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Davenant, descended of the ancient family of that name, settled at Sible Hedingham, Essex, as early as the reign of Henry the Third, was the second son of William Davenant, and Joan, daughter of John Tryer, of Clare, in Suffolk. He was a merchant tailor, lived in Watling Street, London, and acquired a vast estate. By his wife, Margaret, he had two daughters, Judith, wife of Thomas Fuller, the father of the celebrated author, and Margaret, wife of Dr. Robert Tounson, Bishop of Salisbury.
He had also by the same Margaret, four sons, Edward the eldest, that married Anne, daughter of John Symmes, of London, and by her had two sons, Edward Davenant, D.D. whose wife was daughter of Hugh Grove, of Wilts ; secondly, Dr. John Davenant, successor to his brother-in-law Dr. Tounson, in the see of Salisbury; thirdly, William Davenant, that married Ursula, daughter of Lisle Cave,* of Leicestershire; and fourthly, James Davenant.t
Mrs. Clerke, Fuller's great-grandmother by his mother's side, was housekeeper to Bishop Gardiner, at Farnham, who “grateful for her attentive courtesies, connived at her heresy, as he called it, and protected her from the ill will of others.”
* Ursula, daughter of Lisle Cave, of Horsepool Grange, in the parish of Thornton, fifth son of Dr. Francis Cave, of Bagrave, Leicestershire, where that family was settled in the reign of Queen Mary.- Nichols' Leicestershire, vol. iii. part 1, pp. 288, 293.
+ Thomas Baker's MSS. Univ. Library, Cambridge. # Fuller's Ch. Hist. b. viii. p. 17.
The old rectory of St. Peter's, Aldwinckle, stood upon the glebe north-west of the Church, was taken down about forty years since, and never rebuilt.
Our author's father, Thomas Fuller, was admitted to a scholarship in Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1586, but the day and month are not recorded. He was admitted of that foundation probably in 1583. Here he was cotemporary with the celebrated orientalist, William Alabaster, who was admitted to a scholarship before him, on May 15th, 1584. Fuller and Alabaster proceeded to the degrees of B. A. and M. A. in the same years respectively, 1587 and 1591. On the 2nd of October, 1589, they were together admitted minor, and on the 12th of March, 1590, major Fellows. Fuller was resident in college in 1593 and 1594, for on the 2nd of October, 1593, he was sworn secundus lector. He never filled any
other office, and therefore doubtless did not reside after 1594. He proceeded to the degree of B. D. 1598.*
Fuller, in his British Worthies,t relates that his father was present in the bachelor's schools when a Greek Act was kept between Francis Dil
* For the above particulars relating to Fuller and Alabaster whilst at Trinity College, the author is indebted to the kindness of Dr. Wordsworth, the late highly respected Master of that College, and to the Rev. J. Romilly, University Registrar.
+ Of Alabaster, see the Biog. Britannica, and a shorter notice in Chalmers. Dillingham was a diligent writer both of practical and controversial divinity. He collected out of
lingham, Fellow of Christ College, and Alabaster; “a disputation so famous that it served for an æra or epocha for the scholars in that age thence to date their seniority." Dillingham was one of the translators of the Bible, and was richly beneficed at Wilden, a small village five miles north-east of Bedford, prettily situated in a rather woody country to the south of Colmworth. He died at Wilden unmarried, and left his estate to his brother Thomas, who was chosen one of the Assembly of Di. vines, but did not appear amongst them. He was the humble, faithful and painful pastor of Dean, the birthplace of the two brothers, a village near Kimbolton, and one of the most sequestered and picturesque in the pleasant county of Bedford.
Fuller, in his · Holy State,' records the veneration in which his father held the learning of the renowned Whitaker, who may indeed be called the Jewel' of Cambridge. Like that incomparable champion of the Church of England, he honoured
Bellarmine that subtle author's admissions in favour of Protestantism. He put forth a Manual of the Christian Faith, taken from the Fathers; a Dissertation on the History of Pope Joan; a Refutation of Dr. Hill, the Romanist, who was also answered by Archbishop Abbot; and several other treatises that may be seen in Watts’ Bibliotheca, and in the Catalogue of the University Library, Cambridge.
Theophilus, the son of his brother Thomas, was born at Over Dean, was educated at the Grammar School, Bedford, was seven years at Emmanuel College, and admitted of Sidney Sussex College, on the 1st of March, 1637-8.'
· Buker's MSS. Brit. Mus. vol. xi. p. 356.
the Fathers without servility, avoiding both extremes, that of such as trust in their interpretations as binding, and that of such as erroneously conceive that they cannot be sound or safe Protestants with out disparaging their worth. The like moderation is exemplified in our author's Truth maintained,' being the defence of his sermon on · Reformation.'
We have the benefit of the Fathers' books, a mighty advantage, if we were as careful to use it, as we are ready to brag of it for our own credit. And here I must complain of many men's laziness. Indeed a learned man (Holcot) compareth such as live in the latter times in respect of the Fathers to dwarfs standing on giants' shoulders. But then, if we will have profit by the Fathers' learning, we must take pains to mount to the top of their shoulders. But if, like idle dwarfs, we still do but stand on the ground, our heads will not reach to their girdles. It is not enough to throw the books of the Fathers together on an heap, and then, making their works our footstool, to stand on the outside and covers of them, as if it were no more but up and ride, boasting how far we behold beyond them. No, if we expect to get advantage by their writings, we must open their books, read, understand, compare, digest, and meditate them. And I am afraid many that least look into the Fathers, boast most that they look beyond them. By the way we must take heed of a fault of which many are guilty. For some are ready to challenge every thing in the practice of the Fathers which doth not please them, presently to be Popish, and pretend they taste superstition in whatsoever themselves distaste. O, say they, the Fathers lived when the mystery of iniquity did work, and hence they infer that it is evidence enough, without further trial, to condemn any ceremonies used by them, because they were used by them: the way indeed to make short assizes, but perjured judges. Whereas it is not enough to say, but to show that they are superstitions, to anatomize and dissect the Popery contained in them, demonstrating where it crosseth the Word of God: whereas on the contrary, all wise and charitable men ought to esteem the practices of the primitive church not only to be innocent, but useful and honourable, till they be legally convicted to be otherwise.”
Our author's father was favoured with the friendship of Overall, Sir Robert Cotton, Dr. Roger Fenton, and Richard Greenham.
“Being appointed to preach before the Queen, he (Overall) professed to my father (most intimate with him) that he had spoken Latin so long, it was troublesome to him to speak English in a continued oration.” Fuller further observes of this most learned prelate, that “ he was a discreet presser of conformity."
It is noted of this eminent theologian, that it was his wont to ground his theses in the schools on two or three texts of Scripture, and to show what latitude of opinion or interpretation was admissible upon the point in hand; and that he was celebrated
* Worthies. Suffolk, p. 61.