Aldrich, Robert (DNB00)

ALDRICH, or ALDRIDGE, ROBERT (d. 1566), scholar and divine, was born at Burnham, in Buckinghamshire, towards the close of the fifteenth century. He was educated at Eton, whence he went to King's College, Cambridge, in 1507. It must have been at Cambridge that he first attracted the attention of Erasmus, who, in his ‘Peregrinatio Religionis ergo,’ describes him as ‘juvenis blandæ cujusdam eloquentiæ.’ He accompanied the great scholar, as his interpreter, in his celebrated visit to Walsingham, and at his instigation inquired of the canon, who showed the relics, how he could prove that it was really the Virgin's milk which they exhibited as such to the pilgrims. He took the degree of B.A. in 1511–12, and that of M.A. in 1515, in which latter year he was also elected schoolmaster of Eton. That appointment he held for about five years. In 1517 a special grace passed the university to enable him to take the degree of B.D. within two years; but he was not admitted within that period. In 1523 he was chosen one of the university preachers, and next year one of the proctors. An entry in the proctor's book for 1527, ‘Magistro Aldryg pro tribus literis missis ad dominum Regem, 10s.,’ testifies to the value set upon his skill in composition. He kept up a learned correspondence with Erasmus after he had left England, and took much trouble in collating manuscripts for him. On 18 July 1528 he was collated to the prebend of Centum Solidorum in Lincoln Cathedral, but exchanged it for that of Decem Librarum in January following. He was a member of the convocation which met in 1529. In the same year he retired to Oxford, where he was incorporated in the degree of B.D., which he had by this time already taken at Cambridge, and performing his exercise for the degree of doctor in that faculty, he was licensed to proceed in April, 1530.

On 3 Jan. 1531, he was presented by Henry VIII to the rectory of Cheriton in the diocese of Winchester, vacant by the death of Lupset. The same year he preached before the king on the third Sunday in Lent, and on 30 December following he was made by royal favour archdeacon of Colchester. As member of convocation he signed the two opinions pronounced by that body on 5 April 1533, in favour of Henry VIII's divorce (Pocock's Records of the Reformation, ii. 451). In June of the same year he was sent to France together with the Duke of Norfolk and others, just after Anne Boleyn's coronation; and a little later in the year he was joined in a commission, together with Bonner, to intimate to Pope Clement VII the king's appeal from his sentence to a general council (Calendar, Henry VIII, vol. vi. Nos. 661, 831, 1071). It seems to have been the king's intention to reward these services with the rectory of Sutton in Surrey; but the living was given to another (ib. No. 1594). Next year, on 3 May, he was appointed one of the canons of Windsor, and installed four days after. About the same time he was appointed registrar of the order of the Garter, and was sworn in at a chapter on 27 May. He it was who compiled the register or ‘Black Book’ of the Garter, published by Anstis. In 1535 he and other divines were sent to the refractory monks of Sion to persuade them, if possible, to accept the king's supremacy; but the effort proved abortive (Wright's Suppression of the Monasteries, 49). On 21 June, 1536, he was elected provost of Eton; and about the same time he was made almoner to Queen Jane Seymour. On 18 July, 1537, he was nominated to the see of Carlisle, which he held from that time till his death. In November of the same year he attended Jane Seymour's funeral at Windsor in the capacity of her almoner, as he also did that of King Henry VIII in 1547 in his capacity of provost of Eton. During these years he was much consulted on the great religious questions then in dispute. He signed the articles drawn up by convocation in 1536, and an opinion touching general councils in 1537. He was one of a committee of divines appointed in 1539 to promote uniformity of belief, and supported the Act of the Six Articles passed that year in parliament. In 1540 he signed, as a member of convocation, the casuistical opinion as to the invalidity of the king's marriage with Anne of Cleves (State Papers, Henry VIII, i. 633). When Edward VI came to the throne, though he was placed on the commission to examine and revise the offices of the church, he joined with a small minority in the Lords in protesting against the introduction of the new liturgy, and against several other changes. He seems to have had some difficulty in those days in maintaining the rights of his see; but being ordered by King Edward, in May 1551, to give Lord Clinton a sixty years' lease of his manor of Horncastle, he at length did so on 1 Nov. 1552, reserving a rent of 28l. a year to the bishopric. After Queen Mary's accession this arrangement was set aside, and the manor returned to the bishop; but in another case the see was permanently injured by a lease, which he was compelled to make to the Marquis of Worcester, of the rents of Carlisle House, since called Beaufort Buildings, in the Strand. He died at Horncastle on 5 March 1556, and was there buried. His writings were chiefly on the theological questions of the day on which his answers were required, especially touching the Sacrament and the abuses of the Mass. But he wrote besides a book of epigrams. He also stirred up William Horman, vice-provost of Eton, to write a treatise called ‘Antibossicon,' to which he himself prefixed a poetic epistle addressed to the author, the object of the treatise being to defend some learned men against the attacks of one Robert Whitynton. A fine Latin encomium, addressed to Aldridge himself by his contemporary, John Leland the antiquary, is preserved among that writer's ‘Collectanea' (v. 134).

[Wood's Athenæ (ed. Bliss), i. 232; Harwood's Alumni Etonenses, 3, 57, 131; Ackerman's Hist. of the Colleges of Winchester, Eton, &c., 43, 44, 58; Calendar of State Papers of Henry VIII, vols. iii.–vii.; Erasmi Epistolæ, pp. 901, 971, 998 (Leyden edit.); Cole's MSS. i. 148–150, xiii. 144–8 (Add. MSS. 5802 and 5814 in Brit. Mus.); Burnet; Strype; Le Neve; Newcourt's Repertorium; Anstis's Register of the Garter, ii. 393.]

J. G.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.5
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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252 ii 18 Aldrich, Robert: for 1536 read 1534