Chappell, William (DNB00)

CHAPPELL, WILLIAM (1582–1649), bishop of Cork, was the son of Robert Chappell, and born at Laxton, Nottinghamshire, on 10 Dec. 1582. He was educated ‘in grammaticals’ at Mansfield grammar school, and when seventeen years old was sent. to Christ’s College, Cambridge, where he was elected a scholar. His career at the university was distinguished above that of most of his fellows. Want of means threatened at one time to sever his connection with Cambridge, but the hope of a fellowship was held out to him, and in 1607 this hope was fulfilled. As a college tutor his fame spread far and wide. Milton was at first placed under his charge, and Mr. Masson extracted from the college records and ublished in his life of Milton the names of many other youths entered under Chapppll and his fellow-tutors. John Shaw, the well-known vicar of Rotherham, styled him ‘a very acute learned man, and a most painfull and vigilant tutor.’ Hieron, a well-known puritan divine, gives him the highest character as ‘a learned, painfull, careful tutor.’ He was called ‘a rich magazine of rational learning,' and was praised by Fuller as ‘a most subtle disputant.’ An instance of Chappell’s excellence in disputation occurred in 1615. He was an opponent in a disputation held before James I on certain points of controversy between protestantism and the papacy, and is said, so runs the general story, to have pushed his case so hard, that the correspondent, William Roberts of Trinity, afterwards bishop of Bangor, fell away in a swoon. The king himself then entered the lists, but fared little better in the discussion, and thereupon gracefully retired from the contest with compliments on Chappell’s excellence. This is the accepted version of antiquity, but it has been discovered that it was Cecil, the moderator, who fainted, and that he had been in bad health for some time. The strictness of Chappell’s conversation while at Christ’s was proverbial in the university, but his days were not absolutely happy, for there were a few theologians at Camlbridge who accused him of Arminianism, a charge which was also brought against him in later life, while by most. of his contemporaries he was deemed a puritan. Whether he was unduly severe towards the young men under his care is equally doubtful, but he was the tutor who has been accused of having whipped Milton, and it is certain that the young undergraduate wus transferred to another’s charge. After he had spent many years in college life at Cambridge, he obtained the patronage of Laud. Through Laud’s influence he was appointed to the deanery of Cashel, being installed on 20 Aug. 1633; and through the same means he was nominated provost of Trinity College, Dublin. Chappell preferred, or proiessed to prefer, a more retired life, and he spent some months in England (May to August 1634) in vain endeavours to escape this distinction. His election as provost took place on 21 Aug. 1634, but, through the delay caused by a change in the college statutes, he was not sworn in until 5 June 1637. For two years, from 1636 to 1638, he held the post of treasurer of St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, but in the latter year he was elevated, through the partiality of Laud and Strafford, to the see of Cork and Ross, and was consecrated bisho at St. Patrick’s, Dublin, on 11 Nov. 1638. His love of retirement led him to decline the honour of being raised to the episcopal bench, but his wishes were again overruled, and through the royal pressure he was compelled to retain the provostship of Trinity College until 20 July 1640. His eyes were ever turned towards the shores of England, and he applied to be transferred to a smaller bishopric in his native country, but his wishes were not gratified. When Laud and Stratford fell under the condemnation of parliament, their friends were involved in their ruin. Chappell was attacked in the House of Commons with great fury, and was for some time placed under restraint in Dublin. It was his misfortune to be regarded while at Cambridge as a puritan through the strictness of his life, an to be considered in Ireland as a papist through his love of ceremonies. He was at last liberated from his confinement, and on 26 Dec. 1641 he sailed away towards England. The terrors of the voyage, which he himself described, did not diminish the pleasure with which, after being tossed on the deep for twenty-four hours, he landed at Milford. He soon moved to Pembroke, and thence to Tenby, pithily designated the worst of all towns, where he was again thrown into prison by the authority of the mayor (25 Jan. 1642). He languished in confinement until 16 March, when he secured his freedom through the intercession of Sir Hugh Owen, baronet and member for the borough of Pembroke; but Chapell’s liberation was not effected until he had given his own bond for l,000l. to hold the mayor harmless. Even then further troubles awaited him. On his arrival at Bristol he found that the ship bearing the books which he loved had been wrecked off Minehead, and that his treasures were beneath the seas. Worn out with misfortunes, he retired to his native soil. During the rebellion he spent some time in Bilsthorpe in Nottinghamshire, in the company of Gilbert Benet, the rector of the parish, and when he died at Derby on Whit. Sunday, 14 May 1649, his body was carried to Bilsthorpe and buried near that of his mother on 16 May. His younger brother, John Chappell, a good preacher and theologian, predeceased aim, and was buried in the church of Mansfield Woodhouse. A monument to the memory of both brothers was placed in Bilsthorpe Church by Richard Sterne, archbishop of York. Chappell left his property equally between his own kin-dred and those in distress, the sum of 5l. being given to the poor of Bilsthorpe. Fuller describes 'his charity' as 'not impairing his duty, and his duty' as 'not prejudicing his charity.'

Chappell's life, written by himself in Latin iambics, is printed by Hearne in vol. v. of Leland's 'Collectanea,' pp. 261-8, in the 1770 edition, and by Peck in his 'Desiderata,' pp. 414-22. He was the author of an anonymous Latin treatise entitled 'Methodus Concionandi,' London, 1648. An English translation by some unknown hand was published in 1656 with the bishop's name on the title-page, and to this was prefixed the title of 'The Preacher, or the Art and Method of Preaching.' He was also the author of a discourse called the 'Use of the Holy Scripture, gravely and methodically discoursed,' and Beaupré Bell suggested his name as a likely author of the 'Whole Duty of Man,' but the suggestion never received any support.

[Fuller's Worthies, sub 'Nottinghamshire' (1840 ed.), ii. 571; Masson's Milton, i. 104-6, 135-6; Thoroton's Nottinghamshire, ii. 311, 315, iii. 193-4; Nichols's Literary Anecd. ii. 600-4; Yorkshire Diaries (Surtees Soc.), 1877, pp. 123, 416-17; Robt. Porter's Life of Hieron, pp. 3-4; Thoresby's Correspondence, ii. 270; Cooper's Annals of Camb. ii. 85-6; Cotton's Fasti Eccl. Hibern. i. 108, 184-5, ii. 124.]

W. P. C.