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B I SHOP PIL KING TO N.
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
* “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 quiadhue Basilete 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. Brytannie posterior pars, p. 113. Basil. 1559–Strype says the same thing, but he does not any where speak of these expositions as having been
Upon the death of queen Mary, in 1558, the exiles made preparation for returning home. Pilkington was then at Frankfort; and when the letter from the English church at Geneva was received there, exhorting to “unanimity in teaching and practising the knowledge of God's word” upon arriving in their own country, he was the first to sign on behalf of the church at Frankfort, and therefore probably was himself the writer of the “peaceable letter” sent in reply, which is certainly marked by great wisdom and moderation; the general purport of which was, that the appointment of ceremonies would rest not with themselves, but with persons duly authorised; that they would “submit to such orders as should be established by authority, being not of themselves wicked;” that the reformed churches might differ in ceremonies, so that they agreed in the chief points of religion; and lastly, that in case of the intrusion of any that were offensive, they would “brotherly join to be suitors” for their reformation or abolition".
On his return to England, he was associated with Bill, Parker, Grindal, Cox, Guest, Whitehead, and May, as commissioners to revise the Book of Common Prayer; being appointed to that office by a proclamation issued in December, 1558, and the work was completed in April of the following year. In this year, 1559, he was appointed also one of the commissioners for visiting Cambridge, to receive from the heads of houses and others their oath of allegiance to the queen and of her supremacy. By this visitation all ordinary jurisdiction in the university was suspended; and on the 20th of July he was admitted Master of St John's College and Regius Professor of Divinity: whether “by the act,” or only “with the consent” of the visitors, and whether their extraordinary powers superseded the regular modes of election, does not appear. Fuller says, and perhaps correctly, that “Bullock, the (popish) Master of St John's, was put out, and Pilkington put in” by the commissioners. It is certain however, that he was greatly esteemed in those high offices, as a man of deep learning and great piety, and one of the revivers of Greek literature in the university, being associated with Sir John Cheke and others in settling the pronunciation of that language. In 1560, at the solemn commemoration of Martin Bucer and Paulus Fagius, held at Cambridge, to obliterate the indignities offered to their remains by the commissioners of Cardinal Pole in the reign of Mary, he pronounced the funeral oration on those esteemed reformers, an outline of which is preserved in the appendix to the Scripta Anglicana Martini Buceri, and in Foxe's Acts and Monuments, and which forms the seventh article in the present volume. In the same year he published his Erposition of the Prophecy of Haggai, of which Strype says, “It came forth seasonably, and on purpose to stir up well-minded people, to go . forward with the reformation of religion vigorously; for it was perceived there was too much coldness in the matter among those that were chiefly employed about it'.” A second edition of it was published in 1562, which was accompanied with an exposition of Obadiah, written on the same plan and with the same object. About this time he married Alicia, daughter of Sir John Kingsmill; and at first, it is thought, from the prejudices of the time against married clergy, concealed the connexion: a supposition which is strengthened by, if not altogether founded on, an expression in his will, in which he mentions his wife as “Alice Kingsmill, my now known wife.”
printed; nor are they mentioned in the Catalogue of English printed books, 1595, by Maunsell, where the expositions of Aggeus, Abdias, and Nehemiah, printed in this collection, are noticed.
* See Strype, Annals, i. i. p. 263, 8vo.
At the close of the same year (1560), he was nominated, at the age of forty”, to the See of Durham, of which he was the first protestant bishop. He had the royal assent on the 20th of February; was consecrated on the 2nd of March; received part of the temporalities on the 25th; and was enthroned in the cathedral on the 10th of April. Afterwards, in the year 1565, he succeeded in obtaining the restitution of all the lands belonging to the bishoprick, except Norhamshire; not however without the hard condition of paying to the crown an annual pension of £1020.
He did not resign the mastership of St John's College till the following October (1561), and was then succeeded in it, as well as in his professorship, by his brother, Leonard Pilkington, B.D. who however did not long retain it, being presented by the bishop in 1563 to the valuable rectory of Whitburn. About the same time another brother, John, was made Archdeacon, being already a Prebendary; and in 1565 the bishop collated his youngest clerical brother, Laurence, to the vicarage of Norham.
On the 8th of June, 1561, he preached a memorable sermon at St Paul's cross, on the destruction of St Paul's Cathedral by lightning; in which he exhorted the people to “take the dreadful devastation of the church to be a warning of a greater plague to follow, if amendment of life were not had in all estates.” In this sermon he denounced certain abuses of the church, and the conversion of the building to purposes unbecoming a place set apart for God's worship. His observations called forth an angry reply, in the form of “An Addition to the causes” which the bishop had assigned for the calamity; the purport of which was to attribute the burning of the cathedral to very different causes, namely, “that the old fathers and the old ways were left, together with blas
* Strype says, “aged 45,” but this is a mistake. Annals, i. i. p. 230,