Dr. William Lyons, who was preferred to the bishoprick of Cork, Cloyne, and Ross, towards the latter end of Queen Elizabeth's reign, was originally the captain of a ship, who had distinguished himself so gallantly in several actions with the Spaniards, that on being introduced to the Queen, she told him he should have the first vacancy that offered.
The honest captain, who understood the Queen literally, soon after hearing of a vacancy in the See of Cork, immediately set out for court, and claimed the royal promise. The Queen astonished at the request, for a time remonstrated against the impropriety of it, and what she could never think of as an office suitable for him. It was, however, in vain : he said the royal word was passed, and he relied on it. Her Majesty then said, she would take a few days to consider on it. When examining into his character, and finding him a sober, moral man, as well as an intrepid commander, she sent for Lyons, and gave him the bishoprick, saying at the same time "she hoped he would take as good care of the church as he had done of the state."
Lyons immediately set out for his bishoprick, which he enjoyed for above twenty years with great reputation to himself, but never attempted to preach but once, and that was on the death of the Queen. On that melancholy occasion, he thought it his duty to pay the last honours to his Royal Mistress, and accordingly mounted the pulpit in Christ's church, in the city of Cork;--after giving a good discourse on the uncertainty of life, and the great and amiable qualities of the Queen, he concluded in the following warm, but whimsical manner--"Let those who feel the loss deplore with me on this melancholy occasion; but if there be any that hear me, who have secretly wished for this event, (as perhaps there may,) they have now got their wish, and the devil do them good with it."
The Bishop's name and the date of his appointment (1583), are on record in the Consistorial Court of Cork; and his picture, in the captain's uniform, the left hand wanting a finger, is still to be seen in the Bishop's palace, at Cork.