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Creighton, Robert (1593-1672) (DNB00)

CREIGHTON or CRICHTON, ROBERT (1593–1672), bishop of Bath and Wells, son of Thomas Creighton and Margaret Stuart, who claimed kinship with the earls of Athole, and therefore with the royal house, was born at Dunkeld, Perthshire, in 1593, and was educated at Westminster, whence in 1613 he was elected to Trinity College, Cambridge. He proceeded M.A. in 1621, and on 27 Feb. 1622 was one of the opponents in a philosophical disputation held before the Spanish ambassador, Don Carlos Coloma, and other noble visitors, 'which he very learnedly handled' (Cole, Athenae Cantab.) In 1625 he was made professor of Greek, and on 27 Feb. 1627 succeeded his friend, George Herbert, as public orator of the university, holding both these offices until his resignation of them in 1639. In 1628 he was incorporated M.A. at Oxford. On 18 March 1631 he was installed prebendary in the cathedral of Lincoln, and on 17 Dec. of the following year he was made canon residentiary of Wells, holding also a living in Somersetshire, and the treasurership of the cathedral, to which he was appointed by Archbishop Abbot during the vacancy of the see. In 1637 he held the deanery of St. Burians in Cornwall, and in 1642 was vicar of Greenwich. At the outbreak of the civil war he retired to Oxford, where he was made D.D. and acted as the king's chaplain, holding the same office under Charles II. On the fall of Oxford he escaped into Cornwall in the disguise of a labourer and embarked for the continent. He was a member of the court of Charles II in his exile, and Evelyn heard him preach at St. Germain on 12 Aug. 1649 (Evelyn, Diary, i. 253). In 1653 he wrote from Utrecht to thank Margaret, marchioness (afterwards duchess) of Newcastle, for her book which she had sent him. During his exile the king appointed him dean of Wells. On entering on this office at the Restoration he found the deanery in the hands of Cornelius Burges [q. v.], who refused to surrender it, and forced him to bring an action of ejectment against him, and proceed to trial in order to obtain possession of it. He took an active part in restoring the cathedral from the dilapidated state into which it had fallen, partly by the mischief done in 1642 and partly by neglect, presenting the church with a brass lectern and bible and putting up a painted window at the west end, for which he paid 140l. (Cole), the whole cost of his gifts amounting to 300l. (Reynolds, Wells Cathedral). He preached often before the king and before the House of Commons, and Evelyn, who gives several notices of his sermons, says he was 'most eloquent' (Diary, i. 358). Pepys, who also admired his preaching, nevertheless calls him 'the most comical man that ever I heard in my life; just such a man as Hugh Peters,' and gives a description of a very plain-spoken sermon he heard from 'the great Scotchman' on 7 March 1662 on the subject of the neglect of 'the poor cavalier' (Pepys, Diary, i. 332). While Creighton's preaching was learned it was evidently full of freshness and energy. He was a fearless man, and in July 1667 preached 'a strange bold sermon' before the king 'against the sins of the court, and particularly against adultery, . . . and of our negligence in having our castles without ammunition and powder when the Dutch came upon us; and how we had no courage nowadays, but let our ships be taken out of our harbour' (ib. iv. 140). The king liked him the better for this boldness. On 22 June 1663 Creighton took the oaths for his naturalisation. On 25 May 1670 he was elected bishop of Bath and Wells and consecrated 19 June following. He died on 21 Nov. 1672, and was buried in St. John's Chapel in his cathedral. His marble tomb and effigy had been prepared by himself at great expense (Cole). Some time after 1639, when he was still fellow of Trinity, he married Frances, daughter of William Walrond, who survived until 30 Oct. 1683. By her he had Robert Creighton [q. v.] Besides contributing to the Cambridge collection of verses on the death of James I, Creighton published 'Vera Historia Unionis inter Graecos et Latinos sive Concilii Florentini exactissima narratio,' a translation into Latin from the Greek of Sgoropulos, the Hague, 1660, with a long preface; this was answered by the Jesuit Leo Allatius 'In R. Creygtoni apparatum versionem et notas,' Rome, 1674 (earlier editions of both these works must have appeared, comp. Evelyn's 'Diary,' i. 253), and to this Creighton made a reply. Wood also speaks of some published sermons. A portrait of Creighton is in the palace at Wells. The bishop's name is sometimes spelt Creeton and in various other ways.

[Cole's Athenæ Cantab.; Addit. MS. 6865, p. 3.; Wood's Fasti Oxon. i. 444; Willis's Cathedrals, ii. 164; Walker's Sufferings of the Clergy, ii. 72; Pepys's Diary, i. 332, ii. 133, iv. 140; Evelyn's Diary and Correspondence, i. 253, 358, ii. 88, 231; Salmon's Lives, p. 160; Welch's Alumni Westmon. p. 82; Reynolds's Wells Cathedral, pref. cliv; Somerset Archæol. Soc.'s Proc. xii. ii. 40; Cassan's Bishops of Bath and Wells, ii. 70–3.]

W. H.