Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hall, Richard

HALL, RICHARD, D.D. (d. 1604), catholic divine, a native of Lincolnshire or Yorkshire, was matriculated as a member of Clare Hall, Cambridge, in 1552. Migrating to Christ's College in that university, he proceeded B.A. in 1555–6. In 1556 he was elected a fellow of Pembroke Hall, and in 1559 he commenced M.A. (Cooper, Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 368). From incidental remarks in his ‘Life of Bishop Fisher,’ it appears that during Queen Mary's reign he was intimate enough with the leading catholics to dine with Bishop Gardiner, then lord chancellor, and other lords of the council. It is also clear that he composed this ‘Life’ before his withdrawal from England, and probably finished it about 1559. Being attached to the catholic religion he went into voluntary exile early in Elizabeth's reign. He proceeded first to Belgium, and afterwards to Rome, where he completed his theological studies, and took the degree of D.D. On his return to Belgium he was appointed by the abbot, Arnold de la Cambe, commonly called Gantois, to deliver lectures on divinity at the Benedictine monastery of St. Rictrudes at Marciennes, three leagues from Douay, on the Scarpe (Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus, p. 802). Afterwards he was made a canon of Saint-Géri at Cambray, but in consequence of the civil wars he was forced to retire to Douay. He took up his residence in the newly founded English College on 14 Dec. 1576, and laboured there for many years as professor of holy scripture. Pits, who made his acquaintance at Douay about 1580, has recorded that he often saw him disputing, lecturing, and preaching, sometimes in English and sometimes in French, and adds that he was ‘held in universal esteem.’ On the invitation of the Bishop of St. Omer, who had heard of his learning and zeal, he was made a canon of the cathedral of St. Omer, and official of the diocese. These latter offices he held till his death, which took place at St. Omer on 26 Feb. 1603–4. On the south side of the rood loft in the cathedral there is a tablet with a short Latin inscription to his memory (Addit. MS. 5803, f. 98).

Dodd describes Hall (Church Hist. ii. 70) as ‘an excellent casuist, and zealous promoter of church discipline; of a very retired life, and somewhat reserved in conversation.’ He was a severe and uncompromising moralist. His works are:

  1. ‘The Life of John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester,’ manuscript written probably about 1559. It is much to be regretted that this interesting and valuable biography has not yet been printed in a correct form. The work was left in manuscript by the author, after whose death it was deposited in the library of the English Benedictines at Dieulward in Lorraine. A copy fell into the hands of a person named West, from whom it passed in 1623 to Franciscus (Davenport) a Sanctâ Clarâ, and from him to Sir Wingfield Bodenham, who, having kept it for some years with the intention of printing it, lent it to Dr. Thomas Bayly [q. v.] The latter, after making many unwarrantable alterations, sold a transcript to a bookseller, who printed it in 1655. In the dedication Bayly speaks of the book as if he were the author of it. A second edition by Coxeter was published at London in 1739, 12mo. Bayly added to Hall's work nothing but verbiage and blunders, and Hall has thus been unjustly discredited. Lord Acton, in the ‘Quarterly Review’ (January 1877, p. 47), asserts that Hall wrote the ‘Life of Fisher’ on the continent about 1580, whereas it was written twenty years earlier, and in England, when Fisher's contemporaries were alive, and the author could have access to documents. The time, the place, and the character of the author are all guarantees of its authenticity, and contemporary documents recently published generally confirm its accuracy (Bridgett, Life of the Blessed John Fisher, preface). Nine copies of the original work are in the British Museum, viz. Arundel MS. 152; Harl. MSS. 250 (imperfect), 6382, 6896, 7047 (by H. Wanley), 7049 (a volume of Thomas Baker's collections; Hall's work begins at f. 137, and is transcribed from a copy then in the possession of John Anstis, with regard to which Baker has written, ‘This is taken from the best copy that I have seen; that at Caius College is not so perfect’); Lansd. MS. 423 (a copy in an Italian hand of the beginning of the eighteenth century, from a manuscript stated to have been then in the library of the Earl of Cardigan at Deene); and Addit. MSS. 1705, 1898. At Caius College, Cambridge, in MS. 195, there is another copy, and at Stonyhurst College there is an excellent manuscript, of which a transcript is preserved at St. Mary's catholic presbytery, Clapham (Gillow, Dict. of the English Catholics, iii. 94).
  2. ‘Opuscula quædam his temporibus pernecessaria de tribus primariis causis tumultuum Belgicorum, ad … Ludovicum à Berlaymont, Archiepiscopum et Ducem Cameracensem, libelli tres. Contra coalitionem multarum religionum, quam liberam religionem vocant, ad … Arnoldum de le Cambe, dict. Ganthois, Abbatem Marcianensem, tractatus unus. Libellus exhortatorius ad pacem quibusvis conditionibus cum rege catholico faciendam, ad … Jacobum Froye, Abbatem Hasnoniensem,’ Douay, 1581, 8vo.
  3. ‘Tractatus aliquot utilissimi pro defensione regiæ et episcopalis auctoritatis contra rebelles horum temporum,’ Douay, 1584, 12mo.
  4. ‘De Proprietate et Vestiario Monachorum aliisque ad hoc Vitium extirpandum necessariis liber unus,’ Douay, 1585, 8vo. This work gave offence in certain quarters.
  5. ‘De castitate Monachorum;’ a work suppressed, and never published.
  6. Latin hexameters and pentameters prefixed to the ‘Institutiones Dialecticæ’ of Dr. John Sanderson, canon of Cambray.
  7. ‘De Quinqvepartita Conscientia; i. Recta, ii. Erronea, iii. Dvbia, iv. Opinabili, seu opiniosa, et v. Scrvpvlosa, Libri III.,’ Douay, 1598, 4to.
  8. ‘Orationes variæ.’
  9. ‘Carmina diversa.’ He was also editor of Dr. John Young (Giovanus) ‘De Schismate, sive de Ecclesiasticæ Vnitatis Divisione Liber Vnus,’ Louvain, 1573, 8vo, Douay, 1603.

[Addit. MSS. 5851 f. 102, 5871 f. 3 b; Archæologia, xxv. 88; Ayscough's Cat. of MSS. p. 85; Davies's Athenæ Britannicæ, 1716, pref. p. 33; Douay Diaries, p. 425; Duthillœul's Bibl. Douaisienne, 1842, Nos. 65, 75, 76, 1552; Fuller's Church Hist. 1837, ii. 59, iii. 211; Hawes and Loder's Framlingham, p. 230; Peter Langtoft's Chronicle (Hearne), p. 550; Lewis's Life of Bishop Fisher, i. xxvii; Smith's Cat. of Caius College MSS. p. 99; Witte's Diarium Biographicum; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 528.]

T. C.