Thomas Winniffe (1576–1654) was an English churchman, the Bishop of Lincoln from 1642 to 1654.
He was born and baptised at Sherborne, Dorset, in 1576, the son of John Winniffe (1540?-1630), who was buried on 28 September 1630 in Lambourne church, Essex. He matriculated from Exeter College, Oxford, on 22 Feb. 1594, and was elected fellow in 1595; he graduated B.A. on 12 July 1598, M.A. on 17 May 1601, B.D. on 27 March 1610, and D.D. on 5 July 1610. In August 1605 he was one of those who disputed in moral philosophy before James I, his queen Anne of Denmark, and Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales on the occasion of their visit to Oxford. On 5 May 1608 he was admitted to the rectory of Willingale-Doe, Essex, and on 15 June following to that of Lambourne in the same county, and on 30 June 1609 he resigned his fellowship at Exeter, having livings above the statutable value.
After Prince Henry's death Winniffe became chaplain to Prince Charles, but on 7 April 1622, when the Spaniards were overrunning the Electorate of the Palatinate, he gave offence by a sermon denouncing Gondomar, and comparing Spinola with the devil. He was sent to the Tower of London, but repented and appealed to the Spanish and imperial ambassadors, at whose intercession he was released a few days later. On 17 September 1624 he was nominated dean of Gloucester, being installed on 10 November. He remained chaplain to Charles after his accession, and on 8 April 1631 was nominated dean of St. Paul's in succession John Donne, who bequeathed him a picture; he was also one of the three to whom Donne is said to have left his religious manuscripts. Winniffe was elected dean of St. Paul's on 18 April; on 15 March 1634 he took the oath as an ecclesiastical commissioner.
On the translation of Bishop John Williams from Lincoln to York on 4 December 1641, Winniffe was selected to succeed him. The nomination is said to have been intended to gratify parliament on the ground of Winniffe's supposed Puritan tendencies; but on 30 December Francis Rous moved in the House of Commons for the postponement of Winniffe's consecration, and Winniffe's house ia Westminster is said to have been destroyed by a mob, whose leader, Sir Richard Wiseman, was killed. He was elected on 5 January 1642, and was consecrated on 6 February; he retained the deanery of St. Paul's, but resigned his livings in Essex.
The outbreak of the First English Civil War disturbed his possession of his see, though according to his own account he was always at Buckden Palace and submitted to parliamentary ordinances. In November 1646 all bishops' lands were vested in trustees for the benefit of the commonwealth, and Winniffe retired to Lambourne. Early in 1654, on his petition to Oliver Cromwell, his arrears were paid up to November 1646; during his retirement he gave active assistance to Brian Walton in the preparation of the 'Polyglot Bible.' He died at Lambourne on 29 September 1654, and was buried within the altar-rails of the church. He was unmarried, and gave the advowson of Lambourne, which he had purchased, to his nephew, Peter Mews.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: "Winniffe, John". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
|Church of England titles|
|Bishop of Lincoln
Vacancy, Robert Sanderson in 1660