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of a most ancient and worshipful family; bred fellow of Wadham College; so eloquent a preacher that he was commonly called silver-tongued Sidenham. But let his own printed sermons (and especially that called “The Athenian Babler') set forth his deserved praise, who died since our civil distempers, about the year 1650.
ROMISH EXILE WRITERS. JOHN GIBBON was undoubtedly born in this county, though herein Pits presents us with an untoward and left-handed direction, “Patrick Somersetensis, Diocesis Wintoniensis."* Now either Winchester is imprinted for Wells, or he was born in this county in some peculiar belonging to Winchester, which See hath large revenues about Taunton. Leaving the land for his religion, Pope Gregory XIII. collated on him a canon's place in the church of Bonn. This he soon quitted, and became rector of the Jesuits' College in Triers. He wrote a book against G. Schon, professor at Heydelberg, in vindication that the Pope was not antichrist. Being indisposed in health, his hearing of the defeat of the Spanish Armada was no cordial unto him, and he died anno 1589.
ROBERT PERSON was born in this county;t bred in Baliol College in Oxford, till for his viciousness he was expelled thence with disgrace. Running to Rome, and there finishing the course of his studies, he with Campian were the first brace of English Jesuits, who returned hither 1589 to preserve this nation. Two years after he escaped hence, and got beyond
One of a troublesome spirit, wherewith some moderate Romanists were so offended, that (during his abode here) they once resolved to resign him up to the queen's officers. He had an ill-natured wit, biassed to satiricalness :a great statesman (and it was not the least part of his policy to provide for his own safety ;) who would look on, direct, give ground, abet on other men's hands, but never played so as to adventure himself into England.
He wrote a shrewd book “of the Succession to the English Crown;" setting it forth under the false name of Dolman || (a dull secular priest, guilty of little learning, and less policy); dedicating the same to the earl of Essex. He had an authoritative influence on all English Catholics; nothing of importance being agitated by them but Person had a finger, hand, arm therein. He was for twenty-three years rector of the College at Rome, where he died anno Domini 1610.
• Pits, de Angliæ Scriptoribus, p. 788.
+ Idem, anno 1610. | Camden's Elizabeth, in anno 1580. Camden's Elizabeth, 1580.
|| Idem, anno 1594.
John Fex was born at Montacute in this county :* bred in New College in Oxford, where he proceeded bachelor in laws, continuing there till (anno Domini 1562) for his popish activity he was ejected by the queen's commissioners. Then for a time he lived schoolmaster at St. Edmund's Bury, till ousted there on the same account. Hence hefled over into Flanders ; thence into Italy; whence returning, at last he was fixed at Louvain. He wrote many, and translated more books; living to finish his jubilee, or fiftieth year of exile, beyond the seas, where he died about the
of our Lord 1613. Let me add, that this John Fen mindeth me of another of the same surname, and as violent on contrary principles; viz. Humphrey Fen, a nonconformist minister, living about Coventry, who, in the preface to his last will,“ made such a protestation against the hierarchy and ceremonies, that, when his will was brought to be proved, the preface would not be suffered to be put amongst the records of the court; as which indeed was no limb, but a wen of his testament.
John Collington was born in this county,I bred in Lincoln College in Oxford. Going beyond the seas, and there made priest, he returned into England, and with Campian was taken, cast into the Tower of London, and condemned, but afterwards reprieved, enlarged, and sent beyond the seas. Hence he returned, and for thirty years together zealously advanced his own religion, being assistant to the two arch-priests, and he himself supplied the place in the vacancy betwixt them.
He could not but be a very aged man ; who, though in restraint, was alive 1611.
BENEFACTORS TO THE PUBLIC. The Lady Mohun. Reader, know I can surround the Christian names of her nearest relations. Her husband was John, the last lord Mohun of Dunstor. The eldest daughter, Philip, married to Edward duke of York; her second, Elizabeth, to William Montacute earl of Salisbury; her youngest, Maud, matched to the Lord Strange of Knockyn, but her own Christian name I cannot recover.
However, she hath left a worthy memory behind her, chiefly on this account, that she obtained from her
husband so much good ground for the commons of the town of Dunstor as she could in one day (believe it a summer one for her ease and advantage) compass about going on her naked feet. Surely no ingenious scholar beheld her in that her charitable perambulation, but.in effect vented his wishes in the poet's expression,
“ Ah! tibi ne teneras tellus secet aspera plantas.' ||
* New College Register, anno 1555.
Pit's Angliæ Scriptores, p. 807. Ś Camden's Britannia, in this county. || Vigil, Eclog. decima.
The certain date of her death is unknown, which by proportion is conjectured in the reign of king Henry the Fifth.
SINCE THE REFORMATION. NICHOLAS WADHAM, of Merrifield, in this county, Esquire, had great length in his extraction, breadth in his estate, and depth in his liberality. His hospital house was an Inn at all times, a court at Christmas. He married Dorothy, daughter to the secretary, sister to the first lord Petre.
Absalom, having no children, reared up for himself a pillar to perpetuate his name.* This worthy pair, being issueless, erected that which hath, doth, and will afford many pillars to church and state, the uniform and regular (nothing defective or superfluous therein) college of Wadham in Oxford. Had this worthy Esquire (being a great patron of church-livings) annexed some benefices thereunto (which may be presumed rather forgotten than neglected by him)
it had, for completeness of fabric and endowment, equalled any English foundation.
If he was (which some suggest) a Romanist in his judgment, his charity is the more commendable, to build a place for persons of a different persuasion. Whilst we leave the invisible root to the Searcher of hearts, let us thankfully gather the good fruit which grew from it. He died before his college was finished, his estate by coheirs descending to Strangeways, Windham, White, &c.; and he lieth buried with his wife under a stately monument in the fair church of Ilminster.
Pailip Biss was extracted from a worshipful family in this county, who have had their habitation in Spargrave for some descents, being bred fellow and doctor in divinity in Magdalen College in Oxford; he was afterwards preferred archdeacon of Taunton. A learned man, and great lover of learning. Now though it be most true what reverend bishop Hall was wont to say, “ Of friends and books, good and few are best;" yet this doctor had good and many of both kinds; and at his death bequeathed his library (consisting of so many folios as were valued at one thousand pounds) to Wadham College, then newly founded.
This epitaph was made upon him, wherein nothing of wit, save the verbal allusion which made itself without any pains of the author thereof:
Bis fuit hic natus, puer et Bis, Bis juvenisque.
Bis vir, Bisque senex, Bis doctor, Bisque Sacerdos.t I collect, by probable proportion, that his death happened about the year 1614.
2 Samuel xviii. 18.
† Camden's Remains, p. 380.
MEMORABLE PERSONS. Sir John CHAMPNEIS, son of Robert Champneis, was born at Chew in this county; but bred a skinner in London, and lord Mayor thereof, anno 1535. Memorable he is on this account
, that, whereas before his time there were no turrets in London (save what in churches and public structures) he was the first private man, who, in his house, next Cloth-workers' hall, built one, to oversee his neighbours in the city,* which delight of his eye was punished with blindness some years before his death. But seeing “prying into God's secrets is a worse sin than overlooking men's houses,” I dare not concur with so censorious an author,+ because every consequent of a fact is not the punishment of a fault therein.
THOMAS CORIAT.-Though some will censure him, as a person rather ridiculous than remarkable, he must not be omitted; for, first, few would be found to call him fool, might none do it save such who had as much learning as himself. Secondly, if others have more wisdom than he, thankfulness and humility is the way to preserve and increase it.
He was born at Odcombe nigh Evil, in this county ; bred at Oxford, where he attained to admirable fluency in the Greek tongue. He carried folly (which the charitable called merriment) in his
very face. The shape of his head had no promising form, being like a sugar-loaf inverted, with the little end before, as composed of fancy and memory, without any common-sense.
Such as conceived him fool ad duo, and something else ad decem, were utterly mistaken: for he drave on no design, carrying for coin and counters alike; so contented with what was present, that he accounted those men guilty of superfluity, who ħad more suits and shirts than bodies, seldom putting off either till they were ready to go away
from him. Prince Henry allowed him a pension, and kept him for his servant. Sweet-meats and Coriat made up the last course at all court entertainments. Indeed he was the courtiers' anvil to try their wits upon: and sometimes this anvil returned the hammers as hard knocks as it received, his bluntness repaying their abusiveness.
His book, known by the name of “ Coriat's Crudities,” nauseous to nice readers, for the rawness thereof, is not altogether useless; though the porch be more worth than the palace, I mean, the preface, of other men's mock-commending verses thereon.
At last he undertook to travel into the East Indies by land, mounted on a horse with ten toes, being excellently qualified for such a journey; for rare his dexterity (so properly as con
* Stow's Survey of London, p. 137.
| Idem, ibidem.
sisting most in manual signs) in interpreting and answering the dumb tokens of nations, whose language he did not understand. Besides, such his patience in all distresses, that in some sort he might seem, cooled with heat, fed with fasting, and refreshed with weariness. All expecting his return with more knowledge (though not more wisdom), he ended his earthly pilgrimage in the midst of his Indian travel, about (as I collect) the year of our Lord 1616.
LORD MAYORS. 1. John Champneis, son of Robert Champneis, of Chew,
Skinner; 1535. 2. George Bond, son of Rob. Bond, of Trull, Haberdasher; 1588.
Know, reader, this is one of the ten pretermitted counties, the names of whose gentry were not, by the Commissioners, returned into the Tower, in the twelfth of king Henry the Sixth.
SHERIFFS. This county had the same with Dorsetshire until the ninth year of queen Elizabeth; since which time, these following have born the office in this county alone.
G. a chevron between ten crosses formée Arg. 10 Geo. Norton, mil. 11 Hen. Portman, arm.
Orchard. 0. a flower-de-luce Az. 12 Th. Lutterel, arm.
Dunster Ca. 0. a bend betwixt six martlets S. 13 Geo. Rogers, arm. Cannington.
Arg. a chevron betwixt three bucks current S. attired O. 14 Joh. Horner, arm.
Melles. S. three talbots passant Arg. 15 Jo. Sydenham, arm. Brompton.
Arg. three rams S. 16 Joh. Stowell, mil. Stawell.
G. cross lozengée Arg. 17 Christop. Kenne, arm. Courtwick.
Erm. three half-moons G. 18 Tho. Mallet, arm.' Enmore.
Az. three escallops O.