Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Heywood, Jasper
HEYWOOD, JASPER, D.D. (1535–1598), jesuit and poet, younger son of John Heywood [q. v.] the epigrammatist, and brother of Ellis Heywood [q. v.], was born in London in 1535. When a boy he was one of the pages of honour to the Princess Elizabeth. In 1547 he was sent to Oxford. He was admitted B.A. 15 July 1553, and M.A. 11 July 1558. In 1554 he was elected a probationer fellow of Merton College, where, says Wood, ‘he bare away the bell in disputations at home and in the public schools’ (Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 663). He also distinguished himself by his verse and the translation of three of Seneca's tragedies. He acted as Christmas prince or lord of misrule in Merton College, and among Wood's manuscripts in the Ashmolean Museum is an oration written by David de la Hyde praising his performance of his duties. On receiving for the third time an admonition from the warden and senior fellows of his college with reference to several misdemeanors, he resigned his fellowship on 4 April 1558, thus anticipating expulsion. At the same time he was recommended by Cardinal Pole, as a polite scholar, an able disputant, and a steady catholic, to the founder of Trinity College, to be nominated for a fellowship of that college, then just founded. The recommendation was without result (Warton, Hist. of English Poetry, iii. 389). In November 1558 he was elected a fellow of All Souls' College (Oxf. Univ. Reg., Oxf. Hist. Soc., i. 221). He was afterwards obliged to resign his fellowship, on account of his non-compliance with the changes in religion. Having been already ordained priest he went to Rome, and on 21 May 1562 was admitted to the Society of Jesus in the professed house there. After publicly teaching philosophy and theology for two years in the Roman college he was sent to the jesuit college at Dillingen in Bavaria. There for seventeen years he was professor of moral theology and controversy, took the degree of D.D., and became a professed father of the society in 1570.
In 1580, at the suggestion of Father Parsons, Pope Gregory XIII begged Duke William V of Bavaria, in an autograph letter, to allow Heywood to go on the English mission. Heywood arrived in England in the summer of 1581, with Father William Holt, and was appointed vice-prefect or superior of the English jesuit mission, in succession to Parsons, who had withdrawn to the continent. Thomas Bell makes a statement, which is scarcely credible, to the effect that he kept many horses and coaches and that his port and bearing were more baron-like than priest-like (Anatomy of Popish Tyranny, 1603, i. 9, ii. 25). At this period a dispute was rife between the Marian priests and the seminarists regarding the ancient custom of fasting observed in England. These fasts were of extraordinary severity, and differed from the canonical fasts of the church as regulated by the Roman ritual. Heywood opposed the rigid party, interpreted the fasting rules very leniently, and was consequently recalled from the English mission (Bartoli, L'Inghilterra, pp. 271–80). He sailed for Dieppe, but a violent gale drove the vessel back to the English coast, and on landing he was arrested upon suspicion of being a priest. He was carried to London in chains, and put into the Clink prison on 9 Dec. 1583. He was frequently examined by the privy council, who urged him to conform to the established church, and it is said that he was even offered a bishopric if he would yield (Sanders, Anglican Schism, ed. Lewis, p. 319). On 5 Feb. 1583–4 he was arraigned in Westminster Hall with five other priests, who were condemned and executed; but for some unexplained reason he was early in the trial, withdrawn from his fellow-prisoners and conveyed to the Tower, where he endured seventeen months of strict imprisonment. On 21 Jan. 1584–5 he and twenty other priests and one layman were by command of the privy council placed on board a ship moored off the Tower stairs, and against their will put ashore on the coast of France, all being threatened with pain of death if they returned to England. Heywood made a public protest in the name of all that they ought not to be thus exiled without cause and without a legal trial (ib. pp. 328–30; Holinshed, Chronicles, iii. 1379, 1380). They were landed at Boulogne-sur-Mer, and sent to Abbeville under safe conduct. Heywood made his way to the jesuit college at Dôle in Burgundy, where, according to Wood, he was ‘much troubled with witches.’ In 1589 he was sent to Rome, and eventually settled at Naples, where he died on 9 Jan. 1597–8.
Kennett states that Heywood vaunted and bragged in England as if he were legate of the apostolic see, that he called a provincial council, abrogated the vigils and fasts of our Lady, and prohibited the acts of the English martyrs, written by Cardinal Allen. The secular priests made these charges; Father Parsons denied them; but they were again affirmed by Dr. Humphry Ely in his notes on Parsons's ‘Apologie,’ 1602, preface, p. 31 (Lansdowne MS. 982, f. 208).
His works are: 1. ‘The sixt Tragedie of Lucius Anneus Seneca, entituled Troas, with divers addicions to the same, newly set forth in Englishe’ (in verse), London, 1559 and 1563, 12mo, dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. 2. ‘The seconde Tragedie of Seneca, intituled Thyestes, faithfully Englished’ (in verse), London, 1560, 16mo, dedicated to Sir John Mason. 3. ‘The first Tragedie of L. A. Seneca, intituled Hercules furens, translated into English Metre . . . verse for verse,’ London, 1561, 8vo, dedicated to William Herbert, earl of Pembroke. The above translations are reprinted in Thomas Newton's edition of ‘Seneca's Tragedies,’ 1581 and 1591. 4. A compendium of Hebrew grammar, reduced into tables. 5. Poems printed in the ‘Paradyse of Daynty Deuises,’ London, 1576; reprinted in Brydges's ‘British Bibliographer,’ vol. iii., and in Collier's ‘Seven English Poetical Miscellanies,’ 1867. 6. He is also supposed to have been the author of some lines prefixed to Kyffin's ‘Blessedness of Brytaine,’ 1588, as well as of ‘Greene's Epitaph discoursed dialogue-wise between Life and Death’ (Ritson, Bibl. Poetica, p. 230). 7. Tanner (Bibl. Brit. p. 401) conjectures that he translated some part of Virgil, and founds his opinion on some commendatory lines prefixed to Studley's 'Agamemnon,' translated from Seneca, 1566.
[Addit. MS. 24488, pp. 1, 501; Foley's Records, i. 388, iv. 678, vii. 351; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Lowndes's Bibl. Man. ed. Bohn, pp. 2241, 2242; More's Hist. Missionis Anglicanæ Soc. Jesu, pp. 132–5; Oliver's Jesuit Collections, p. 115; Records of the English Catholics, ii. 352, 353; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 401; Tanner's Societas Jesu Apostolorum Imitatrix, pp. 295–8; Warton's Hist. of English Poetry, ed. Hazlitt, iv. 452.]