Thomas Aldrich, A. M.—He was son of John Aldrich, who was twice chosen mayor of the city of Norwich, and member of several parliaments for that city. His father being a public character, introduced him to public notice,
• Sermon before the Queen, Feb. 25,1569.
+ Fuller s Church Hint. b. ix. p. 109.
t Clark's Examples, p. 600. Edit. 1871.
and obtained his preferment to several ecclesiastical benefices. He was made arcbdeacon of Sudbury, prebendary of Westminster, master of Bennet college, Cambridge, proctor of the university, and rector of Hadleigh in Suffolk.* About the same time, he became chaplain to Archbishop Parker, and was appointed one of the commissioners for visiting and reforming the papists in the county of Norfolk. + Notwithstanding all these worldly allurements, together with a flattering prospect of much higher advancement, he espoused the cause of the despised puritans; became a zealous nonconformist, and one of their leaders in the university of Cambridge.
It is observed, that, May 20, 1571, Mr. Aldrich preached at Thetford, in Norfolk: May 21st, he preached at Wymondham: May 22d, he preached at Matshall: May 24th, he preached in St. Clement's church, Norwich: and the next Lord's day, May 27th, he preached in the Greenyard, before the mayor and citizens. He was, therefore, no indolent labourer in the Lord's vineyard.}
Mr. Aldrich being master of the above college, and refusing, from a scrupulous conscience, to take the degrees required of those in that office, was brought into many troubles, and at length, to avoid expulsion, resigned his mastership of the college. Many other grievous complaints are said to have been brought against him, most probably about his nonconformity. In one of these complaints, he is said to have called the archbishop " the pope of Lambeth and Bennet college." Dr. Whitgift, at this time one of the heads of the university, took an active part in these severities. This was in the year 1573; but some time previous to these troubles, Mr. Aldrich voluntarily resigned his prebend at Westminster.^ It is, indeed, acknowledged, that as he objected taking the degrees, upon the ground of a scrupulous conscience, the treatment he met with was ralher too severcl
The author last cited, however, brings many foul accusations against him. He observes, that Mr. Aldrich was charged, not only with refusing to qualify for his office, but with evil government of his college, in neglecting its exercises and discipline; with things prejudicial to its . temporal interests; and with various other things, to the number of twenty. And the troubles of the college did not
• Blomefield's Hist, of Norfolk, vol. ii. p. 468.
+ Newcourt's Repert. Eccl. vol. i. p. 925.
t Strvpe's Parker, p. 254. S Ibid. p. 429—433.—Vfhitgift, p. 49.
|| Master's Hist, of C. C. C. p. 112. Edit. 1753.
end with his resignation. For the masters and fellows, says he, were afterwards under the necessity of appealing to Chancery, to oblige him to account for several sums of money which he had received, and had not paid ; to restore many writings, the private seal of the master, and some other things; and to discharge the various debts which he had contracted. These, however, were not recovered till after his death, which happened in the year 1576.* These are certainly very heavy charges! But how far he was guilty, is not easy now to ascertain. He was a man well versed in the learned languages, also in the French and Italian.t The Oxford historian says, that he was deprived of his prebend for notorious nonconformity; but, upon his repentance and reconciliation, that he was admitted to another prebend, in 1576, the year in which he died4 It is not easy to reconcile this with the account given above from Mr. Strype.