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John Wilkinson

John Wilkinson, D. D.—This venerable divine was born in the parish of Halifax in Yorkshire, and educated in the university of Oxford, where he was highly celebrated for learnings He became fellow of Magdalen college, was tutor to Prince Henry, and afterwards made principal of Magdalen-hall, in the same university. By his recommendation, the well-known Mr. Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury, was taken into the family of Lord Hardwicke, soon after created Earl of Devonshire, in the quality of tutor to hit son William Lord Cavendish.^ Upon the commencement of the civil wars, he espoused the cause of the parliament; and Oxford being garrisoned by the royal forces, he fled to the parliament's quarters, when he was succeeded in the above office by Dr. Thomas Read. But in the year 1646, Dr. Wilkinson was restored; and by an ordinance of parliament, dated May 1, 1647, he was appointed one of the visitors of the university of Oxford. In May, 1648, he was made president of Magdalen college, in the place of Dr. Oliver.! He did not, however, live long to occupy this public oflice; for he died January 2, 1649, and his remains were interred in the church of Great Milton in Oxfordshire. Though he was a man of great learning and piety,* Dr. Walker is pleased to say, upon the slender authority of a scurrilous and abusive letter written against the puritans, " That he was known not to have preached above once in forty years; that he had outlived the little learning he once possessed; and was become the very sport of boys."** How far this account, from so base an authority, and evidently designed to reproach his memory, is worthy of credit, we will not attempt to determine;

• Calamy'l Cnnlin. vol. ii. p. T4S.

+ Wood's Athene Oxon. vol. i. p. 895.

t Watson's Mil. of Halifax, p. 526.

S Biog. Britan. vol. iv. p. 3599. Edit. 1747.

I Walker's Attempt, part i. p. 136,184.

H Neat's Puritans, vol. iii. p. 431.

•• Walker's Attempt, part i. p. 127.

but certain it is, that the parliament, to whom he was well known, and by whom he was so highly esteemed, formed a. very different opinion of him.

Fuller observes, " that Dr. Lawrence Humphrey, the famous old puritan, having bequeathed to Magdalen college a considerable sum of gold left in a chest, and not to be opened except in some case of great emergency; Dr. Wilkmson, while he was president, took this gold, and shared it betwixt himself and the fellows of the college. Though one must charitably believe," he adds, " that the matter was not so bad as is reported, yet the most favourable account gave a general distaste."* Dr. Heylin says, " the sum amounted to upwards of twelve hundred double pistoles, value sixteen shillings and six-pence each; and that the old doctor had one hundred for his share of the spoil, and the fellows thirty each." But he observes, that, according to tradition, the money wat left by the founder of the college, and not by Dr. Humphrey.t Wood says, " the sum amounted to no less than fourteen hundred pounds; and Dr. Henry Wilkinson, the vice-president of the college, not John Wilkinson, was the chief divider of the spoil.t

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