Gonell, William (DNB00)

GONELL, WILLIAM (d. 1546?), scholar and correspondent of Erasmus, a native of Landbeach, Cambridgeshire, proceeded B.A. at Cambridge 1484–5, and M.A. 1488, and probably maintained himself by teaching at the university, for Pits speaks of him as a ‘public professor.’ He became an intimate friend of Erasmus, who probably recommended him to Sir Thomas More, in whose household he succeeded Dr. Clement as tutor. He is said to have been attached at one time to Wolsey's household. In 1517 West, bishop of Ely, collated him to the rectory of Conington, Cambridgeshire. Gonell announces the fact in an extant letter to his friend Henry Gold of St. Neots, inquiring if Gold can hire a preacher of simple faith and honesty, and endeavouring to borrow Cicero's ‘Letters’ for More's use (Brewer, Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII, ii. 2, App. 17). Six short letters from Erasmus to Gonell are extant, which indicate a close intimacy between the two. The earliest was written in 1511, the latest in 1518. Erasmus was in the habit of lending his horse to Gonell. Dr. Knight (Life of Erasmus, pp. 176–8) touches upon the chief points of interest in the letters, and summaries of them will be found in Brewer's ‘Letters and Papers of Henry VIII's Reign.’ According to Tanner, Gonell was the author of ‘Ad Erasmum Roterodamensen Epistolarum Liber,’ which Dodd may allude to when he speaks of Erasmus's ‘letters to him extant’ (Church History, i. 205). Dodd calls him ‘an universal and polite writer.’ There are forty-four lines addressed to him in Leland's ‘Encomia’ (1589, p. 28), entitled ‘Ad Gonellum ut urbem relinquat.’ In Cole MS. ix. 50 the will of Gonell names among the executors ‘my brother Master William Gonell, Pryest,’ this is dated ‘Ult. Jan. 37 H. 8.’ The exact date of his death is not known.

[Brewer's Letters and Papers of the Reign of Henry VIII, ii. 1, 106, 115, 203, ii. 2, 1270, 1528, App. 17; the index to Erasmus's Letters in the Leyden edition of his works, under ‘Gonellus;’ Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 94, 537, where a list of references is given; Pits, De Rebus Anglicis, App. 1619, p. 854.]

R. B.