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William Fulke

William Fulke, D. D.—This celebrated divine was born in London, and educated in St. John's college, Cambridge, where he was chosen fellow in 1564. He was a youth of great parts, and a very high spirit. When he was a boy at school, having a literary contest with the famous Edmund Campion, and losing the silver pen which was proposed to the victor, he is said to have been angry and mortified to a degree almost beyond conception. Before he became fellow of his college, he spent six years at Clifford's-inn, where, in compliance with the wishes of his father, he was employed in the study of the law. But upon his return to the university, not liking the law, he directed his studies to other objects more congenial to his wishes; with which his father was so exceedingly offended, that though he was a man of considerable property, he refused to afford him support. Young Fulke, not discouraged by the unnatural treatment of his parents, was resolved to persevere in his literary pursuits, and to make his way through the world as well as he could. This he did, by his uncommon endowments, with the greatest ease. JHe studied with intense application, the mathematics, the languages, and divinity, and became a most celebrated scholar in each of these departments.

This learned divine espoused the principles of the puritans at a very early period; and in the year 1565, be preached openly and boldly against the popish habits and ceremonies incorporated with the ecclesiastical establishment. This presently roused the attention of the ruling ecclesiastics, when he was cited before the chancellor of the university. Though our author does not say what prosecution he underwent, nor what penal'y be suffered, the chancellor declared his determination to proceed against him with rigour, and that he should find no comfort while

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persisting in this wantonness, as he was pleased to call his nonconformity;» and we may suppose he was as good as his word. The deficiency of information is, however, supplied by another author, who observes, that on account of his puritanism, he was expelled from his college; when he took lodgings in the town, and procured a support by the delivery of public lectures.t

Dr. Fulke having gained a most distinguished reputation, so early as the year 1569, he was upon the point of being chosen master of St. John's college, by a very considerable party, who had the highest value for him. This greatly offended Archbishop Parker, who, seasonably interposing, put a stop to his election.J The jealous archbishop could not bear that " Fulke's head should be thus stroken," as he expressed it; and he knew it was best to crush puritanism in the bud. About the same time, the Earl of Leicester, a constant friend and patron of such men, received him under his hospitable roof, and made him his domestic chaplain. Also, during the above year, he was charged with being concerned in certain unlawful marriages; but upon his examination by the Bishop of Ely, he was acquitted, and the charge proved to be altogether a calumny. He presently recovered his reputation. Though while he remained under the public odium, he voluntarily resigned his fellowship; yet his innocency was no sooner proved, than he was re-elected by the college.^

In the year 1571, the Earl of Essex presented Dr. Fulke to the rectory of Warley in Essex, and, soon after, to the rectory of Kedington in Suffolk. About this time, he took his doctor's degree at Cambridge, and was incorporated in the same at Oxford. The year following, he accompanied the Earl of Lincoln, then lord high admiral, as ambassador to the court of France.] Upon his return, he was chosen master of Pembroke hall, and Margaret professor of divinity, in the university of Cambridge. He was succeeded in his mastership by Dr. Andrews, chaplain to Queen Elizabeth, and afterwards successively Bishop of Chichester and Winchester.*

Dr. Fulke was particularly intimate with Mr. Thomas

. - ' - - i:

. • Strype's Parker, p.. 197. Appen. p. 72.
t Middleton's Biographia Evangelica, vol. ii. p. 262. Edit. 1780.
} Strype's Parker, p. 280. fj Ibid.

U Strype's Annuls, vol. ii. p. 240.
5 Baker's MS. Codec, vol. vi. p. 295.

Cartwright; knew well his great worth; and united with other learned divines in warmly soliciting him to answer the Rhemish Testament. But when he found, that by the tyrannical prohibition of Archbishop Whitgift, Mr. Cartwright was forbidden to proceed, he undertook to answer it himself. His work was entilled " A Confutation of the Rhemish Testament," 1589; in which he gave notice, that the reader might some time be favoured with a more complete answer from Mr. Cartwright.* That which occasioned the publication of the Rhemish Testament was as follows :—The English papists in the seminary at Rheims, perceiving, as Fuller observes, that they could no longer " blindfold their laity from the scriptures, resolved to fit them with false spectacles; and set forth the Rhemish translation," in opposition to the protestant versions. Fulke undertook, and successfully accomplished, an entire refutation of the popish version and commentary. The late Mr. Hervey passed a very just encomium on this noble performance : which he styles, " a valuable piece of ancient controversy and criticism, full of sound divinity, weighty arguments, and important observations. Would the young student," he adds, " be taught to discover the very sinews of popery, and be enabled to give an effectual blow to that complication of errors; I scarce know a treatise better calculated for the purpose. "t

In the year 1582, Dr. Fulke, with several other learned divines, was engaged in a public disputation with certain papists in the Tower. He was a person in every respect qualified for the undertaking. He had to contend with Campion, his old school-fellow, with whom he had formerly contested for the silver pen. And it is observed, evidently with a view to reproach his principles, and depreciate his memory, that " Dr. Fulke and Dr. Goad, being puritanically inclined, and leaning to Calvin's notions, afforded Campion, on one or two points, an advantage which his cause did not give him over the real principles of the English church."t We should have been extremely happy, and it would have been some addition to our stock of knowledge, if our learned author had mentioned those points, and stated the superior advantage they afforded the learned Jesuit, above the real principles of the ecclesiastical establishment. He did not, surely, mean to insinuate, that

* Peirce's Vindication, part i. p. 103.

t Toplady's Hiitoric Proof, vol. ii. p. 196, 191.

* Churton'a Life of Nowrll, p. 278.

puritanism and Calvin's notions approach nearer to popery, than the church of England.

Dr. Fulke was author of a work, entitled " A brief and

filain Declaration, containing the desires of all those faithill Ministers who seek Discipline and Reformation of the Church of England, which may serve as a just Apology against the false Accusations and Slanders of their Adversaries," 1584. Here he sufficiently declares his sentiments relative to church discipline and matters of nonconformity. Though Mr. Dudley Finner's name is prefixed to the work, Dr. Fulke was its author.* He was a very holy man, and a divine of uncommon learning and abilities, but ever scrupled some points of conformity. Wood styles him a good philosopher, and a pious and solid divine. t Granger observes, that he gained a great reputation by his writings against Cardinal Allen, and his " Confutation of Heskins, Sanders, and Rastell, three pillars of Popery," 1559. Dr. Fulke was, for a considerable time, says he, a warm advocate for the principles of the nonconformists; but in process of time, got the better of his prejudices, and made a near approach to the doctrine and discipline of the established church.| This author, for the satisfaction of his readers, ought to have proved, from good authority, that Dr. Fulke's principles of nonconformity arose from prejudice, and to have shewn how near he afterwards approached towards the ecclesiastical establishment

As Dr. Fulke delivered his sentiments openly and freely on this subject, in the works that he published, let him speak in his own language. Giving his opinion of a bishop, according to the use of the church, and of the scripture, he affirms, " That for order and seemly government, there was always one principal, to whom by long use of the church, the name of bishop was applied; yet in the scripture a bishop and an elder is of one order and authority."^ " And," says he, " there ought to be in every church or congregation an eldership, which ought to have the hearing, examination, and determination of all matters pertaining to the discipline and government of that congregation."!) Giving his sentiments of the cross in baptism, he makes the following observation: " Many, it is

• MS. Chronology, vol. ii. p. 419. (1 J 5.)

t Wood's Athena*, vol. i. p. 724.

t Granger's Biog. Hist, vol, i. p. 215, 216.

{ Petition of Prelates Examined, p. 16. Edit. 1641.

q Paget'* Church Government, p. 203.

true," says he, " speak of the sign of the cross; but they speak i)esides the book of God ; and therefore their reasons are to be rejected. For men must not compare, or join the cross with the king's stamp; for he appointed no such thing whereby his servants might be known, but only baptism."* These sentiments afford sufficient evidence, that he was a puritan in his views of the ceremonies and discipline of the church.

This eminent servant of Christ, after a life of great labour and usefulness in the church of God, was released from all his toils, and received into everlasting joy, in the month of August, 1589; when his remains were interred in the chancel of the church at Kedinglon already mentioned. Afterwards a monumental inscription was there erected to his memory, of which the following is a translation, with the lines subjoined in English :t

In Memory
of William Fulke, D. D.
Master of Pembroke ball, Cambridge,
and Pastor of this church of Kedington.]:

In testimony of his continued love
hath Robert Wright, Professor of Divinity,
and present pastor of this church,
erected this monument.
His body was committed to the ground
August 28,1589,
and lies in this chancel in hope of the resurrection
at the coming of Christ.

In deepest learning, with a zealous love,

To Heaven and Truth, could privileges prove

To keep back death, no hand had written here

Lies Reverend Fulke, till Christ in clouds appear.

His Works will shew him more free from all error,

Rome's foe, Truth's champion, and the Rhemist's terror.

Dr. Fulke, the twelfth of the month in which he died, made his last will and testament, which it may not be improper to insert in this place. It was as follows

" In the name of God, amen. I William Fulke, clerk, D. D. being of sound mind and memory, God be praised, make here my last will and testament First, I commend my soul into the hands of Almighty God my Saviour and Redeemer, yielding most humble and hearty thanks unto his majesty for all his mercies bestowed upon me, most vile and

• Sion's Plea, p. 99. + Baker's MS. Collec. vol. ii. p. 292. % Here there appears to have been some mistake in the spelling of the transcriber, which we have taken the liberty to correct. S Baker's MS. Collec. vol. iii. p. 321—329.

unworthy wretch, but especially for his mercy shewed unto me in Jesus Christ, in whom I believe to have remission of my sins, and to be justified by his blood. My body I commit to the earth, from whence it was taken, in steadfast hope of a glorious resurrection unto life everlasting, through the mercy and merits of the same Lord Jesus Christ. Concerning my earthly goods, wherewith God hath blessed me, I give all my lands freehold and copy, that are deviseable by law, or the custom of the manor, unto Christopher my eldest son, and to the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten, and for default of such heir, to William Fulke my younger son, and to the heirs male of his body lawfully begotten, and for default of such heirs, unto my heirs female, to be equally divided among them: and this I understand both of such lands as I have in possession, and also of those lands whereof I have the remainder or reversion of the last will of Christopher Fulke my dear father.

" Also I give and bequeath the customary lands that I have in Tanton called the Fullance, to William Leonard my brother-in-law, upon condition that he shall convey them over to my son Christopher, if the custom of the manor will permit it; but if the custom of the manor will not permit such conveyance, then I will that Margaret my wife, within one year after my departure, shall surrender the same to the use of my son Christopher, or else to have no benefit of this my last will and testament.

" I will that my antiquities shall be preserved to the use of Christopher my son, if he shall have delight in them at his full age, or else to the use of my son William at the like age, if he shall have delight in them, or else to be sold to some one that delights in antiquities, and the price to be equally divided among my daughters. Also I will that my books be preserved to the use of Christopher my son, if it shall please God to call him to the study of divinity, or else to the like use of William, if God shall call him to the same study : but if neither of them shall study divinity, I will that they shall be sold to the most advantage, and the price

Whereas I owe ten pounds and some odd money to Pembroke hall, I will that the same be paid into the hands of him that shall succeed master in my room, in the presence of the treasurer of the college. Also in respect of divers benefits I have received of the said college, for a sign of thankfulness, I give unto the master and fellows of the college of Mary

of them to be equally divided

Valence, one piece of plate made in fashion of an acorn, with a cover, which I will have to be called Dr. Fulke his cup, to be used only at commencements and solemn feasts.

" The rest of all my goods moveable, as money, plate, cattle, household stuff, prized reasonably according to the value, I will to be equally divided between Margaret my wife and my four daughters, Mary, Hester, Elizabeth and Ann, to be delivered unto them at the full age of twenty-four years; or at the day of their marriage, if it shall please God that they shall marry before that age: so that they match in the fear of God, with the consent of their mother, if she be living, or of their uncle Samuel, if he be living. And if any of them depart this life before their marriage, or the year before said, then I will that their portion be equally divided among them that are living. Also where I have a lease for three lives of a farm in Horsheath which is set over to my son Christopher, I will that my three daughters shall enjoy it successively, as they be named in the same, and that my son Christopher shall make conveyance unto them so soon as he shall be of lawful years. 1 will that the profit of my lands, until my son Christopher come to full age of twenty-one years, my wife's dowry excepted and ten pounds a year abated for the education of my son Christopher, shall be by my executors preserved and equally divided between my wife and my four daughters, in manner and form aforesaid.

" Also, I make Margaret my wife, and Samuel Fulke my brother, executors of this my will, in witness whereof, I have set my hand and seal this twelfth day of August, in the one and thirtieth year of the reign of our sovereign lady Queen Elizabeth.

"william Fulke."

The above will was proved October 9, 1589, before Humphrey Tyndall, deputy to Tho. Nowell, vice-chancellor of Cambridge. Our celebrated divine was author of many other learned works besides those already mentioned, most of which were written against the papists.

His Works.—l.Anti-prognosticon contra Prediction.es Nestradami, Lovi, Hilli, fcc., 1560.—2. Sermon at Hampton-Court, 1571.—3. Confutation of a Libelle in Forme of an Apology made by Frocknam, 1571.—4. A goodly Gallery, or Treatise on Meteors, 1571.—5. Astrologorum Ludus, 1571.—6. Metpomaxia, sivi, Ludus geometricus, 1578.—7. Responsio ad Tho. Stapletoni Cavillationes, 1579.— 8. A Retentive against the Motives of Richard Bristow; also, a Discovery of the Dangerous Rock of the Popish Church, 1580.—0. A Defence of the Translation of the Holy Scriptures in English, 1583. ^—10. Confutation of Will. Allen's Treatise in Defence of the Usurped Power of the Popish Priesthood.