Sparrow, Anthony (DNB00)


SPARROW, ANTHONY (1612–1685), theologian, born in 1612 at Depden, near Bury St. Edmunds, was the son of Samuel Sparrow, a man of wealth. He matriculated from Queens' College, Cambridge, and was scholar there from 1629 to 1632. His name appears as a junior fellow on 13 Feb. 1633. He was Hebrew prælector, 1638–9, with a stipend of 5l. per annum; Greek prælector, 1640–1; Hebrew prælector again in 1642–3; bursar 1640–1 and 1641–2; censor theologicus and examinator, 1641–2; and censor philosophicus, 1642–3. In 1637 he published ‘A Sermon concerning Confession of Sinnes and the Power of Absolvtion,’ which was reprinted in 1704. It claimed for the priesthood the power of remitting sins, and he was called before the vice-chancellor for an explanation, but was upheld by Bishop Juxon. On 8 April 1644 he was, as a royalist, ejected from his fellowship by the orders of Edward Montagu, second earl of Manchester [q. v.], for ‘non-residence and for not returning to college’ though summoned.

The rectory of Hawkedon in Suffolk was conferred upon Sparrow about 1648, but, after holding it for five weeks, he was ejected for reading the Book of Common Prayer. In 1660 he was reinstated, and was also elected to a preachership at Bury St. Edmunds. On 31 Aug. 1660 Sparrow, with Thomas Fuller (1608–1661) [q. v.] and other eminent loyalists, graduated D.D. per literas regias (Bailey, Thomas Fuller, pp. 672–673). He was appointed to the archdeaconry of Sudbury on 7 Aug. 1660, and to the second prebendal stall at Ely on 15 April 1661. At the election for the post of president of his college (5 May 1662) the majority of the fellows voted for Simon Patrick [q. v.], afterwards bishop of Chichester and Ely, though the king had sent a mandamus for the election of Sparrow. The question came before the law courts. The judges were equally divided, but Sparrow obtained the presidency. He thereupon resigned his benefice and preachership, and retained until 1667 the presidency, with his archdeaconry and prebend. In 1664–5 he was vice-chancellor of the university. He gave 100l. ‘for wainscoting and adorning the combination-room’ at the college, and contributed 400l. for the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Sparrow was consecrated bishop of Exeter on 3 Nov. 1667, and from 1668 to 1676 held, with the see, the archdeaconry of Exeter and the sinecure deanery of St. Buryan. In 1676 he was translated to the more valuable see of Norwich. He died at the episcopal palace, Norwich, on 19 May 1685, and was buried in the chapel near the palace, which had been erected by Bishop Reynolds. An illustration of the monument and a copy of the inscription on it are in Sir Thomas Browne's ‘Antiquities of Norwich’ (Posthumous Works, 1712, pp. 74–5). His widow was alive in 1693. He had a large family. Three of his daughters married dignitaries of Exeter Cathedral (Ballard MSS. Bodleian Library, (98); Kettlewell, Life and Times, 1895, p. 182).

A portrait of Sparrow in the bishop's palace at Exeter represents him in episcopal robes and flat cap, with ‘his own wavy dark hair and very slight moustache’ (Trans. Devon Assoc. xvi. 131). An engraving of it was published by William Richardson of York House, Strand, London, on 1 March 1798.

Sparrow published ‘A Rationale upon the Book of Common Prayer,’ which is said by Watt in his ‘Bibliotheca’ to have appeared in 1655, and earlier editions are elsewhere mentioned (cf. Lowndes, Bibl. Man. ed. Bohn). But no extant edition is dated before 1657. Copies of the edition of that date are in the Bodleian and at Queens' College, Cambridge. An edition of 1661 is in the British Museum (Horne, Catalogue of the Library of Queens' College, i. 108; Catalogue of Bodleian Library). It was often reprinted, together with the ‘Caution to his Diocese against False Doctrines’ which Sparrow preached in 1669. The best editions are the sixth and the seventh, which were edited by the Rev. Samuel Downes in 1721 and 1722. A new issue, reprinted from that of 1684, was edited by John Henry Newman in 1839, and was republished in 1843 and 1852. The ‘Rationale’ is still of value. A companion volume by Sparrow, ‘A Collection of Articles, Injunctions, Canons of the Church of England,’ came out in 1661, and was reproduced in 1671, 1675, and 1684. There was published in 1842 ‘The Office for the Visitation of the Sick, with Notes from Bishop Sparrow.’

[Travels of Cosmo III of Tuscany in 1669, pp. 130–6; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 356, 381, 396, ii. 472, 493, iii. 607, 685; Oliver's Bishops of Exeter, pp. 154–5, 273–87; Searle's Queens' College (Cambr. Antiq. Soc.). xiii. 529–30; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. v. 477; Blomefield's Norfolk, iii. 586–8; Willis and Clark's Cambridge, ii. 49, iii. 37–8; Cooper's Annals of Cambridge, iii. 288, 377, 496–9; Bishop Patrick's Autobiogr. pp. 41–51; information from Professor Ryle, president of Queens' College, and from Rev. O. B. Packard, rector of Depden.]

W. P. C.