Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Freake, Edmund
FREAKE, EDMUND (1516?–1591), bishop successively of Rochester, Norwich, and Worcester, was born in Essex about 1516, and became a canon of the order of St. Augustine in the abbey of Waltham, in his native county. He appended his signature to the surrender of that house, dated 23 March 1539-40, and obtained an annual pension of 5l. He graduated in arts in the university of Cambridge, but the dates of his degrees are not known. He was ordained priest by Bishop Bonner on 18 June 1545.
In 1564 he became archdeacon of Canterbury, and on 25 Sept. in that year he was installed a canon of Westminster. He was one of Elizabeth's chaplains, and was appointed to preach before the queen in Lent 1564-5. On 25 Oct. 1565 he was by patent constituted one of the canons of Windsor. He was instituted to the rectory of Purleigh, Essex, on 13 June 1567, on the queen's presentation; and on 29 March 1568 he was holding a canonry in the church of Canterbury. On 10 April 1570 he was installed dean of Rochester. On 10 June in that year a grace passed the senate of the university of Cambridge for conferring upon him the degree of D.D., he having studied in that faculty for twenty years after he had ruled in arts (Cooper, Athenæ, Cantabr. ii. 96). In the following month he supplicated the university of Oxford for incorporation, but the result does not appear (Wood, Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 186). On 18 Sept. 1570 he was promoted to the deanery of Sarum. Shortly before 20 Nov. 1570 he resigned the rectory of Foulmire, Cambridgeshire, to which John Freake, M.A., was then instituted on the queen's presentation.
On 15 Feb. 1571-2 he was elected bishop of Rochester, the royal assent being given on the 28th of that month. He was consecrated at Lambeth 9 May 1572, being, as Archbishop Parker remarks, a serious, learned, and pious man (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, ii. 572). He was empowered to hold the archdeaconry of Canterbury and the rectory of Purleigh incommendam. On or about 29 May 1572 he became the queen's great almoner.
On 31 July 1575 he was elected bishop of Norwich, and on 12 Nov. following he had restitution of the temporalities (Blomefield, Norfolk, ed. 1806, iii. 558). He now resigned the archdeaconry of Canterbury. Serious complaints were made of his conduct as bishop. Writing to Secretary Walsingham on 28 Aug. 1578, Sir Thomas Heneage says the queen had been brought to believe well of divers zealous and loyal gentlemen of Suffolk and Norfolk, whom the foolish bishop had complained of to her as hinderers of her proceedings and favourers of presbyterians and puritans. On 9 Oct. following the privy council authorised commissioners to inquire into the matters in controversy between the bishop and Dr. John Becon [q. v.], his chancellor, the circumstances being so rare and strange as to seem incredible. On 12 Oct. the bishop wrote from Ludham to the council expressing his desire that Becon should not be readmitted to the office of chancellor of which he had deprived him. He adds that he had dissolved his court of audience, and that he intended to exercise the whole jurisdiction himself. The depositions taken by the commissioners contained grave charges against members of the bishop's household. It was alleged that Sir Thomas Cornwallis [q. v.] took care to place the chancellor with the bishop to serve his turn, that he intermeddled in high commissions and other matters, caused the default of the bishop's dealings against papists, shared in drunken banquettings of the bishop's servants, made scoffing excuses for coming to church, reproached the name of a minister, and vaunted his secretary's monkish profession at Brussels. Dr. Browne was charged with being the special means of acquainting Sir Thomas and the whole rabble of the papists with the bishop or Mrs. Freake, and linking them together. The bishop's wife was herself charged with purposing to remove the chancellor, directing her husband, speaking reproachfully of learned preachers, and wishing to turn every honest man out of the bishop's presence. The depositions sent by the commissioners to the council on 5 Nov. 1578 state that it was well known throughout all Norfolk that whatsoever Mrs. Freake would have done the bishop must and would accomplish, or she would make him weary of his life, as he complained with tears; and if any one came to the bishop without a present 'she will looke on him as the Divell lookes over Lincoln'(Cal. State Papers, Dom. Eliz., Addenda, 1566-79, p. 551). In December 1578 proposals were submitted for settling the controversy, and the bishop offered to compound with his chancellor, but it does not appear how the dispute terminated.
In 1579 there was a project to translate Freake to Ely, it being supposed that Dr. Richard Cox [q. v.] would resign that see. Freake, however, refused to accept the bishopric in the lifetime of Dr. Cox. When he found himself unable to correct the disorders occasioned by the puritans, he wrote from Ludham to the lord-treasurer, Burghley, on 29 Aug. 1583, requesting that he might either be removed to another diocese or else permitted to retire into private life (Strype, Annals, iii. 172, folio). Shortly after this he narrowly escaped getting into fresh trouble because two of the members of his household attended mass. On 26 Oct. 1584 the queen nominated him to the bishopric of Worcester. His election to that see took place on 2 Nov., and he was installed by proxy on 7 Feb. 1584-5. In the year of the Armada (1588) he and his clergy provided 150 'able foot men' who were ready to serve their country when and where they might be required. On 25 Jan. 1588-9 he wrote from Worcester to the queen, soliciting permission to be absent from parliament on account of ill-health. He is said to have died on 21 March 1590-1, but there is some doubt as to the accuracy of this date.
Cecily, his widow, died 'full of days' on 15 July 1599, and was buried at Purleigh. He had issue John, archdeacon of Norwich and rector of Purleigh; Edmund; and Martha, wife of Nathaniel Cole, sometime senior fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and ultimately vicar of Marsworth, Buckinghamshire.
His works are: 1. 'An Introduction to the loue of God. Accompted among the workes of S. Augustine, and set forth in his name, very profitable to moue all men to loue God for his benefits receaued,' London, 1574, 8vo. A translation, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. Robert Fletcher [q. v.] turned it into English metre, London, 1581, 8vo. 2. 'A Sermon at S. Paul's cross, 18 Nov. 1565, on Matt. xviii. 21. Notes in Tanner MS., 50 f. 27 b.[Abingdon's Cathedral of Worcester, pp. 65-7, 109; Addit. MS. 5869, f. 90; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), pp. 996, 998; Bedford's Blazon of Episcopacy, p. 81; Egerton MS. 1693, ff. 87, 100; Godwin, De Præsulibus (Richardson); Hackman's Cat. of Tanner MSS. 929, 930; Kennett. MS. 48, f. 157; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 927, ii. 476; Parker Correspondence, pp. 318, 319, 459, 475, 477; Rymer's Fœdera (1713), xv. 703, 705, 744, 749, 750; Calendars of State Papers, Dom. Eliz. (1547-80), pp. 382, 555, 562, 601, 602, 604, 607, 623, 642, (1581-90) pp. 32, 93, 190, 509, 575, 599, (Addenda, 1566-1579) p. 612, (Addenda, 1580-1625) p. 728; Strype's Works (general index); Stubbs's Registrum Sacrum Anglicanum, p. 85; Thomas's Survey of the Cathedral of Worcester, i. 116, ii. 210; Willis's Survey of Cathedrals, ii. 647; Wright's Elizabeth, ii. 145; Wright's Essex, ii. 668.]