Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Griffith, Matthew

GRIFFITH, MATTHEW (1599?–1665), royalist divine, was born of ‘genteel parentage’ in London about 1599. He became a commoner of Brasenose College, Oxford, in May 1615; but graduated B. A. on 3 Feb. 1618 as a member of Gloucester Hall (Wood, Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 381; see also Reg. Univ. Oxon. vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 33). Migrating to Cambridge, he graduated M.A. from Christ's College in 1621. By the influence of Donne he was appointed lecturer of St. Dunstan-in-the-West, Fleet Street, and afterwards rector of St. Mary Magdalen, Old Fish Street (Newcourt, Repertorium,i. 472). About 1638 he was admitted to the terminal preacher's place in the Rolls, but on making his appearance in the chapel, he was forbidden to officiate by order of the master and his lady, who averred that he had made some untrue suggestion to the king. Griffith thereupon petitioned Charles to have the matter investigated by some of the lords of the council (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1638-9, pp. 206-7). Not long afterwards articles charging him with profanity and immorality were exhibited in the high commission court (ib. 1636-7, p. 262). On 18 March 1640 the case was referred to six commissioners, who drew up a report, but nothing further came of the affair (ib. 1640, pp. 401, 406). The king showed his disbelief in the accusations by presenting Griffith to the rectory of St. Benet Sherehog on the ensuing 29 April (Newcourt, i. 305). For preaching and publishing in 1642 a sermon entitled ‘A pathetical Perswasion to pray for publick peace,’ he was sequestered from both his livings and imprisoned. On regaining his liberty he took refuge with the king, and was made D.D. at Oxford on 16 June 1643, and one of the royal chaplains (Wood, Fasti Oxon. ii. 68). He fought in defence of Basing House. At its storming on 14 Oct. 1645, his daughter by her taunts provoked the roundheads to kill her (Sprigge, Anglia Rediviva, ed. 1854, p. 151). Returning to London about 1647, Griffith continued the use of the liturgy by stealth to small gatherings of cavaliers, and on that account suffered, it is said, four imprisonments. The near prospect of the restoration greatly excited him. On Sunday, 25 March 1660, he preached a very royalist sermon on Prov. xxiv. 21 in the Mercers' Chapel, which he published with certain accompaniments, as ‘The Fear of God and the King.… Together with a brief Historical Account of the Causes of our unhappy distractions and the onely way to heal them.’ The pamphlet was dedicated to Monck, and its vindictive spirit gave general offence. Griffith was sent to Newgate on 5 April (Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1649-50, p. 572). Milton thought it worth while to reply to Griffith in a tract called ‘Brief Notes upon a late Sermon,’ and was in turn attacked by Roger L'Estrange in ‘No Blinde Guides.’ On the king's return Griffith was restored to his rectory of St. Mary Magdalen, and subsequently obtained the rectory of Bladon, Oxfordshire, and the mastership of the Temple. He died at Bladon on 14 Oct. 1665, through rupturing a blood-vessel in preaching, and was buried in the chancel of the church. By his wife Sarah, daughter of Richard Smith, D.D., chaplain to Queen Anne of Denmark, he had five sons and five daughters. She died on 18 March 1677, in her eightieth year, and was buried on the 21st in Canterbury Cathedral (Registers, Harl. Soc. p. 125). Griffith's other writings are: 1. ‘Bethel; or a Forme for Families,’ 1633. 2. ‘A Sermon touching the Power of the King’ [anon.], 1643. 3. ‘A Generall Bill of Mortality of the Clergie of London, which have been defunct by reason of the contagious breath of the sectaries’ [anon.], 1646. 4. ‘The Catholique Doctor and his spiritual Catholicon to cure our sinful soules. A Communion-sermon,’ 1661. 5. ‘Christian Concord; or S. Pauls parallel between the body natural and mystical, exemplified in a sermon,’ 1661. 6. ‘The Spiritual Antidote to cure our sinful souls,’ a sacrament sermon, 1662. 7. ‘The King's Life-Guard. An anniversary sermon preached on Jan.30th,1664-5,’ 1665.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), iii. 711-13; Masson's Life of Milton, v. 667-9, 675-8, 689; Cal. of Clarendon State Papers, i. 406; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. 1660-1, pp. 110, 165, 166, 184; Commons' Journals, viii. 34, 528; Cromwell's Letters (Carlyle, 1871), i. 212; Pepys's Diary, 1848-9, i. 213; Edward Marshall's Woodstock Manor, pp. 299-300; [Thomas Cox's] Magna Britannia, iv. 375.]

G. G.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.142
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
234 i 8 Griffith, Matthew: after pt. ii. p. 33). insert Migrating to Cambridge, he graduated M.A. from Christ's College in 1621.
234 ii 12 for Queen Anne read Queen Anne of Denmark