William Chappell (bishop)

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William Chappell (Chappel, Chapple) (10 December 1582 – 14 May 1649) was an English scholar and clergyman. He became Church of Ireland bishop of Cork and Ross.


He was born in Mansfield.[1] He was educated at Christ's College, Cambridge, where he became Fellow in 1607.[2] His pupils at Christ's included John Lightfoot, Henry More, John Shawe,[3] and John Milton.

In Milton's case, friction with Chappell may have caused him to leave the college temporarily (a rustication) in 1626.[4] Another explanation is that plague caused an absence, and that Milton's Elegy I has been over-interpreted.[5] He shared Chappell as tutor with Edward King – his Lycidas – and it is thought that Damoetas in the poem refers to Chappell (or possibly Joseph Mede).[6][7]

On his return, Milton was taught by Nathaniel Tovey. Despite the personal problems, Milton may have learned from Chappell, who was a theoretician of preaching; this aspect of Milton is discussed in Jameela Lares, Milton and the Preaching Arts (2001). She suggests Andreas Hyperius, and his De formandis concionibus sacris (1553), as influential on Chappell and other writers on preaching and sermon types. Chappell was himself a pupil of William Ames, who left Christ's in 1610. Like Ames, he was a Ramist,[8] though he differed from the Calvinist Ames on doctrine. Lares argues for Chappell as the link to the older Christ's preaching tradition, Milton connected back to William Perkins.[9]

In any case, Chappell had a reputation then for strictness, and for being a hard man in a Latin disputation. Stories gathered about him: John Aubrey, an unreliable source, suggested Chappell had beaten Milton.[10][11] One of Chappell's disputation opponents was supposedly James I, crushed in Oxford;[12] another (William Roberts in 1615, later bishop of Bangor) allegedly had fainted.[13][14] The anonymous The Whole Duty of Man (1658) has been attributed to Chappell,[15] though modern opinion suggests Richard Allestree.

Later life[edit]

Later Chappell was in favour with William Laud, and received preferments in Ireland. He was Dean of Cashel from 1633 to 1638 and was soon asked to reform Trinity College, Dublin.[16] He was Provost there from 1634 to 1640, replacing Robert Ussher, with Wentworth's backing; amongst other changes, he put an end to the use of and teaching in the Irish language.[17][18][19] He was then bishop of Cork in 1638.

With Laud's fall, he was imprisoned in Dublin, in 1641, and later in Tenby, before being released. He then lived in retirement in Nottinghamshire.[20] A monument to him was made in a church at Bilsthorpe.[21]


  • Methodus Concionandi (1648)
  • Use of Scripture (1653)
  • The Preacher, or the Art and Method of Preaching (1656) translation of Methodus Concionandi


  1. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=51131
  2. ^ "Chappell, William (CHPL599W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  3. ^ s:Shaw, John (1608-1672) (DNB00)
  4. ^ http://facultystaff.richmond.edu/~creamer/milton/chronology.html
  5. ^ Richard Bradford, The Complete Critical Guide to John Milton: A Sourcebook (2001), p. 13.
  6. ^ William Bridges Hunter, A Milton Encyclopedia: A-B V. 1 (1978), p. 45.
  7. ^ Thomas N. Corns, A Companion to Milton (2003), p. 253.
  8. ^ http://www.apuritansmind.com/William%20Ames/VlietMoralTheologyAmes.htm
  9. ^ Albert C. Labriola, Milton Studies (2004), p. 102.
  10. ^ http://www.nndb.com/people/017/000084762/
  11. ^ Donald Lemen Clark, John Milton and William Chappell, The Huntington Library Quarterly, Vol. 18, No. 4 (Aug. 1955), pp. 329–350.
  12. ^ Dated 1624; mentioned in James Carter, A Visit to Sherwood Forest (1850); online text
  13. ^ William Riley Parker, Gordon Campbell, Milton: A Biography (1996), p. 52.
  14. ^ Yorkshire Diaries and Autobiographiues in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries I, Eliborn Classics reprint, p. 416.
  15. ^ http://www.nottshistory.org.uk/mansfieldchurches/mansfieldwoodhouse1.htm
  16. ^ Alan Ford, "That bugbear Arminianism", in Ciaran Brady, Jane H. Ohlmeyer (editors), British Interventions in Early Modern Ireland (2005), p. 142.
  17. ^ http://www.tcd.ie/provost/former/w_chappell.php
  18. ^ http://www.reform-ireland.org/article/102
  19. ^ Graham E. Seel, David L. Smith, The Early Stuart Kings, 1603–1642 (2001), p. 103.
  20. ^ Concise Dictionary of National Biography
  21. ^ http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/NTT/Bilsthorpe/
Academic offices
Preceded by
Robert Ussher
Provost of Trinity College, Dublin
Succeeded by
Richard Washington
Church of Ireland titles
Preceded by
Richard Boyle
Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross
Bishop of Cork and Ross
Succeeded by
Michael Boyle
Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross