|Archbishop Richard Bancroft|
Sadly Richard never saw the completion of his work on the Bible project because he died at Lambeth Palace on 2nd November 1610, and the whereabouts of his final resting place had been a mystery until recently.
Richard was the son of John Bancroft & Mary Curwen and baptised on 9th September 1544 at Farnworth, a village in South Lancashire [now part of Widnes in Cheshire]. His early education was at Farnworth Grammar School, and later at Cambridge, firstly at Christ's College & then at Jesus College.
He was ordained in 1570 as Chaplin to the Bishop of Ely, and then became one of the preachers at the University. In 1584 he was made rector of St Andrew's in Holborn and a year later in 1585 was appointed treasurer of St Paul's Cathedral.
On 9th February 1589 he preached at St Paul's Cross and the theme of his sermon was a passionate attack on the Puritans and is said to have "denounced the exercise of the right of private judgement, and set forth the divine right of bishops in such strong language that one of the Queen's councillors held it to amount to a threat against the supremacy of the crown"'
In June 1597 he was consecrated Bishop of London, and from that time, because of the age and incapacity of the incumbent Archbishop Whitgift, he was virtually invested with the power of primate and had the sole management of ecclesiastical affairs.
One if his many duties when Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, was to be present at her death.
In 1604 Archbishop Whitgift died and Richard was eventually appointed his successor, albeit it after strong opposition from parliament because of a ‘Book of Canons’ which he had produced for royal approval earlier in the year.
At this time there was also strong opposition to the current religious practices from the Puritan movement who were continuing to gaining momentum and Puritan ministers collected signatures for a petition, known as the Millenary Petition signed by over 1,000 Puritan ministers, calling for a number of moderate church reforms to remove ceremonies, some of which were:
- the use of the sign of the cross in baptism [which Puritans saw as superstitious]
- the rite of confirmation (which Puritans criticized because it was not found in the Bible);
- the performance of baptism by midwives (which Puritans argued was based on a superstitious belief that infants who died without being baptized could not go to heaven]
- the exchanging of rings during the marriage ceremony (again seen as unscriptural and superstitious);
- bowing at the name of Jesus during worship (again seen as superstitious)
- the requirement that clergy wear vestments.
- the custom of clergy living in the church building.
|St Mary's Tower|
Inside, piled giggle-piggledy on top of each other, were the coffins. On top of one rested an archbishop’s mitre, painted red and gold.
It isn’t surprising, then, that six archbishops were buried in Lambeth, where the Archbishops of Canterbury have lived for nearly 800 years. What is surprising is that they should choose to be buried in tiny St Mary’s, rather than mighty Lambeth Palace itself.
The end this story, in the preface of the new King James Version of the Bible, the translator refer to Archbishop Bancroft as "chief overseer & task-master under his Majesty, to whom were not only we, but also our whole Church,much bound"
|King James Bible|