Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fowler, John (1537-1579)

FOWLER, JOHN (1537–1579), catholic printer and scholar, born at Bristol in 1537, was admitted in 1551 to Winchester School, whence he proceeded to Oxford, and was a fellow of New College in that university from 4 Oct. 1553 to 1559. He was admitted B.A. 23 Feb. 1556–7, and took the degree of M.A. in 1560, though he did not complete it by standing in the comitia. Dr. George Acworth [q. v.], in his reply to Sanders, asserts that Fowler, in the first year of Elizabeth's reign, took the oath renouncing the pope's supremacy, in order that he might retain the valuable living of Wonston, Hampshire, to which he had been instituted (De visibili Romanarchiâ, pp. 33, 34). However this may be, he left England in consequence of the changes of religion soon after the queen's accession and retired to Louvain, where he set up a printing press, which he afterwards removed to Antwerp, and finally to Douay. He printed and published several important works written by the exiled clergy, in support of the catholic cause. Henry Simpson, in his examination at York on 11 Oct. 1571, stated that Fowler printed all the English books at Louvain, written by Harding or others, and that the Duke of Alva's printer in Brussels produced all the Latin works which were written against the doings in England. He added that William Smith, a Welshman, servant to Dr. Harding, commonly brought the books to the press (Cal. of State Papers, Dom. Eliz. 1566–79, p. 365). Wood says ‘he was well skill'd in the Greek and Latin tongues, a tolerable poet and orator, and a theologist not to be contemn'd. So learned he was also in criticisms, and other polite learning, that he might have passed for another Robert or Henry Stephens’ (Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 441). Dr. (afterwards Cardinal) Allen calls him ‘catholicissimus et doctissimus librorum impressor,’ in a letter addressed from Rheims in 1583 to Father Alphonsus Agazzari, rector of the English seminary at Rome, asking his interest in favour of Fowler's brother Henry, then in necessitous circumstances in that city (Records of the English Catholics, ii. 216). Fowler married Alice, daughter of John Harris, formerly secretary to Sir Thomas More, and died at Namur on 13 Feb. 1578–9, being buried near the body of his father-in-law, in the church of St. John the Evangelist (Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, p. 772). His widow lived afterwards at Douay, where she entertained several of the English exiles as boarders (Dodd, Church Hist. i. 532).

His works are: 1. ‘An Oration against the unlawfull Insurrections of the Protestantes of our Time under pretence to reforme Religion,’ translated from the Latin of Peter Frarinus, Antwerp, 1566, 8vo. A reply by Dr. William Fulke appeared under the title of ‘An apologie of the professors of the Gospel in Fraunce against the railing declamation of Peter Frarine, a Louvanian, turned into English by John Fowler,’ was afterwards printed with William Clarke's ‘Treatise against the Defense of the Censure,’ Cambridge, 1586, 8vo. 2. ‘Ex Universa Summa … S. Thomæ Aquinatis desumptæ Conclusiones,’ Louvain, 1570, 8vo; Venice, 1572, 8vo, dedicated to Goldwell, the exiled bishop of St. Asaph. 3. ‘M. Maruli Dictorum factorumque memorabilium libri sex,’ edited with numerous corrections by Fowler, Antwerp, 1577, 8vo; Paris, 1586, 8vo. 4. Additiones in Chronica Genebrandi, 1578. 5. ‘A Psalter for Catholics,’ a controversial work, which elicited from Thomas Sampson, dean of Christ Church, ‘A Warning to take heed of Fowler's Psalter,’ Lond. 1578, 8vo (Strype, Annals, i. 476, Append. p. 159, fol.). 6. Epigrams and other verses.

He also edited Sir Thomas More's ‘Dialogue of Comfort against Tribulation,’ Antwerp, 1573, 8vo. Wood ascribes to him the English version of the ‘Epistle of Orosius’ (Antwerp, 1565), but the title-page shows that the translation was really made by Richard Shacklock.

[Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), iii. 1617, 1618, 1619, 1620, 1622, 1626, 1635, 1836; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 294; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Boase's Register of the Univ. of Oxford, i. 354; Kirby's Winchester Scholars, p. 130; Lansd. MS. 96, art. 51; Fulke's Defence of the Translations of the Scriptures (Hartshorne), p. x; Fulke's Stapleton's Fortress Overthrown (Gibbings), pp. 3, 215.]

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