Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Crome, Edward

CROME, EDWARD (d. 1562), protestant divine, was educated at Cambridge, taking the degrees of B.A. in 1503, M.A. in 1507, and D.D. in 1526. He was a fellow of Gonville Hall; but although his friend Archbishop Cranmer, also a Cambridge man, speaks of him as having been 'president of a college in Cambridge,' his name does not appear in the lists of heads. It may be that he acted as deputy to Dr. Bokenham, master of Gonville Hall, who was seventy-seven years of age when he resigned in 1536. In 1516 Crome was university preacher. He resided without interruption at Cambridge until he attracted the king's notice by his approval of Cranmer's book demonstrating the nullity of his marriage with Catherine of Arragon, and by his action as one of the delegates appointed by the university, 4 Feb. 1530, to discuss and decide the question of the same purport proposed by the king. During the following Lent he was three times commanded to preach before the king, and shortly after (24 May) was one of the representatives of his university who, together with a like number from Oxford, assisted the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop of Durham in drawing up a condemnation of the opinions expressed in certain English religious books, such as ‘The Wicked Mammon’ and ‘The Obedience of a Christian Man,’ which assailed the doctrines of purgatory, the merit derived from good works, invocation of saints, confession, &c.

It was probably about this time that he became parson of St. Antholin's Church in the city of London, a rectory in the gift of the dean and chapter of St. Paul's, but owing to the destruction of the registers in the fire of 1666 it is impossible to fix the date.

While at Cambridge Crome had gained some insight into the ideas of religious reformers by attending the meetings of ‘gospellers’ at the White Horse in St. Benet's, and in spite of his acquiescence in the prohibition of their books, his preaching was so coloured with their views that he was convented before the Bishop of London and examined, the king himself being present. The answers he gave were in accordance with the popular articles of belief, even in such matters as purgatory and the efficacy of fasting. There is extant a copy of them with remarks apparently added by him when reading them in his church, in which he endeavoured with some success to explain away the discrepancy between the articles he was reading and his previous opinions. His confession was immediately printed by the bishops, but his old friends thought it ‘a very foolish thing,’ and openly said that he was lying and speaking against his conscience in preaching purgatory.

Articles were formally produced against him, Latimer, and Bilney in the convocation of March 1531, but in consequence of his previous recantation no further steps were taken against Crome. In 1534 he removed to the church of St. Mary Aldermary, which Queen Anne Boleyn procured for him by her influence with Archbishop Cranmer, the patron. He was unwilling to make the change, and did not accept it until the queen wrote an urgent letter to him on the subject. A few years later (1539) Archbishop Cranmer tried to obtain for him the deanery of Canterbury, but was not successful.

About this period Crome is frequently mentioned in connection with Latimer, Bilney, and Barnes, and he was one of the preachers appointed by Humfrey Monmouth, a leading London citizen and great favourer of the gospel, to preach his memorial sermons in the church of All Hallows Barking.

After the passing of the Act of Six Articles in 1539, in consequence of which Latimer and Shaxton, bishop of Salisbury, resigned their bishoprics and were imprisoned, Crome preached two sermons which his enemies hoped would give them a handle; but hearing of his danger he immediately went to the king and prayed him to cease his severities. No proceedings were at that time taken against him, and not long after (July 1540) a universal pardon was granted. Crome did not, however, alter his opinions and preaching, and a controversy between him and Dr. Wilson having caused some stir in the city, they were both forbidden to preach again until they had been examined by the king and council. This was done on Christmas day 1540. The articles alleged against Crome were denial of justification by works, the efficacy of masses for the dead and prayers to saints, and the non-necessity of truths not deduced from holy scripture. His answer was an argument that these articles were true and orthodox; but the king, averse to severity in his case, only ordered him to preach at St. Paul's Cross and read a recantation with a statement that he would be punished if hereafter convicted of a similar offence. This he did, but as his sermon contained but little reference to the formal recantation which he read, his license to preach was taken away. This prohibition did not endure many years, for in Lent 1546 he again got into trouble for a sermon preached at St. Thomas Acres, or Mercers' Chapel, directed against the sacrifice of the mass. Being brought before Bishop Gardiner and others of the council he was ordered as before to preach in contradiction of what he had said at St. Paul's Cross, but his sermon rather hinted that the king's recent abolition of chantries showed that he held the same opinion. This was not considered satisfactory, and he had to perform a more perfect recantation on Trinity Sunday.

During the reign of Edward VI he appears to have lived quietly, for the only notices of him are a casual mention by Hooper a short time before he was made bishop of Gloucester, that Crome was preaching against him, and a letter, referred to by Strype, from a poor scholar asking for help. After Queen Mary's accession he was again arrested for preaching without license and committed to the Fleet (13 Jan. 1554), but a year elapsed before he was brought up for trial. In January 1555 many of his friends were examined and condemned. Hooper, Rogers, Bishop Ferrars of St. David's, and others were burnt. Crome was given time to answer, and having had some practice in the art of recantation made sufficient compliance to save himself from the stake. It was proposed that he, Rogers, and Bradford should be sent to Cambridge to discuss with orthodox scholars, as Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer had done at Oxford, but they refused, not expecting fair play. Their reasons were published in a paper which is printed by Foxe. How long he was kept in prison is doubtful. He died between 20 and 26 June 1562, and was buried in his own church, St. Mary Aldermary, on the 29th.

[Cal. of State Papers of Henry VIII, vols. iv. v. vii. viii.; Strype's Memorials, i. i. 492, ii. 369, iii. i. 92, 157, 221, 330, ii. 192; Annals, i. i. 545; Strype's Cranmer, 487, 495, 566, Par ker Soc. 3 Zur. 208, &c. (see Gough's Index); Foxe's Acts, v. 337, 351, 835, vi. 413, 533, 536, 588, vii. 43, 499; Burnet's Hist. Ref. i. 150, 271, iii. 254, 264, 346; Wilkins's Concilia, iii. 725, 737; Machyn's Diary, 51, 80, 81, 286; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 436; Cooper's Ath. Cant. i. 215.]

C. T. M.