Bishop Jeremy Taylor

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Taylor, Jeremy, Bishop of Down and Connor, one of the greatest theologians and writers of his age, was born at Cambridge, 15th August 1613. He accompanied Charles I. on some of his campaigns. After undergoing hardships and imprisonments at the hands of the Parliamentary party, he was, in 1658, induced by some of his friends to seek a retreat in Ireland. Sir William Petty procured him a farm on advantageous terms, and gave him introductions to persons of influence; Cromwell granted him a passport and protection for himself and his family; and in June 1658, he settled near Kilulta, eight miles from Lisburn. There, in a half-ruined church, he occasionally preached to a small congregation of royalists. According to tradition, it was his wont occasionally to retire to Rams Island, in Lough Neagh, for study and devotion.

Poor as he was, this is said to have been the happiest period of his life, as he had abundant leisure for daily if not hourly devotions and literary composition. Upon one occasion, in the dead of winter, he was brought before the Privy Council in Dublin, on a charge of using the sign of the cross in baptism. Just before the Restoration he proceeded to England, and in August 1660 was appointed Bishop of Down and Connor, and was shortly afterwards elected Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dublin. In February 1661 he was made a member of the Privy Council, and in April was entrusted with the administration of the small adjacent see of Dromore.

The disorganized condition of his see taxed all his energies. For the University he revised the statutes, settled rules for the conferring of degrees, appointed lecturers, and otherwise contributed to forward its interests and increase its reputation. Bishop Taylor died at Lisburn, 13th August 1667, aged 53, and his remains were interred in the cathedral at Dromore, to which he had been a liberal benefactor. His second wife, Joanna, daughter of his friend and patron, Charles I., survived him some years. One of his daughters married Francis Marsh, Archbishop of Dublin.

A monument to his memory was erected by Bishop Mant in Lisburn church in 1821. A list of his works occupies nearly four pages of Allibone. John Forster says: "From the little I have yet read, I am strongly inclined to think this said Jeremy is the most completely eloquent writer in our language. There is a most manly and graceful ease and freedom in his composition, while a strong intellect is working logically through every paragraph, while all manner of beautiful images fall in as by felicitous accident." Cotton says: "Of his character and talents it is needless to speak. His works have been long before the world, and have proved their author to have been one of the best of men, and one of the most shining lights of our church."

Sources

16. Authors, Dictionary of British and American: S. Austin Allibone. 3 vols. Philadelphia, 1859-'71.

118. Ecclesiae Hiberniae Fasti: Rev. Henry Cotton: Indices by John R. Garstin, M.A. 5 vols. Dublin, 1851-'60.

323b. Tomb Stones and Monuments.

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