Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jacob, Henry

JACOB, HENRY (1563–1624), sectary, born in 1563, was son of John Jacob, yeoman, of Cheriton, Kent (parish register). He matriculated at Oxford from St. Mary Hall on 27 Nov. 1581 (Oxf. Univ. Reg., Oxf. Hist. Soc., vol. ii. pt. ii. p. 111), and graduated B.A. in 1583 and M.A. in 1586 (ib. vol. ii. pt. iii. p. 116). His father left him property at Godmersham, near Canterbury. For some time he was precentor of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, but he never held the rectory of Cheriton. About 1590 he joined the Brownists, and upon the general banishment of that sect in 1593 he retired to Holland. On his return to England in 1597 he heard Bilson [q. v.], bishop of Winchester, preach at Paul's Cross on the article in the Apostles' Creed relating to Christ's descent into hell. He opposed Bilson's doctrine in 'A Treatise of the Sufferings and Victory of Christ in the Worke of our Redemption declaring … that Christ after his Death on the Crosse went not into Hell in his Soule,' 8vo (Middelburg ?), 1598. For this attack he was again compelled to fly to Holland, where he renewed the conflict in ' A Defence of "A Treatise,"' 4to, 1600.

Though a Brownist, Jacob allowed that the church of England was a true church in need of a thorough reformation. Hence he was commonly called a 'semiseparatist,' and his moderation involved him in a fierce controversy with Francis Johnson [q. v.]

For a time Jacob settled at Middelburg in Zealand, where he collected a congregation of English exiles. Thence he issued an address 'to the right High and Mightie Prince Iames,' entitled 'An humble Supplication for Toleration and Libertie to enioy and observe the ordinances of Christ Iesvs in th' administration of his Churches in lieu of humane constitutions,' 4to, 1609. The copy in the Lambeth Library contains marginal notes by the king. In 1610 he went to Leyden to confer with John Robinson (1575-1625) [q. v.], and ultimately adopted the latter's views in regard to church government, since known by the name of independency or Congregationalism. In 1616 he returned to London with the object of forming a separatist congregation similar to those which he and Robinson had organised in Holland; and the religious society which he succeeded in bringing together in Southwark is generally supposed to have been the first congregational church in England. In the same year he sent forth as the manifesto of this new sect 'A Confession and Protestation of the Faith of Certain Christians in England, holding it necessary to observe and keep all Christs true substantial Ordinances for his Church visible and political,' &c., 16mo, 1616, to which was added a petition to James I for the toleration of such Christians. He continued with this congregation about six years. In order to disseminate his views among the colonists of Virginia, he removed thither with some of his children in October 1622 and formed a settlement, which was named after him 'Jacobopolis.' He died in April or May 1624 in the parish of St. Andrew Hubbard, London (Probate Act Book, P. C. C., 1624). By his wife Sara, sister of John Dumaresq of Jersey, who survived him, he had several children.

Jacob's writings, other than those noticed, include:

  1. 'A Defence of the Churches and Ministery of Englande, written against the … Brownists,' &c., 2 pts., 4to, Middelburg, 1599. Francis Johnson rejoined in 'An Answer,' 1600.
  2. 'Reasons taken out of God's Word and the best humane testimonies proving a necessitie of reforming our Churches in England,' 4to (Middelburg ?), 1604, dedicated to James I.
  3. 'A Position against vainglorious and that which is falsly called learned Preaching,' 8vo, 1604.
  4. 'A Christian and Modest Offer of a … Conference … abovt the … Controversies betwixt the Prelats and the late silenced … Ministers in England,' 4to, 1606.
  5. 'Ministeriall Church,' 8vo, Leyden, 1610.
  6. 'A Plaine and Cleere Exposition of the Second Commandement,' 8vo [Leyden ?] 1610; another edition Middelburg, 1611.
  7. 'A Declaration and plainer opening of certain points … in a Treatise intituled "The Divine Beginning,"' &c., 12mo, Middelburg, 1611; another edit. 8vo, 1612.
  8. 'An Attestation of many … Divines … that the Church-governement ought to bee alwayes with the peoples free consent,' incidentally replying to Downame and Bilson, 8vo [Geneva?], 1613. To Jacob has been wrongly attributed 'A Counter-Poyson' (1584?), a reply to Richard Cosin [q. v.]; it was written by Dudley Fenner [q. v.]

Henry Jacob (1608-1652), son of the above, studied at Leyden; arrived in Oxford in 1628, and on recommendations made by William Bedwell [q. v.] to the Earl of Pembroke, the chancellor, was created B.A. In 1629 he was elected probationer-fellow of Merton College; became subsequently 'reader in philology to the juniors' there; and in 1641 was nominated superior beadle of divinity and proceeded bachelor of physic. Selden befriended him and learned much Hebrew from him, but he was shiftless and always in pecuniary difficulties, was expelled from his fellowship in 1648 by the parliamentary commissioners, and died at Canterbury 5 Nov. 1652. He was buried in the church of All Saints. Henry Birkhead published (Oxford, 1652) a collection of his Greek and Latin verse with two of his Oxford lectures, and Edmund Dickinson [q. v.] issued as his own (Oxford, 1655) Jacob's 'Delphi Phoenicizantes' (Wood, Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 329).

[Notes kindly communicated by R. J. Fynmore, esq.; Dexter's Congregationalism as seen in its Literature, passim; will of Henry Jacob, registered in P. C. C. 38, Byrde; Wood's Athenae Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 308-10, iii. 329; Brook's Lives of the Puritans, ii. 330-4; Jacob and Glascott's Families of Jacob, pp. 6-7; Hanbury's Historical Memorials, i. 292.]

G. G.