A Catalogue of the Bishops of England.
London, George Bishop, 1601.
FIRST EDITION. 4to. pp. (viii) 547 (i). Black letter, woodcut headpiece, foliated initials. Title page slightly dusty at head, woodcut ornament, early manuscript shelf mark at tail. A very good, clean copy in fine C18 English red morocco, elaborate gilt stamped borders of crowns, coronets, feather headdresses and fleur de lys, inner dentelles gilt, spine gilt in compartments with crown motif and crossed sceptres, slightly chipped at head, morocco gilt lettering piece, a.e.g., marbled end papers. Presentation bookplate of Charles W.G. Howard from Sir David Dundas 1877 to front pastedown.
A handsome copy of the FIRST EDITION of these detailed collected biographies of the English bishops and a valuable source book of English history. It is the best known work of Francis Godwin (1562-1633), which so pleased Queen Elizabeth that she made Godwin bishop of Llandaff with immediate effect. The text is important as an Anglican attempt to establish a continuous history of an independent English church from the first arrival of Christianity to the end of the 16th C. Although partisan in purpose it is reasonably even-handed in its treatment of its subjects and is significant in the development of English historical scholarship; it is also eminently readable.
Diocese by diocese, a broad survey of the incumbents of the ancient bishoprics and archbishoprics is conducted, covering Canterbury, London, Winchester, Ely, Lincoln, Coventry & Lichfield, Salisbury, Bath & Wells, Exeter, Norwich, Worcester, Hereford, Chichester, Rochester, Oxford, Gloucester, Peterborough, St. Davids, Llandaff, York, Durham, Carlisle and Chester. Proceeding chronologically, where possible the history of appointments are given, along with any highlights of episcopal incumbency and accounts of particular bishops such as St. Cuthbert of Durham: “He was a very personable man, well-spoken, and so mighty in perswading, as none that ever he delt withall was able to withstand the force of his words,” with a few final words about the length of his office and eventual death. In instances where nothing but a name survives, it is duly noted.
The work comprises a very valuable history of the sees and bishops of England throughout the Middle Ages, though prudently 16th C figures are dealt with much more briefly than earlier appointments. Fisher’s career is noted in five laconic lines and Rioleg’s in only two. Each section concludes with the value of the See, first in the books of the Crown and second of the Papacy.
STC 11937, noting that the book was printed by the Eliots Court Press. Lowndes III 905.