Biography of Archbishop William Sancroft 1617-1693

1666 Four Days' Battle

1684 Frost Fair

1685 Death and Burial of Charles II

1685 Coronation James II and Mary

1688 Trial and Imprisonment of the Seven Bishops

1688 Glorious Revolution

On 30 Jan 1617 Archbishop William Sancroft was born in Ufford Hall, Suffolk.

Evelyn's Diary. 07 Mar 1666. Dr. Sancroft (age 49), since Archbishop of Canterbury, preached before the King (age 35) about the identity and immutability of God, on Psalm cii. 27.

Four Days' Battle

Evelyn's Diary. 04 Jul 1666. The solemn Fast-day. Dr. Meggot preached an excellent discourse before the King (age 36) on the terrors of God's judgments. After sermon, I waited on my Lord Archbishop of Canterbury (age 49) and Bishop of Winchester (age 47), where the Dean of Westminster (age 31) spoke to me about putting into my hands the disposal of fifty pounds, which the charitable people of Oxford had sent to be distributed among the sick and wounded seamen since the battle. Hence, I went to the Lord Chancellor's (age 57) to joy him of his Royal Highness's (age 32) second son, now born at St. James's [Map]; and to desire the use of the Star-chamber for our Commissioners to meet in, Painters' Hall, Queenhithe not being so convenient.

In 1667 Archbishop William Sancroft (age 49) was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury at the express wish of King Charles II of England Scotland and Ireland (age 36).

Frost Fair

Evelyn's Diary. 09 Jan 1684. I went crosse the Thames on the ice, now become so thick as to beare not onely streetes of boothes, in which they roasted meate, and had divers shops of wares, quite acrosse as in a towne, but coaches, carts, and horses, passed over. So I went from Westminster Stayres to Lambeth [Map], and din'd with the Archbishop (age 66): where I met my Lord Bruce, Sir Geo. Wheeler (age 32), Coll. Cooke, and severall divines. After dinner and discourse with his Grace till evening prayers, Sir Geo. Wheeler (age 32) and I walked over the ice from Lambeth Stayres to the horse ferry.

Death and Burial of Charles II

Evelyn's Diary. 04 Feb 1685. Prayers were solemnly made in all the Churches, especialy in both ye Court Chapells, where the Chaplaines reliev'd one another every halfe quarter of an houre from the time he began to be in danger till he expir'd, according to the forme prescrib'd in the Church Offices. Those who assisted his Majesty's (age 54) devotions were, the Abp. of Canterbury (age 68), the Bishops of London (age 53), Durham (age 52), and Ely (age 47), but more especialy Dr. Ken, the Bp. of Bath and Wells (age 47) receiving the Holy Sacrament, but his Ma* told them he would consider of it, which he did so long 'till it was too late. Others whisper'd that the Bishops and Lords, except the Earles of Bath (age 56) and Feversham (age 44), being order'd to withdraw the night before, Hurlston, the 'Priest, had presumed to administer the Popish Offices. He gave his breeches and keys to yc Duke (age 51), who was almost continually kneeling by his bed-side, and in teares. He also recommended to him the care of his natural children, all except the Duke of Monmouth (age 35), now in Holland, and in his displeasure. He intreated the Queene (age 46) to pardon him (not without cause); who a little before had sent a Bishop to excuse her not more frequently visiting him, in reguard of her excessive griefe, and withall, that his Ma* (age 54) would forgive it if at any time she had offended him. He spake to ye Duke (age 51) to be kind to the Dutchesse of Cleaveland (age 44), and especialy Portsmouth (age 35), and that Nelly (age 35) might not starve.

On 06 Feb 1685 King Charles II of England Scotland and Ireland (age 54) died at 1145 in the morning at Whitehall Palace [Map] attended by Charles Scarburgh (age 69). His brother King James II of England Scotland and Ireland (age 51) succeeded II King England Scotland and Ireland. Mary of Modena Queen Consort England Scotland and Ireland (age 26) by marriage Queen Consort England Scotland and Ireland. His brother King James II of England Scotland and Ireland (age 51), William Chiffinch (age 83), Richard Mason (age 52) and Archbishop William Sancroft (age 68) were present. Duke York merged with the Crown.

Coronation James II and Mary

On 23 Apr 1685 King James II of England Scotland and Ireland (age 51) was crowned II King England Scotland and Ireland by Archbishop William Sancroft (age 68). Mary of Modena Queen Consort England Scotland and Ireland (age 26) crowned Queen Consort England Scotland and Ireland.

Bishop Francis Turner (age 47) preached the sermon.

John Ashburnham 1st Baron Ashburnham (age 29) carried the canopy being one of the Barons of the Cinque Ports at Westminster Abbey [Map].

Henry Fitzroy 1st Duke Grafton (age 21) was appointed Constable of England.

Evelyn's Diary. 14 Nov 1685. I dined at Lambeth [Map], my Lord Archbishop (age 68) carrying me with him in his barge: there were my Lord Deputy of Ireland, the Bp. of Ely (age 48), and St. Asaph (age 58), Dr. Sherlock, and other divines; Sir Wm Hayward, Sir Paule Rycaut, &c.

Evelyn's Diary. 12 May 1686. I refus'd to put the Privy Seale to Dr Walker's (age 70) licence for printing and publishing divers Popish books, of which I complain'd both to my Lord of Canterbury (age 69) (with whom I went to advise in the Council Chamber), and to my Lord Treasurer (age 44) that evening at his lodgings. My Lord of Canterbury's advice was, that I should follow my owne conscience therein; Mr. Treasurer's (age 44), that if in conscience I could dispense with it, for any other hazard he believ'd there was none. Notwithstanding this 1 persisted in my refusal.

Evelyn's Diary. 08 Jul 1686. I waited on the Archbishop (age 69) at Lambeth [Map], where I dined and met the famous preacher and writer, Dr. Allix (age 45), doubtless a most excellent and learned person. The Archbishop (age 69) and he spoke Latin together, and that very readily.

Evelyn's Diary. 14 Jul 1686. Was sealed at our office the constitution of certain commissioners to take upon them full power of all Ecclesiastical affairs, in as unlimited a manner, or rather greater, than the late High Commission-Court, abrogated by Parliament; for it had not only faculty to inspect and visit all Bishops' dioceses, but to change what laws and statutes they should think fit to alter among the colleges, though founded by private men; to punish, suspend, fine, etc., give oaths and call witnesses. The main drift was to suppress zealous preachers. In sum, it was the whole power of a Vicar-General-note the consequence! Of the clergy the commissioners were the Archbishop of Canterbury [Sancroft] (age 69), Bishop of Durham [Crewe] (age 53), and Rochester [Sprat] (age 51); of the Temporals, the Lord Treasurer, the Lord Chancellor [Jefferies] (age 41) (who alone was ever to be of the quorum), the Chief justice [Herbert] (age 38), and Lord President [Earl of Sunderland] (age 44).

Evelyn's Diary. 08 Aug 1686. Our vicar gone to dispose of his country living in Rutlandshire, having St. Dunstan in the east given him by the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 69).

Evelyn's Diary. 08 Sep 1686. Dr. Compton, Bishop of London (age 54), was on Monday suspended, on pretense of not silencing Dr. Sharp (age 41) [NOTE. Assumed to be the subsequent Archbishop?] at St. Giles's [Map], for something of a sermon in which he zealously reproved the doctrine of the Roman Catholics. The Bishop having consulted the civilians, they told him he could not by any law proceed against Dr. Sharp (age 41) without producing witnesses, and impleaded according to form; but it was overruled by my Lord Chancellor (age 41), and the Bishop sentenced without so much as being heard to any purpose. This was thought a very extraordinary way of proceeding, and was universally resented, and so much the rather for that two Bishops, Durham (age 53) and Rochester (age 51), sitting in the commission and giving their suffrages the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 69) refused to sit among them. He was only suspended ab officio, and that was soon after taken off. He was brother to the Earl of Northampton, had once been a soldier, had traveled in Italy, but became a sober, grave, and excellent prelate.

Evelyn's Diary. 13 Sep 1687. I went to Lambeth, and dined with the Archbishop (age 70). After dinner, I retired into the library, which I found exceedingly improved; there are also divers rare manuscripts in a room apart.

Trial and Imprisonment of the Seven Bishops

On 13 May 1688 the Archbishop of Canterbury and seven bishops were imprisoned for seditious libel: Archbishop William Sancroft (age 71), Bishop Henry Compton (age 56), Bishop Francis Turner (age 50), Bishop Thomas White (age 60), Bishop Thomas Ken (age 50), Bishop John Lake (age 64), Bishop Jonathan Trelawny 3rd Baronet (age 38) and Bishop William Lloyd (age 51). Their crime was to not read the Declaration of Indulgence as required by King James II of England Scotland and Ireland (age 54).

Evelyn's Diary. 08 Jun 1688. This day, the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 71), with the Bishops of Ely (age 50), Chichester (age 64), St. Asaph (age 60), Bristol (age 38), Peterborough (age 60), and Bath and Wells (age 50), were sent from the Privy Council prisoners to the Tower [Map], for refusing to give bail for their appearance, on their not reading the Declaration for liberty of conscience; they refused to give bail, as it would have prejudiced their peerage. The concern of the people for them was wonderful, infinite crowds on their knees begging their blessing, and praying for them, as they passed out of the barge along the Tower wharf.

Evelyn's Diary. 13 Jun 1688. I went to the Tower [Map] to see the Bishops, visited the Archbishop (age 71) and the Bishops of Ely (age 50), St. Asaph (age 60), and Bath and Wells (age 50).

Evelyn's Diary. 07 Oct 1688. The late imprisoned Bishops were now called to reconcile matters, and the Jesuits hard at work to foment confusion among the Protestants by their usual tricks. A letter was sent to the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 71), informing him, from good hands, of what was contriving by them. A paper of what the Bishops advised his Majesty was published. The Bishops were enjoined to prepare a form of prayer against the feared invasion. A pardon published. Soldiers and mariners daily pressed.

Evelyn's Diary. 26 Jul 1688. I went to Lambeth to visit the Archbishop (age 71), whom I found very cheerful.

Evelyn's Diary. 29 Oct 1688. There was a Council called, to which were summoned the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 71), the Judges, the Lord Mayor, etc. The Queen Dowager (age 49), and all the ladies and lords who were present at the Queen Consort's (age 30) labor, were to give their testimony upon oath of the Prince of Wales's birth, recorded both at the Council Board and at the Chancery a day or two after. This procedure was censured by some as below his Majesty (age 55) to condescend to, on the talk of the people. It was remarkable that on this occasion the Archbishop (age 71), Marquis of Halifax (age 54), the Earls of Clarendon and Nottingham (age 41), refused to sit at the Council table among Papists, and their bold telling his Majesty (age 55) that whatever was done while such sat among them was unlawful and incurred praemunire;-at least, if what I heard be true.

Evelyn's Diary. 01 Nov 1688. Dined with Lord Preston (age 39), with other company, at Sir Stephen Fox's (age 61). Continual alarms of the Prince of Orange (age 37), but no certainty. Reports of his great losses of horse in the storm, but without any assurance. A man was taken with divers papers and printed manifestoes, and carried to Newgate [Map], after examination at the Cabinet Council. There was likewise a declaration of the States for satisfaction of all public ministers at The Hague, except to the English and the French. There was in that of the Prince's an expression, as if the Lords both spiritual and temporal had invited him over, with a deduction of the causes of his enterprise. This made his Majesty (age 55) convene my Lord of Canterbury (age 71) and the other Bishops now in town, to give an account of what was in the manifesto, and to enjoin them to clear themselves by some public writing of this disloyal charge.

Evelyn's Diary. 05 Nov 1688. The Archbishop of Canterbury (age 71) and some few of the other Bishops and Lords in London, were sent for to Whitehall, and required to set forth their abhorrence of this invasion. They assured his Majesty (age 55) that they had never invited any of the Prince's (age 38) party, or were in the least privy to it, and would be ready to show all testimony of their loyalty; but, as to a public declaration, being so few, they desired that his Majesty (age 55) would call the rest of their brethren and Peers, that they might consult what was fit to be done on this occasion, not thinking it right to publish anything without them, and till they had themselves seen the Prince's (age 38) manifesto, in which it was pretended he was invited in by the Lords, spiritual and temporal. This did not please the King; so they departed.

Glorious Revolution

Evelyn's Diary. 18 Nov 1688. It was now a very hard frost. The King (age 55) goes to Salisbury to rendezvous the army, and return to London. Lord Delamere (age 36) appears for the Prince (age 38) in Cheshire. The nobility meet in Yorkshire. The Archbishop of Canterbury (age 71) and some Bishops, and such Peers as were in London, address his Majesty (age 55) to call a Parliament. The King (age 55) invites all foreign nations to come over. The French take all the Palatinate, and alarm the Germans more than ever.

Evelyn's Diary. 15 Jan 1689. It now growing late, after some private discourse with his Grace (age 71), I took my leave, most of the Lords being gone.

Evelyn's Diary. 15 Jan 1689. I found by the Lord-Advocate (age 53) that the Bishops of Scotland (who were indeed little worthy of that character, and had done much mischief in that Church) were now coming about to the true interest, in this conjuncture which threatened to abolish the whole hierarchy in that kingdom; and therefore the Scottish Archbishop (age 55) and Lord-Advocate (age 53) requested the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 71) to use his best endeavors with the Prince (age 55) to maintain the Church there in the same state, as by law at present settled.

Evelyn's Diary. 15 Jan 1689. My Lord of Canterbury (age 71) gave me great thanks for the advertisement I sent him in October, and assured me they took my counsel in that particular, and that it came very seasonably.

Evelyn's Diary. 15 Jan 1689. I visited the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 71), where I found the Bishops of St. Asaph (age 61), Ely (age 51), Bath and Wells (age 51), Peterborough (age 61), and Chichester (age 65), the Earls of Aylesbury (age 33) and Clarendon, Sir George Mackenzie (age 53), Lord-Advocate of Scotland, and then came in a Scotch Archbishop, etc. After prayers and dinner, divers serious matters were discoursed, concerning the present state of the Public, and sorry I was to find there was as yet no accord in the judgments of those of the Lords and Commons who were to convene; some would have the Princess (age 26) made Queen without any more dispute, others were for a Regency; there was a Tory party (then so called), who were for inviting his Majesty (age 55) again upon conditions; and there were Republicans who would make the Prince of Orange (age 38) like a Stadtholder. The Romanists were busy among these several parties to bring them into confusion: most for ambition or other interest, few for conscience and moderate resolutions. I found nothing of all this in this assembly of Bishops, who were pleased to admit me into their discourses; they were all for a Regency, thereby to salve their oaths, and so all public matters to proceed in his Majesty's (age 55) name, by that to facilitate the calling of Parliament, according to the laws in being. Such was the result of this meeting.

Evelyn's Diary. 29 Jan 1689. The votes of the House of Commons being carried up by Mr. Hampden (age 36), their chairman, to the Lords, I got a station by the Prince's (age 55) lodgings at the door of the lobby to the House, and heard much of the debate, which lasted very long. Lord Derby (age 34) was in the chair (for the House was resolved into a grand committee of the whole House); after all had spoken, it came to the question, which was carried by three voices against a Regency, which 51 were for, 54 against; the minority alleging the danger of dethroning Kings, and scrupling many passages and expressions in the vote of the Commons, too long to set down particularly. Some were for sending to his Majesty with conditions: others that the King (age 55) could do no wrong, and that the maladministration was chargeable on his ministers. There were not more than eight or nine bishops, and but two against the Regency; the archbishop (age 71) was absent, and the clergy now began to change their note, both in pulpit and discourse, on their old passive obedience, so as people began to talk of the bishops being cast out of the House. In short, things tended to dissatisfaction on both sides; add to this, the morose temper of the Prince of Orange (age 38), who showed little countenance to the noblemen and others, who expected a more gracious and cheerful reception when they made their court. The English army also was not so in order, and firm to his interest, nor so weakened but that it might give interruption. Ireland was in an ill posture as well as Scotland. Nothing was yet done toward a settlement. God of his infinite mercy compose these things, that we may be at last a Nation and a Church under some fixed and sober establishment!

Evelyn's Diary. 21 Feb 1689. The Archbishop of Canterbury (age 72) and some of the rest, on scruple of conscience and to salve the oaths they had taken, entered their protests and hung off, especially the Archbishop, who had not all this while so much as appeared out of Lambeth [Map]. This occasioned the wonder of many who observed with what zeal they contributed to the Prince's (age 38) expedition, and all the while also rejecting any proposals of sending again to the absent King (age 55); that they should now raise scruples, and such as created much division among the people, greatly rejoicing the old courtiers, and especially the Papists.

Evelyn's Diary. 26 Apr 1689. I heard the lawyers plead before the Lords the writ of error in the judgment of Oates (age 39), as to the charge against him of perjury, which after debate they referred to the answer of Holloway, etc., who were his judges. I then went with the Bishop of St. Asaph (age 61) to the Archbishop (age 72) at Lambeth [Map], where they entered into discourse concerning the final destruction of Antichrist, both concluding that the third trumpet and vial were now pouring out. My Lord St. Asaph (age 61) considered the killing of the two witnesses, to be the utter destruction of the Cevennes Protestants by the French and Duke of Savoy, and the other the Waldenses and Pyrenean Christians, who by all appearance from good history had kept the primitive faith from the very Apostles' time till now. The doubt his Grace suggested was, whether it could be made evident that the present persecution had made so great a havoc of those faithful people as of the other, and whether there were not yet some among them in being who met together, it being stated from the text, Apoc. xi., that they should both be slain together. They both much approved of Mr. Mede's way of interpretation, and that he only failed in resolving too hastily on the King of Sweden's (Gustavus Adolphus) success in Germany. They agreed that it would be good to employ some intelligent French minister to travel as far as the Pyrenees to understand the present state of the Church there, it being a country where hardly anyone travels.

Evelyn's Diary. 07 Jun 1689. I visited the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 72), and stayed with him till about seven o'clock. He read to me the Pope's excommunication of the French King (age 50).

Evelyn's Diary. 21 Sep 1689. I went to visit the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 72) since his suspension, and was received with great kindness. A dreadful fire happened in Southwark [Map].

Evelyn's Diary. 19 Apr 1691. The Archbishop of Canterbury (age 74), and Bishops of Ely (age 53), Bath and Wells (age 53), Peterborough (age 63), Gloucester (age 69), and the rest who would not take the oaths to King William (age 40), were now displaced; and in their rooms, Dr. Tillotson (age 60), Dean of St. Paul's, was made Archbishop: Patrick (age 64) removed from Chichester to Ely; Cumberland (age 59) to Gloucester. Note. A mistake. Bishop Edward Fowler (age 59) was made Bishop of Gloucester. Bishop Richard Cumberland (age 59) was made Bishop of Peterborough.

Evelyn's Diary. 07 May 1691. I went to visit the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 74) [Sancroft] yet at Lambeth. I found him alone, and discoursing of the times, especially of the newly designed Bishops; he told me that by no canon or divine law they could justify the removing of the present incumbents; that Dr. Beveridge, designed Bishop of Bath and Wells, came to ask his advice; that the Archbishop (age 74) told him, though he should give it, he believed he would not take it; the Doctor said he would; why then, says the Archbishop (age 74), when they come to ask, say "Nolo", and say it from the heart; there is nothing easier than to resolve yourself what is to be done in the case: the Doctor seemed to deliberate. What he will do I know not, but Bishop Ken (age 53), who is to be put out, is exceedingly beloved in his diocese; and, if he and the rest should insist on it, and plead their interest as freeholders, it is believed there would be difficulty in their case, and it may endanger a schism and much disturbance, so as wise men think it had been better to have let them alone, than to have proceeded with this rigor to turn them out for refusing to swear against their consciences. I asked at parting, when his Grace removed; he said that he had not yet received any summons, but I found the house altogether disfurnished and his books packed up.

Evelyn's Diary. 11 Jul 1691. I dined with Mr. Pepys (age 58), where was Dr. Cumberland (age 59), the new Bishop of Norwich [Note. Should be John Moore Bishop], Dr. Lloyd (age 54) having been put out for not acknowledging the Government. Cumberland [Note. John Moore Bishop 1646-1707] is a very learned, excellent man. Possession was now given to Dr. Tillotson (age 60), at Lambeth, by the Sheriff; Archbishop Sancroft was gone (age 74), but had left his nephew to keep possession; and he refusing to deliver it up on the Queen's message (age 29), was dispossessed by the Sheriff, and imprisoned. This stout demeanor of the few Bishops who refused to take the oaths to King William (age 40), animated a great party to forsake the churches, so as to threaten a schism; though those who looked further into the ancient practice, found that when (as formerly) there were Bishops displaced on secular accounts, the people never refused to acknowledge the new Bishops, provided they were not heretics. The truth is, the whole clergy had till now stretched the duty of passive obedience, so that the proceedings against these Bishops gave no little occasion of exceptions; but this not amounting to heresy, there was a necessity of receiving the new Bishops, to prevent a failure of that order in the Church. I went to visit Lord Clarendon in the Tower, but he was gone into the country for air by the Queen's (age 29) permission, under the care of his warden.

On 24 Nov 1693 Archbishop William Sancroft (age 76) died.

Evelyn's Diary. 22 Nov 1694. Visited the Bishop of Lincoln (age 58) [Tenison] newly come on the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury (age 64), who a few days before had a paralytic stroke,-the same day and month that Archbishop Sancroft was put out. A very sickly time, especially the smallpox, of which divers considerable persons died. The State lottery drawing, Mr. Cock, a French refugee, and a President in the Parliament of Paris for the Reformed, drew a lot of £1,000 per annum.