COSIN, John (1595-1672)

COSIN, John (1595–1672)

cons. 2 Dec. 1660 bp. of DURHAM

First sat 20 Nov. 1661; last sat 18 Apr. 1671

b. 30 Nov. 1595, eldest s. of Giles Cosin (d.1608), citizen of Norwich, and Elizabeth Remington. educ. Norwich g.s.; Gonville and Caius, Camb. Norwich fell. 1610, BA 1614, MA 1617, junior fell. 1620, BD 1623, DD 1630. m. 15 Aug. 1626, Frances (d.1642), da. of Marmaduke Blakiston, clergyman, 3s. (2 d.v.p.) 4da. (1 d.v.p.). d. 15 Jan. 1672; will 11–13 Dec. 1671, pr. 2 Apr. 1672.1

Chap. extraordinary 1633, to Charles I 1636, to the court in exile 1644–9, to Henrietta Maria 1649–60.

Chap. to Richard Neile, bp. of Durham, 1619–aft. 1634; master Greatham Hospital 1624; rect. Elwick, co. Dur. c.1624–60, Brancepeth, co. Dur. 1626; preb. Durham 1624–60; adn. Yorks. (E. Riding) 1625–60; treas. Durham 1633–4; dean Peterborough 1640–60; commr. revision of Book of Common Prayer 1661,2 union with Scotland 1670.3

Sec. and librarian to John Overall, bp. of Norwich 1617–19;4 Rhetoric praelector, Camb. 1620–1; univ. preacher, Camb. 1622; master, Peterhouse, Camb. 1635–44, 1660; v.-chan. Camb. 1639–40.

Ld. lt. co. Dur. 1661–d.5

Also associated with: Darlington, Yorks. 1660-d.; Russell Street, London 1660; Pall Mall, London 1660-d.

Likenesses: line engraving, Walter Dolle, 1673 (NPG D29526); line engraving, unknown, mid-eighteenth century (NPG D29527); stipple and line engraving, Edward Scriven, 1815 (NPG D14050).

John Cosin, adopted by the nineteenth-century Oxford Movement as one of its most significant influences, was born into a well-established gentry family of Norfolk and married into one of the most ancient houses of county Durham. An autocratic and uncompromisingly regal quasi-prince-bishop of the Durham palatinate (which included the role of lord lieutenant), Cosin successfully suppressed efforts from the local gentry to obtain parliamentary representation in the Commons.6 Although he was often on bad terms with his chapter, he was able to appoint like-minded individuals to significant office in the diocese. Some of these were individuals whom he had probably known in Cambridge: his chaplain (appointed in succession to William Sancroft, later archbishop of Canterbury, in 1662), George Davenport; the treasurer of the cathedral, Canon Richard Wrench; and Archdeacon Isaac Basire (whose son and namesake would eventually become the fourth husband of Cosin’s daughter, Elizabeth).7 More surprising was his choice of Miles Stapylton (or Stapleton) as his secretary.Stapylton came from a prominent Presbyterian family. His brother, Henry Stapleton, was knighted at the Restoration but had previously been an opponent of Charles I’s policies, although he was not quite as notorious a critic as their kinsman, Sir Philip Stapylton. Presumably he was the brother of ‘bad principles’ referred to by Cosin in 1669.8 The Stapyltons were not the only family divided by religious and political differences: Cosin’s brother-in-law was the regicide John Blakiston; and Cosin’s own anti-Catholicism did not prevent his only son from converting to Rome.

Throughout Cosin’s career in the episcopate there was a tension between the demands of his regional and his parliamentary duties; he resolved this problem by constant communication with Stapylton.9 It is clear from the survival of this correspondence that, despite shouldering his share of the parliamentary workload while at Westminster, Cosin’s highest priorities were his palatinate, lieutenancy and commercial interests. Even at a politically volatile period when he was too ill to travel to Parliament, he maintained that he could serve the king more effectively as lord lieutenant than as a vote in Parliament.10


Cosin, as a court pensioner under Charles I, had been reasonably prosperous but he was reduced to penury after the death of the king. By 1644 he had left England for France, where he became dependent on charity from his fellow exiles and from the clergy at home (including his own chaplain, William Sancroft), while his daughters subsisted on a small pension from the Protectorate.11 Returning to England at the Restoration he begged Edward Hyde, later earl of Clarendon, to ‘reflect upon my necessities’.12 He rapidly recovered his personal fortune, proving remarkably careful with his money (on one occasion having his secretary obtain estimates for work, on the grounds that a workman would inflate the price for a bishop).13 In his first year as bishop of Durham he received £19,800 from leases but he also spent lavishly on rebuilding the episcopal residences and charitable purposes.14 A matter of constant concern was the requirement, imposed during the reign of Elizabeth, that an annual rent of £880 be paid to the Crown for diocesan lands; the Crown had subsequently allocated this rent as a pension to Queen Henrietta Maria.15

Cosin spent in excess of £34,000 on public works and refurbishments during the first eight years of his episcopate.16 Although he claimed in his will that none of his £20,000 episcopal revenue had been diverted to personal expenditure, at his death he was able to bequeath a large amount of real estate, extensive annuities and over £5,000 in money. He was not always able to lay hands on ready cash for his elaborate plans, and at the end of 1664 he sought a loan of £300 in gold from the London alderman Sir William Turner.17 Thrifty and austere in his personal taste (in sharp contrast to his love of ecclesiastical baroque), he would nevertheless remark of his financial situation 18 months before his death that he could only ‘lament the bishop of Durham’s condition’.18

Early career, to 1660

A veteran of the Caroline higher clergy, Cosin was an active member, with William Laud, of the Durham House Group of anti-Calvinists and polemicists, an Arminian theological grouping that clustered around Richard Neile in the 1620s and 1630s. As a historian of the liturgy, eucharist and canon of scripture he prepared devotional manuals for the Caroline court to counter accusations that Protestant courtiers were less well served than their Catholic counterparts. He continued to produce such works in exile.19 His zeal for reform, as both a ceremonialist and a musical liturgist, meant that he was vilified by orthodox reformed Protestants.20 His own father-in-law commented ‘take heed of my son Cosin for he will make you all papists, if you look not to yourselves’.21 In 1635 he was appointed master of Peterhouse, where he was responsible for elaborate alterations to the chapel and for a marked increase in the use of music in its services. From 1639, as vice-chancellor of the university, his ability to promote controversial Laudian innovations was enhanced still further. He gained a reputation as a domineering administrator and also alienated the corporation of Cambridge.

The calling of a new Parliament in 1640 provided a forum for complaints against Cosin. He became a victim of puritan satire, lost his ecclesiastical and academic positions and joined the court in exile as chaplain in 1644.22 There he sustained a robust defence of the Church of England against Rome and, through his contacts with French Huguenots, developed a more nuanced attitude towards reformed protestantism.23 His defence of the Church failed to prevent the conversion of his only son, John, to Rome in 1651. In 1652, however, Charles II hoped to ‘reward the service … and the sufferings you have undergone for us’.24

Edward Hyde had planned to make Cosin bishop of Peterborough, although he was uneasy about Cosin’s speedy resumption of the use of the still-proscribed Anglican liturgy.25 Although Gilbert Sheldon, bishop of London and future archbishop of Canterbury, sought to marginalize strict Laudians, Cosin petitioned successfully for restoration to his livings and to the mastership of Peterhouse.26 In October 1660, he was elevated to the see of Durham. After the resignation of Thomas Belasyse, 2nd viscount Fauconberg, in 1661, he also became lord lieutenant – effectively ‘prince-bishop’ of Durham.

Bishop of Durham

Cosin embarked on an energetic episcopate, as much secular as it was spiritual. On 2 July 1660, three months before his nomination as bishop, he had already welcomed the royal commission to preserve the mines and coal pits of the see of Durham but was disappointed that it did not extend to the management of woods and game.27 He was severe with both Protestant and Catholic dissenters. He also argued with his dean and chapter and was on perpetually prickly terms with Guy Carleton, canon of Durham and dean of Carlisle, later bishop of Bristol and ultimately bishop of Chichester.28 Cosin was repeatedly undermined by Carleton’s complaints, not least for seizing forfeitures due to the Crown from the attainted Sir Henry Vane, whose nephew subsequently married Carleton’s daughter Hester.29 There were many competing jurisdictions in the palatinate and Cosin exploited jealousies between them, prioritizing his lieutenancy and the assertion of his own rights and privileges, often in opposition to the gentry (especially those from Newcastle), who feuded among themselves and with whom he waged a constant battle of wills.30 If his attempts to recover his rights were not always successful, he made extensive use of the leases in his gift to benefit his own family, especially his son-in-law Gilbert Gerard, to whom he gave first refusal of Tanfield Colliery. He also appointed Gerard constable of Durham.31 Ten days after his consecration, while not yet a Member of the House of Lords, he drafted (unsuccessfully) a proviso to the act to remove wards and liveries, arguing that, because of his ‘jura regalia’ in the palatine, he and his successors should be compensated out of the annual excise for the loss of his jurisdiction. He later estimated the loss to his income at £2,000 a year.32

Cosin also resented attempts to give parliamentary representation to Durham city and county, arguing that it was unnecessary because incoming bishops of Durham swore an oath to protect the palatine authority’s rights, privileges and immunities.33 A bill to enfranchise Durham was introduced into the Convention by Sir Thomas Widdrington. Widdrington, a former parliamentarian and kin to William Widdrington, 2nd Baron Widdrington, was a significant political figure in the region who would shortly add to his influence (and capacity to annoy Cosin) by becoming chancellor of the diocese. His bill passed the Commons on 8 Aug. 1660 and was sent up to the Lords, where it was committed on 24 August. Despite two reminders from the Commons, it was lost with the dissolution.34 The gentry continued to agitate for representation but 18 months later Cosin was delighted when ‘the gentlemen at the sessions were [again] persuaded to pass over that business for knights and burgesses so quietly’.35

Elections to the Cavalier Parliament in the spring of 1661 revealed Cosin’s influence in those boroughs which were permitted to vote. As lord of the manor of Northallerton he put up his son-in-law, Gerard, who was returned with a local cavalier, Roger Talbot. Gerard became one of Cosin’s men of business in the Commons, supporting the bishop’s religious policies and commercial interests.36

Cosin’s liturgical skills, born of a lifelong interest in correcting the Book of Common Prayer, led him, in March 1661, to begin revision of the prayer book, both at the Savoy conference and in convocation. Richard Baxter acknowledged Cosin’s learning and found him ‘more affable and familiar than the rest’ but insisted that he talked ‘with so little logic, natural or artificial, that I perceived no one much moved by anything he said’.37 Although Cosin’s rigour for uniformity won the day, the royal quest for liturgical compromise sidelined the bishop’s attempt to incorporate elements of the Sarum Missal into the revised prayer book; more than half of his proposals were rejected.38

Cosin went north to his bishopric in August 1661.39 He lost the battle to keep Sancroft in the north as his chaplain but was more successful in his recommendations to the deputy lieutenancy.40 He had expected to return to London no later than Michaelmas (29 Sept.) 1661 to avoid the chaos of winter travel, not least since Sheldon had made it clear that after the readmission of the bishops the king expected them to take their seats in Parliament promptly.41 He took his seat in the House on 20 Nov. 1661, the first day the bishops were readmitted to the Lords, and attended his first session for 62 per cent of all sittings.

Prayer book revisions and the Uniformity Bill, 1661–2

Cosin’s parliamentary career was circumscribed by ill health and the difficulties of travel from the far north of England but, once installed in his Pall Mall lodgings, he took a full role in the business of the House, reporting from committees, speaking in debate and helping to manage conferences with the Commons. He was a regular member of the Journal committee, examining the Journal on eight occasions. Of the nine sessions during his episcopate, he attended seven, four of those for more than two-thirds of all sittings. There are no available division lists for votes in which he participated but his voting intentions on numerous matters are clear from his correspondence. In his first session, Cosin was named to 60 select committees and to the sessional committees for privileges and petitions. On 20 Mar. 1662 he reported to the House on private legislation for Sir Thomas Lee. On 29 Apr. he also reported back from the committee on the Wye and Lugg navigation (having chaired the latter the same day).42 On 7 Dec. 1661 he was named as a conference manager on the swearing of witnesses to be examined in the Commons.

The prayer book revisions were finally complete by December 1661. Cosin was one of the bishops who, together with Sheldon attended the Privy Council where the liturgy was approved and sent to the House of Lords.43 On 7 Jan. 1662 he was one of the managers of the conference on the joint committee with the Commons concerning the most recent political plot. During this session he was granted (with backdated profits) the estate in Durham forfeited by the late Sir Arthur Hesilrige.44 He continued to recover Church patrimony and was clearly maximizing his revenues, dealing harshly with his tenants in Peterborough.45 On 25 Jan. it was reported by his secretary that he had spoken in the House about the sum of £25,000 to be recovered for the palatine as reimbursement for maintenance of the Scottish army after the battle of Newburn in 1640, and was confident ‘to bring it to good conclusion’.46

On 10 Mar. 1662 Cosin reported back to the House from the select committee on the bill on the religious settlement (‘to confirm three acts’). As a supporter of a narrow Anglican uniformity he antagonized Presbyterians still more by his ‘speaking and carriage in this business’.47 Emotive debates erupted in the Lords on 18 Mar. over the uniformity bill and the proposed royal proviso to exempt certain clergy from its provisions. Cosin supported the challenge to Clarendon by George Digby, 2nd earl of Bristol, who claimed that the proviso was a breach of privilege. Cosin’s strong views on the jure divino nature of the episcopate made his willingness to support such a challenge easily understandable. He had long held strong views on the subject: in 1628 he was reported to have said that the king ‘is not supreme head of the Church of England next under Christ, nor hath he any more power of excommunication than my man that rubs my horse[’s] heels’. Although he denied having said it, the sentiment was technically correct for, while the king was supreme governor of the Church, he lacked sacerdotal power.48

Cosin nevertheless insisted that such powers could be wielded only by an archbishop.49 The furore deepened when Bristol challenged Clarendon’s reference to Cosin’s speech as a breach of the rules of the House; the House overruled Bristol’s objection but he and Cosin had secured the defeat of the proviso.50

On 8 May 1662 Cosin acquainted the House that he, George Griffith, of St Asaph, and Richard Sterne, of Carlisle, had authority from convocation to amend a scribal error in the new version of the Book of Common Prayer and did so at the clerk’s table. On 17 May the special privileges of the palatine were again raised when the conference on the northern borders bill was reported by Charles Stanley, 8th earl of Derby. The bill enabled the justices of the peace for Northumberland and Cumberland to impose a tax or rate in order to fund local units to protect the inhabitants against marauding ‘moss troopers’. The Lords bowed to the Commons’ refusal to agree to their proviso to extend the bill to the county palatine and Newcastle.51

Diocesan affairs, 1662–4

Cosin attended for the prorogation on 19 May 1662, then returned to his bishopric and maintained that he was ‘hugely busy’. He nevertheless planned to be at Doncaster by the end of May, unless delayed by William Cavendish, marquess of Newcastle, and intended to be in Northumberland by July.52 In the wake of the new Act of Uniformity, he conducted a thoroughgoing visitation of both diocese and cathedral, corresponded with Sancroft and Henry King, of Chichester, and attempted to raise funds for the redemption of Barbary slaves.53 Sheldon was unimpressed with his efforts (he raised only £300) and urged greater exertion.54 Sheldon continued to criticize Cosin: a letter in October warned of complaints about Cosin’s ‘severity’ towards the recusant son of Henry Arundell, 3rd Baron Arundell of Wardour, which did ‘not well comply with the lenity of his majesty’s government and this present conjuncture’. When Cosin defended himself, Sheldon prickled at what he perceived as Cosin’s ‘ill gloss’ on his advice and warned that he might leave Cosin to ‘other intelligencers’ in the future. Cosin also argued with Philip Herbert, 5th earl of Pembroke, who was in arrears with his leasehold rent on Durham House in the Strand. Cosin, who chafed constantly about the obligation to pay the queen mother’s pension, contemplated selling off the rental arrears to Pembroke ‘for a good sum and buy off the queen’s pension by act of Parliament’.55

Not surprisingly, Cosin’s detailed scrutiny of every detail of secular and pastoral life took its toll on his health and by December 1662 he was complaining of dizzy spells while negotiating with George Morley, bishop of Winchester, over a vacancy on the Durham chapter.56 He was warned by Sheldon on 26 Dec. that the Privy Council had voted for a declaration of indulgence to nonconformists and Catholics. Sheldon insisted that if Cosin were too ill to travel to Parliament (when ‘the Church is like to be in great danger’), he must send his proxy to one of the other bishops but not to Sheldon himself, who, in his own attempt to control the Lords, was already ‘full’. As the February 1663 session approached, Accepted Frewen, of York, reminded Cosin to send up his proxy. On 1 Feb. it was registered in favour of Matthew Wren, of Ely (vacated with Cosin’s attendance in April 1663). Sterne expressed concern that Cosin should be absent at a time of ‘men’s ill affections to the church upon all occasions’ but was glad that Cosin had not been present to witness the introduction of the bill to allow the king to dispense with the Act of Uniformity.57 By mid-March Cosin planned to leave the north, instructing his secretary to find London lodgings not in Westminster, where they would be too costly, but in nearby Covent Garden. He was almost certainly reluctant to leave his bishopric at a time when officers were in the county intending to distrain the bishop’s tenants for arrears of the annual pension owing to the queen mother since the time of his predecessor, Thomas Morton, ‘contrary to … St Albans promise’. Cosin expected Henry Jermyn, earl of St Albans, the queen mother’s chamberlain, to keep his word ‘that nothing should be done in this arrear’ without first consulting the bishop. He also embarrassed Sheldon by pressing Pembroke and William Cecil, 2nd earl of Salisbury, for their rents.58

With rumours of sedition rife throughout the spring of 1663, Cosin reissued instructions to his deputy lieutenants.59 The abortive Muggleswick Plot (ostensibly to murder the bishop and overthrow the government) justified (in his mind) his habitual rigour against nonconformists.60 He had instructed the deputy lieutenants and militia to keep constant vigilance the previous November, directing Gilbert Gerard to search for Thomas Gore and Paul Hobson, ‘two of the most dangerous fellows in the North’, whose intercepted mail revealed that they were communicating in code. Intelligence suggested that Hobson had been corresponding with anabaptists in Durham.61 Samuel Pepys had heard rumours in a London coffee house of a planned rising in the north but on 30 Mar. 1663 Cosin informed the Privy Council that, despite sworn testimony by an informer from Newcastle, the combined forces of bishop, deputy lieutenants, magistrates and militia had arrested only nine men and were unable to find any evidence of a major plot against the government.62

Thus occupied with local difficulties, Cosin did not return to Westminster until 29 Apr. 1663; he attended the session for 55 per cent of all sittings and was named to 23 select committees. On 29 June he chaired the select committee on Witney Free School, reporting back to the House on 1 July.63 He also maintained communication with Archbishop Frewen about the possibility of legislation against conventicles.64

By May 1663 Cosin had turned his back on his straightened circumstances in exile and settled into his role as a prince-bishop; the diarist John Evelyn recorded that he had supported Cosin during his exile but was ‘little remembered’ by the bishop ‘in his greatness’.65 Cosin continued to restore diocesan finances. In June 1663 he produced a detailed account of revenues and incremental losses under successive monarchs. Having lost an annual £2,000 by the removal of the court of wards and liveries, he again sought reimbursement out of the excise; instead he was awarded remission of the annual rent due to the Crown for diocesan lands – but only after the death of the queen mother.66

After visiting Cambridge in early July, Cosin returned to London and attended the session until four days before the prorogation of 27 July 1663.67 During the summer months, he employed his extensive powers as lord lieutenant to apprehend political suspects, particularly during the Derwentdale Plot.68 By September, Sheldon was insisting that Cosin come to Parliament, where he ‘may do … duty to the Church as well here as in your diocese and perhaps better’, but Cosin remained in Durham, sounding the alarm in mid-October about a ‘fanatic’ rising in the north.69 He deemed it unnecessary to keep the militia in readiness, yet seems to have encouraged a belief in the continuing reality of the conspiracy, for in December Thomas Osborne, later earl of Danby, marquess of Carmarthen and duke of Leeds, was under the impression that Cosin was actively pursuing plotters.70 Cosin’s enemies seized the opportunity to accuse him of incompetence; Carleton accused two of the deputy lieutenants, John Tempestand the Cosin loyalist William Blakiston, of ineffectiveness against the rebels.71 According to Carleton, Cosin was impotent without the assistance of Charles Gerard, 4th Baron Gerard, and both commissioners and militia were ineffective. Cosin appeared even less competent when an informant from Northumberland claimed that he had warned the bishop in spring 1663 of another possible rising but had not been believed. On 29 Jan. 1664 Cosin reported the latest round of arrests; none, in his opinion, would be found guilty at trial because of the lack of reliable witnesses.72

Tensions at home and abroad, 1664–5

Although reluctant to leave his diocese, Cosin obeyed Sheldon and was at Westminster for the start of business on 16 Mar. 1664.73 He attended 97 per cent of all sittings and was named to 11 select committees and to all 3 sessional committees. On 6 May he attended the select committee on the conventicles bill and he was present in the House regularly until the prorogation on 17 May.74

Growing tensions with the Dutch prompted plans for a rendezvous of militia and volunteers in Durham on 26 July 1664 but it was aborted in response to rumours of a rising planned for 25 July. Blakiston feared that former parliamentarians outnumbered royalists and advised Cosin to conduct a survey of every parish. The bishop duly instructed secret investigations into any parishioners who might have served in parliamentary forces under Oliver Cromwell and a report on their current political principles.75 Carleton, continuing to furnish the government with his own observations, provided Secretary Henry Bennet, later earl of Arlington, with an account of the Durham assizes and recommendations to the bench; he accused Cosin of packing juries and doing too little to combat ‘fanatics’.76

By October 1664 Cosin had become concerned about the extent of naval jurisdiction in Durham granted to Charles Howard, earl of Carlisle (lord lieutenant of Cumberland and Westmorland). The bishop was questioned by Ralph Delaval, deputy lieutenant of Northumberland, who feared that the palatine could prove a haven for seamen hoping to escape the press. Jealous of his jurisdiction, Cosin secured his own commission to impress seamen throughout the palatinate.77 Meanwhile he continued to quarrel with the cathedral chapter, especially over its refusal to confirm a lease of the ‘grand colliery’.78

Back in the Lords for the start of the new session on 24 Nov. 1664, Cosin attended for 76 per cent of all sittings and was named to 14 select committees. Despite being at Parliament, he continued to keep an eye on northern affairs. By the spring of 1665, Cosin had learned of plans to cut a 40-foot-wide drainage channel which would affect his land. Marmaduke Langdale, 2nd Baron Langdale, intended to obtain a parliamentary act to complete the work, which it was suggested would ‘prove to the disadvantage of my lord [Cosin] and his tenants’. No such bill appears to have been introduced into either House, suggesting the distinct possibility that Cosin had succeeded in blocking it.79

Cosin attended the House until the prorogation on 2 Mar. 1665, after which he was again able to give his full attention to his own affairs. On 1 May he again tried to secure relief from payment of the queen’s pension.80 The outbreak of plague that year created another financial burden for the bishop, as the king ordered additional charitable collections for London victims. Having completed the fund-raising, Cosin made special application for the funds to be given not to the London victims but to those of Cambridge.81

At the start of the Anglo-Dutch war in May 1665, Cosin’s competence and integrity once again came under scrutiny from Carleton, who informed Secretary Sir Joseph Williamson in July that not only were nonconformists meeting in numbers but also that Cosin had illegally helped himself to the forfeited estate of Sir Henry Vane. He added that any contesting of the estate should be carried out in London, since Cosin ‘nominates sheriffs and coroner, they are his creatures, and the adverse party fear a packed jury … if the case were in London, the witnesses would neither be overawed nor tampered with’.82

Cosin conducted a visitation over the summer but his primary concerns were political rather than ecclesiastical, especially once he had been warned by Fauconberg of yet another plot, this time a rumoured uprising of Quakers.83 On 8 Aug. 1665, James Stuart, duke of York, warned Cosin that ‘fanatics’ were again plotting treason; York was unwilling to instruct Cosin to assemble the county militia but gave Cosin due notice that he must be ‘very watchful, to observe the behaviour and correspondences of all dangerous people within your lieutenancy’.84 Throughout the autumn of 1665 Sterne supplied reports on engagements with the Dutch and informed Cosin that Sheldon would probably secure leave of absence from the Oxford session of Parliament for the ‘remote bishops’ if they provided proxies.85 On 21 Sept. 1665 Cosin’s proxy was registered in favour of Humphrey Henchman, bishop of London, vacated at the end of the session); it was presumably used in connection with the passage of the five mile bill.

Disputes over the Vane estates and with Denis Granville

On 6 Nov. 1665, Cosin was again attacked by Carleton, who repeated the charge that Cosin had appropriated Vane’s estates in Barnard Castle and Raby, that he had sued the tenants for arrears of rent and that he had, on learning that the estates were to be seized for the duke of York, stationed soldiers in Raby Castle after removing all livestock and household goods. Furthermore, according to Carleton, Cosin had forbidden the tenants to attend the court kept by the royal receiver and had refused to empanel a jury to sit on the king’s commission to investigate Vane’s estates, ‘giving to the disaffected party the bad example of contempt of authority’. Cosin was also accused of a ‘usurpation of his majesty’s rights’ in the exercise of his episcopal and palatine authority.86 In January 1666 Carleton issued further warning that if Cosin was not checked in his political ambitions ‘the people will think that the king’s authority must submit to that of the county palatine of Durham’.87 However, the Privy Council was more concerned with invasion threats and instructed Cosin to defend the coast. The troops were poorly paid and equipped and Cosin’s remit led to clashes with those deployed by government and the Crown and neighbouring lords lieutenant.88

In February, Cosin’s flouting of royal authority in the matter of the Vane estates was again criticized, this time by John Bainbridge, one of the king’s commissioners, who corroborated Carleton’s accusations that Cosin ‘pretends royal rights in the bishopric, has seized all the rents and arrears, and refused to return a jury, in contempt of the writ’. The commission would have failed but for the intervention of the duke of York. Bainbridge forwarded to London depositions which revealed that Cosin had received £1,200 in arrears of rents due to the king since Vane’s death.89 The bishop was not easily discredited, however. In March 1666 the king, recognizing that Cosin had as yet received no compensation for the losses caused by the abolition of the court of wards, confirmed three leases, despite the opposition of the Durham chapter.90

It was a family matter that finally earned Cosin the rebuke of the king and involved the bishop in greater political scrutiny. By April 1666 he was in dispute with his clerical son-in-law and archdeacon of Durham, Denis Granville, over the latter’s extravagance and his treatment of Cosin’s daughter Anne. Cosin was warned by John Granville, earl of Bath (Denis’ brother and an intimate friend of the king), that the marriage might have wrecked Denis Granville’s career owing to the king’s dislike of married clergy. Bath’s kinsman and close associate, George Monck, duke of Albemarle, weighed in to support Denis Granville’s demand for his wife’s unpaid portion. Albemarle claimed that Granville had come ‘to great misfortune’ through his marriage to an unstable woman.91 A lengthy royal reprimand soon followed:

we are … fully satisfied that he [Denis Granville] deserves that good report which is generally given of him, notwithstanding all that hath been said to the contrary to some of our public ministers of state … cannot but recommend him in most effectual manner unto you, as a person not only well deserving in himself, but relating to a family whose favour you would not do well to condemn, that have done and suffered so much for our royal father as well as ourself, assuring you that in bestowing a fortune on him suitable to his present unhappiness, and helping him out of his distractions occasioned by his debts (which may now prove very injurious to your daughter …) you will not only do yourself a great kindness, but a most grateful and acceptable thing to us, and divers considerable persons who heartily solicit on his behalf … expecting your compliance herein, and an account of the same, (which for your own sake as well as his we shall be very sorry you should fail of) …92

It is likely that Cosin complied with the command but his hatred for his son-in-law endured for years thereafter, not least when his daughter was treated with mercury as a supposed cure for her ‘distemper’.93

Cosin complained of illness and weakness but pressed on with the recovery of what he saw as his financial rights. He sent an account of his dispute with Pembroke to Clarendon and Sheldon, and on 24 June 1666 he informed his chancellor, Sir Francis Goodricke, that he wanted to proceed speedily at common law to preserve the privileges of the see and uphold the act of Parliament that gave him those rights. Sheldon responded that he had spoken with Pembroke’s solicitor but thought Cosin ‘would do little good’ with his persistence.94

On 19 Mar. 1666 Cosin refused to travel to Parliament on grounds of ill health. On 27 Aug. he again informed Sheldon that he would not be able to attend the House without risk to his life. He undertook to attend Parliament in the spring but meanwhile maintained that he could best serve king and country by fulfilling his role as lord lieutenant.95 A warning from the earl of Carlisle that Quakers were still plotting sedition perhaps helped him to justify this, although Carlisle insisted that the threat was not a formidable one.96 On 8 Sept. 1666 Cosin received news of the Great Fire in London, including the suspicions of French complicity and instructions that he would be informed if the militia needed to assemble. Durham troops doubled their guard in anticipation of an attack within days.97 Meanwhile, the bishop’s poor relationship with the chapter led to accusations of financial mismanagement of diocesan properties. The matter was still unsettled when it was overtaken by further security instructions from Arlington: with the defeat of rebels in Scotland, Cosin should desist from arresting ‘all disaffected persons in his lieutenancy’ but restrict his activities to those ‘who, on strong presumptions, are concluded to have been in confederacy with the late rebels’.98

The lead mines bills, 1666–7

Cosin did not attend the session that opened in September 1666, registering his proxy to Henchman instead. Despite being a conscientious parliamentarian when at Westminster, he undoubtedly preferred to remain in Durham and was probably confident that with his son-in-law Gerard and his chancellor, Goodricke, in the Commons, his personal parliamentary interests would be well looked after. Any confidence that he felt was soon tested. During November Gerard was appointed to the Commons select committee considering a bill to empower Cosin to lease certain flooded lead mines to Humphrey Wharton. Wharton was Cosin’s moormaster, with responsibility for licensing lead mines, and the payment of a royalty on lead ore (‘the bishop’s lot’) meant that Cosin had a commercial incentive to secure the bill. It passed the Commons on 3 Dec. 1666, steered through by Goodricke. The committee that then considered it in the Lords included Humphrey Wharton’s kinsman Philip Wharton, 4th Baron Wharton, and was chaired by Cosin’s metropolitan, Sterne.99

All was not, however, well. In accordance with established procedure the committee sought the opinion of the dean and chapter, whose interests were also affected by the bill. Cosin deeply resented this. Unwilling to countenance any challenge to his authority, he insisted that, having received his own assent to the bill, the select committee needed to make no further investigation; such a precedent would encourage the chapter ‘to challenge a superintendency over the bishop, and give an ill example to all the deans and chapters in England to take part with any one of their own body against their bishop and his tenants’. The reality was that he and Wharton were both in dispute with the Durham chapter over the lease. By January 1667 Cosin had lobbied his fellow bishops and Anthony Ashley Cooper, then Baron Ashley, later earl of Shaftesbury, in favour of the bill. Cosin advised his moormaster to comply as far as possible with the chapter’s demands, so that the lead mines bill would pass that session, ‘for if it be stopped or rejected now, how you will bring it on again hereafter, and satisfy all opposition that may arise against it, I do not know’. Isaac Basire, who opposed the bill, learned details of the committee discussions from Edward Rainbowe, of Carlisle, who made it clear that opposition to the bill came mainly from the bishops (who were concerned about long-term damage to Church interests) but that they had been outnumbered by the lords temporal, who were prepared to negotiate with Wharton. Sheldon had then arrived and threatened to oppose the bill in its entirety.100 The bill was lost with the prorogation on 8 Feb. 1667.

In July 1667 Cosin travelled south to attend the House, only to discover that Parliament was to be prorogued. He almost certainly remained in London since he was present for the first day of the new session on 10 Oct. 1667. He attended 82 per cent of all sittings and was named to 19 select committees. On 12 Oct., when proposals for toleration were being floated, he wrote to Sheldon, encouraging him to have a copy of the Commons’ address to the king on religious indulgence included as an appendix to the pamphlets that the archbishop had caused to be published.101 On 30 Oct. 1667 Cosin attended the select committee on colliers, wood-mongers and butchers.102 The major national issue that autumn was the attempt to impeach Clarendon, and Cosin was well placed to keep his associates informed; George Davenport described the bishop as ‘the best intelligence’ in London, after an exchange that discussed how Parliament was ‘about to hum the late lord chancellor’s jig’.103 On 20 Nov. Cosin, Lucy and King were the only bishops named to a genuinely select committee on the bill to banish Clarendon.

Meanwhile Cosin was also pursuing personal and regional issues. On 11 Nov. 1667 a new bill to enable him to lease lead mines was brought up from the Commons, where Sir Gilbert Gerard had again assisted its passage.104 The Lords committed it on 16 Nov. and it then passed rapidly through the House. Despite being in the House that day, Cosin was not named to the select committee (but he did attend it on 23 and 27 Nov.). His adversary, Dean Sudbury, also appeared before the committee and opposed the bill on behalf of the Durham chapter; the objections again centred on the length of the lease (three lives instead of 21 years as mandated by cathedral statutes) and the potential for a long-term loss of revenue. Isaac Basire may have withdrawn his objections; the new text explicitly protected his right (as rector of the parishes concerned) to tithes based on the value of the ore.105 On this occasion Cosin won; the bill received the royal assent on 19 December.

Cosin and his dean and chapter were also at odds over the payment of subsidies. In December 1667 Sudbury approached Sancroft, hoping that he would present their case against the payment of subsidies to Ashley (in his capacity as chancellor of the exchequer). Not unreasonably, Cosin’s insistence that they were liable was seen as a petty act of revenge, there being no precedent for charging a cathedral chapter with subsidies.106 Meanwhile, Cosin’s economic interests were also affected by another piece of legislation, the act to regulate the manufacture of broad woollen cloth. Presumably it was his lobbying that secured an order of the House on 22 Apr. 1668 that the rights of the alnager of the see of Durham should not be prejudiced by the new act.

Parliamentary representation for Durham

The question of parliamentary representation for Durham was another issue that concerned the bishop. In February 1668 he wrote that he had heard ‘that there is a great deal of plotting among some men in this country … against me and the rights of the county palatine which I labour to defend’. There was to be a new petition for parliamentary elections ‘and to annex a complaint thereunto that the bishop by his officers keep much of the country money in his own hands, and have not duly paid it in … the rumour runs here too fast and some men are apt enough to give it credit or credulity’.107 In October 1666, the Durham bench had endorsed a petition from the grand jury for parliamentary representation, the jury maintaining that the subjects of Durham were politically disadvantaged. Cosin, under pressure from Arlington (who wanted to nominate Sir Joseph Williamson to a safe parliamentary seat) had agreed to compromise over elections in Durham as long as any legislation gave him the right of nomination and approval of the franchise.108 On 23 Nov. 1667 he informed Stapylton that he had not yet seen the county address for knights and burgesses and that he would

stand upon the nomination of one burgess and one knight which they promised should be reserved unto me and my successors and which they are not able to make sure and good but by a clause inserted for that purpose in the act of Parliament, and about this we are now disputing as likewise about the votes of the leasehold and copyholders and customary tenants to have right in the election of one knight and one burgess … but it may cost the country dear to maintain their agents … and to pay all other costs of drawing and passing this bill before the business be ended, but Mr Morland [George Morland] and some others have too good a faculty to drain their purses …109

Morland, the son-in-law of Cuthbert Carr, another agitator for parliamentary representation, joined John Tempest, the deputy lieutenant, in Cosin’s black books. Tempest was dismissed from his local offices for supporting the scheme.110

On 13 Dec. 1667 the bill for electing two Members for the county of Durham and two for the cathedral city was given its first reading in the Commons.111 It did not contain the clauses that Cosin had asked for and the following day he asked the Lords if he might defend those rights either in person or by counsel in the lower House; the Lords left the matter to Cosin’s discretion. In March Cosin made it clear that he feared an encroachment from the ‘Newcastle men’ who aspired to be parliamentary representatives ‘that they may swallow up all the rights if they can of the county palatine’.112

Despite the bishop’s objections the bill was popular locally. In May 1668 Cosin was disturbed by reports of triumphant celebrations in Durham for the bill’s proponents and by suggestions that at his return his own welcome would be insignificant. He was so upset by the implicit insult that he wondered if there should be a prosecution ‘for the affront thereby done to the king and the bishop as should make them sensible of their presumption herein who can give no just account of such a number meeting together in a troop without orders’.113 He worked diligently against the bill behind the scenes and it ran into trouble at its third reading in the Commons, where his spiritual chancellor, Thomas Burwell, argued that ‘if this bill should pass, all the bishop’s tenants (which were a great part of the county) would be excluded from having voices, they being copyholders, and so the free-holders, which are not a tenth part of the county, should only be the electors’.114 The bill never reached the Lords: it was defeated by 15 votes in the Commons with Gerard and Burwell telling for the noes.115

Continuing diocesan unrest

Cosin returned to Durham to conduct his visitation; in early June 1668 he was at Newcastle and Tynemouth and, with Basire, consecrated a new church on ground donated by Algernon Percy, 4th earl of Northumberland.116 In August, in poor health, he conducted what would be his final visitation of the cathedral.117 He continued to give leases to those with whom he had close connections, including Charles Gerard, Baron Gerard of Brandon (first cousin to his son-in-law), and Miles Stapylton.118 By September he was on his way to London ‘to prepare for a trial the next term in a suit with the town of Newcastle about a ballast shore and other our rights’.119

In mid-September 1668 it was said that Cosin was not ‘in so great favour and power’ as ‘all good men’ might wish. The court preferred the likes of John Wilkins, bishop of Chester, who told Cosin that political and religious moderation would secure English protestantism more effectively than the latter’s authoritarian tactics.120 Cosin attended the House on 10 Nov. for the adjournment to the following spring. Five days later, he deliberately sat on the fence while supporters of the Cabal tussled with former Clarendonians about a dissolution of Parliament. He also helped to consecrate Wilkins at Ely House despite the refusal of Sheldon and Henchman to participate in the ceremony.121 His willingness to take part in the consecration ceremony did not indicate any sympathy with Wilkins’ quest for moderation. Cosin and the regional authorities remained deeply suspicious of treasonable activity under the guise of nonconformist meetings. On 23 Nov. 1668 he forwarded a complaint received from Newcastle about a religious meeting of 500 people of the ‘congregation of saints’. He complained that the meeting’s devotions were not pious but political: by singing psalm 149, ‘to bind their stately kings in chains, their lords in iron bands … this honour all his saints shall have …’, they were identifying themselves with its text and advertising their seditious intent.122 In December Cosin, who frequently damned with faint praise, thanked the mayor of Newcastle for his corporation’s stated determination to prosecute conventicles but regretted their difficulty in finding witnesses; the aldermen, he complained, were ‘very great strangers to the affairs and disturbances of your own town’.123

Carleton continued to undermine Cosin by sending alarmist messages to central government about nonconformity in the region. His perception of the strength of the nonconformist threat was diametrically opposed to Cosin’s: the conventicle that Cosin had reported as having 500 attendees, Carleton declared to be 3,000 strong, including the wife of the mayor of Newcastle. The scale of their differences meant that the bishop felt under constant pressure to demonstrate his competence.124 Moreover, he was expected by John Hacket, of Lichfield and Coventry, to recall Thomas Wood, who would later replace Hacket at Lichfield, to his Durham prebendal residence in order to rid Hacket of his ‘most intractable and filthy-natured dean’. Such an action would undoubtedly have exacerbated Cosin’s difficulties with the cathedral chapter.125

Final years in Parliament, 1669–71

The shift in power at court to Arlington and George Villiers, 2nd duke of Buckingham, made Cosin uneasy. In January 1669 he complained to Stapylton that ‘there is a watch over me as there is over other bishops what we do herein contrary to the king’s command … that no lease of 21 years be turned into three lives’. He was also concerned that one of his tenants was procuring the assistance of Buckingham and Arlington for his own benefit against Cosin’s interests. He feared that this would ‘open a gap to all others to rush in after him and continually to disquiet me, till all my tenants that are considerable make themselves masters over me’.126

Cosin attended the House on 1 Mar. 1669 for the prorogation and then returned to the north-east, where he recovered better health. By June he was commuting between Auckland Castle and Durham and, with news of a new parliamentary session anticipated as early as October, expected to return to London. The death of the queen mother in September 1669 gave him a renewed incentive to apply for an abatement of the annual pension; by the following summer, he had still failed, despite presenting himself in person at the treasury.127 Presumably anxious to preserve relationships with other members of the elite, he acceded to a request from James Compton, 3rd earl of Northampton, that a Northampton relative jump the queue for a Cosin scholarship at Peterhouse; Northampton, he wrote, ‘must not be denied’.128

Six days before the start of the new session, Cosin received the proxy of William Lucy (vacated at the end of the session). He attended the House on 19 Oct. 1669 for the start of business, was present for 67 per cent of all sittings and was named to four select committees and to all three of the sessional committees. For Cosin the main issue of the session was the revival of attempts to enfranchise Durham. By 23 Oct. he had instructed Stapylton to organize the sympathetic gentry ‘to be ready in all such matters as may contribute to quash any such efforts for knights and burgesses’. During the winter months, with his chaplain William Flower in constant communication with Stapylton, Cosin was confident that a meeting at Chester-le-Street about a new attempt to obtain parliamentary representation would misfire. Proponents of reform appear to have counted on the support of Charles Powlett, then styled Lord St John of Basing, (later 6th marquess of Winchester and duke of Bolton), who had acquired interests in the north-east through his second marriage. Cosin, with earlier differences with Bath presumably mended, was however confident that St John would ‘neither afford them his furtherance in their restless design … nor oppose my lord the earl of Bath between whom and him there is a great dearness of friendship’.129 Yet he was dismayed that two of the activists were George Morland and William Bristow of Great Lumley, men whom Cosin had put into the commission of the peace on the condition that ‘they would act nothing against the privileges of the county palatine and the rights of the bishop’s courts and officers at Durham; which if they continue to do … they will extremely disturb the country and give me much trouble’. In the end, Cosin managed to secure the support of St John and instructed Stapylton to orchestrate an opportunity to invoke the statute against tumultuous petitioning.130

In November 1669 Cosin expressed dismay over the continuing factional struggles associated with Skinner’s Case.131 His focus nevertheless remained firmly on his palatinate. On 14 Dec. 1669, administering his northern affairs from London, Cosin warned Stapylton that John Maitland, duke of Lauderdale [S] (who later sat as earl of Guilford), would be returning from Scotland via Durham and that he must be entertained with full hospitality at the bishop’s castle. He remained angry about the continuing campaign to secure parliamentary representation for Durham and told Stapylton that,

I like not Mr Morland’s answer which he gave you, for it hath some mischief in the belly of it, besides some untruth that there is in it; for when first … the foreman of the Grand Jury brought in the petition about k[night]s and b[urgesse]s and about a contribution made for the promoting that design, Mr Morland protested to myself, who questioned him about it, that he had no hand in it at all, and would never meddle with it, which you may tell him again from me. Nor do I like Mr Bristow’s answer, who it seems would meddle in the matter and not be seen in it; else why did he go to the meeting …132

As the 1670–1 parliamentary session approached, Cosin was confident that the king would stick ‘unto his own party in the Parliament which I make no question will very faithfully and amply serve him in the defence of his kingdom and the Church’.133 Presumably he intended to be in the Lords at the beginning of the session, for on 9 Feb. 1670 he received William Lucy’s proxy; in the event, however, he was ill and did not attend the first two weeks of the session.134 He took his seat on 26 Feb., attended 26 per cent of all sittings and was named to 18 select committees. He told Stapylton that on 21 Mar. 1670 the king had attended the Lords for debates on the conventicles bill, insisting that Charles was ‘firm to the Parliament and the Parliament to him: both fast against the conventicles’.135 As the bill passed through both Houses, Cosin may have been reflecting on the trouble caused by his seizing of the Vane estates; he objected to the Commons’ clause on forfeitures, which, by reserving them to the palatine courts, made him look greedy, if not corrupt:

I have no desire to get any thing either by their forfeitures or the forfeitures of others upon this score, and therefore I wished my friends in the House of Commons to let the Act stand as it was penned, that the forfeitures should be recovered in any of the king’s courts at Westminster, whereunto if I had added the courts established within the county Palatine of Durham, as they in the Marches of Wales and elsewhere did not, it would have been interpreted to be a greediness and a desire of gain in me, and besides it would have been an envious thing from the justices and other officers or delinquents in our country that I should take their forfeitures to myself, against which you know I have often made profession, and so I pray tell them all …136

Cosin’s reluctance should not be construed as a willingness to give up the proposed forfeitures altogether. Later in the summer, he expected Stapylton to co-ordinate efforts among the bishop’s supporters ‘to preserve them to me against the faction that are ready to take them away’.137

In March 1670 the divorce bill of John Manners, Lord Roos, the future 9th earl and duke of Rutland, came before the House. Even before the debate began, it was known that Cosin would defy the majority of the bishops and support the bill.138 His careful analysis of biblical teaching on the validity of divorce in cases of adultery was republished and re-examined on several occasions after his death. The strength of his views, and his determination to support Roos, meant that he found himself once again in a somewhat strange alliance with the tolerationist John Wilkins. Cosin and Wilkins were the only bishops named to the select committee on 19 Mar. but not before Cosin, on his own admission, generated another three-and-a-half hours of work for the Lords.139 While it is possible that he was diplomatically absent from the House between 24 Mar. (when the bill was reported from committee) and 9 Apr., he does appear to have been genuinely ill, since on 2 Apr. it was reported that he had been ‘extremely pained with the strangury’ for the past week.140

On 28 Mar. Cosin registered his proxy in favour of Wilkins (thus also vacating the proxy he held from Lucy), presumably anticipating that it would be used in favour of the bill. Proxies had been used at the first and second readings and it seems likely therefore that they were also used at the third reading, though there is no evidence to confirm this. While still absent from the House, Cosin re-registered his proxy in favour of Seth Ward, of Salisbury, on 4 Apr., presumably for use in any potential vote on the conventicles bill. Ward, unlike Wilkins, could be trusted to oppose it. The proxy was vacated with Cosin’s attendance five days later. Once the bill had passed he sent a copy to Stapylton, instructing him to co-ordinate its implementation. Later that summer Stapylton, despairing ‘ever either to write or doe any thing that shall be pleasing or acceptable’ to the bishop, tendered his resignation. Cosin insisted that ‘his frequent and kind expressions’ proved the contrary and denied Stapylton’s right to resign.141

During May 1670, it was rumoured in York that Cosin had died. He was certainly suffering at that time and was scared of a new attack of strangury, ‘which is so great a torture to be endured that I … do all I can to prevent it’. Now suffering from incontinence, he was advised against travel. Unable to face the journey to Durham, he preferred to remain at his lodgings near to St James’s Park, where he had his papers and books.142

Meanwhile, Cosin was becoming increasingly angry with Denis Granville, not only because of his daughter’s unhappiness but also because Granville had absented himself without leave from Durham and, as he later described it, was ‘gadding at Oxford’ on borrowed money. He ordered an action against Granville for debt and for failing to pay his daughter’s trustees. Granville had already consulted five doctors about his wife (‘whom he labours to prove mad’ and subject to ‘maniac passion’) but the London physicians diagnosed her as having ‘fits of the mother’ (i.e. hysterical episodes, possibly accompanied by convulsions). Cosin imputed Granville’s motives to resentment at his obligations to the bishop.143

By the end of August 1670 Cosin was anticipating the end of the summer recess. He was named as a commissioner for the union with Scotland but remained pessimistic in the light of objections raised during the reign of James I. Despite his opposition to the proposals, he attended meetings regularly before the commission was adjourned. He had anticipated that its deliberations would move forward very slowly, given the demands of the Scots and the strength of hostility to the plan.144 On 24 Oct. 1670 he resumed his seat in the House. According to the Lords’ Journal, he did not attend again until 2 Dec. but his letters to Stapylton reveal that he went to the House on 25 Nov., when he spoke to the king and received a royal undertaking that he should have the presentation of the next Durham prebend. Back in Durham, Cuthbert Carr was still agitating for Durham to have parliamentary representatives. Cosin blamed Sir Richard Neile, under-sheriff of Durham, ‘whose nature is to do me all the mischief he can’, for encouraging the proposals, but the county remained without parliamentary representation until after the bishop’s death.145

Cosin was excused attendance at a call of the House on 14 Nov. 1670. Conducting his business affairs by mail, he fell into a new dispute with the deputy postmaster, Arlington’s older brother, John Bennet, later Baron Ossulston, about the postage payable on packets (but not letters) during the sitting of Parliament. Cosin insisted that this was a breach of parliamentary privilege. He instructed Stapylton to refuse to pay post-office charges on certain forms of mail since, having spoken to several lords, ‘I shall do the House of Peers much wrong if either I or my officers pay any such tax upon packets whether they contain a leaf of paper concerning rents which ought all to be free as long as I am bound here to attend the Parliament’. During December, at Cosin’s request, Arlington intervened with his brother, confirming that Cosin’s interpretation was correct.146

Although he was in London, Cosin attended the House less regularly over the winter, being determined to ‘fence’ himself from the cold.147 On 21 Feb. 1671 a request from the Commons that the Lords agree to a joint delegation to the king on the laws against Catholic recusancy convinced him that a bill against Catholics would follow shortly. During March he reported ‘great agitations in Parliament about the Roman recusants’ and planned to prosecute his own clerks of sessions if they failed to present Catholics.148 In the meantime, he had forwarded to Durham the royal proclamation for the arrest of those who had tried to abduct James Butler, duke of Ormond [I], who sat as earl of Brecknock and eventually as duke of Ormond [E]. He also quarrelled with his kinsman Robert Blakiston, who maintained that Cosin lacked the scriptural requirements of bishops (with what Cosin termed ‘a deal of other such Presbyterian stuff’), and in March 1671 he complained that he had been ‘very unkindly used’ by Lord Widdrington over a matter of stolen livestock.149 He also resumed the mutual animosity with Carleton by accusing the latter of failing to pay for books.

Furthermore, his difficulties with Granville multiplied as the latter disappeared to the continent, leaving Cosin perplexed about ‘the juggle that … is used between the archdeacon and his agents’ and unaware of his daughter’s whereabouts.150 On 14 Mar. 1671 he consulted ‘an eminent lord of the Parliament’, who explained that ‘neither any convocation man or peer of the realm if he be abroad in another kingdom can be allowed any privilege against the suits of law that are brought for debt; so that we need not trouble ourselves any farther for fear that [Granville] will claim for privilege’.151 He was not present on 17 Mar. when the Lords agreed to hear an appeal from a decree (Haswell v. Gray) in the county palatine court of chancery, but attended early on 1 Apr. following the death, the previous day, of the duchess of York. After a conference with the Commons on the petition to the king about Catholicism, Cosin waited impatiently for the Lords to pass an act against recusants, in order to know the penalties involved. He doubted any legislation would pass both Houses before the end of the session.152 On 18 Apr. 1671 he attended the House for the final time, three days before the prorogation on Easter Saturday.

Cosin continued with business from London, supporting an unsuccessful attempt by the king to secure the election of Buckingham as chancellor of Cambridge and pressing Arlington to obtain the king’s approval for his nomination of Sir George Vane as a deputy lieutenant of the county palatine. He also demanded that Stapylton check episcopal rights over shipwrecks on the Easington coast, seeking legal confirmation that they belonged not to the vice-admiral but to the bishop.153

Death and legacy

A newsletter of early May reported that Cosin was sick and unlikely to recover. Aware that he would be unable to return to the north-east to conduct his visitation, the bishop sought a formal commission for his diocesan officers to perform it in his place.154 He remained in London where his health deteriorated. By November he was complaining of having trouble breathing, probably the result of his heavy smoking.155 He survived over Christmas and on 2 Jan. 1672 instructed Stapylton to collect and send on his rents since he needed them for the maintenance of his grandchildren.156 He died on 15 Jan. 1672 at his Pall Mall lodgings, after ‘violent’ attacks of pain from kidney stones.157 Over the following days, his body was subject to a post mortem (which revealed kidney stones as well as fluid on the right lung), after which it was embalmed and encased in lead.

There was an interval of three months between Cosin’s death and burial. The funeral was delayed until the roads were passable, as the body, lead and coffin weighed in excess of 500 lbs.158 His coffin was carried in elaborate pageantry through London, before being conveyed to Durham (for a solemn requiem service conducted by his nemesis, Guy Carleton) and thence to Bishop Auckland, where, on 27 Apr. 1672, he was interred in his own baroque chapel at Auckland Castle. Isaac Basire, the archdeacon of Northumberland, preached the funeral sermon.159

A statement of benefits conferred on the see of Durham by Cosin showed that he had spent over £16,000 on the episcopal residences in the north-east and £3,000 on his public library, and had founded eight scholarships at Cambridge. Embellishments to his own chapel included at least 20 stained glass coats of arms. His signature woodwork, a unique form of ‘gothic’ embellishment, was introduced into all the churches and chapels that he refurbished.160 He made many bequests to public bodies and charities in his native Norwich as well as in the north-east; there were also a number of legacies to family members, including £100 to his estranged and ‘lost son’ John, whose conversion to Catholicism had caused the bishop ‘great grief and trouble’. He named as his executors Sir Thomas Orby, John Durell, George Davenport and Miles Stapylton.

Eight years after his death, at the height of the Exclusion Crisis, Cosin’s years of exile in France became the subject of a Privy Council investigation. A committee of intelligence was ordered to enquire into allegations that he had left a ‘black box’ with papers that proved the king’s marriage to the mother of James Scott, duke of Monmouth. Word circulated that Cosin had left instructions for the box to remain locked until the king’s death but that Sir Gilbert Gerard, opening it anyway, had discovered evidence of the marriage, performed by Cosin while in France. Gerard denied it.161


  • 1 TNA, PROB 11/338; Cosin Corresp. ii. 291–308.
  • 2 Bodl. Tanner 282, f. 35; Cosin Corresp. ii. x.
  • 3 Durham UL, Cosin letter bk. 4b, f. 89.
  • 4 Cosin Corresp. i. 3.
  • 5 CSP Dom, 1661–2, p. 73.
  • 6 EHR, xl. 351–74; HP Commons, 1660–90, i. 225; An Answer to Certain Printed Reasons for Knights and Burgesses (1660).
  • 7 The Letters of George Davenport, 1651–1677 ed. B.M. Pask with M. Harvey (Surtees Soc. ccxv), 13–14, 24.
  • 8 Burke’s Landed Gentry (1852), ii. 1290; HP Commons, 1660–90, iii. 476; Cosin Corresp. ii. 212–13.
  • 9 J. Hodgson, Northumbrian Docs. of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries; Cosin Corresp. ii. 208–19, 223–88, 290.
  • 10 Cosin letter bk. 1b, f. 161.
  • 11 Harl. 3783, ff. 149, 238, 241; Cosin Corresp. i. 286-90, ii. pp. vi, vii.
  • 12 Bodl. Clarendon 72, f. 335.
  • 13 Cosin Corresp. ii. pp. xxvii, 102–3.
  • 14 Tanner 92, ff. 4, 10.
  • 15 CSP Dom. 1663–4, p. 172.
  • 16 Cosin Corresp. ii. 171–4; Durham UL, Mickleton and Spearman mss 23, f. 135v.
  • 17 Cosin letter bk. 3, f. 28.
  • 18 Cosin Corresp. ii. p. xxvi; Cosin letter bk. 4b, f. 120.
  • 19 J. Cosin, A Collection of Private Devotions (1627); A Scholastical Hist. of the Canon of the Holy Scripture (1657); The History of Popish Transubstantiation … Written Nineteen Years Ago in Latine (1676).
  • 20 W. Prynne, A Briefe Survay and Censure of Mr Cozens (1628); H. Burton, A Tryall of Private Devotions (1628); P. Smart, The Vanitie & Downe-fall of Superstitious Popish Ceremonies (1628); G. Parry, Glory, Laud and Honour, 10; CSP Dom. 1628–9, p. 390; Cosin Corresp. i. 161–99.
  • 21 Cosin Corresp. i. 162.
  • 22 Satire: The Doctors Last Will and Testament (1641); VCH Cambs. iii. 191–210.
  • 23 W. Campion, The Catholic Doctrine of Transubstantiation (1657); The Right Reverend Doctor John Cosin, … His Opinion … for Communicating Rather with Geneva than Rome (1684).
  • 24 Cosin Corresp. i. 286.
  • 25 Eg. 2542, f. 270; Cosin Corresp. ii. 1–2.
  • 26 HMC 7th Rep. pt. 1, 102, 118.
  • 27 CSP Dom. 1660–1, p. 108.
  • 28 Tanner 144, f. 94.
  • 29 CSP Dom. 1661–2, p. 128; Cosin Corresp. ii. 319–21; Burke Dorm. and Extinct Baronetcies.
  • 30 EHR, xl. 363–4.
  • 31 Cosin letter bk. 2, f. 30; letter bk. 3, f. 24; HP Commons, 1660–90, ii. 390.
  • 32 Mickleton and Spearman mss 25, ff. 37v–38r; CSP Dom. 1663–4, p. 172.
  • 33 Hist. and Antiq. of the CP of Dur. i. 696–8.
  • 34 HP Commons, 1660–90, iii. 718–19; i. 225.
  • 35 Cosin Corresp. ii. 86.
  • 36 HP Commons, 1660–90, i. 480, ii. 390.
  • 37 Tanner 49, f. 109; Reliquiae Baxterianae, i. 363.
  • 38 Cosin Corresp. ii. pp. xi–xv.
  • 39 Tanner 49, f. 113.
  • 40 Cosin letter bk. 1a, f. 80; Harl. 3784, ff. 29, 34; CSP Dom. 1661–2, p. 519.
  • 41 Tanner 49, f. 113; Cosin letter bk. 1a, f. 79.
  • 42 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/1, f. 267.
  • 43 LJ xi. 392–3.
  • 44 CSP Dom. 1661–2, p. 238.
  • 45 Seaward, Cavalier Parlt. 59.
  • 46 Cosin Corresp. ii. 87.
  • 47 Cosin letter bk. 2, f. 66.
  • 48 Cosin Corresp. i. 147; J. Rose, Godly Kingship in Restoration England, 65; Church History, lxviii. 549–80.
  • 49 Add. 22919, f. 203.
  • 50 Chatsworth, Cork mss misc box 1, Burlington diary, 19 Mar. 1662.
  • 51 LJ xi. 464–7; 14 Car. II. c.22.
  • 52 Tanner 48, ff. 8, 12; Cosin letter bk. 2, ff. 75-76, 78.
  • 53 Cosin Corresp. ii. pp. xvi–xix; Articles of Inquiry, Concerning Matters Ecclesiastical (1662); Cosin letter bk. 2, f. 88.
  • 54 Cosin letter bk. 1a, f. 88; Tanner 48, f. 28.
  • 55 Cosin Corresp. ii. 97–98, 103–4; Cosin letter bk. 2, ff. 103, 154.
  • 56 Tanner 144, f. 96.
  • 57 Cosin letter bk. 1b, ff. 96, 98, 100; Cosin Corresp. ii. 101–2.
  • 58 Cosin letter bk. 2, ff. 141, 149, 151, 154; Cosin Corresp. ii. 103–4.
  • 59 Cosin letter bk. 2, f. 52.
  • 60 D.S. Katz, Sabbath and Sectarianism in Seventeenth-century England, 41–42.
  • 61 CSP Dom. 1661–2, p. 549.
  • 62 CSP Dom. 1663–4, p. 91; Cosin Corresp. ii. 105–6.
  • 63 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/1, f. 407.
  • 64 Cosin Corresp. ii. 106.
  • 65 Evelyn Diary, iii. 355.
  • 66 CSP Dom. 1663–4, p. 172.
  • 67 Tanner 47, f. 21.
  • 68 Cosin Corresp. ii. pp. xix–xxi; CSP Dom. 1663–4, p. 235.
  • 69 Cosin letter bk. 1b, f. 106; Bodl. Carte 72, ff. 40–41.
  • 70 Mickleton and Spearman mss 31, f. 91; Eg. 3328, f. 3.
  • 71 Mickleton and Spearman mss 31, f. 36; HP Commons, 1660–90, i. 666, iii. 534.
  • 72 CSP Dom. 1663–4, pp. 380, 459, 550.
  • 73 Tanner 150, f. 53; Tanner 47, f. 103.
  • 74 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/1, f. 433.
  • 75 CSP Dom. 1663–4, p. 646; Cosin Corresp. ii. 108.
  • 76 CSP Dom. 1664–5, pp. 40, 482; Cosin Corresp. ii. 317–18.
  • 77 Mickleton and Spearman mss 31, f. 72; EHR, xl. 365.
  • 78 Tanner 144, f. 118.
  • 79 Cosin letter bk. 3, f. 28.
  • 80 Tanner 144, f. 113.
  • 81 Mickleton and Spearman mss 20, ff. 7, 10, 19; 10, f. 2; Cosin Corresp. ii. pp. xxiv. 130, 157.
  • 82 CSP Dom. 1664–5, p. 482.
  • 83 Cosin Corresp. ii. pp. xxiii, 111; Mickleton and Spearman mss 31, f. 56.
  • 84 Cosin letter bk. 3, f. 51a.
  • 85 Cosin Corresp. ii. 134, 137.
  • 86 CSP Dom. 1665–6, p. 44; Cosin Corresp. ii. 319–20.
  • 87 CSP Dom. 1665–6, p. 224.
  • 88 EHR, xl. 368-70.
  • 89 CSP Dom. 1665–6, p. 232.
  • 90 Cosin letter bk. 3, ff. 62–65; LJ xi. 486–9.
  • 91 D. Granville, Remains of Denis Granville, DD ed. G. Ormsby, (Surtees Soc. xlvii), 1, 3-6; CSP Dom. 1665–6, p. 360.
  • 92 Remains of Denis Granville, 6-7.
  • 93 CSP Dom. 1665–6, p. 360; Remains of Denis Granville, 8n.
  • 94 Tanner 45, f. 75; Mickleton and Spearman mss 46, f. 145; Cosin letter bk. 1b, f. 151; Cosin Corresp. ii. 147–51.
  • 95 Cosin letter bk. 1b, ff. 142–3; letter bk. 2b, f. 144; Cosin Corresp. ii. 153.
  • 96 CSP Dom. 1666–7, p. 51.
  • 97 Cosin Corresp. ii. 155–6.
  • 98 CSP Dom. 1666–7, p. 269, 320.
  • 99 HP Commons, 1660–90, i. 752, ii. 390, iii. 698; J.W. Brown, ‘Lead Production on the North-east Periphery: A Study of the Bowes Family Estate, c.1550–1771’ (Durham Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 2010), 46; PA, HL/PO/CO/1/2, ff. 140–4, 153–4, 156.
  • 100 Cosin letter bk. 1b, ff. 159, 164; Cosin Corresp. ii. 165–6; HMC 8th Rep. pt. 1, 105.
  • 101 Bodl. Add. C 305, f. 77.
  • 102 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/2, f. 191.
  • 103 Tanner 45, f. 232.
  • 104 CJ ix. 6.
  • 105 PA, HL/PO/CO/1/2, ff. 211–15; Cosin letter bk. 5a, f. 20; Northern Hist. xlv. 160n; 21 & 22 Vict. c.58.
  • 106 Tanner 144, f. 90.
  • 107 Cosin letter bk. 6, f. 1.
  • 108 HP Commons, 1660–90, i. 225.
  • 109 Cosin letter bk. 5a, f. 20.
  • 110 HP Commons, 1660–90, iii. 104, 534.
  • 111 CJ ix. 37.
  • 112 Cosin letter bk. 5a, f. 16.
  • 113 Ibid. f. 17.
  • 114 An Account of the Proceedings in Parliament (1666, 67, and 68) … Relating to Their Having Knights and Burgesses to Serve in Parliament (c.1775).
  • 115 CJ ix. 69.
  • 116 CSP Dom. 1667–8, pp. 438–9.
  • 117 Tanner 144, f. 102; Cosin Corresp. pp. xxxiii, 196.
  • 118 Cosin letter bk. 5a, f. 18.
  • 119 Tanner 92, f. 33.
  • 120 Tanner 44, f. 37; Add. 36916, f. 119; Calamy, Works of Howe, p. viii.
  • 121 Add. 36916, f. 120.
  • 122 CSP Dom. 1668–9, pp. 72–73.
  • 123 Cosin Corresp. ii. 198–201.
  • 124 Ibid. ii. 197–8.
  • 125 Tanner 44, ff. 69, 127.
  • 126 Cosin letter bk. 5a, f. 24.
  • 127 Tanner 44, ff. 112, 119; Cosin letter bk. 4a, f. 67; letter bk. 5a, ff. 33, 36.
  • 128 Cosin Corresp. ii. 208–9.
  • 129 Cosin letter bk. 5a, f. 44; letter bk. 4a, f. 3.
  • 130 Cosin Corresp. ii. 210–13, 216–17.
  • 131 Cosin letter bk 5a, f. 52.
  • 132 Cosin Corresp. ii. 215–16, 218, 227.
  • 133 Ibid. ii. 224, 229, 226.
  • 134 Cosin letter bk. 5a, f. 60.
  • 135 Add. 36916, f. 173; Bodl. MS. Eng. Lett. c. 210, f. 141; Cosin Corresp. ii. 234.
  • 136 Cosin Corresp. ii. 238.
  • 137 Cosin letter bk. 4a, f. 76.
  • 138 HMC Le Fleming, 69–70; An Abstract of Bishop Cozen’s Argument (n.d.); Verney ms mic. M636/23, Sir R. to E. Verney, 10 Mar. 1670; J. Cosin, Some Thoughts Concerning Divorce (1700).
  • 139 Cosin Corresp. ii. 232–3; Harris, Sandwich, ii. 318–24.
  • 140 Cosin letter bk. 4a, f. 44.
  • 141 Cosin Corresp. ii. 236, 238, 247.
  • 142 Cosin letter bk. 5a, f. 73; Cosin Corresp. ii. 239, 241, 243.
  • 143 Ibid. ii. 242, 244–5, 261.
  • 144 Cosin letter bk. 4b, f. 89; letter bk. 5a, ff. 85, 88; letter bk. 5b, f. 92.
  • 145 Cosin Corresp. ii. 258–60; HP Commons, 1660–90, i. 225.
  • 146 Cosin Corresp. ii. 259–63.
  • 147 Ibid. ii. 261.
  • 148 Cosin letter bk. 4b, f. 138; Cosin Corresp. ii. 269–70.
  • 149 Cosin letter bk. 4b, ff. 115, 121, 143.
  • 150 Cosin Corresp. ii. 273–4, 286.
  • 151 Cosin letter bk. 4b, f. 143.
  • 152 Cosin Corresp. ii. 276.
  • 153 CSP Dom. 1671, p. 191; Cosin Corresp. ii. 274, 275, 277–8, 280–1.
  • 154 Add. 36916, f. 221; Cosin Corresp. ii. 278–9, 283.
  • 155 Cosin Corresp. ii. p. xxxvi; Cosin letter bk. 5b, f. 148.
  • 156 Cosin letter bk. 6, f. 25.
  • 157 Cosin letter bk. 5b, f. 157; Cosin Corresp. ii. pp. xxxvii–xxxix.
  • 158 Cosin letter bk. 5b, ff. 157, 158, 165.
  • 159 Cosin Corresp. ii. pp. xxxix–xl; Add. 38141, f. 34; [Isaac Basire], The Dead Mans Real Speech (1673).
  • 160 CSP Dom. 1671–2, pp. 397–8; Cosin Corresp. ii. 102–3; Parry, Glory, Laud and Honour, 41–42.
  • 161 Add. 75362, Sir W. Coventry to Halifax, 24 Apr. 1680; HMC Ormonde, n.s. v. 310–11; HMC Finch, ii. 75–78; Add. 75362; 75360.