Edmund Grindal - Encyclopedia

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EDMUND GRINDAL (c. 1519-1583), successively bishop of London, archbishop of York and archbishop of Canterbury, born about 1519, was son of William Grindal, a farmer of Hensingham, in the parish of St Bees, Cumberland. He was educated at Magdalene and Christ's Colleges and then at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. and was elected fellow in 1538. He proceeded M.A. in 1541, was ordained deacon in 1544 and was proctor and Lady Margaret preacher in 1548-1549. Probably through the influence of Ridley, who had been master of Pembroke Hall, Grindal was selected as one of the Protestant disputants during the visitation of 1549. He had a considerable talent for this work and was often employed on similar occasions. When Ridley became bishop of London, he made Grindal one of his chaplains and gave him the precentorship of St Paul's. He was soon promoted to be one of Edward VI.'s chaplains and prebendary of Westminster, and in October 1552 was one of the six divines to whom the Forty-two articles were submitted for examination before being sanctioned by the Privy Council. According to Knox, Grindal distinguished himself from most of the court preachers in 1553 by denouncing the worldliness of the courtiers and foretelling the evils to follow on the king's death.

That event frustrated Grindal's proposed elevation to the episcopal bench and he did not consider himself bound to await the evils which he had foretold. He abandoned his preferments on Mary's accession and made his way to Strassburg. Thence, like so many of the Marian exiles, he proceeded to Frankfurt, where he endeavoured to compose the disputes between the "Coxians" (see Cox, Richard), who regarded the 1552 Prayer Book as the perfection of reform, and the Knoxians, who wanted further simplification. He returned to England in J anuary 1559, was appointed one of the committee to revise the liturgy, and one of the Protestant representatives at the Westminster conference. In July he was also elected Master of Pembroke Hall in succession to the recusant Dr Thomas Young (1514-1580) and Bishop of London in succession to Bonner.

Grindal himself was, however, inclined to be recalcitrant from different motives. He had qualms about vestments and other traces of "popery" as well as about the Erastianism of Elizabeth's ecclesiastical government. His Protestantism was robust enough; he did not mind recommending that a priest "might be put to some torment" (Hatfield MSS. i. 269); and in October 1562 he wrote to Cecil begging to know "if that second Julian, the king of Navarre, is killed; as he intended to preach at St Paul's Cross, and might take occasion to mention God's judgements on him" (Domestic Cal., 1547-1580, p. 209). But he was 10th to execute judgments upon English Puritans, and modern high churchmen complain of his infirmity of purpose, his opportunism and his failure to give Parker adequate assistance in rebuilding the shattered fabric of the English Church. Grindal lacked that firm faith in the supreme importance of uniformity and autocracy which enabled Whitgift to persecute with a clear conscience nonconformists whose theology was indistinguishable from his own. Perhaps he was as wise as his critics; at any rate the rigour which he repudiated hardly brought peace or strength to the Church when practised by his successors, and London, which was always a difficult see, involved Bishop Sandys in similar tronbles when Grindal had gone to York. As it was, although Parker said that Grindal "was not resolute and severe enough for the government of London," his attempts to enforce the use of the surplice evoked angry protests, especially in 1565, when considerable numbers of the nonconformists were suspended; and Grindal of his own motion denounced Cartwright to the Council in 1570. Other anxieties were brought upon him by the burning of his cathedral in 1561, for although Grindal himself is said to have contributed £1 200 towards its rebuilding, the laity of his diocese were niggardly with their subscriptions and even his clergy were not liberal.

In 1570 Grindal was translated to the archbishopric of York, where Puritans were few and coercion would be required mainly for Roman Catholics. His first letter from Cawood to Cecil told that he had not been well received, that the gentry were not "well-affected to godly religion and among the common people many superstitious practices remained." It is admitted by his Anglican critics that he did the work of enforcing uniformity against the Roman Catholics with good-will and considerable tact. He must have given general satisfaction, for even before Parker's death two persons so different as Burghley and Dean Nowell independently recommended Grindal's appointment as his successor, and Spenser speaks warmly of him in the Shepherd's Calendar as the "gentle shepherd Algrind." Burghley wished to conciliate the moderate Puritans and advised Grindal to mitigate the severity which had characterized Parker's treatment of the nonconformists. Grindal indeed attempted a reform of the ecclesiastical courts, but his metropolitical activity was cut short by a conflict with the arbitrary temper of the queen. Elizabeth required Grindal to suppress the "prophesyings" or meetings for discussion which had come into vogue among the Puritan clergy, and she even wanted him to discourage preaching; she would have no doctrine that was not inspired by her authority. Grindal remonstrated, claiming some voice for the Church, and in June 1577 was suspended from his jurisdictional, though not his spiritual, functions for disobedience. He stood firm, and in January 1578 Secretary Wilson informed Burghley that the queen wished to have the archbishop deprived. She was dissuaded from this extreme course, but Grindal's sequestration was continued in spite of a petition from Convocation in 1581 for his reinstatement. Elizabeth then suggested that he should resign; this he declined to do, and after making an apology to the queen he was reinstated towards the end of 1582. But his infirmities were increasing, and while making preparations for his resignation, he died on the 6th of July 1583 and was buried in Croydon parish church. He left considerable benefactions to Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, Queen's College, Oxford, and Christ's College, Cambridge; he also endowed a free school at St Bees, and left money for the poor of St Bees, Canterbury, Lambeth and Croydon.

Strype's Life of Grindal is the principal authority; see also Dict. Nat. Biogr. and, besides the authorities there cited, Gough's General Index to Parker Soc. Publ.; Acts of the Privy Council; Cal. of Hatfield MSS.; Dixon's Hist. of the Church of England; Frere's volume in Stephens' and Hunt's series; Cambridge Mod. Hist. vol. iii.; Gee's Elizabethan Clergy; Birt's Elizabethan Religious Settlement; and Pierce's Introduction to the Marprelate Tracts (1909).

(A. F. P.)

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