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Bedell, William

BEDELL, WILLIAM (1571-1642), Anglican divine, was born at Black Notley in Essex, in 1571. He was educated at Cambridge, became fellow of Emmanuel in 1593, and took orders. In 1607 he was appointed chaplain to Sir H. Wotton, then English ambassador at Venice, where he remained for four years, acquiring a great reputation as a scholar and theologian. He translated the Book of Common Prayer into Italian, and was on terms of closest friendship with the reformer, Sarpi (Fra Paolo). In 1616 he was appointed to the rectory of Horningsheath (near to Bury St Edmunds, where he had previously laboured), which he held for twelve years. In 1627 he became provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and, in 1629, bishop of Kilmore and Ardagh. He set himself to reform the abuses of his diocese, encouraged the use of the Irish language, and personally undertook the duties generally discharged by the bishop's lay chancellor. In 1633 he resigned his see. In 1641, when the Protestants were being massacred, Bedell's house was not only left untouched, but became the place of refuge for many fugitives. In the end, however, the rebels insisted upon the dismissal of all who had taken shelter in his house, and on the bishop's refusal he was seized and imprisoned with some others in the ruined castle of Loughboughter. Here he was detained for several weeks, and when released, rapidly sank from the effects of exposure, and died on the 7th of February 1642.

His life was written by Bishop Gilbert Burnet in 1685, and also by his elder son (ed. T.W. Jones, for the Camden Society, 1872).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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