Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cranford, James

479082Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 13 — Cranford, James1888Sidney Lee

CRANFORD, JAMES (1592?–1657), presbyterian divine, son of James Cranford, master of the free school of Coventry and Dugdale's first instructor, was born at Coventry about 1592. He entered Balliol College, Oxford, in 1617, and proceeded B.A. 17 Oct. 1621, and M.A. 20 June 1624. He took holy orders; became rector of Brookhall or Brockhole,Northamptonshire, and on 16 Jan.1642-3 rector of St. Christopher, London. 'He was a painful preacher,' writes Wood, 'of the doctrine he professed (being a zealous presbyterian), an exact linguist, well acquainted with the fathers, not unknown to the schoolmen, and familiar with the modern divines.' Under the Commonwealth he was a licenser for the press, and prefixed many epistles to the books which he allowed to go to the press. Early in 1652 he held two disputations at the house of Mr. William Webb in Bartholomew Lane, with Dr. Peter Chamberlen, on the questions: '1. Whether or no a private person may preach without ordination? 2. Whether or no the presbyterian ministers be not the true ministers of the gospel?' Cranford argued in the negative on the first question, and in the affirmative on the second. A full and interesting report of the debate was published 8 June 1652. He died 27 April 1657, and was buried in the church of St. Christopher. A son, James Cranford, was also in holy orders and succeeded his father in the living of St. Christopher, but died in August 1660. Three other sons, Joseph, Samuel, and Nathanael, entered Merchant Taylors' School in June 1644 (Robinson, Register, i. 161). The elder Cranford wrote: 1. 'Confutation of the Anabaptists,' London, n. d. 2. 'Expositions on the Prophecies of Daniel,' London, 1644. 3. 'Haereseomachia, or the Mischief which Heresies do,' London, 1646, a sermon preached before the lord mayor 1 Feb. 1645-6, to which a fierce reply was issued in broadsheet form, under the title of 'The Clearing of Master Cranford's Text' (8 May 1646). Cranford also contributed a preface to the 'Tears of Ireland,' 1642, the whole of which is usually attributed to him. It is an appalling, although clearly exaggerated, account of the cruelties inflicted on the protestants in Ireland in the rebellion of 1641, and is illustrated with terribly vivid engravings. Prefatory epistles by Cranford appear in Richard Stock's 'Stock of Divine Knowledge ' (addressed to Lady Anne Yelverton), London, 1641; in Edwards's 'Gangraena,' pt. i. and pt. ii. London, 1646; Christopher Lover's 'The Soul's Cordiall,' 1652; and in B. Woodbridge's 'Sermons on Justification,' 1652. In 1653 the last contribution was severely criticised by W. Eyre in his 'Vindiciae Justificationis Gratuitae,' in which Cranford's doctrine of 'conditional' justifi-cation by faith is condemned.

[Wood's Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 430-1; Wood's Fasti (Bliss), i. 397, 415, ii. 13 ; Newcourt's Diocese of London, i. 324 ; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

S. L. L.