« Abbot, Ezra Abbot_George Abbot, Robert »

Abbot_George

ABBOT, GEORGE: Archbishop of Canterbury; b. at Guildford (30 m. s.w. of London) Oct. 29, 1562; d. at Croydon (10 m. s. of London) Aug. 4, 1633. He studied at Balliol College, Oxford (B.A., 1582; probationer fellow, 1583; M.A., 1585; B.D., 1593; D.D., 1597), took orders in 1585, remained at Oxford as tutor, and became known as an able preacher and lecturer with strong Puritan sympathies. He was made master of University College 1597; dean of Winchester 1600; vice-chancellor of the university 1600, 1603, 1605; bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, 1609; bishop of London 1610; archbishop of Canterbury 1611. His learning and sincerity can not be questioned; but he was austere, narrow, almost a fanatic. His one great idea was to crush “popery,” not only in England, but in all Europe; and popery to him meant every theological system except that of Calvin. To further his purposes abroad, he meddled persistently in the foreign policy of the State and chose arbitrary, high-handed, and cruel means to accomplish his ends at home. His principles allowed him to flatter the king, to help him generously in money matters, and to serve him in certain political undertakings, such as the restoration of episcopacy in Scotland in 1608-10. At other times his conscience compelled him to be just, and consequently he could not retain the royal favor. A Presbyterian at heart, he accepted episcopacy only from a love of order and sense of loyalty to constituted authority; and his appointment as archbishop was displeasing to the Anglican party, who had wanted Launcelot Andrewes. His undiplomatic course incensed his opponents, and they pursued him relentlessly and cruelly. In 1621 he killed a gamekeeper while hunting. It was purely accidental, and he was deeply shocked and grieved; nevertheless, William Laud (his successor as archbishop and his personal enemy for years) and others seized upon the incident to annoy him and weaken his influence. Charles I., after his accession, favored Laud, who brought about Abbot’s sequestration for a year (1627-28) because he had refused to sanction a sermon by Dr. Robert Sibthorp, vicar of Brackley, indorsing an unlawful attempt by the king to raise money, and showing little sympathy with Abbot’s favorite policy of support to the German Protestants. After this his public acts were few. But with all his faults and disappointments he was faithful to duty as he understood it; and he was generous with money, charitable to the poor, and a patron of learning. He was a member of the Oxford New Testament Company for the version of 1611; and through him Cyril Lucar presented the Codex Alexandrinus to Charles I. With other works, he published A Brief Description of the Whole World (London, 1599; 5th ed., 1664), a geography prepared for his pupils at Oxford, containing an interesting description of America; and An Exposition upon the Prophet Jonah (1600), which was reprinted in 1845 with a life by Grace Webster.

Bibliography: T. Fuller, Church History, 6 parts, London, 1655 (ed. Brewer, 1845); Biographic Britannica, 6 vols., ib. 1747-66 (contains his life by W. Oldys, reprinted by Arthur Onslow, Guildford, 1777); W. F. Hook, Ecclesiastical Biography, 8 vols., London, 1845-52; idem, Lives of 6 Archbishops, 12 vols., ib. 1860-72; S. R. Gardiner. History of England, 1603-1642, 10 vols., ib. 1883-84; DNB, i. 5.

« Abbot, Ezra Abbot_George Abbot, Robert »
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