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Rev'd Richard Hooker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Richard Hooker was an Anglican priest and an influential theologian.  His philosophical masterpiece is ‘The Laws of Ecclesiastical Policy’ and examines natural law, eternally planted by God in creation. The importance of this work in eight volumes cannot be overestimated.  It focuses on the Church-state relationship.  All positive laws of Church and State are developed from the Scriptures, ancient tradition, reason, and experience. Hooker's emphasis on these values came to exert a lasting influence on the development of the Church of England. In retrospect he has been taken, along with Thomas Cranmer and Matthew Parker, as a founder of Anglicanism in its theological doctrine. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Details of Hooker's life come chiefly from Izaak Walton's  biography of him. Hooker was born in the village of Heavitree in Exeter in March 1554 and attended Exeter Grammar School until 1569. Richard came from a good but ordinary family. His uncle,  John Hooker, served as the chamberlain of Exter and introduced Richard to John Jewell who was another native of Devon and the Bishop of Salibury. The Bishop ensured that Richard was accepted into Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he became a fellow of the society in 1577. On 14 August 1579, Hooker was ordained by the Bishop of London, Edwin Sandys.  Sandys appointed Hooker as a tutor to his son Edwin, and he also taught George Cranmer, the great nephew of Archbisop Thomas Cranmer.

Following the Reformation, the open air pulpit in the churchyard, St Paul's Cross, became the stage for radical evangelical preaching and Protestant bookselling.  In 1581, Hooker was appointed to preach at here. It was at this time, according to his biographer Walton, that Hooker made the "fatal mistake" of marrying his landlady’s daughter, Jean Churchman.  In truth, the Churchman family belonged to the puritan wing of the Church of England and they must have been extremely challenging to the high church associates of Hooker. Nevertheless, he seems to have been a good husband who treated his wife with respect. The couple produced six children, only two of whom survived beyond the age of 21.

Memorial outside Exeter Cathedral

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hooker became rector of St Mary's, Drayton Beauchamp in Buckinghamshire in 1584. The following year, Archbishop Edwin Sandys brought Hooker to the attention of Queen Elizabeth I who appointed him Master of the Temple Church in London. There, Hooker soon came into public conflict with Walter Travers,  a leading puritan and assistant at the Temple.

Hooker later served as Subdean of Salisbury Cathedral and Rector  of St. Andrew's, Boscomb in Wiltshire.  In 1595, Hooker became Rector of the parishes of St. Mary the Virgin in Bishopsbourne and St. John the Baptist Barham in Kent, where he died on 3rd November, 1600.  He was buried in Bishopsbourne Church, where a monument to him was erected. Hooker bequeathed three pounds for a new pulpit in Bishopsbourne Church which survives to this today.

His feast day is November 3rd.

 


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