Robert Burhill

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Robert Burhill or Burghill (1572–1641) was an English clergyman, known as a prolific controversialist.


He was born at Dymock, Gloucestershire, and entered Corpus Christi College, Oxford, on 13 January 1588, proceeding B.A. on 5 February 1591, M.A. on 12 December 1594, B.D. on 7 July 1603, and D.D. on 2 June 1632. He became a probationer fellow of his college on 20 March 1585, obtained the rectories of Northwold, near Thetford, Norfolk, and of Snailwell, Cambridgeshire, and a prebend in Hereford Cathedral on 20 January 1604.

His learning, with a knowledge of Greek and Hebrew, attracted the attention of Sir Walter Raleigh, who received assistance from Burhill in the composition of his History of the World.[1] He died at Northwold in October 1641, and was buried in the chancel of the church there. A monument was erected to his memory by Samuel Knight, archdeacon of Berkshire, about 1740.


He intervened in 1606 in a controversy between John Howson and Thomas Pye as to the marriage of divorced persons. In a Latin tractate (Oxford, 1606) Burhill supported Howson's contention that marriage in such cases was unlawful, and refuted Pye's opposite arguments. His pamphlet was bound up with a second edition of Howson's Thesis.

In the controversy excited by Lancelot Andrewes's Tortura Torti, a reply to Cardinal Bellarmine, Burhill contributed Responsio pro Tortura Torti contra Martinum Becanum Jesuitam, London, 1611 (against Martin Becanus; De Potestate regia et Usurpatione papali pro Tortura Torti contra Parellum Andr. Eudæmon, Oxford, 1613 (against Andreas Eudaemon Joannes); and Assertio pro Jure regio contra Martini Becani Jesuitæ Controversiam Anglicanam, London, 1613, together with a defence of John Buckeridge's answer to Cardinal Bellarmine's apology.

Burhill's printed works also include a Latin panegyric on James I, inviting him to visit Oxford (Oxford, 1603), and a preface to a sermon (London, 1602) of Miles Smith. Left in manuscript were: a commentary by Burhill on the difficult passages in the Book of Job; another manuscript tractate in support of monarchy and episcopacy; and a manuscript Latin poem in ten books, entitled Britannia Scholastica, vel de Britanniæ rebus scholasticis.


  1. ^ Stephen Coote, A Play of Passion: The Life of Sir Walter Ralegh (1993), p. 342, who calls him Robert Burnhill and identifies him as Raleigh's chaplain.


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