John Whitgift

c.1530-1604. Archbishop of Canterbury from 1583. He studied at Cambridge under Nicholas Ridley* and John Bradford* and adopted Reformed doctrinal views. In 1563 he became Lady Margaret professor of divinity at Cambridge, and in 1565 petitioned against the use of the surplice, but soon he became a convinced upholder of Anglican ritual and episcopal government. He became regius professor and master of Pembroke Hall (1567) and master of Trinity (1570). He secured the expulsion from Cambridge of Thomas Cartwright,* who had powerfully attacked episcopacy, and engaged in prolonged pamphlet controversy with him. In 1577 Whitgift became bishop of Worcester and vigorously enforced conformity by Puritans.* Recognizing the similarity of their aims, Elizabeth I* made him primate in 1583. With his private fortune he lived magnificently and had the queen's approval and friendship. Ministers were obliged to conform and increased powers secured for the Court of High Commission. Stringent control of printing by the bishops led to the secret publication of the Marprelate Tracts,* whose instigators Whitgift punished most severely. In 1593 he secured the passing of an act banishing nonattenders at church, and some Nonconformists went to Holland. He tried to remedy the lack of precision in the Thirty-Nine Articles* by defining predestination more closely (and in an entirely Calvinist manner) in the Lambeth Articles* of 1595, but the indignant queen forced him to withdraw them. After attending Elizabeth on her deathbed, he was obliged by James I* to confer with Puritans at the Hampton Court Conference* of 1604, and died later that year.

J. Strype, Life and Acts of John Whitgift (1822); Works (ed. J. Ayre, 1851-53); P.M. Dawley, John Whitgift and the Reformation (1955); V.J.K. Brook, Whitgift and the English Church (1957).