Bishop of Chichester William Barlow, Alias Finch

Is your surname Barlow?

Research the Barlow family

Bishop of Chichester William Barlow, Alias Finch's Geni Profile

Records for William Barlow

1,486,682 Records

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!


Bishop of Chichester William Barlow, Alias Finch

Birthdate: (83)
Birthplace: St Osyth, Essex, England
Death: August 13, 1568 (79-87)
Chichester, Sussex, England
Immediate Family:

Son of John Barlow, Of Chorlton and Christian Barley, of Albury Hall
Husband of Agatha Barlow
Father of Margaret Overton; Anne Westfaling; Antonia (Barlow) Wickham; Elizabeth Day; William Barlow, II and 2 others
Brother of Elizabeth Barlow; Rev Thomas Barlow; John Barlow, Dean of Worcester and Roger Barlow

Occupation: Bishop of Chichester
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Bishop of Chichester William Barlow, Alias Finch

William Barlow (Barlowe; alias Finch) (died 1568) was an English Augustinian prior turned bishop of four dioceses, a complex figure of the Protestant Reformation. Aspects of his life await scholarly clarification. Labelled by some a "weathercock reformer",[1] he was in fact a staunch evangelical, an anti-Catholic and collaborator in the Dissolution of the Monasteries and dismantling of church estates; and largely consistent in his approach, apart from an early anti-Lutheran tract and a supposed recantation under Mary I of England.

When Mary I of England came to the throne he resigned his bishopric, because he was married.[24] He was a Marian exile in Germany, and Poland, after imprisonment in the Tower of London. He travelled with Catherine Willoughby, 12th Baroness Willoughby de Eresby and Richard Bertie.[2][25] He also had an English congregation at Emden.[3]

Under Elizabeth I he was bishop of Chichester. Almost immediately she compelled him by Act of Parliament to give up manors, including Selsey.

His five daughters each married clergymen who were to become bishops:

   * Anne to Herbert Westfaling, Bishop of Hereford;
   * Elizabeth to William Day, Bishop of Winchester;
   * Margaret to William Overton, Bishop of Lichfield;
   * Frances, after her first husband Parker's death, to Tobias Matthew, Archbishop of York; and
   * Antonia to William Wickham, Bishop of Winchester.[32]

William Barlow (1544-1629), writer on magnetism, was his son.[33]

His wife Agatha died in 1595; there is a memorial to her in Easton, Hampshire.


WILLIAM BARLOW, alias Finch, was born in Essex in the fifteenth century and became a canon regular of the

order of S. Augustine. He appears to have studied at Cambridge and Oxford, and to have graduated at one or both of these universities, but we have been unable to discover anv record to that eflect. He was originally a canon of the house of S. Osyth m his native county, and then was made prior of Blackmore therein. This dignity he resigned in 1509, on the 25th of May in which year he was elected prior of Tiptree also in Essex. This priory he exchanged for that of Lees in the same county 18 July 1515. In or about 1524 he became prior of Bromehill in Weting Norfolk, and in the followiug year had the rectory of Cressingham magna in the same county, obtaining the pope's dispensation to hold that benefice with his priory. On 16 Sept. 1528 the priorv of Bromehill was suppressed by cardinal Wolsey, in order that the house and its revenues might form part of the endowment of his college at Oxford. This appears to have greatly incensed Barlow and to have induced him to adopt Lutheran opinions. He printed various books against the existing church establishment, "as the Treatyse of the Burvall of the Masse, a Dyaloge between thertentyllmanand Husbandman, the Clymbynge up of Fryers and Religious Persones portred with fygures, a descripcion of Godes worde compared to the lyght." He also wrote but did not publish " a convycious dyaloge withowt any tytle, inveyinge specialty agaynst Saynt Thomas of Canterbury." In the dialogue he reflected bitterly on cardinal Wolsey for the dissolution of monasteries for the endowment of the college at Oxford. From some cause which we are unable to explain, he thought proper soon afterwards to change his opinions. There is extant a letter from him to the king which has no date, but must, we conceive, have been written before the fall of Wolsey. In this letter Barlow acknowledges that in his publications and writings he had wrapped himself in manifold errors and detestable heresies against the doctrine of Christ and determination of holy church, and had grievously erred against the blessed sacrament of the altar, disallowing the mass and denying purgatory, with slanderous infamy of the pope and the lordcardinal, and outrageous railing against the clergy. He therefore humbly be

sought pardon from his majesty, whom he compliments as endowed with excellent learning and singular judgment of the truth, and as endeavouring to chase away and extirp all heresies, and also to see a reformation of slanderous living. In January 1529-30 Barlow accompanied George Boleyn and Dr. John Stokesley in their embassy to France, and appears to have went thence to Iiome on the business of the divorce. As he is soon afterwards called D.D. it is not improbable that he took that degree abroad. About or shortly after this time he set forth a dialogue against the Lutherans, (Ecolampadians, and Anabaptists, under the title of " A dialogs describing the original] ground of these Lutheran faccions and many of their abuses." The interlocutors are Nicholas a protestant, and William who had been a protestant but had returned to the old church, having been, as he states, in Germany where he had heard Luther, Pomerane, and Melancthon. Stokesley when bishop of London enjoined the curates throughout his diocese to read this dialogue. Queen Anne Boleyn solicited archbishop Cranmer to bestow on Barlow the rectory of Sundridge Kent. The archbishop made a mistake and presented him to Tonbridge, which was not vacant and was in the gift of her father the earl of Wiltshire. The queen thereupon wrote to the archbishop pointing out the error and soliciting its rectification, stating that the rectory of Sundridge would De well bestowed on Barlow, considering the pains he had taken in the king's matter, thereby no doubt meaning the divorce. It does not appear that he obtained this benefice, but soon afterwards the queen advanced him to the priory of S. Thomas the Martyr in Haverfordwest which was in her patronage, and 21 July 1534 he and five canons acknowledged the royal supremacy. He nowagainadvocatedthedoctrinesof the reformation.and his sermons made him many enemies. The Blackfriars of Haverfordwest, at the instigation of Rawlins bishop of S. David's, presented articles against Barlow who appealed to the privy-council, by whom it would appear he was to some extent countenanced. Shortly afterwards one of his servant's houses was ransacked bv the bishop's officers, who took from him the New Testament and certain expositions of portions of scripture, and caused

the mayor of Tenby to commit him to prison. Barlow complained of these proceedings in a letter to secretary Cromwell, wherein he denounced the enormous vices, fraudulent exactions, misordered living, and blind wilful ignorance of the clergy of the diocese, concluding by praying his licence to depart. It was probably in consequence of this letter that he, in the course of 1534, exchanged the priory of Haverfordwest for that of I! i sham in Berkshire. In that year he and Thomas Holcroft were dispatched on the king's affairs to Scotland. The king, in his letter to his brother of Scotland, dated Southampton 3rd October, terms him his right, trusty, and well-beloved counsellor " Mr. Barlowe, Gierke, Pryour of the Monastery of Bisham." He and Holcroft had their audience of the king of Scots on or about 12th December. In a letter to Cromwell from Berwick 10 Feb. 1534-5, Barlow gives a sad acccount of the state of Scotland, concluding in these terms : " in thes parties is noo right preaching of Godes wurd, nor scante any knouledge at all of Christes Gospell, withowt the wiche neyther justice nor good ordre may prospere. For, notwithstanding her be plentie of prestes, sondry sortes of religious, multitudes of monkes, flocking companys of freers, yet among them all so many is there not a fewe, noo not one that sincerly preachethe Christ." In another letter to Cromwell, without date, which has been referred to 1536, but which was we believe written earlier.hethus speaks of theclergy of Scotland : " They shew theyin selfe in all poyntes to be the Popes pestylent creatures, very lymmes of the Devyll, whose popysshe power vyolently to mayntayne, theyr lyenge freers ceasse not in their sermones, we bynge present, blasphemously to Mutter agayust the veryte, with slanderous reproche of us, which have justly rcnouncyd hys wronge usurpyd papacye. Wherfor, in confutacyon of theyr detestable lyes, yf I maye obtayne the Kynges lycence (otherwyse shall I not be suffred) to preache, I wyll not spare for no bodely peryll, boldly to publysshe the trewth of Goddes worde amonge theym. Wherat though the Clergy shall repyne, yet many of the laye peple wyll gladly geve herynge. And untyll the worde of God be playntyd amonge theym I suppose theyr feyned promyses shall be fynally found frustrate without any foythfull effecte." On 7 Jan. 1535-6 he was elected bishop of S. Asaph, having restitution of the temporalities 2nd February, and being consecrated on the 22nd of the game month. He was however in a short time translated to S. David's, his confirmation to the latter see being 21 April 1536. In that year he was joint-ambassador to Scotland with lord William Howard, Barlow coming to England for a time, in consequence probably of his election as bishop of S. David's, but having returned to Edinburgh by 12th May, in the course of which month lord William Howard took his departure from the Scottish coast, as did the bishop soon afterwards. He held the priory of Bisham in commendam with the see of S. David's till 5 July 1536, when he and the convent surrendered their house to the crown, although it was refounded for a short period as a mitred Benedictine abbey. Bishop Barlow was active in inducing the heads of other monasteries to surrender the same to the king. On 11 Jan. 1536-7 Roger Lewis, bachelor of civil law, abiding in S. David's, exhibited to Rowland Lee bishop of Lichfield and Coventry the lord-president of the king's council in Wales, articles against bishop Barlow and one Talley who had preached before him. These articles, so far as they related to the bishop, were to the effect, that in a sermon preached by him at S. David's 12th November preceding, he had affirmed that whensoever two or three simple persons, as two coblers or weavers, were in company and elected in the name of (Jod, there was the true church of God; that he had denied purgatory, and decried trentals as mundane lucre; and maintained that the king as supreme head might make a learned layman a bishop. We find certain letters from him to Cromwell which were probably written in 1538. In one dated 31st March he refers to superstitious tapers at Haverfordwest ana Cardigan, and relates his Eroceedings as touching the relics of S. •avid, which he describes as " two heedes of sylver plate enclosinge two rotten skulles stuffed with putrified clowtes: Item, two arme bones and a worme eaten boke covered with sylver plate." He also forwarded an abstract of a superstitious sermon preached in his ca

thedral by one of the canons onlnnooent*"day preceding, and urged the translation of the see from S. David's to Carmarthen, whereby, for reasons which he details, " Gods honour principally preferred, the Welsh rudenes decreasinge, Chrvstian cyvilitie may be introduced to the famous renownc of the kynges supremetye." In another of these letters, dated the 5th of April, he refers to certain disputes between him, the chautor of S. David's, and others of the clergy, and intimates that such was the valiant bearing of them and their friends, that unless his lordship were his favourable defence in right he should not escape confusion ; stating that they had no cause of complaint against him except that they were aggrieved with his continual preaching and sincere setting forth of the king's articles to the reproach of ungodly superstition and abominable idolatry; and averring that he had in his proceedings used "attempred moderation." In a third letter, dated 16th August, he gives a curious picture of the state of Wales, saying that knowledge was utterly unknown, and science little regarded; and, again urging the translation of his see to Carmarthen, alludes to "ungodly ymage service, abbomynable ydolatrie and Tycentiouse lybertie of dishonest lvvinge, popish pilgremages, disceatefull pardons, and fayned indulgences." He also calls the city of S. David's " a barbarous desolate corner;" and, as to S. David himself says it is "rather to be dowted whether any soch person was ever bishop there, as ys surmvsed." He spoke in parliament against the bill of the six articles. In 1510 he was one of the commissioners appointed by the king to make a determination on various controverted points of doctrine, and his name occurs to the decree made 9th July in that year touching the king's divorce from Anne of Cleves. On 19 Jan. 1641-8 he had a grant to him and his successors in the see of S. David's, of the site of the house of friars-preachers of Brecknock, and the college of Abergwilly for the foundation of Christ's college in Brecknock and a grammar-school there. It is said that he was again sent to Scotland in 1542 with the Institution of a Christian man, in order to allay the prejudices of the Scots with respect to the proceedings touching reformation in England. He

took a part in the funeral ceremonies of Henry VIII., and in February 1517-8 preached before Edward VI. in favour of the reformation. This sermon gave

fTeat offence to bishop Gardiner, who, y letter, complained thereof to the lordprotector. He communicated this letter to bishop Harlow who wrote a reply, which the protector sent to bishop Gardiner. Bishop Harlow was translated from S. David's to Hath and Wells by letters-patent 3 Feb. 15-18-9. Soon afterwards a violent dispute arose between him and John Goodman dean of Wells. He deprived Goodman of his deanery ; Goodman sued out a praemunire against him, he obtained the king's pardon, and in the end Goodman's deprivation stood. Bishop Barlow was in the commission for the reform and codification of the laws ecclesiastical 1551. Soon after the accession of queen Mary, viz. 15 Sept. 1553, he was committed to the Tower. Being married he was forced to resign his bishopric. The licence for the election of his successor is dated 13 March 1553-1. In 1553, after the resignation of his see, his dialogue against the Lutherans was reprinted, the author being on the titlepage termed " syr William Barlowe chanon, late bvshop of Bath." It is supposed that tfie object, or one of the objects, of this republication was to injure him with the protestants, by recalling to remembrance his former virulent attack on them. It does not appear when he was released from the Tower, but it was probably immediately after he resigned his bishopric. In November 1551, endeavouring to get beyond sea in the disguise of a merchant, he was again arrested and convened before the council in the star-chamber, who committed him to the Fleet. On 28th January following he appeared at S. Mary Overies, before bishop Gardiner lord-chancellor and other commissioners. He made an answer which they allowed for catholic, but was remanded to the Fleet. He was soon afterwards discharged or escaped from custody, left England and repaired to Embden. Bale, speaking of him in his Catalogus Scriptorum 1557, says, " Claret nunc in Germauia venerabilis senex, pauper et ezul." In November 1557 we find him at Windsheim, whence he was dispatched by John a Lasco, Richard Bertie, and his wife the duchess of Suffolk, to the duke palatine of

Wilna and the king of Poland. John Burcher and George Black were his companions on this journey. He returned to England soon after the accession of Elizabeth, and took a part in the consecration of Dr. Parker as archbishop of Canterbury. He was not however restored to his former see of Bath and Wells, but was appointed bishop of Chichester, the royal assent to his election being given 18 Dec. 1559, and he having restitution of the temporalities 27 March 1500. By letters-patent, dated 21st June in the same year, a canonry of Westminster was conferred upon nim, and he held that preferment, with his bishopric, for five years. He was present in the convocation of 1562, and signed the thirty-nine articles. On 21 March 1562-3 he and his colleague, in the embassy to Scotland, now become lord Howard of Effingham, made declarations with respect to facts within their knowledge relative to the marriage of the earl of Angus with Margaret queen dowager of Scotland. His death occurred at a very advanced age at Chichester 13 Aug. 1568, as appears by a letter from his son-in-law William Overton to sir William Cecil, dated from Chichester on the following day. We are thus particular, inasmuch as Fuller and other writers inaccurately state that he survived till 10 Dec. 1569. He was buried in Chichester cathedral.

His wife Agatha, daughter of Humphrey Welsbourne, survived till 13 June 1595, when she was about ninety years old. By her he had two sons: William ultimately archdeacon of Sarum noted for his magnetic discoveries, and John ; also five daughters : Margaret wife of William Overton bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, Anne wife successively of Austin Bradbridge and of Herbert Westphaling bishop of Hereford, Elizabeth wife of William Day bishop of Winchester, Frances wife successively of Matthew Parker the archbishop's son and of Toby Matthew archbishop of York, and Antonine wife of William Wykeham bishop of Winchester. He had other children who died in infancy.

He was author of:

1. Treatise of the burying of the mass.

2. A dialogue between the gentleman and husbandman.

Source: Athenae cantabrigienses, Volume 1

By George John Gray

view all 11

Bishop of Chichester William Barlow, Alias Finch's Timeline

St Osyth, Essex, England
Age 45
Saint Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales, United Kingdom
Age 49
St David, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Age 51
St David, Pembrokeshire, , Wales
Age 53
Saint Davids, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Age 59
Saint David's, Pembrokeshire, UK
Age 65
St David, Pembrokeshire, Wales
August 13, 1568
Age 83
Chichester, Sussex, England