1902 Encyclopedia > Lancelot Andrewes

Lancelot Andrewes
English theologian and preacher
(1555-1626)



LANCELOT ANDREWES, D.D., Bishop of Winchester, one of the most illustrious of the prelates of England, was born in 1555 in Thames Street, Allhallows, Barking, London. His father Thomas was of the ancient family of the Suffolk Andrewes; in his later years he became master of trinity House. Lancelot was sent while a mere child to the Coopers' Free School, Ratcliff, in the parish of Stepney. From this the youth passed to Merchant Taylors' School, then under the celebrated Richard Mulcaster.

Lancelot Andrews

Lancelot Andrewes,
English theologian and preacher


In 1571 he was entered at Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was here one of the first four scholars upon the foundation of Dr Thomas Watts, successor of the venerable Nowell. Contemporaneously he was appointed to a scholarship in Jesus College, Oxford, at the request of the founder (Dr Price), by Queen Elizabeth. In 1574-5, he took his degree of B.A.; in 1576 he was chosen to a fellowship at his college; in 1578 he proceeded M.A.; in 1580 he was ordained, and in the same year his name appears as junior treasurer; in 1581 he was senior treasurer, and on July 11, was incorporated M.A. at Oxford.

On passing M.A., he was appointed catechist in his college, and read lectures upon the Decalogue, afterwards published, causing a furor of interest far and near, as his first quaint biographer Isaacson tells. The notes of these lectures printed in 1642 authenticate themselves; later editions have been suspiciously enlarged, and otherwise altered for the worse. The notes are historically valuable and important, inasmuch as with Bishops Jewell and Bishop, he teaches in them, that Christ is offered in a sacrament, that is, his offering is represented and a memory of his passion celebrated. Nothing can be more definite or emphatic than Andrewes' repudiation of a real external sacrifice in the bread and wine.

From the university Andrewes went into the North, on the invitation of Henry Hastings, earl of Huntingdon, lord president of the North. In 1585 he is again found at Cambridge taking his degree of B.D.

In 1588 he succeeded Crowley in the vicarage of St Giles, Cripplegate. Here he delivered his most penetrative and striking sermons on the Temptation in the Wilderness, and the Lord's Prayer -- the former published in 1592, the latter in 1611. In a great sermon on April 10, in Easter week 1588, he most effectively, and with burning eloquence, vindicated the Protestantism of the Church of England against the Romanists. It sounds oddly to have "Mr Calvin" adduced herein and elsewhere as a new writer, with lavish praise and affection.

Passing other ecclesiastical advancements, Andrewes was preferred by Grindal, at the suit of Walsingham, to the prebendal stall of St Pancras in St Paul's, London, in 1589. The prebendary had "the courage of his opinions," for Sir John Harington records that Sir Francisc Walsingham, his patron, having laboured to get him to maintain certain points of ultra-Puritanism, he refused, having, as the garrulous Knight, in his State of the Church of England (pp. 143, 144), punningly remarks, "too much of the andros in him to be scared with a councillor's frown, or blown aside with his breath," and accordingly answered him plainly, that "they were not only against his learning, but his conscience."

On September 6, 1589, he succeeded Fulke as master of his own college of Pembroke, being at the time one of the chaplains of Archbishop Whitgift. His mastership of Pembroke was a success in every way. In 1589-90, as one of the twelve chaplains of the queen, he preached before her majesty a singularly outspoken sermon (March 4, 1590). In this year, on October 13, he preached his introductory lecture at St Paul's, upon undertaking to comment upon the first four chapters of Genesis. These form part of the Orphan Lectures, of the folio of 1657, than which there is no richer contribution to the theological literature of England, notwithstanding the imperfection of the notes in some cases.

He was incessant worker as well as preacher. He delighted to move among the people, and yet found time to meet with a society of antiquaries, whereof Raleigh, Sidney, Burleigh, Arundel, the Herberts, Saville, Stow, and Camden, were members. What by his often preaching, testifies Isaacson, at St Gile's, and his no less often reading in St. Paul's, he became so infirm that his friends despaired of his life. His charities were lavish, and yet discriminative. The dearth of 1594 exhibits him as another Joseph in his care for the afflicted and poor of "the Israel of God."

In 1595 appeared The Lambeth Articles, a landmark in our national church history. Andrewes adopted the doctrine of St Augustine as modified by Aquinas. Philosophically, as well as theologically, his interpretations of these deep things remain a permanent advance in theological-metaphysical thought.

In 1598 he declined offers of the two bishoprics of Ely and Salisbury, his "nolo epicopari" resting on an intended alienation of the lands attached to these sees. On November 23, 1600, was preached at Whitehall his memorable sermon on Justification, around which surged a controversy that is even now unspent. The preacher maintained the evangelical view as opposed to the sacerdotal.

On July 4, 1601, he was appointed dean of Westminster, and his sedulousness over the renowned school is magnified by Bishop Hacket in his Life of Archbishop Williams. On July 25, 1603, Andrewes assisted at the coronation of James I. In 1604 he took part in the Hampton Court Conference, and, better service, was one of the committee to whom we owe our authorized version of Holy Scripture. The dean frequently preached before the king, and his majesty's own learning, given him by George Buchanan, made him a sympathetic hearer. Many of these state sermons are memorable from their results and place in our ecclesiastical history.

In 1605 he was appointed, after a third declinature, bishop of Chichester. In 1609 he published his Tortura Torti, in answer to Bellarmine's Matthaeus Tortus. This work is one of many born of the gunpowder plot and related controversies. It is packed full of learning, and yet the argument moves freely. Nowhere does Andrewes' scholarship cumber him. It is a coat of mail, strong but mobile.

In this same year he was transferred from Chichester to Ely. His studiousness here was as intent as before. He again assailed Bellarmine in his Responsio ad Apologiam, a treatise never answered. From 1611 to 1618, Andrewes is to be traced as preacher and controversialist in season and out of season. In 1617 he attended the king to Scotland.

In 1618 he was translated to the see of Winchester. In this year he proceeded to the Synod of Dort. Upon his return he became in word and deed a model bishop, while in every prominent ecclesiastical event of the period he is seen in the front, but ever walking in all beauty of modesty and benignity. His benefactions were unprecendented. His learning made him the equal and the friend of Grotius, and of the foremost contemporary scholars. His preaching was unique for its combined rhetorical splendour and scholarly richness, and yet we feel that the printed page poorly represents the preaching. His piety was that of an ancient saint, semi-ascetic and unearthly in its self-denial, but rooted in a deep and glowing love for his Lord. No shadow rests on his beautiful and holy life. He died 25th September 1626, and the leaders in church and state mourned for him as for a father. Two generations later, Richard Crashaw caught up the universal sentiment, when in his lines Vpon Bishop Andrewes' Picture before his Sermons, he exclaims: --

This reverend shadow cast that setting sun,
Whose glorious course through our horizon run,
Left the dimme face of this dull hemisphere,
All one great eye, all drown'd in one great teare.

Further Reading

It is to be regretted that the works of Bishop Andrewes have been only fragmentarily and uncritically collected and edited; but the edition of the Anglo-Catholic Series suffices to place him in the front rank of the theologians of England. (Works, as originally published, and as collected ut supra; Isaacson's Life in Fuller's Abel Redivivus; Buckeridge's Sermon; Russell's Memoirs of the Life and Works (1860), a medley of materials and discursive notes; British Museum Harleian MSS.) (A. B. G.)






The above article was written by Rev. Alexander Balloch Grosart, LL.D., D.D.; Fellow of the Scottish Society of Antiquaries; pastor of St. George's Presbyterian Church, Blackburn; edited the Fuller Worthies Library, The Chertsey Worthies Library, The Huth Library; author of Songs of the Day and Night.



Books by and about Lancelot Andrewes

Apart from the works mentioned above, recent important works include: Paul A. Welsby, Lancelot Andrewes, 1555–1626 (1958).


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