Lancelot Andrewes was a devout and learned scholar who brought great stability to the Church of England in the early 17th century. He was a fellow of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, and as well as his theological scholarship was master of 15 languages.Andrewes studied at Merchant Taylor’s School and Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, of which he became a fellow in 1576. He became vicar of
St Giles, Cripplegate, in 1589 and master of Pembroke Hall. His duties included preaching at St Paul’s Cathedral, London, where his great ability as a preacher was first noticed. In 1601 he became dean of Westminster. During the reign of James I, having already declined two bishoprics under Elizabeth, he was appointed bishop of Chichester in 1605, then Ely in 1609 and Winchester in 1619.
Andrewes attended the Hampton Court Conference in 1604, at which leading Puritans aired their plans for further reform of the church. Andrewes was appointed one of the translators of what became the Authorised Version of the Bible, being responsible for much of the early part of the Old Testament. He was a strong proponent of the Oath of Allegiance to the king, imposed after the gunpowder plot of 1605. The oath was required of the clergy before taking office, and Andrewes conducted a vigorous debate with Cardinal Bellarmine on the issue. Andrewes also served on a number of influential ecclesiastical committees and commissions. In 1617 he joined James I on his journey to Scotland to try to persuade the Scots to accept government of the Church through Bishops, a system of order and authority.
Andrewes was a student of moral theology as well as being learned in the early church fathers. His three authorities were the Bible, the wisdom of antiquity, and the judgement of the contemporary church. He did much to form a distinctively Anglican theology that took ac-count of Scripture, reason and tradition.. He insisted on a high standard of personal holiness among the clergy and expected all servants of the church to be dedicated and diligent in their service.
Lancelot Andrewes was a man of deep prayer himself and compiled Preces Privatae, a book of his own devotions, which was published in 1648 and has been re-issued over the years. His own gentle nature, mature wisdom, and kindly wit endeared him to all. He loved the English Church and defended it vigorously from all detractors. He was buried in what is now South-wark Cathedral.
BORN:16 July 1555, All Hallows-by-the-Tower, London, England.
DIED:25 September 1626, Southwark, England.