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George Abbot

1562-1633. Archbishop of Canterbury from 1611. Born in Guildford, son of a cloth worker, he was educated at Oxford and became successively master of University College and vice-chancellor (three times), dean of Winchester (1600), and bishop of London (1609) before becoming primate. His rise to power followed his defense of the hereditary monarchy (1606) and his efforts to join the English and Scottish churches (1608). For many years he was the recognized leader of the English Calvinists and showed pronounced Puritan sympathies. He took a leading part in the translation of the Authorized Version and is regarded as one of the first to establish Anglicanism as a militant force based on the concept of a godly king. He was less tolerant toward Roman Catholics, insisting that the designation was nonsensical, Rome being a local place and “Catholic” meaning “universal”. Though he was often in favor with James I and Charles I, he firmly stood his ground against them when they demanded compromise with conscience, especially on matters of divorce. Throughout much of his career he was bitterly opposed by the Oxford High Churchmen, especially by Laud,* who was to succeed him at Canterbury. Abbot was temporarily under a cloud when in 1622 he accidentally shot a gamekeeper while hunting, but the king was responsible for his exoneration from blame. See P.A. Welsby, George Abbot the Unwanted Archbishop (1962).