HACKET, John (1592-1670)

HACKET (HAGGETT, HALKET), John (1592–1670)

cons. 22 Dec. 1661 bp. of LICHFIELD AND COVENTRY

First sat 20 Jan. 1662; last sat 10 Dec. 1669

b. 1 Sept. 1592, s. of Andrew Hacket of Pitfirrane, nr. Dunfermline, Fife, and ?Maud Doncaster.1 educ. Westminster Sch.; Trinity, Camb. BA 1613, Fell. 1614, MA 1616, ord. 1618, BD 1623, DD 1628; incorp. Oxford 1616; Gray’s Inn 1628. m. (1) 1625 Elizabeth (d.1637) da. of William Stebbing (Stebbins) of Earl Soham, Suff.2 3s. (1 d.v.p), 3da. (1 d.v.p);3 (2) 1641 Frances da. of Mr. Bennet of Cheshire and wid. of Dr John Bridgeman,4 1s. (d.v.p), 1da.5 d. 28 Oct. 1670; will 9 Jan. 1665-31 Aug. 1669, pr. 1 Dec. 1670.6

Chap. to James I 1623, to Charles I 1625, to Charles II 1660.

Rect. Stoke Hammond, Bucks. 1618-24, Kirby-under-Wood, Lincs. 1621, Barcombe, Suss. 1622, St Andrew’s Holborn 1624-43, 1660-62, Cheam, Surr. 1624-?; vic. Trumpington, Cambs. 1620; chap. to John Williamsbp. Lincoln 1621-3; preb. Lincoln 1623-61, St Paul’s London 1642-61; adn. Bedford, Lincoln 1631-61; pres. Sion Coll. 1633-4;7 mbr. Westminster Assembly Divines 1643.

Also associated with: St Martin-in-the-Fields, Westminster.

Likenesses: oil on canvas by Valentine Ritz, Trinity, Camb.; oil on canvas by unknown artist, Trinity, Camb.; line engraving by W. Faithorne, 1671, NPG D22758.

As a Westminster scholar of exceptional promise, John Hacket attracted a number of powerful episcopal patrons including Lancelot Andrewes, John King and the lord keeper, John Williams Hacket was directly descended from a cadet branch of the Halkets of Pitfirrane, lairds with a long history of service to Scottish royalty and close friendship to James VI of Scotland.8 His pupil and biographer, Thomas Plume, wrote that Hacket’s father belonged ‘to the robes of Prince Henry’, and was a senior Westminster burgess. Plume emphasizes their piety and commitment to their only son’s success, whom they entered at Westminster School.9 A 1621 will survives for an Andrew Hackett, but he described himself as a tailor and citizen of London; he was also unable to sign his name.10

Noticed by Lancelot Andrewes, then dean of Westminster, John Hacket was elected to a Trinity College, Cambridge, scholarship along with the poet George Herbert, and enjoyed a stellar academic career.11 He earned the approval of James I, before whom his comic anti-Jesuit satire Loiola was performed.12 Taken up by John Williams when he became dean of Westminster (he was shortly afterwards lord keeper and bishop of Lincoln, and in 1642 archbishop of York), patronage flowed easily to Hacket, helped by his fluent preaching.13 He received the fashionable London living of St Andrews Holborn temporarily in the gift of the crown, along with other livings (and an archdeaconry) at the disposal of the keeper and bishop of Lincoln. The relationship with Williams—Laud’s rival, enemy of Arminianism and a constant irritant of secular and ecclesiastical administration during the 1630s—would become a defining feature of Hacket’s career. Hacket in 1636 got into trouble with Laud himself, when he leapt to Williams’s defence after the bishop crossed swords with Laud’s cheerleader Peter Heylyn over the position of the communion table. In 1658 he completed an admiring biography of his patron, Scrinia Reserata.14 Although (like Williams) regarded as a Calvinist, Hacket (like Williams) was a respecter of ceremonial (though his biographer also noted how keen he was on psalm-singing), and approved the canons of 1640—while suggesting to Laud that the time was not right for their adoption. Drawn into Williams’s attempt to draw up a scheme for moderated episcopacy in 1641, Hacket served on the sub-committee of divines entrusted with working out the details, and also represented his colleagues in defending deans and chapters in front of the Commons. His house was said to be the meeting place of a group of Calvinist-leaning divines including Ralph Brownrig, later bishop of Exeter, and Thomas Morton, bishop of Durham, who tried to solicit statements in favour of the English ecclesiology from English and continental divines of the stature of Salmasius, Grotius and Episcopius.15 Elected a prebendary of St Pauls shortly before the outbreak of war in March 1642, he was imprisoned for a time in November 1642 for refusing to contribute to Parliament’s war effort. Nevertheless, he was co-opted onto the Westminster Assembly in 1643 although he apparently never attended.16 Protected by senior political figures including Robert Deveruex, 3rd earl of Essex and John Selden, he was not sequestered from St Andrew’s, Holborn until December 1645 (when it was the work of ‘a few of his factious parishioners’), and avoided sequestration from his living in Cheam. Though forbidden the use of the Book of Common Prayer by the Surrey County Committee, his biographer claimed he succeeded in subverting their order.17 He was asked to minister at the executions of the George Goring, earl of Norwich and Henry Rich, earl of Holland in 1649 (though Norwich in the event escaped death).18 During the 1650s, as well as composing his life of Williams, he conducted a correspondence with William Dillingham, master of Emmanuel, sending amicable greetings to Dillingham’s friend and successor, William Sancroft, later archbishop of Canterbury, and he took pupils, including Plume, his biographer.19 Plume wrote that Hacket had been active in promoting the movement in 1659 and 1660 petitioning for a free Parliament.20

By the Restoration, the bishop had already been twice widowed. His marriages had allied him with a number of gentry families, including the Bridgman family and the family of Joseph Henshaw, later bishop of Peterborough, whose daughter Mary later married Hacket’s son Andrew Hacket. By the time of his death, Hacket had acquired property in Suffolk and Warwickshire and was able to bequeath more than £5,000.

Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry

Within months of the Restoration, Hacket returned to the Stuart court and his royal chaplaincy.21 He petitioned in December 1660 for the tithe arrears from his Lincoln prebend to be used for repairs to the house tied to the prebend and to reimburse him for losses incurred through sequestration.22 His sermon before the king on 22 Mar. 1661, about a month before the opening of the Savoy conference, in which he was one of the coadjutors (and to which it alludes), was a plea for moderation and some compromise, but accompanied by an insistence on order and the necessity for the authority of a bishop to prevent contention. Those who asserted their scruples, it argued, robbed the Church of its own liberty ‘to prescribe comeliness and order, for the better beautifying of God’s service’.23 After the conference, in July, he commented to Dillingham on the Presbyterian proposals for a revision of the liturgy, that they were ‘so unconsonant, so quite different in the frame from our liturgy’. As a result, he calculated, perhaps with regret, ‘since the disagreeing part keep such a distance from the old reformed way, the ancient prayer book shall be held up with some few alterations and additions.’24

Hacket was not mentioned in the lists of possible bishops drawn up by Edward Hyde, the future earl of Clarendon in 1659, but according to Plume he turned down Hyde’s offer of the see of Gloucester, presumably before William Nicholson, accepted it. Hacket claimed to have done so because ‘(as Cato)… he had rather future times should ask why Dr Hacket had not a bishopric than why he had one’.25 A second chance came, however, following Accepted Frewen,’s translation from Lichfield and Coventry to York in October 1660. After the Presbyterian Edmund Calamy rejected it, Hacket accepted, despite his reluctance (according to Plume) to leave his old cures at Holborn and Cheam, claiming that ‘Caesar had commanded it’—though Lichfield’s higher revenues (estimated by Frewen at £1,200) and large numbers of expired leases may have made it a more tempting proposition than Gloucester, despite the parlous state of Lichfield cathedral.26

Consecrated on 22 Dec. 1661 at Lambeth, on 20 Jan. 1662 Hacket took his seat in the House of Lords. He attended for some two-fifths of the sittings in his first session and was named to 10 committees, including those on the attainder of Thomas Wentworth, earl of Strafford, the repeal of Long Parliament legislation, William Widdrington, 2nd Baron Widdrington, and, oddly, pilchard fishing.27 He was present on 25 Feb. 1662 when the revised liturgy was recommended to the House by the king and, with the majority of the episcopate, did not support proposals for a royal proviso to soften the harsher edges of the uniformity bill. Hacket preached at Whitehall on Whitsunday, 18 May 1662, the day before prorogation, where Samuel Pepys found his sermon ‘most excellent’.28

Having sorted out his temporalities (including the arrears during the year-long vacancy) Hacket progressed to his diocese, undertaking a visitation on the way.29 In Shropshire and Stafford in early June he undertook mass confirmations (he was said to have insisted on proper examinations) and preached every other day. There were more mass confirmations in Coventry. During his progress in Derbyshire he re-ordained 23 beneficed clergy. He made a formal entrance in Lichfield on 5 Aug. to a warm welcome from the gentry of three counties, an oration by Archdeacon Ryland and a speech in Latin by a former fellow of Christ’s, Cambridge, Sir Thomas Norton, bt.30 There was, however, a big task to be done in the diocese. In a letter to the king of 11 Aug., written after he had completed the demolition of Coventry’s fortifications, the lord lieutenant, James Compton 3rd earl of Northampton, emphasized the scale of the challenge facing the bishop in the town, with ‘both the possessors of the churches being transcendent in two most excellent qualities ignorance and obstinacy, I may safely add the third, disaffection to the present government both in church and state’. Five days later, the day before the Act of Uniformity came into force, Hacket himself wrote to Clarendon (‘the greatest patron I have living’) of the folly of the Coventry corporation, which had made the destruction of their walls richly deserved, though he had, he wrote, gained some credit with them by interceding with Clarendon, something which may perhaps have contributed to the hint of irritation in Northampton’s earlier letter. He confirmed the picture of the town drawn by the lord lieutenant, including the corporation’s sympathy for nonconformists and the mischief likely to be caused by preachers Dr John Bryan and Dr Obadiah Grew, vicar of St Michael’s, who, he was sure, would remain in the town ‘to bewitch the silly people’.31 Hacket gave Grew an extra month to conform, but it made no difference.32 Both Grew and Bryan were still being paid by the corporation in 1664.33 Hacket was more sympathetic to Jonathan Grew, Obadiah’s nephew, patronized by the Hales family at Caucut, but Grew turned down his offer of a prebend at the Cathedral as an inducement to conform. The bishop was said to have made strenuous but unsuccessful efforts to get Anthony Burgesse, rector of Sutton Coldfield, fellow of Emmanuel and his ‘fast friend’ to conform. Hacket cited the minister at Chesterfield, John Billingsley, before the consistory court as a result of his bitter words about ‘prelatical ministers’ in his farewell sermon.34 In the same letter of August 1662, Hacket told Clarendon that he was moving on in his visitation to Shrewsbury, and asked for a special commission to be conducted by Francis Newport, 2nd Baron Newport, Sir Walter Littleton his diocesan chancellor, and Mr Timothy Tourneur, recorder of Lichfield, to inspect the church of St Mary and the public school at Shrewsbury.35

Hacket’s biggest task was at Lichfield. Nonconformity there was a smaller problem as the cathedral interest was an important political force, particularly since the bishop in residence had the right to nominate the senior bailiff of the corporation. But the cathedral had been badly damaged in the siege of March 1643 and by neglect since.36 According to Plume, the morning after his arrival in Lichfield, Hacket set his own horses to work removing rubble and set up a new building fund in which he raised some £20,000.37 The project was supported by many benefactors, pursued by Hacket for their contributions—a process described by Roger North as ‘barefaced begging’. ‘No gentleman lodged, or scarce baited in the city’, North wrote, ‘to whom he did not pay his respects by way of visit, which ended in plausible entreaties for some assistance towards rescuing his distressed church from ruin’.38

In Lichfield in October 1662, Hacket commented obliquely on the removal of Sir Edward Nicholas from office, complaining that the prevailing fashion for replacing Court officials during their lifetime created a ‘planet of mutation’ over the court that would generate political ‘factions, quarrels and briberies’ to pervert the course of good government.39 He was back in the House of Lords for the first day of the spring session in 1663. In the course of the five month-long session he was named to eight select committees, including those on heralds, tithes, highways and poor relief, abatements of writs of error in Exchequer, the port of Wells, and Sabbath observance.40 He absented himself from the House after 23 June 1663, and was thus absent for the impeachment attempt on Clarendon. He returned to Lichfield for the summer months and resumed his efforts to secure conformity. He summoned those involved in a ‘great convention’ at Burton on Trent to his consistory court, though, as Sir Bryan Broughton, bt., reported to Sir Joseph Williamson, they treated him with some disrespect.41

In the parliamentary session that ran from 16 Mar. 1664 to 17 May 1664, Hacket attended almost every sitting. He was named to select committees on transporting felons, highways, poor relief, the regulation of hackney carriages, navy stores, and the Ingoldsby Manor bill of Sir William Armine, bt. He was present on 6 May 1664 when the House went into committee on the conventicle bill and was present throughout the passage of the measure.42

Over the summer Hacket embarked on a series of visits to parish churches in the diocese to ensure that the communion table and font were ‘well placed (beside other reformations)’. In Elford, Staffordshire, he harangued the congregation that he had ‘never seen the holy table worse placed than theirs’ (it was hidden behind an old tomb), but his orders to move it were countermanded by the ‘wilful’ Mrs. Bowes (sister of Sir Francis Burdett. and aunt of Robert Burdett, later Tory Member for Lichfield). Intending to excommunicate her in his consistory court, Hacket sought the advice of Gilbert Sheldon, archbishop of Canterbury. In October 1664, during the negotiations over clerical taxation, Hacket responded at length to Sheldon’s request for opinions on the likely response of the clergy to the change to taxation under parliament, rather than Convocation. Hacket recognized that inflation had eroded the value of subsidies and that the monthly land tax was ‘far the best way by experience’ and thought the clergy should be ‘free hearted and liberal’ with the king because of his protection of the Church, though he pointed out the poverty of many clergy: ‘in this diocese of Lichfield containing 500 benefices with cure… not 50 in the whole diocese of value to maintain a scholar in a competent maintenance and a tolerable library’.43

On 6 Nov. 1664, in anticipation of the autumn session, Hacket entered his proxy in favour of Humphrey Henchman, bishop of London (vacated when Hacket arrived in the House on 9 Feb. 1665). He attended the session for only a third of the sittings. When he eventually arrived at Westminster in February 1665, he was named to committees on damage clear, Hertford highways, and a private bill involving Sir Robert Carr.44

He was back in Lichfield by May 1665.45 In the first half of June he made another of his progresses through Shropshire, preaching in eight market towns on eight successive days, and claiming to have confirmed nearly 6,000 candidates. He reported to Sheldon on the state of the county, especially the activities of its nonconformist ministers and the counter efforts of the archdeacons, and told him of his intentions to move on to Derbyshire. In August he wrote to the archbishop about his concerns that his daughter Theophila was being courted by the ‘passionate’ Francis, son of Sir Lewis Dyve, and again resorted to Sheldon for advice since, in his estimation, Sir Lewis was not a ‘good Protestant’.46 The marriage did take place in December 1665, in Lichfield, after which Hacket kept a ‘very open’ Christmas.47 Another daughter seems to have contracted an unsuitable marriage without the consent of her parents with one Lockhart in 1666: Hacket was furious, but while reluctant to be pacified by Alexander Burnet, archbishop of Glasgow, he acquiesced on Sheldon’s intercession, while bitterly objecting to those who encouraged such marriages by insisting that time would heal the wounds. She died in childbirth in 1667, when Burnet asked Sheldon to intercede again on behalf of her husband and child.48

With a new session of Parliament expected to be summoned to Oxford, in September 1665 Hacket pleaded to Sheldon that he would probably be ‘a bad attendant’ because he was always unwell in the autumn and had left his robes in London.49 He nevertheless arrived in Oxford for the start of the session and attended for three-quarters of it. He was named to committees on damage clear, on further provision for plague and, on 27 Oct. 1665, to the committee on the five mile bill.50 He was back in Lichfield in time for Christmas and to renew his persistent requests for money to complete the restoration of the cathedral, which he complained proceeded slowly for want of money: he had, he told Sheldon, laid out £1500 over the previous year for putting lead on the spire and received back only £1040, while he planned for the next year a programme of glazing, whitewashing and paving that was going to cost another £1700. A donation of £50 from Richard Newdigate on his marriage was some help.51 In June 1666 he received (via John Berkeley, Baron Berkeley of Stratton) £100 from the duchess of York; six months later he was still asking Sheldon’s advice on how to secure a similar sum from the duke.52 In April, Hacket had to defend his replacement of the customary anthem after the sermon in the cathedral with ‘a common psalm’: the archdeacon of Derby complained to Sheldon, claiming that it had been designed to appease the ‘schismatically disposed’ in the town and had caused offence to many of the church’s best allies in the town, as well as the clergy and gentry of the diocese.53 A more intractable dispute was with his eccentric and perennially absent dean, Thomas Wood, later to be bishop of the diocese. Hacket had in September 1665 noted the belated arrival of Wood in the diocese months after his appointment and that he had contributed nothing to the cathedral appeal. In April 1666 he wrote that Wood was living in Westminster had had not been seen there since the previous October.54

Hacket missed the beginning of the 1666-7 session: in September 1666 he told Sheldon that he had made preparations to be there but had fallen ill with his regular autumn sickness earlier than usual, and asked Sheldon to excuse his attendance for the first few weeks.55 He arrived at the House on 17 Oct. and attended the session (which lasted to February 1667) for only 30 per cent of sittings. He was named to three select committees: on the encouragement of coinage, the bill concerning Sir Richard Franklin, bt and the Southampton churches’ bill. He left before Christmas (sitting for the last time that session on 13 Dec. 1666) before returning to Lichfield.56

A month later, at the beginning of 1667, he was telling Sheldon about the dean’s continued absence: Wood’s recent marriage and the charms of the ‘young bride’ might, he thought, be the current excuse, and it was certainly the subject of clerical gossip. He was still complaining about it in March.57 Hacket’s attention was otherwise occupied with refurbishing a prebendal house as a bishop’s residence (the palace had been destroyed in the war), which cost him £1000; he told Sheldon that he hoped to procure a private act of Parliament to annex the house to the bishopric.58 In September 1667 he threw his influence behind the candidature of his son Andrew Hacket for the forthcoming Lichfield by-election. Lichfield’s Presbyterians favoured Richard Dyott who, in Hacket’s opinion, was ‘not honest or a friend to the Church, but true to the king’.59 Hacket claimed that the ‘worthier part of the city, by my interposing’ favoured his son (who did his father’s bidding as his business agent and fund-raiser in London).60 The election provided Hacket with an additional excuse to absent himself from Parliament, as well as the onset of his usual autumn ill-health; if he left Lichfield too soon, he was convinced that his son would lose the election, ‘and the Church will suffer in it’.61 He informed the archbishop that he would send his proxy to his ‘most intimate friend’ John Dolben, bishop of Rochester and promised that if the parliamentary session resumed after Christmas 1667, he would travel to London.62 With the impeachment of Clarendon imminent, Sheldon refused permission. Hacket sulkily complied, grumbling that ‘I may not be suffered to cherish myself, when never failing recurrent maladies afflict me’, and said that he would arrive at Westminster on 17 Oct. 1667.63

He attended the session for some 30 per cent of sittings and was named to only two committees: on the land exchange between Horatio Townshend, Baron Townshend and the rector of Raynham, and on the trial of peers.64 With 21 of his fellow bishops he was present on 20 Nov. for the debate on the impeachment of Clarendon, and voted in support of the ex-chancellor. As in previous sessions, he was absent from the House after mid-December and did not return for the remainder of the session although it continued to March 1669. On 20 Jan. 1668 Hacket sent up his proxy and sought Sheldon’s agreement for it to be given to Dolben. With Dolben himself absent from the House until early February, the proxy was registered with Benjamin Laney, bishop of Ely, and was not vacated until the end of the session. Hacket fully intended to remain in Lichfield having ‘a quiet time, if a bad and mad dean will permit’.65

Absent from Lichfield during the by-election campaign, Hacket had been unable to exert his political influence at close quarters. Andrew Hacket does not seem to have entered the poll on 5 Dec. 1667 and Richard Dyott was elected unopposed.66 The case of Sir Francis Burdet’s sister and the Elford communion table had now moved to the Stafford Assizes where a ‘packed perjured jury’ (in Hacket’s view) ruled that the bishop’s directions for the repositioned altar would prejudice the use of her pew.67 But Hacket’s main concern continued to be with the dispute between the cathedral chapter and the dean. Wood, generally regarded as an odd and difficult man (even the archdeacon of Derby who so disliked Hacket’s psalm-singing, called him ‘the strangest man that ever I have had anything to do with’), had influence at Whitehall through his brother, Sir Henry Wood, treasurer and receiver general to the queen mother, and a curious connection with the countess of Castlemaine. By January 1668 Hacket had taken the drastic step of excommunicating his dean, and the story was spread widely.68 Wood appealed to the court of arches. Both Sheldon and Hacket were humiliated when Wood was granted absolution by the court without Sheldon being consulted. The reading of Wood’s absolution in the cathedral delighted the local nonconformists. 69 On 28 Jan. there was an attempt at a reconciliation between Wood, the chapter and Hacket, though Hacket claimed Wood remained determined to assert a veto over the chapter, for which he said there was no precedent, and refused to pay up £50 which Hacket insisted he should contribute to the cathedral fabric. Later, Hacket was outraged to find that Wood had offered to spend the £50 on refurbishing the consistory court, his own sphere, instead.70

On 15 Feb. 1668 Hacket congratulated Sheldon on his successful efforts to prevent the Commons supporting the moves towards comprehension, though he was not reassured to find that Dyott had been in favour. He observed with disgust as Dyott forged a closer alliance with Lichfield Dissenters: ‘they wholly possess him and converse with him’. In March he was encouraged by the votes against conventicles of the ‘prudent and religious patriots’ in the Commons, proof that ‘the finger of God is immediately in it’, but in ‘a cold sweat’ at the prospect of a dissolution since a newly elected Parliament, if it followed the result of the Lichfield by-election, would almost certainly be more inclined towards religious toleration.71 He sought Sheldon’s help in resisting the efforts of Henry Bennet, Baron Arlington, to secure a Lichfield prebend on behalf of ‘an ignote’; he intended to thwart Arlington by preferring his own candidate, his former pupil and future biographer, Thomas Plume of Greenwich, ‘who buys all books for me and hath transacted all business for me at London, ever since I was bishop’.72 Responding to Sheldon’s inquiry designed to overcome the criticism of the episcopate that was being expressed in early 1668, Hacket listed the sums he had raised and laid out on the cathedral since his arrival so that it could be relayed to members of the Commons: £3,500 ‘delivered up for the work of the Church in the first month I came hither’; a further £13,000 raised for the cathedral ‘by collections of benevolence’; augmentations for vicarages worth £90 a year; £700 of his own money on his palace; and £100 donation to release Algerian captives. His first fruits had amounted to £500, and tenths up to the current year were £350, and he had contributed a loan to the king of £500, which had now been repaid.73 A few weeks later he was seeking Sheldon’s advice in how to pursue James Butler, duke of Ormond [I] and earl of Brecknock, for a donation of £100 promised four years previously.74 In July he was complaining still about Ormond, but also how promised gifts from William Cavendish, duke of Newcastle, Philip Stanhope, 2nd earl of Chesterfield and John Freschville, Baron Freschville, had failed to materialize.75

Hacket undertook his third triennial visitation over the summer of 1668 during which he consecrated the new chapel constructed by Basil Feilding, 2nd earl of Denbigh. Hacket was treated to a ‘costly and magnificent dinner’ and presented with a gift of plate, after which he proceeded on his visitation to Coventry and Coleshill.76 During a sermon he made in the open air at Polesworth he was heckled by a local Quaker, whom he cited before the consistory court: the bishop was the subject of a hostile pamphlet published a year later in consequence.77 In July Hacket asked to be excused attendance on Parliament before Christmas (though in the event it continued to be adjourned), in order to deal with the cathedral and other business, and continued throughout the autumn to fulminate about his ‘absurd’, ‘untractable’, ‘illiterate’ and ‘filthy-natured’ dean, whom he alleged to be the patron of the local nonconformists and who had left the town taking with him the cathedral’s building accounts; back before Christmas he failed to attend public prayers, hold a chapter or read an excommunication. 78 In early 1669 he refused a request from Sir Henry Littleton (elected Member of the Commons for Lichfield in 1678), for a prebend for his chaplain, noting that he had made no contribution to the cathedral fund, and that he had refused similar requests from Newport, Lady Leveson and the countess of Southampton, who were among the project’s greatest benefactors.79

With the lapse of the first Conventicle Act in March 1669, Hacket was concerned by the growth in conventicle activity in Coventry, particularly the Independent meeting at which the former (and later exclusionist) Commons’ member for Coventry, Robert Beake, was a lay preacher. Hacket sought the support of the mayor and suggested a show of force either by quartering of a troop of horse in the city or by raising the county militia ‘to reduce them and their confederates of Birmingham, a desperate and very populous rabble’. 80 Even in Lichfield nonconformity was spreading with the encouragement of Wood, and ‘two rich and violent nonconformists, discarded alderman’—Thomas Minors and one Jerson or Jesson (possibly the son of William Jesson of Coventry)—who were summoned before the Privy Council in July. Hacket worried that Tamworth MP John Swinfen would help Minors secure the protection of the lord chamberlain, the earl of Manchester. In August, even though Minors and Jesson made a commitment to cease keeping conventicles, Hacket reported that others would take over, providing information he had received from his archdeacons in Derbyshire and Shropshire on meetings there: all his time, he wrote, was taken up with complaints about conventicles.81

By the autumn of 1669, Hacket had secured donations for the cathedral stalls in his ‘new and most beautiful choir’ at £8 apiece from many principal ministers and bishops, (though he grumbled in September that John Robartes, 2nd Baron Robartes, passing through Lichfield on his way to Ireland had been very complimentary about the project but had failed to give anything towards it.82 Hacket showed renewed interest in Parliament, promising to attend the House to support ‘strict’ legislation against Dissent, as long as he could spend Christmas at Lichfield, and that Wood be summoned to Convocation so that he would not have the run of the diocese in Hacket’s absence. In the parliamentary session that ran from 19 Oct. to 11 Dec. 1669, Hacket was in almost constant attendance, hoping for a ‘strict’ replacement to the Conventicle Act.83 He was named to just one select committee: the bill on the charity set up by John Warner, the late bishop of Rochester.84 Hacket did not return to the House after 10 Dec. 1669. He was back in Lichfield by the 20th, expressing gratitude to the king for his

noble and firm resolutions to execute strict laws against nonconformists. There is no other course to be taken with such turbulent people, to preserve the peace, nay the being of kingdom, as well as church. I can certify for Coventry, where I lay upon my return, that nothing will bring them into tolerable obedience, but a severe hand. 85

A few days later, on Christmas Eve, his massive rebuilding programme at the cathedral (and personal contribution of over £1,600) was celebrated in a service of re-consecration (with plenty of sermons) followed by three days of feasting.86

In January 1670, ‘feeble and indisposed’, as well as desperate to raise another £1100 to complete the steeple with a peal of eight bells, Hacket asked Sheldon to inform the king that his absence from Parliament was not ‘undutifulness... but from want of power in an old ruined carcass’.87 His proxy was registered on 11 Feb. 1670 in favour of Humphrey Henchman, and vacated only with Hacket’s death. Congratulating Sheldon in April on a successful session of Parliament, Hacket expressed deep offence at the ‘detested’ Roos divorce bill. He thought John Cosin, bishop of Durham, a ‘strange’ man for supporting the bill, though he forgave him and would bequeath him 40 shillings for a ring, and dubbed John Wilkins, bishop of Chester, Cosin’s ‘brother in evil’, criticizing the sermon he had recently had printed (which had been no longer than a quarter of an hour), and recounting how he had told Lord Berkeley (probably Berkeley of Stratton), who was singing Wilkins’ praises, that the bishop was a ‘shallow man both in philosophy and divinity’. His main complaint, though, was as always with Wood and his oversight of Lichfield. Presbyterians were doing what they wanted, absenting themselves from church and baptizing ‘hugger-mugger’. Still determined to finish the cathedral, he made an early plea that come the autumn he might stay in his newly refurbished cathedral, to ‘hear new bells jangle, and be spared from hearing an old Parliament wrangle’. 88 In June, Wood, evidently ordered to return to the cathedral by Sheldon, claimed to have dined with Hacket, and wrote to Sheldon hoping that the bishop would have given a favourable report. By September, however, Hacket was again bitterly reviling Wood’s behaviour, who had once more decamped to London without telling anyone, avoiding a septennial visitation of the cathedral chapter by the bishop. Hacket darkly hinted that the archbishop had decided that it was politically impossible to intervene.89

During the autumn of 1670, Hacket gave Sheldon some more information about his financial stewardship, stressing his charitable activities and his reasonableness towards his tenants: quite apart from his layout on the cathedral and associated buildings, ‘I preserved all the old tenants in their leases, and all most content with their fines’, though he had increased some rents. He had lent £500 to the king and encouraged his clergy to lend as well. He had given £100 towards the redemption of slaves, £1200 towards the building of the bishop’s hostel in Trinity, Cambridge, with the rents of the chambers in it devoted to the college library: there were gifts to Clare Hall and the library of St John’s College (‘because my noble Lord was the founder thereof’). Moreover,

I keep every day handsome hospitality for the cathedral men, clergy, gentry, inhabitants of the city. And the poor want not their daily refection. I hope I have forgot many things. My private charity I hate to keep in a calendar: only I add, that I give £20 per ann. to some of the decayed gentry, to whom I carry good affection.90

In response to another Sheldon circular, Hacket suggested using spies or informers to check up on the diligence of the incumbent in holding services in the suspect parishes.91 At the end of September, he discussed prospects for a series of by-elections in Shropshire, Coventry and Derbyshire. In the latter, caused by the death of ‘worthy’ John Milward, he told Sheldon of his, and his friends’, support for Sir Harry Everard.92 In the event William Sacheverell was elected for the county, supported by the presbyterian vote.93 In Hacket’s last letter to Sheldon on 15 Oct. he as usual protested that he was too unwell to travel up for Parliament, and again sent his proxy for Henchman, while looking forward to another triennial visitation of the diocese next year, and fulminating about the behaviour of Wood.94

Hacket died about two weeks later. Plume wrote that there was a huge turnout for his funeral.95 His son erected an old-fashioned recumbent effigy in the cathedral.96 In his will, the bishop made generous money bequests to family, friends, servants and charitable projects amounting to more than £5,000. He was outlived by two sons and three daughters.97 Hacket’s bête noire, Thomas Wood, succeeded him, and their quarrel was extended into the next generation through a suit concerning Hacket’s failure to rebuild the episcopal palace. Andrew Hacket claimed that his father’s expenditure on the cathedral, the prebendal house and various charities had exceeded his income. The suit ended with an arbitration in 1684 by the bishops of Peterborough and London and Wood’s suspension: Andrew Hacket, dissatisfied with the result, maintained that a veil had been drawn over his father’s achievements.98


  • 1 Register St Martin in the Fields 1550-1719, p. 73.
  • 2 Boyd’s Marriage Index, Framsden, Suffolk 1625.
  • 3 TNA, PROB 11/334.
  • 4 Boyd’s Marriage Index. Bishop’s ML London Diocese, 1641; Matthews, Walker Revised, 49.
  • 5 PROB 11/334; Vis. Warwicks 1662-1663, 140.
  • 6 PROB 11/334.
  • 7 Matthews, Walker Revised, 49; Ath. Ox. iv. 825.
  • 8 R. Douglas, The Baronage of Scotland (1798), i. 285; P. Chalmers, Historical and Statistical Account of Dunfermline (1859), i. 300, 527, ii. 414; Inventory of Pitfirrane Writs 1230-1794 ed. W. Angus, 34.
  • 9 A Century of Sermons upon Several Remarkable Subjects preached by … John Hacket, late Lord Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry ed. T. Plume (1675), p. iii.
  • 10 PROB11/137.
  • 11 Century of Sermons, p. vi.
  • 12 Salmon, Lives, 295-6; Century of Sermons, p. iii.
  • 13 R.B. Knox, ‘Bishop John Hacket and his teaching on sanctity and secularity’, in D. Baker (ed), Studies in Church History x. 165-72.
  • 14 A. Milton, Laudian and royalist polemic in seventeenth century England, 59-60; J. Hacket, Scrinia Reserata (1693), 229.
  • 15 Century of Sermons, pp. xvi-xxv.
  • 16 Mins. and Pprs. of the Westminster Assembly ed. C. van Dixhoorn, v. 122.
  • 17 Century of Sermons, p. xxvi; Add. 15669, f. 219; Lansd. 986, f. 86.
  • 18 Century of Sermons, p. xxvii.
  • 19 Sloane 1710, ff. 182-202; Evelyn Diary, iii. 221.
  • 20 Century of Sermons, p. xxix.
  • 21 CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 272.
  • 22 CSP Dom. 1660-1, p. 405.
  • 23 J. Hacket, A Sermon Preached before the King’s Majesty at Whitehall on Friday the 22 of March Anno 1660 by John Hacket DD (1660), 21; Cardwell, 257, 299.
  • 24 Sloane 1710, f.202.
  • 25 Eg. 2542, f. 267; Century of Sermons, p. xxix.
  • 26 Salmon, Lives, 296; Green, Re-establishment of the Church, 97; Century of Sermons, p. xxx; Bodl. Tanner 131, f.7.
  • 27 Kennett, Register and Chronicle, 587; LJ xi. 368, 370, 378, 393, 427.
  • 28 Pepys Diary, iii. 84.
  • 29 CSPD 1661-2, pp. 134, 171, 175, 199, 266, 277; Century of Sermons, p. xxx; Articles of Inquiry … in the 1st Episcopal Visitation of the … Lord Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (London, 1662).
  • 30 Century of Sermons, p. xxx; VCH Derbys. ii. 31; Kennet, Register and Chronicle, 713, 738; Green, Re-establishment of Church of England, 135, 142; J. Riland, Confirmation Reviv’d (1663).
  • 31 Bodl. Clarendon 77, ff. 236-7, 274.
  • 32 Calamy Revised, 236.
  • 33 VCH Warws. viii. 374-5.
  • 34 Calamy Revised, 236, 86, 54.
  • 35 CCSP, v. 258.
  • 36 HP Commons 1660-1690, i. 383.
  • 37 Century of Sermons, 31; Add. 43857, f.2.
  • 38 CSP Dom. 1661-2, p. 487. North, Lives, i. 185.
  • 39 Tanner 48, f. 58.
  • 40 LJ xi. 491, 493, 496, 535.
  • 41 CSP Dom. 1663-4, p. 340.
  • 42 LJ xi. 583-85, 588, 595, 605-21.
  • 43 Tanner 47, ff. 201, 203.
  • 44 LJ xi. 656, 657, 663.
  • 45 Bodl. Add. C 308, f. 25.
  • 46 Tanner 45, ff. 13, 17.
  • 47 T. Harwood, Hist. and Antiq. of Lichfield, 298; Tanner 131 f. 11.
  • 48 Tanner 45, f. 77, Add. C. 306 f. 71.
  • 49 Tanner 45, f. 26.
  • 50 LJ xi. 691, 694, 695.
  • 51 Tanner 45, f. 106; Tanner 131, f. 11.
  • 52 Tanner 45, ff. 84, 137.
  • 53 Tanner 131, ff. 13-14.
  • 54 Tanner 45, ff. 26, 71.
  • 55 Tanner 45, f. 106.
  • 56 LJ xii. 35, 37; Century of Sermons, p. xxxix.
  • 57 Tanner 45, ff. 137, 153, 181.
  • 58 Tanner 45, f. 181; Tanner 131, f. 84; Century of Sermons, p. xxxv.
  • 59 Tanner 45, ff. 181, 214.
  • 60 Tanner 44, f. 66.
  • 61 Tanner 45, f. 214.
  • 62 Tanner 45, ff. 214, 218.
  • 63 Tanner 45, f. 221.
  • 64 LJ xii. 128, 130.
  • 65 Tanner 131, f. 18.
  • 66 HP Commons 1660-1690, ii. 250.
  • 67 Tanner 45, f. 214.
  • 68 Tanner 131, f. 18; Tanner 45, f. 255; Pepys Diary, ix. 45.
  • 69 Tanner 48, f. 65; 45, f. 265; Add. C 308, ff. 38v, 110.
  • 70 Tanner 45, ff. 269, 230, 288.
  • 71 Tanner 45, ff. 278, 288, 295.
  • 72 Tanner 45, f. 295.
  • 73 Tanner 131, f. 20.
  • 74 Tanner 44, f. 6.
  • 75 Tanner 45, f. 15.
  • 76 Tanner 45, f. 15; Articles of Inquiry … in the 2nd Triennial Visitation of … John … Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry (1668); CSP Dom. 1667-8, p. 478.
  • 77 VCH Warws. ii. 44; C. Harris, The Woolf under Sheeps-Clothing Discovered. or the Spirit of Cain, appearing in the Bishop of Lichfield Reproved (1669).
  • 78 Tanner 44, ff. 15, 22, 66, 69; 131, f. 22.
  • 79 Tanner 44, f. 82.
  • 80 CSP Dom. 1668-9, p. 655. HP Commons 1660-1690, i. 611.
  • 81 Tanner 44 ff. 108, 121, 125, 140; 131, f. 32; HP Commons 1660-1690, ii. 652; iii. 70.
  • 82 Tanner 131, f. 38; 44, f. 149.
  • 83 Tanner 44, ff. 149, 183.
  • 84 LJ xii. 273.
  • 85 Tanner 44, f. 183.
  • 86 Century of Sermons, pp. xxxi-xxxv.
  • 87 Tanner 131, f. 42.
  • 88 Tanner 44, f. 196; TNA, PROB 11/334.
  • 89 Tanner 44, f. 213, 221; 131, f. 45.
  • 90 Tanner 131, f. 45.
  • 91 Tanner 44, f. 206.
  • 92 Tanner 131, f. 45.
  • 93 HP Commons 1660-1690, i. 187; iii. 370.
  • 94 Tanner 44, f. 228.
  • 95 Century of Sermons, p. liv.
  • 96 PROB 11/334; Lehmberg, Cathedrals under Siege, 239.
  • 97 PROB 11/334.
  • 98 Tanner 131, ff. 104, 111; 104, f. 311.