Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Beale, William (d.1651)

BEALE, WILLIAM, D.D. (d. 1651), royalist divine, was elected from Westminster School to a scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1605, and proceeded B.A. in 1609-10. He was chosen a fellow of Jesus College in the same university in 1611, commenced M.A. in 1613, was appointed archdeacon of Caermarthen in 1623, and was created D.D. in 1627. Beale became master of Jesus College on 14 July 1632, and on 20 Feb. 1633-4 he was admitted master of St. John's College, 'per majorem partem sociorum ex mandato regio.' In 1634 he was chosen vice-chancellor of the university. On 27 Oct. 1637 he was presented by his majesty to the rectory of Paulerspury in Northamptonshire. He had also the rectory of Cottingham in the same county, and in 1639 he was presented to the sinecure rectory of Aberdaron.

In the year 1642 Beale took an active part in urging the various colleges to send money and plate to the king at Nottingham. Oliver Cromwell, having failed to intercept the treasure in Huntingdonshire, proceeded to Cambridge with a large force, surrounded St. John's College while its inmates were at their devotions in the chapel, and carried off Beale, whom with Dr. Martin, master of Queen's, and Dr. Herne, master of Jesus College, he brought in captivity to London. The prisoners were conducted through Bartholomew fair and a great part of the city, to be exposed to the insults of the rabble, and finally were shut up in the Tower. At this period Beale was deprived of his mastership and all his ecclesiastical preferments. From the Tower the prisoners were removed to Lord Petre's house in Aldersgate Street, and on 11 Aug. 1643, after having been in detention a year, they were put on board a ship at Wapping, with other prisoners of quality and distinction, to the number of eighty in all, 'and it was afterwards known, upon no false or fraudulent information, that there were people who were bargaining to sell them as slaves to Algiers or the American islands' (MS. Addit. 5808, f. 152). At length, after a confinement of three years, Beale was released by exchange, and joined the king at Oxford. There he was incorporated D.D. in 1645, and in the following year he was nominated dean of Ely, though he was never admitted to the dignity. He was one of the divines selected by the king to accompany him to Holdenby (1646). Ultimately he went into exile and accompanied the embassy of Lord Cottington and Sir Edward Hyde to Spain. His death occurred at Madrid on 1 Oct. 1651. The antiquary Baker gives this curious account of his last illness and clandestine interment: 'The doctor, not long after his coming to Madrid, was taken ill, and being apprehensive of danger and that he had not long to live, desired Sir Edward Hide and some others of the family to receive the holy sacrament with him, which he in perfect good understanding, though weak in body, being supported in his bed, consecrated and administered to himself and to the few other communicants, and died some few hours after he had performed that last office. He was very solicitous in his last sickness lest his body should fall into the hands of the inquisitors, for the prevention whereof this expedient was made use of, that the doctor dying in a ground chamber, the boards were taken up, and a grave being dug, the body, covered with a shroud, was deposited therein very deep, and four or five bushels of quicklime thrown upon it in order to consume it the sooner. Everything in the room was restored to the same order it was in before, and the whole affair, being committed only to a few trusty persons, was kept so secret as to escape the knowledge or suspicion of the Spaniards, and may so remain undiscovered till the resurrection.'

Beale greatly embellished the chapel of St. John's College, and left manuscripts and other books to the library. His portrait is in the master's lodge. Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards Lord Clarendon, in one of his manuscript papers styles Dr. Beale his worthy and learned chaplain, commemorates the blessings he had enjoyed from him, and bemoans his loss; while Baker, the historian of St. John's, declares him to have been one of the best governors the university or college ever had. Contributions of his are found in almost all the collections of poems published on state occasions by the university of Cambridge during his time.

[Addit. MSS. 5808 ff. 151, 152, 5858 f. 194, 5863 f. 91; Baker's Hist. of St. John's Coll. Camb., ed. Mayor; Cambridge Antiquarian Communications, ii. 157; Alumni Westmon. 73, 74; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Anglic., ed. Hardy; Bentham's Hist. of Ely, 231, 232; Bridges's Northamptonshire, i. 313; Cooper's Memorials of Cambridge, ii. 88; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, iii. 328; Prynne's Tryal of Abp. Laud, 73, 167, 177, 193, 357, 359, 360; Parr's Life of Abp. Usher, 471; Life of Dean Barwick, 22, 32, 41, 444; Baker's Northamptonshire, ii. 205.]

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