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Swale, Richard (DNB00)


SWALE, Sir RICHARD (1545?–1608), civilian, born in Yorkshire about 1545, was the son of Thomas Swale of Askham-Richard in Yorkshire. He matriculated as a sizar of Jesus College, Cambridge, in June 1566, went out B.A. in 1568–9, became a fellow in 1571, and commenced M.A. in 1572. He was admitted a fellow of Caius College in May 1576, and, becoming well known as a tutor, he taught among others the celebrated Jan Gruter (Camden, Epistolæ, p. 135). In 1581 the fellows requested a visitation, accusing Swale and Thomas Legge [q. v.], the master, of leanings towards popery, and alleging that the catholic gentlemen of the north sent their sons to them to be educated. While the visitation was pending Swale made strenuous efforts to be nominated proctor for the succeeding year, and, through the support of Sir Christopher Hatton [q. v.], he attained his object. Burghley, the chancellor of the university, however, who was incensed by some opposition which Swale had offered to the visitors, cancelled the appointment and compelled Swale to apologise (Heywood and Wright, Cambridge University Transactions, i. 240, 314–69; Cal. State Papers, Dom. 1581–90, pp. 70, 72). In 1582 he was appointed president of the college, in spite of a protest from the fellows (Lansdowne MS. 33). In 1583 Swale was an official of the archdeaconry of Ely, and one of the taxors of the university. In 1585 he became bursar of his college. On 16 May 1587 he was appointed a master in chancery through the influence of Sir Christopher Hatton, who is said to have relied on Swale's legal knowledge for guidance in the discharge of his duties as lord chancellor. In July he was created LL.D., and on 20 Oct. was admitted an advocate. On 20 Feb. 1587–8 Archbishop Whitgift constituted Swale and John Bell his commissaries for the diocese of Ely, and Swale shortly after became chancellor, vicar-general, and official principal of the diocese.

On 27 June 1588 he obtained a dispensation to hold the rectory of Emneth in the Isle of Ely. He was returned for Higham Ferrers to the parliament which met on 4 Feb. 1588–9 (Official Returns of Members of Parliament, i. 424), and on 15 Feb. he was appointed to the prebend of Newbald in the diocese of York (Le Neve, Fasti, iii. 206). He thereupon resigned his college appointments.

In 1600 he was sent to Emden, together with Richard Bancroft, bishop of London, and Sir Christopher Perkins, to treat with the Danish commissioners on commercial matters, but returned without effecting anything (Camden, Annals of Elizabeth, ed. Norton, 1635, p. 528). His name occurs on a special commission touching piracies, issued 2 April 1601, and he was one of the high commissioners for ecclesiastical causes about 1602.

Swale was knighted by James I at Whitehall on 23 July 1603 (Metcalfe, Book of Knights, p. 145). He attended the Hampton Court conference in January 1603–4, and was soon afterwards on a commission to regulate books printed without public authority (Strype, Whitgift, ii. 496, 504). On 28 May 1606 he resigned the offices of chancellor and vicar-general of the diocese of Ely. He died on 20 May 1608. He married Susanna, daughter of James Rolfe of St. Albans in Hertfordshire, who died eight days after him, but had no issue.

Swale was the author of ‘A Declaration by Richard Swale, in answer to Richard Bridgwater’ [chancellor of the diocese of Ely] (Smith, Cat. of Caius College MSS. p. 83).

[Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. ii. 492; Venn's Biogr. Hist. of Gonville and Caius College, 1897, p. 85; Blomefield's Norfolk, viii. 409; Cardwell's Hist. of Conferences, p. 204; Plantagenet-Harrison's History of Yorkshire, p. 236; Rymer's Fœdera, xvi. 412; Stevenson's Supplement to Bentham's Ely, pp. 9, 19, 28, 33.]

E. I. C.