Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wilcox, Thomas

WILCOX, THOMAS (1549?–1608), puritan divine, born about 1549, was 'fellow or scholar in and before 1566 ' of St. John's College, Oxford (Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1500-1714, iv. 1630). Wood says he found his name 'in the matricula of the university sub tit. S. Jo. Bapt. in the year 1564;' his name, however, does not occur in the university register of graduates. Upon leaving Oxford he became a 'very painful minister of God's Word' in Honey Lane, London, perhaps in connection with All Hallows' Church. In 1572 he took part in the composition of 'An Admonition to Parliament,' the document in which the puritan party in the church of England clearly declared their hostility to episcopacy and demanded a constitution without bishops. Bancroft (Survey, p. 42) names Gilbey, Sampson, Lever, Field, and Wilcox as the compilers of the 'Admonition,' with its accompanying 'View of Abuses' in the Prayer Book ; but Field and Wilcox were held responsible for it by the authorities, because they made an attempt to present it to parliament (Brook, Puritans, i. 319), and were committed to Newgate, 7 July1572. Archbishop Parker, having received a letter from the prisoners delivered by their wives charging him with cruelty, sent his chaplain Pearson to confer with them on 11 Sept. Brook (ib. ii. 185-90) prints the conference from manuscript authority. The prisoners acknowledge responsibility for the 'Admonition' and confess their desire for equality of ministers and other reforms. They also wrote a Latin letter to Burghley, dated 3 Sept., asking to be liberated. It is printed by Strype (Annals, II. ii. 482). On 20 Oct. 1572 they were brought before the lord mayor and court of aldermen, charged under the Act of Uniformity, and sentenced to a year's imprisonment. They were visited by friends and sympathisers in their confinement. Sandys, bishop of London, writing to Burghley, 5 Aug. 1573, complains that 'the city will never be quiet until these authors of sedition, who are now esteemed as gods, as Field, Wilcox, Cartwright, and others, be far removed. . . . The people resort unto them as in popery they were wont to run on pilgrimage.' At the end of the year's imprisonment they petitioned the council for release, and appealed also to the Earl of Leicester. Wilcox was given his liberty before the end of 1573, but deprived of his position in Honey Lane. He preached where he could, and for the greatest part of ten years very frequently at Bovington in Hertfordshire. In 1577 he was before Aylmer, bishop of London, for contumacy. The bishop expressed an opinion that he might be usefully employed in the north (Strype, Parker, ii. 239). In 1581 he was convened before the ecclesiastical courts, and again in 1591, when he suffered a term of imprisonment. He died in 1608 in the fifty-ninth year of his age.

During the latter part of his life Wilcox enjoyed a great reputation as an adviser of those perplexed in conscience, and for his knowledge of casuistical divinity. He maintained a large correspondence, of which only a small part found its way into print. Brook prints two letters to Anthony Gilbey, which throw light on the history of the religious troubles of 1573- 1574, and mentions that Sir Peter Wentworth [q. v.] was one of Wilcox's intimates.

Wilcox was author of: 1. 'A Summarie and Short Meditations touching Certaine Points of Christian Religion,' London, 1579, 8vo. 2. 'Concordance or Table containing the Principal Words and Matters which are comprehended in the New Testament,' London, 1579, 8vo. 3. 'The Unfoldinge of Sundrie Untruthes and Absurde Propositions propounded by Banister, a favourer of the Libertins, by Tho. Wilcox,' London, 1581, 8vo. 4. 'A Glasse for Gamesters, and namely for such as delight in Cardes and Dice,' London, 1581, 8vo. 5. 'The Substance of the Lordes Supper shortly and soundly set forth together with the principall Pointes in the Controversie.' Not dated, but probably printed in 1581, London, 8vo; reissued again with the translation of Beza's 'Sermons,' No. 5 below. 6. 'A Comfortable Letter for Afflicted Consciences, written to a Godly Man greatly touched that Way,' London, 1584, 16mo. 7. 'An Exposition upon the Booke of the Canticles, otherwise called Saloman's Song,' London, 1585, 4to ; 2nd edit. 1587, 8vo. 8. 'A Right Godly and Learned Exposition upon the whole Booke of Psalmes,' London, 1586, 4to; 2nd edit. 1591. 9. 'A Christian and Learned Exposition upon certain Verses of the Eighth Chapter of the Epistle of that blessed Apostle Paul to the Romans, and namely upon verses 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23,' London, 1587, 8vo. 10. 'A Short yet Sound Commentarie; written on that worthie Worke called the Proverbes of Salomon; and now published for the Profite of Gods People,' London, 1589, 4to. The dedication is to Lady Bacon. 11. 'Three Large Letters for the Instruction and Comfort of such as are distressed in Conscience by feeling of Sinne and Feare of God's Wrath,' London, 1589, 8vo. 12. 'A Short yet true and faithful Narration of the Fearfull Fire that fell in the Town of Woobourne in the County of Bedford, the 13th of September,' London, 1595, 8vo. On page 51 occurs a list of recent fires, one item being ' the destroying of Stratford-upon-Avon twise in one year.' 13. 'The Summe of a Sermon preached at Southwell, the thirtieth of March 1596,' London, 1597, 12mo. 14. 'A Discourse touching the Doctrine of Doubting,' Cambridge, 1598, 8vo. Of these works, Nos. 7, 8, 9, and 10, comprising Wilcox's ' expositions,' were issued in a collected edition by his son-in-law, John Burges, as 'The Works of that late Reverend and Learned Divine Mr. Thomas Wilcocks, Minister of God's Word,' London, 1624, fol. Wilcox also translated: 1. 'John Fountein his Catechisme,' London, 1578, 8vo. 2. 'Three Propositions or Speeches [of] that excellent Man, Mr. John Calvin. ... To which also is added an Exposition upon that Part of the Catechisme which is appointed for the three and fortieth Sunday in num- ber/ London, 1580, 8vo. 3. 'A Treatie of the Churche, conteining a True Discourse to knowe the True Church by and to discerne it from the Romish Church, and all other False Assemblies or Counterfet Congregations, written by M. Bertrande de Loque of Dolphinee, and dedicated unto my Lord the Vicount of Turenne,' London, 1581, 8vo. This was reissued in 1582, without the 'Admonition' to the reader, and with a new title-page, beginning 'An Excellent and Plaine Discourse of the Church.' 4. 'A Discourse of the True and Visible Markes of the Catholick Church, by Th. Beza,' London, 1582, 16mo; reissued 1622, b.l 8vo. 5. 'Two very Learned Sermons of M. Beza, together with a short Sum of the Sacrament of the Lordes Supper: whereunto is added a Treatise of the Substance of the Lords Supper,' London, 1588, 8vo. 6. 'A Booke of Bertram the Priest, concerning the Body and Blood of Christe, written in Latine to Charles the great being Emperour, above seven hundred yeeres agoe; and translated and imprinted in the English tongue, Anno Domini 1549. Since which time it hath been reviewed and in many places corrected and nowe newly published for the profite of the Reader,' London, 1582, 8vo. The translation was made originally by William Hugh at Bishop Ridley's desire. Wilcox's revision was reissued by Sir Humphrey Lynd in 1623. William Hopkins's edition, London, 1686, gives an account of all earlier editions except that of Wilcox. 7. 'Meditations upon the 101 Psalme written first in French by Phillip de Mornay, Lord of Plessis,' London. 1599, 8vo. 8. 'A Worke concerning the Trunesse of Christian Religion, written in French. . . . By Philip Mornay, Lord of Plessie Marlie. Begunne to be translated into English by that honourable and worthy Gentleman, Syr Philip Sidney Knight, and at his request finished by Arthur Golding. Since which time it hath bene reviewed, and is now the third time published, and purged from sundrie Faultes escaped heretofore, thorow Ignorance, Carelesness, or other Corruption,' London, 1604, 4to. The epistle dedicatory to Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, is signed 'Thomas Wilcocks' from London, 17 May 1604. The very popular 'Choice Drop of Honey from the Rock Christ,' attributed to Wilcox in the British Museum Library Catalogue, was by a Thomas Wilcox, born 1622 (Wilson, History of Dissenting Churches, iv. 226).

[Brook's Lives of the Puritans, ii. 185-95, i. 319; Wood's Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 691; Tanner's Bibliotheca, p. 773; Neal's History of the Puritans, i. 231; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. ed. Herbert, Index, sub 'Wilcox;' Index to Strype's Works, sub Wilcox.']

R. B.