Symonds, William (1556-1616?) (DNB00)

SYMONDS, WILLIAM, D.D. (1556–1616?), divine, born in Hampshire in 1556, matriculated at Oxford on 3 March 1572–3, and elected a demy of Magdalen College in 1573, being then described as a native of Oxfordshire. He graduated B.A. on 1 Feb. 1577–8, was elected a probationer-fellow of Magdalen in 1578, and graduated M.A. on 5 April 1581. In 1583 he was appointed by the president Laurence Humfrey to the mastership of Magdalen school, and he continued in that office till 1586. During the time that he was nominally master great complaints were made by some of the fellows both to the chancellor of the university and to their own visitor respecting the condition of the school, it being asserted that the master was non-resident, and that the president of the college had sold the appointment to him (Bloxam, Register of Magdalen Coll. iii. 130). In 1583 he became rector of Langton-by-Partney, Lincolnshire; in 1584 he was presented by the queen to the rectory of Bourton-on-the-water, Gloucestershire; on 14 Nov. 1587 he was admitted to the rectory of Stock, Essex, by Aylmer, bishop of London; in 1594 he obtained the rectory of Theddlethorpe, Lincolnshire; in 1597 he was instituted to the rectory of Well, Lincolnshire; and in 1599 he was presented by Robert Bertie, lord Willoughby, to the rectory of Halton Holgate, Lincolnshire. He was also for several years preacher at St. Saviour's Church, Southwark, and from some ‘Observations’ of his, printed in Captain John Smith's ‘General History of Virginia,’ 1624, it is clear that he was for a time resident in that colony. He looked over Smith's manuscripts, and aided him in procuring their publication at Oxford. According to Wood, he was created D.D. in 1613. He was presented to the rectory of Wyberton, Lincolnshire, in 1612, and he held that living till 1616. He is not therefore the ‘old Simons of Oxfordshire’ whom Chamberlain referred to as dead on 1 Aug. 1613. Wood describes him as ‘a person of an holy life, grave and moderate in his carriage, painful in the ministry, well learned, and of rare understanding in prophetical scriptures.’

His works are:

  1. ‘Pisgah Evangelica, according to the Method of the Revelation, presenting the History of the Church, and those Canaanites over whom she shall triumph,’ London, 1605, 4to.
  2. ‘A Heavenly Voyce. A Sermon tending to call the people of God from among the Romish Babylonians; preached at Paules Crosse, the 12 of Ianuarie 1606,’ London, 1606, 4to.
  3. ‘Virginia. A Sermon preached at White-Chappel, in the presence of many honourable and worshipfull, the Adventurers and Planters for Virginia, 25 April 1609. Published for the benefit and vse of the Colony, planted and to bee planted there, and for the Aduancement of their Christian Purpose,’ London, 1609, 4to. This was the first sermon preached before the company.

[Bloxam's Register of Magdalen Coll. iii. 129, iv. 189; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Brown's Genesis of the United States, ii. 1030–1; Notes and Queries, 6th ser. xi. 368, xii. 296, 7th ser. i. 69; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 142.]

T. C.