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Crompton, William (1599?-1642) (DNB00)


CROMPTON, WILLIAM (1599?–1642), puritan divine, a younger son of Richard Crompton, counsellor-at-law [q. v.], was born about 1599 in the parish of Leigh, Lancashire, and educated at the Leigh grammar school and at Brasenose College, Oxford, where he entered as commoner on 10 April 1617, aged eighteen years. He took his B.A. degree on 20 Nov. 1620, and M.A. on 10 July 1623, and in the following year was ‘preacher of God's word’ at Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire, when he wrote his first work, ‘Saint Austins Religion: wherein is manifestly proued out of the Workes of that Learned Father … that he dissented from Poperie and agreed with the Religion of the Protestants,’ London, 4to. This was reissued in 1625 with an additional treatise (entered at Stationers' Hall 3 Aug. 1624) entitled ‘Saint Austins Summes: or the Summe of Saint Austins Religion … wherein the Reader may plainly and evidently see this conclusion proved that S. Austin … agreed with the Church of England in all the maine Poynts of Faith and Doctrine. In Answer to Mr. John Breereley, Priest’ [i.e. James Anderton [q. v.] ]. The latter work, after being ‘purged of its errors’ by Dr. Daniel Featley [q. v.], was licensed by him, but the king (James I) found fault with certain passages, and both author and licenser were called before his majesty. The interview, which ended in the king being satisfied with the orthodoxy of the treatise and in his rewarding the author with ‘forty pieces of gold,’ is narrated by Featley in his ‘Cygnea Cantio: or Learned Decisions, and most prudent and pious directions for Students in Divinitie; delivered by our late Soveraigne of Happie Memorie, King James, at Whitehall a few weekes before his Death,’ London, 1629, 4to. A different account of the matter is given in Archbishop Laud's ‘Diary’ (edited by Wharton, 1695, p. 14), from which it would appear that the archbishop himself revised Crompton's papers and, by the king's command, ‘corrected them as they might pass in the doctrine of the Church of England.’

Crompton's tutor in his theological studies and instructor in his anti-papal views was Dr. Richard Pilkington, rector of Hambleden and of Little Kimble, Buckinghamshire, whose daughter he married. He became acquainted with Dr. George Hakewill, rector of Heanton Punchardon, Devonshire, by whom he was induced to remove to Barnstaple. He was lecturer there under Martin Blake, the vicar, from 1628 to 1640, and was held in great esteem by the ‘puritanical’ people of that place, although his teaching was obnoxious to the ‘orthodox.’ At length, through jealousy of the vicar or other cause, he was obliged to leave Barnstaple, and, according to Calamy, it was observed that that town afterwards ‘dwindled both in riches and piety.’ While residing at Barnstaple he published: 1. ‘A Lasting Jewell for Religious Women … a sermon … at the Funeral of Mistress Mary Crosse,’ London, 1630, 4to. 2. ‘A Wedding-ring, fitted to the finger of every paire that have or shall meete in the fear of God,’ London, 1632, 4to. This sermon, which is dedicated to William Hakewill, the lawyer, was reprinted in ‘Conjugal Duty, set forth in a collection of ingenious and Delightful Wedding Sermons,’ 1732. 3. ‘An Explication of those Principles of Christian Religion exprest or implyed in the Catechism of our Church of England …,’ London, 1633, 12mo.

He was afterwards pastor of the church of St. Mary Magdalene, Launceston. Anthony à Wood states that he ‘continued there about four years,' but this seems too long a period, as in the Barnstaple municipal accounts there is an entry so late as 1640 of the payment of a gratuity of 8l. towards his house rent. He died at Launceston in January 1641-2, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Magdalene on the 5th of that month. His funeral sermon was preached by George Hughes, B.D., of Tavistock, and published, with additions, under the title of 'The Art of Embalming Dead Saints,' &c. Lond. 1642, 4to.

He was father of William Crompton, non-conformist minister and author [q. v.], born at Little Kimble 13 Aug. 1633.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss). iii. 23; Fasti Oxon. i. 392, 411; Calamy's Account, 1713, ii. 247; Chanter's Memorials of Ch. of St. Peter, Barnstaple, 1882, p. 103; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Early English Books, i. 65, 428; Arber's Transcript of Stationers' Register, iv. 121, 225, 268, 298; Boase and Courtney's Bibliotheca Cornub, i. 99, iii. 1142; information kindly communicated by Rev. J. Ingle Dredge of Buckland Brewer, Devonshire.]

C. W. S.