of their Trembling for Fear of the Arke,’ London, 1663; a justification of ‘the present settlement of God's solemn service in the church of land’ against the ‘schismatical fears and jealousies and the seditious hints and insinuations of Edmund Calamy’ (who had recently preached a sermon on ‘Eli trembling for fear of the Arke’). A long section upon ‘Israels Gratulation for the Arkes Solemn Settlement’ is here followed by an attack upon the overweening conceit of the nonconformists as exhibited by Zachary Crofton [q. v.] Both this and No. 5 are an expansion upon similar lines of his own ‘Beaten Oyle’ and of Jeremy Taylor's ‘Apologie for the sett forms of a Liturgie’ of 1649.
  6. ‘Go shew thyself to the Priest: safe Advice for a sound Protestant,’ 1679, 4to, recommending ‘conference with a priest’ previous to communion.
  7. ‘Treatises proving both by History and Record that the Bishops are a Fundamental and Essential Part of the English Parliament and that they may be Judges in Capital Cases,’ 1680, fol.
  8. ‘A Letter containing a further Justification of the Church of England,’ 1682.
  9. ‘Billa Vera; or, the Arraignment of Ignoramus put forth out of Charity, for the use of Grand Inquests, and other Juries, the Sworn Assertors of Truth and Justice,’ 1682, 4to.
  10. ‘Suffragium Protestantium. Wherein our governors are justified in their proceedings against Dissenters,’ 1683, 8vo. This was an attempt to refute the ‘Protestant Reconciler’ of Daniel Whitby [q. v.]

[Masters's Hist. of the Coll. of Corpus Christi, Cambridge, 1831; Coles's Athenæ Cantabr. Add. MS. 5883, f. 83; Bentham's Ely, p. 258; Davy's Athenæ Suffolcienses (Addit. MS. 19165, f. 503); Kennett's preface to the Collection of Tracts concerning Predestination and Providence, Cambridge, 1719, p. 179; Eachard's History, p. 1073; Chester's Marriage Licences, col. 1497; Le Neve's Fasti; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 946, iv. 369; Chalmers's Biogr. Dict.; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Cat. of Tanner MSS. (Bodleian); Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iv. 240; Silvester's Life of Baxter, p. 380; Manby's Hist. and Antiq. of St. David's, p. 163; Jones and Freeman's St. David's, p. 163; Blomefield's Hist. of Norfolk, 1810, i. 101, 236, iii. 654–5, v. 441, vi. 444, xi. 213, 230; Walcot's St. Margaret's Church, p. 22; Barksdale's Nympha Libethris, 1651, pp. 9, 10; Add. MSS. 19174 f. 797, 22910 f. 25. An account of Womock's controversial writings is given in Salmon's Lives of the English Bishops from the Restauration to the Revolution, 1733, pp. 234–40.]

T. S.