COMPTON, Henry (1632-1713). A True Narrative of all the Proceedings Against the Lord Bishop of London... London: Randal Taylor, 1689.

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COMPTON, Henry (1632-1713). A True Narrative of all the Proceedings Against the Lord Bishop of London, In the Council-Chamber at White-Hall, by the Lords Commissioners Appointed by His Majesty to inspect Ecclesiastical Affairs. London: Printed, and are to be Sold by Randal Taylor, near Stationers-hall. 1689.


Folio (12 2/8 x 8 inches). 14-pages, disbound (a bit stained).

Henry Compton, Bishop of Oxford, and then of London was a political animal, with a favoured position at court. However, he was a staunch anti-papist, which occasionally got him into deep water with regard to his relationship with the Duke of York (subsequently James II). This paper recounts the formidable parliamentary questioning that Compton faced on the 4th of August, 1686: "What was the reason you did not suspend Dr. Sharp, when the King commanded, and sent you express Order so to do, and told you what it was for, viz, for Preaching Seditiously, and against the Government"...

John Sharp was dean of Norwich and rector of St Giles-in-the-Fields, London, and "indulged in some anti-Catholic remarks in his preaching. James II responded on 17 June 1686 by ordering Compton to suspend him. Compton demurred on the ground that Sharp could not be suspended without first being heard (although he had privately persuaded Sharp to desist from preaching for the present). As a result Compton was summoned before the recently created ecclesiastical commission on 9 August and was granted until 31 August to prepare his case. His counsel maintained that Compton had obeyed the king as far as he legally could. Nevertheless the verdict for his suspension was delivered on 6 September by an admittedly divided commission. The harsher sentence of deprivation was not imposed, so Compton's episcopal revenues remained untouched, though more perhaps out of a fear of a challenge at common law than from any clemency on the part of the commissioners.

"Compton at once became a protestant martyr. Princess Mary wrote to him expressing her sympathy and his treatment was said to be widely resented. He continued to guide his clergy from behind the scenes, dividing his time between London and the country, indulging his favourite pastime of gardening. His episcopal duties were taken over by three of his colleagues.

"Only with James II's showdown with the seven bishops over the reading of the declaration of indulgence in churches in 1688 did Compton again become prominent in public life. He approved their petition and indeed, with typical impetuosity, may well have been responsible for having it published, which raised the stakes on all sides. Compton visited the seven in the Tower of London and may well have been present at their trial" (Andrew M. Coleby for DNB). ESTC R30660. Catalogued by Kate Hunter