Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bentham, Thomas

BENTHAM, THOMAS (1513–1578), bishop, was born at Sherburn, Yorkshine, in 1512-13. He was admitted perpetual fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, on 10 Nov. 1546, proceeded, M.A. 1547, and 'about that time did solely addict his mind to the study of theology and to the learning of the Hebrew tongue,' in which last he was most excellent, as in those of Greek and Latin.' On the accession of Mary he was turned out of his fellowship 'for his forward and malapert zeal against the catholic religion in the time of Edward VI, by the visitors appointed by her to regulate the university (Life of Jewell, 1573). He retired to Zurich and afterwards to Basle, and became preacher to the exiles there, to whom he delivered an exposition of the Acts of the Apostles. Being recalled by some of the brethren, he was made superintendent of them all in London, and continued among them 'in a timorous condition for some time.' Heylin (Hist. of the Reformation) says: 'Mr. Bentham continued minister of the protestant congregation in London till Queen Mary died,' and that 'by the encouragement and constant preaching of this pious man, the protestant party did not only stand to their former principles, but were resolved to suffer whatsoever could be laid on them rather than forfeit a good conscience.' On Elizabeth's succession he was appointed bishop of Lichfield and Coventry after Dr. Ralph Bayne. This was in 1559, in his forty-sixth year. In 1565 he was created D.D. He was in great repute for learning. He died at Eccleshall in Staffordshire on 21 (not 19, as Willis says) Feb. 1578, leaving a widow, Matilda. Bishop Bentham is now mainly remembered as having translated Ezekiel and Daniel (1568) in the Bishops' Bible. The initials T. C. L. stand for Thomas, Coventry and Lichfield. On his monumental toml) at Eccleshall, showing his own effigies and those of his wife and four children, is still to be read this inscription:

Hic jacet in tumlæ Benthamus episcopus ille
Doctor divinus largus patiens pius almus.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 816–17; Willis's Cathedrals; Anderson's and Eadie's Hist. of Bible; The Bishops' Bible; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 556.]

A. B. G.