Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/White, John (1570-1615)

WHITE, JOHN (1570–1615), divine, son of Peter White, vicar of St. Neots, Huntingdonshire, and of the neighbouring parish of Eaton Socon, Bedfordshire, was born at Eaton Socon in 1570, and educated at St. Neots grammar school. He was admitted a sizar of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, on 15 Feb. 1585–6, was scholar from Lady-day 1588 to Michaelmas 1592, and graduated B.A. in 1589–90, M.A. in 1593, and D.D. in 1612. He was appointed vicar of Eccles, Lancashire, and fellow of the Collegiate Church, Manchester, in 1606, and resigned these offices in 1609 on being presented by Sir John Crofts to the rectory of Barsham, Suffolk. In 1614 or 1615 he was made chaplain in ordinary to James I.

White in his will speaks of the ‘distresses’ that he suffered at Eccles, ‘which I was never able to look through to this day.’ It is inferred from this that he was in poverty when he died, at the age of 45, in 1615, in Lombard Street, London. He was buried on 28 May 1615 at the church of St. Mary Woolnoth. He left seven children. The eldest, John, entered Gonville and Caius College in 1611, aged 16, and became vicar of Eaton Socon; another son is mentioned by Fuller as a druggist in Lombard Street, London.

White wrote ‘The Way to the True Church: wherein the principal Motives perswading to Romanisme are familiarly disputed and driven to their Issues,’ London, 1608, 4to. Further editions of this learned defence of the reformed faith came out in 1610, 1612, and 1616.

It was answered at first by A. D. or Fisher, alias Piercy, to whom White rejoined in ‘A Defence of the Way to the True Church against A.D. his Reply,’ 1614, 4to. White's ‘Defence’ occasioned ‘A Discovery of certain notorious Shifts, Evasions, and Untruths uttered by M. J. White … By W. G.,’ London, 1619, 4to. Meanwhile White's original work evoked Thomas Worthington's ‘Whyte dyed Black, or a Discovery of many most Foule Blemishes, Impostures and Deceipts which D. Whyte hath practysed in his Book,’ &c., 1615, 4to. A reply to Worthington was published after White's death, namely in 1617, by his brother Francis White [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Ely. A third reply to White's original book was ‘A Treatise of the Church, in which it is proved Mr. J. W. his Way to the True Church to be indeed no Way at all to any Church,’ 1616, 4to.

John White also published: 1. ‘English Paradise, discovered in a Latine Prospect of Jacobs Blessing, a Sermon on Gen. xxvii. 27,’ London, 1612, 4to. 2. ‘Two Sermons: the Former at Pauls Crosse on 1 Tim. ii. 1, upon the Anniversary Commemoration of the Kings most happy Succession to the Crowne of England; the Latter at the Spittle on 1 Tim. vi. 17,’ London, 1615, 4to. His works were collected and republished by his brother Francis in 1624 in one volume folio, with a portrait of the author.

[Fuller's Worthies, ed. Nuttall, ii. 103; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 236; Gorham's Eynesbury and St. Neots, 1820, p. 223; Raines's Fellows of Manchester College, i. 104; Venn's Biographical Hist. of Gonville and Caius College, 1897, i. 127; French's Chetham's Church Libraries, p. 52; Arber's Stationers' Register, iii. 382; Granger's Biogr. Hist. 1824, ii. 62; Thoresby's Ducatus Leodiensis, ed. Whitaker, p. 255 (wrong with respect to White's parentage); Catalogues of Brit. Mus., Bodl. Libr., and Manchester Free Libr.; note from the Rev. J. M. S. Brooke, rector of St. Mary Woolnoth.]

C. W. S.