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Lancelot Andrewes

Bishop of Winchester
Born: 1555 in Barking, Essex
Died: 25th September 1626 in Southwark, Surrey

Lancelot Andrewes was by far the most distinguished prelate who has occupied the See of Winchester since the Reformation. He was born in London in 1555, "in Tower Street," so Fuller says, "his father being a seaman of good repute belonging to Trinity House." Lancelot was educated at the Merchant Taylors' School and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge; where his reputation for learning attracted the attention of Sir Francis Walsingham. Sir Francis gave him the vicarage of St. Giles', Cripplegate and by the former's influence he was afterwards chosen prebendary of St.Paul's. He was one of Queen Elizabeth's chaplains by whom, and by her successor James I, the preaching and abilities of Andrewes were held in the highest estimation.

On the accession of James, the See of Rome pronounced a censure on those of the English Catholics who took the oath of allegiance. Controversy ensued when King James himself wrote his "Apology for the Oath." Cardinal Bellarmine replied with great vehemence and bitterness, under the name of Matthew Tortus; and the task of defending the royal author was assigned to Andrewes, who gave to his reply the quaint title of Tortura Torti.

Andrewes had been consecrated Bishop of Chichester in 1605; was translated to Ely in 1600; and finally to Winchester in 1618. He died at Winchester House in Southwark, in 1626, and was buried in St. Mary Overy's (Southwark Cathedral), in a demolished chapel east of the Lady Chapel (to where his monument has since been moved).

In the English Church, Bishop Andrewes was, if not the founder, the chief leader of the school of which Laud became afterwards, from his political importance, the more conspicuous head. His Oriental learning was considerable and, in King James's Bible, he undertook the revision and translation of the historical books from Joshua to the First Book of Chronicles. In patristic theology, he was far more learned than any of the Elizabethan bishops or perhaps than any of his English contemporaries except Usher. "He was," says Fuller, "an inimitable preacher in his way and such plagiarists who have stolen his sermons could never steal his preaching, and could make nothing of that whereof he made all things as he desired. Pious and pleasant Bishop Felton (his contemporary and colleague) endeavoured, in vain, in his sermon to assimilate his style; and therefore said merrily of himself, 'I had almost marred my own natural trot by endeavouring to imitate his artificial amble. The fathers were not more faithfully cited in his books, than lively copied out in his countenance and carriage; his gravity in a manner awing King James, who refrained from that mirth and liberty in the presence of this prelate which otherwise he assumed to himself."

Milton's beautiful Latin elegy on the death of Bishop Andrewes is a sufficient proof of the reverence and admiration with which good men of all parties regarded him. Of all his works, that which is now most widely known is the "Manual of Devotion," published after his death.

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