Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bishop, William

BISHOP, WILLIAM, D.D. (1554–1624), bishop of Chalcedon, the son of John Bishop, who died in 1601 at the age of ninety-two, was born of a 'genteel family' at Brailes in Warwickshire in or about 1554. 'Though always a catholic' (Dodd, Church Hist. ii. 361), he was sent to the university of Oxford in the seventeenth year of his age, 'in 1570, or thereabouts;' and Wood conjectures that he studied either in Gloucester Hall or Lincoln College, which societies were then governed by men who were catholics at heart. It has indeed been surmised, with some appearance of probability, that he was the William Bishop who matriculated at Cambridge, as a member of Trinity College, on 2 Dec. 1572, and who took the degree of B.A. in that university in 1585 (MS. Addit. 5863 f. 156 a), but the biography in Pits's work, 'De illustribus Angliæ Scriptoribus' (1619), the preface to which was written by Bishop himself, must be taken as conclusive evidence that he studied at Oxford. After remaining there three or four years he settled his paternal estate, which was considerable, upon his younger brother, and went over to the English college at Rheims, where he began his theological studies, which he subsequently pursued at Rome. He then returned to Rheims, was ordained priest at Loan in May 1583, and was sent to the English mission, but being arrested on his landing, he was taken before secretary Walsingham and was imprisoned in the Marshalsea with other priests. Towards the close of the year 1584 he was released, and proceeded to Paris, where he studied with great application for several years, and was made a licentiate of divinity. He returned to England upon the mission, 15 May 1591. After labouring here for about two years he returned to Paris to complete the degree of D.D., and then came back to England.

When a dispute arose between George Blackwell [q. v.], the archpriest, and a number of his clergy, who appealed against him for maladministration and exceeding his commission, Bishop and John Charnock were sent to Rome by their brethren to remonstrate against him. On their arrival they were both taken into custody by order of Cardinal Cajetan, the protector of the English nation, who had been informed that they were turbulent persons and the head of a factious party. They were confined in the English college under the inspection of Father Robert Parsons, the jesuit. After a time they regained their liberty and returned to England. [For the result of the dispute see Blackwell, George.] The catholics were greatly alarmed in King James's reign by the new oath of allegiance, and Bishop had his share in those troubles; he was committed prisoner to the Gatehouse, although he and twelve other priests had given ample satisfaction as to all parts of civil allegiance in a declaration published by them in the last year of Queen Elizabeth's reign. He was examined on 4 May 1611, when he said he was opposed to the Jesuits, but declined to take the oath of allegiance, as Blackwell and others had done, because he wished to uphold the credit of the secular priests at Rome, and to get the English college there out of the hands of the Jesuits (State Papers, James I, Dom. vol. lxiii.) On being again set at liberty he went to Paris and joined the small community of controversial writers which had been formed in Arras College.

Ever since the death of Thomas Goldwell, bishop of St. Asaph, in 1585, when, according to the view taken by Roman catholics, the ancient hierarchy came to an end, the holy see had been frequently importuned to appoint a bishop for England. Some obstacle always intervened, but at length, after three archpriests had been appointed in succession to govern the secular clergy, the holy see acceded to the wishes of the English catholics, and nominated Bishop as vicar-apostolic and bishop elect of Chalcedon in February 1622-3. In the following month a bull issued for his consecration, and it was followed almost immediately by a brief, conferring on him episcopal jurisdiction over the catholics of England and Scotland. 'When thou shalt be arrived in those kingdoms,' says the brief, 'we give thee license, at the good will of ourselves and our successors in the holy see, freely and lawfully to enjoy and use all and each of those faculties committed by our predecessors to the archpriests, as also such as ordinaries enjoy and exercise in their cities and dioceses.' Thus Bishop had ordinary jurisdiction over the catholics of England and Scotland, but it was revocable at the pleasure of the pope, so that in the language of curialists he was vicar-apostolic with ordinary jurisdiction. In exercise of his power he instituted a dean and a chapter as a standing council for his own assistance, with power, during the vacancy of the see, to exercise episcopal ordinary jurisdiction, professing at the same time that 'what defect might be in his own power he would supplicate his holiness to make good from the plenitude of his own.' The appointment of this chapter occasioned many warm debates between the secular and the regular clergy. Bishop was consecrated at Paris on 4 June 1623, and he landed at Dover on 31 July. The summer he spent in administering the sacrament of confirmation to the catholics in and near London. He passed most of the winter in retirement, intending to visit the more remote parts of the kingdom in the spring, but falling sick at the residence of Sir Basil Brook, at Bishop's-court near London, he died on 13 April 1624. Wood is mistaken in supposing that Bishop was in his latter days a member of the order of St. Benedict.

His works are : 1. 'Reformation of a Catholic deformed by Will. Perkins,' 2 parts, 1604-7, 4to. 2. 'A Reproofe of M. Doct, 1 Abbot's Defence of the Catholike Deformed by M.W. Perkins. Wherein his sundry abuses of Gods sacred word, and most manifold mangling, misaplying, and falsifying the auncient Fathers sentences, be so plainely discouered, euen to the eye of euery indifferent reader, that whosouer hath any due care of his owne saluation, can neuer here-after giue him more credit, in matter of faith and religion,' 2 parts, Loud. 1608, 4to. 3. 'Disproof of Dr. R. Abbots counter-proof against Dr. Bishops reproof of the defence of Mr. Perkins' reform. Cath.,' Paris 1614, 4to, i part i. 4. 'Defence of the King's honour i and his title to the Kingdom of England.' 5. Several pieces concerning the archpriest's jurisdiction. 6. Preface to John Pits's book, 'De illustribus Angliae Scriptoribus,' Paris, 1619. 7. 'An Account of the Faction and Disturbances in the Castle of Wisbech, occasioned by Father Weston, a Jesuit,' MS.

In the second part of Thomas Scot's 'Vox Populi, or Newes from Spayne ' (1624), there is a curious picture of Bishop presiding at a meeting of the Jesuits and prists : as they vse to sitt at Counsell in England to further ye Catholicke Cause.'

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 356, 862 ; Dodd's Church Hist. ii. 361, iii. 58, and Tierney's edit. iv. 137, App. 269 et seq. v. 92, App. 246 ; Husenbeth's Notices of English Colleges, 18; Douay Diaries ; Berington's Memoirs of Panzani ; Ullathorne's Hist, of the Restoration of the Catholic Hierarchy, 12 ; Flanagan's Hist, of the Church in England, ii. 290, 306-308 ; Pits, De illustr. Angl. Script. 810 ; Weldon's Chronological Notes, 129, 130, 193; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1611-18, p. 28, Dom. Addend. 1580-1625, p. 296, 312, 411, 412, 414; MS. Burney 368, f. 100, 1006; Butler's Hist. Memoirs, ii. 269 ; Granger's Biog. Hist, of England (1824), ii. 77; Fuller's Worthies, ed. Nichols, i. 417.]

T. C.