Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Duncon, Eleazar

DUNCON, ELEAZAR (d. 1660), royalist divine, was probably matriculated at Queens' College, Cambridge, but took his B.A. degree as a member of Caius College, whence he was elected fellow of Pembroke Hall in 1618 (Antiquarians' Communications, Cambr. Antiq. Soc. i. 248). On 13 March 1624-5, being M. A., he was ordained deacon by Laud, then bishop of St. David's (Laud, Autobiography, Oxford, 1839, p. 33), receiving priest's orders from Neile, at that time bishop of Durham, on 24 Sept. 1626 (Hutchinson, Durham, ii. 188; Cosin, Correspondence, Surtees Soc. i. 200). He became a great favourite with Neile, who made him his chaplain, and gave him several valuable preferments. In January 1627-8, being then B.D., he was collated to the fifth stall in the church of Durham (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, iii. 312), obtaining the twelfth stall at Winchester 13 Nov. 1629 (ib. iii. 43). On 10 April 1633, having taken his doctor's degree in the previous March, he became rector of Haughton-le-Skerne, Durham (Surtees, Durham, iii. 342). He resigned his stall at Winchester, 24 April 1640, to succeed to the prebend of Knaresborough-cum-Brickhill in York Minster on the following 1 May (Le Neve, iii. 197). He was also chaplain to the king. Duncon, who was one of the most learned as well as ablest promoters of Laud's high church policy, was stripped of all his preferments by the parliament, and retired to the continent. In 1651 he was in attendance upon the English court in France, and officiated with other exiled clergymen in Sir Richard Browne's chapel at Paris (Evelyn, Diary, ed. 1879, ii. 20, 30 n.) During the same year he went to Italy (Cosin, Correspondence, i. 280), but in November 1655 he was living at Saumur, busied with some scheme of consecrating bishops (Clarendon, State Papers, vol. iii. appendix, pp. c, ci, ciii; Cosin, Works, Anglo-Cath. Libr., iv. 375 n. a). On 28 Aug. 1659 Cosin, writing from Paris to Sancroft, says of Duncon, 'now all his imployment is to make sermons before the English merchants at Ligorne and Florence' (Correspondence, i. 290). According to the statement of his friend, Dr. Richard Watson, it seems that Duncon died at Leghorn in 1660 (preface to Duncon's De Adoratione); in Barnabas Oley's preface to Herbert's 'A Priest to the Temple' he and his brother, John Duncon, are mentioned as having ' died before the miracle of our happy restauration.' His only known work, 'De Adoratione Dei versus Altare,' being his determination for the degree of D.D., 15 March 1633, appears to have been published soon after that date, and the arguments answered in a tract entitled 'Superstitio Superstes' (Cawdry, preface to Bowing towards the Altar). It was reprinted after the author's death by R. Watson, 12mo (Cambridge ?), 1660, an English version, by I. D., appearing a few months later, 4to, London (1661). A reply by Zachary Crofton [q. v.] entitled 'Altar Worship,' 12mo, London, 1661, giving small satisfaction to the puritans, a violent tirade by Daniel Cawdry [q. v.], 'Bowing towards the Altar . . . impleaded as grossely Superstitious,' 4to, London, 1661, came out shortly afterwards. Two of Duncon's letters to John Cosin, dated respectively 9 July 1637 and 20 April 1638, are in Additional MS. 4275, ff. 197, 198.

John Duncon, brother of Eleazar, was, as he says, holding a cure in Essex at the time of the civil war (preface to 3rd edition of The Returnes, &c.) After his deprivation he was received into the house of Lady Falkland. He is author of a quaint and once popular religious biography, 'The Returnes of Spiritual Comfort and Grief in a devout Soul. Represented (by entercourse of Letters) to the Right Honourable the Lady Letice, Vi-Countess Falkland, in her Life time. And exemplified in the holy Life and Death of the said Honorable Lady' (without author's name), 12mo, London, 1648; 2nd edition, enlarged, 12mo, London, 1649; another edition, 'with some additionals,' 12mo, London, 1653; 3rd edition, enlarged, 12mo, London, 1653. It was partly reproduced in the various editions of Dr. Thomas Gibbons's 'Memoirs of eminently Pious Women' (1777, 1804, 1815).

Another brother, Edmund Duncon, LL.B., was sent by Nicholas Ferrar [q. v.] of Little Gidding, near Huntingdon, to visit George Herbert during his last illness. Herbert placed the manuscript of 'A Priest to the Temple' in his hands, with an injunction to deliver it to Ferrar. Duncon afterwards became possessed of it, and promoted its publication (Oley, preface). He also gave some slight assistance to Walton when writing his life of Herbert. On 23 May 1663 he was instituted to the rectory of Friern Barnet, Middlesex (Newcourt, Repertorium, i. 606). He died in 1673. His son, John Duncon, M.A., a bachelor, succeeded to the living, but survived a few weeks only, dying at Cambridge in the beginning of 1673-4. Administration of his estate was granted to his sister, Ruth Duncon, 10 Feb. 1673-4 (Administration Act Book, P. C. C., 1674, f. 17 b). Unlike his brothers Edmund Duncon was a puritan (see his letter to John Ellis, Addit. MS. 28930, f. 24).

[Authorities cited above; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1629-31 pp. 20, 483, 1631-3, p. 77, 1633-1634 p. 150, 1636-7, p. 14, 1639-40, pp. 515, 539, 542, 1651-2, p. 271; Kennett's Register, p. 489; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. ix. 56, 184, 359.]

G. G.