Lake, Arthur (DNB00)


LAKE, ARTHUR (1569–1626), bishop of Bath and Wells, the son of Almeric Lake, esq., and brother of Sir Thomas Lake [q. v.], was born in the parish of St. Michael's, Southampton, in September 1569. He commenced his education in the free school of his native town, whence he passed to Winchester College, of which he was admitted a scholar 28 Dec. 1581. He became a fellow of New College, Oxford, in 1589, and graduated as B.A. 4 June 1591. His subsequent degrees were M.A. 3 May 1595, B.D. and D.D. 16 May 1605. On 16 Jan. 1600–1 he was admitted a fellow of Winchester, and in 1603 became master of the hospital of St. Cross, where he increased the allowance of the poor brethren. In July 1607 he was appointed archdeacon of Surrey. The following year he was made dean of Worcester. While dean he aided his chapter in buying in a long lease of some of the cathedral lands which had been illegally made, and gave an organ to the cathedral. In 1613, though not a candidate for the office, he was unanimously elected warden of New College, where he established at his own cost lectureships in Hebrew and mathematics. He served the office of vice-chancellor in 1616, during which year he was appointed to succeed Bishop Montague, whom he had previously succeeded in the deanery of Worcester, as bishop of Bath and Wells. He was consecrated at Lambeth 8 Dec. 1616. ‘His promotion,’ Fuller says, ‘was due, not so much to the power of his brother, the Secretary of State, as to his own desert as one whose piety might be justly regarded exemplary to all of his order’ (Church History, vi. 38); ‘making,’ in Walton's words, ‘the great trust committed to him the chief care and great business of his life’ (Life of Sanderson). Lake as bishop was magnificently liberal. He was diligent in preaching both in his own cathedral and in the adjacent parishes. Before conferring holy orders he examined the candidates personally, and after ordination his care of his clergy and of their families was tender and paternal. Though his triennial visitations were carried out strictly, and convicted offenders never escaped canonical punishment, yet he was always welcome. At the confirmations, which, according to the custom of the age, took place contemporaneously with his visitations, the rite was never administered ‘in a tumultuary manner, and, as we say, “hand over head,”’ but only to those ‘of whose fitness he was certified.’ He was firm in maintaining ecclesiastical discipline, sitting in person with his chancellor in his consistorial court, and refusing to allow penance to be commuted for a pecuniary fine. He commonly saw the penance duly performed, and usually preached ‘a sermon of mortification and repentance,’ after which he would invite the offenders to dine with him in his palace, and dismiss them with his blessing and exhortation to amendment. His character is thus summed up by his biographer: ‘To his city he was an oracle, to scholars a living library, to the whole church a priest whose lips did preserve knowledge.’ At the coronation of Charles I he was selected, with Bishop Neile, to walk by the side of the king beneath the canopy of state. He held the college living of Stanton St. John, Oxfordshire, in commendam with his bishopric till his death. He died 4 May 1626, at the age of fifty-six, having made his confession to Bishop Andrewes a few hours before he breathed his last. He was buried in the south choir aisle of his own cathedral, a small brass plate marking his grave. There are portraits in the bishop's palace at Wells and at New College, Oxford. An engraving by J. Payne was copied by Hollar in 1640.

He appears to have published nothing himself, but after his death a folio volume, entitled. ‘Sermons with some Religious and Divine Meditations,’ with a life by the Rev. John Harris, D.D., was issued, London, 1629. The sermons include several preached at public penances. In 1640 were published his ‘Ten Sermons preached at Paul's Cross, &c.,’ and in 1641 his ‘Theses de Sabbato.’

[Harris's Life prefixed to his Sermons; Fuller's Church Hist. vi. 27, 38, Worthies, i. 406; Wood's Athenæ, i. 750, ii. 398, 869, Fasti, i. 192, 254, 270, 280, 306, 307, 365, ii. 67; Walton's Life of Sanderson; Lansd. MS. 984, f. 145; Cassan's Bishops of Bath and Wells, ii. 27 sq.]

E. V.