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Answers to Popish Questions (156:3).........
* Now first published.
JAMES Pilkington' was born at Rivington in Lancashire in the year 1520, and was the third son of Richard Pilkington Esq. of Rivington Park, a gentleman of an ancient and honourable family, which had early embraced the doctrines of the reformed religion. There is no record to shew where he received the rudiments of his education; but about his sixteenth year he was admitted a member of St John's College, Cambridge, where he proceeded to the degree of A.B. in the year 1539, and was elected fellow on the 26th of March in the same year. He afterwards took the degrees of A.M. 1542, and B.D. 1550, but it does not appear that he ever took the higher degree of D.D.; whether out of disregard to it, as Baker intimates, or from the whole course of his pursuits being suddenly interrupted by the troubles consequent on the accession of queen Mary.
? It appears from Baker's MSS. that the bishop's brother, Leonard, signed his name Pilkinton on his admission to his fellowship, and on his restitution (having been ejected under queen Mary) Pilkington.
? This is doubtful. Mr Whitaker in his memoir of the bishop, prefixed to the “Statutes and Charter of Rivington School,” conjectures that he was first admitted at Pembroke Hall, from the circumstance that the fellows of that college, in their congratulatory letter to archbishop Grindal (1576), boast of having had among their alumni bishops of Carlisle, Exeter, Winchester, Durham, London, and York. But Baker's MS. History of St John's College distinctly asserts that he was admitted of St John's; which however is not incompatible with his having first entered at Pembroke, and afterwards removed. In one of the Registrary's lists of degrees James Pilkington of Pembroke occurs; but it is doubtful whether this can have been the same that was elected fellow of St John's in 1539.
He was zealous in forwarding the Reformation ; and while residing on his fellowship, read theological lectures gratuitously on the Acts of the Apostles in the public schools; of the importance of which in that deeply interesting crisis, as well as of the general estimation in which he was held, we may judge not only from the testimony of Bucer, that he “acquitted himself learnedly and piously,” but also from the fact of his being subsequently appointed to take a part in the disputation on the popish tenets, held at Cambridge on the 20th and 24th of June, 1549, a record of which is preserved in the second volume of Foxe's Acts and Monuments. In December, 1550, he was appointed, by Edward the sixth, to the vicarage of Kendal in Westmoreland, which however he resigned in the following year, probably from his preference of a college residence. We hear nothing more of him until about the year 1554, when, to avoid the Marian persecutions, he, with many other eminent divines, retired to the continent; and lived at Zurich, at Basil, and lastly at Geneva. At Basil he read lectures on Ecclesiastes, both epistles of St Peter, and that of St Paul to the Galatians ; but there is no evidence to shew that these lectures were ever printed, and Tanner's statement to that effect may naturally be traced to the mistake of his authority (Bal. i. e. Bale) confounding the delivery of the lectures, and the conversational discussion of them, with publication'.
1 "John Bale says, he had expounded both the Epistles of St Peter, and had then Solomon's Ecclesiastes under his hands; but these, I suppose, were never published.” Baker's MS. History of St John's College. Bale's words are : Quorum Jacobus (sc. Pilkintonus) Salomonis Ecclesiasten, utramque D. Petri epistolam, ac Paulum ad Galatas; Ricardus, &c. • • • nobis qui adhuc Basileæ sumus, piissime ac doctissime exposuerunt. Sed eorum scripta nondum prodierunt in lucem: quod tamen, Deo fortunante, futurum speramus. Vivunt hoc anno Domini 1558, quo ista scripsimus. Balei Scriptorum Illustrium M. Brytanniæ posterior pars, p. 113. Basil. 1559.–Strype says the same thing, but he does not any where speak of these expositions as having been