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Signature of Walter Haddon

Walter Haddon, LL.D. (1516-1572)

WALTER HADDON, LL.D., civilian [i.e., civil lawyer], son of William Haddon, by his wife Dorothy, daughter of Paul Dayrell, and brother of James Haddon, was born in Buckinghamshire in 1516. He was educated at Eton under Richard Cox, ultimately bishop of Ely. In 1533 he was elected from Eton to King's College, Cambridge. He declined an invitation to Cardinal College, newly founded by Wolsey at Oxford, and proceeded B. A. at Cambridge in 1537. He was one of the promising scholars who about this period attended the Greek lecture read in the university by Thomas (afterwards Sir Thomas) Smith. He excelled as a writer of Latin prose, commenced M.A. in 1541, and read lectures on civil law for two or three years. He sent to his friend Cox, the prince's tutor, an interesting account of a hasty visit paid to Prince Edward at Hatfield about 1546.

He was created doctor of laws at Cambridge in 1549, and served the office of vice-chancellor in 1549-50.1 He was 'one of the great and eminent lights of the reformation in Cambridge under King Edward.'2 With Matthew Parker, then master of Benet College, he acted as an executor of his friend Martin Bucer, and both delivered orations at his funeral in March 1550-1. Soon afterwards he was dangerously ill, and received a pious consolatory letter from John Cheke (19 March). Two days later he was appointed regius professor of civil law, in accordance with a petition from the university, drawn up by his friend Roger Ascham.

Haddon and Cheke were chiefly responsible for the reform of the ecclesiastical laws, prepared under Cranmer's superintendence, and with the advice of Peter Martyr, in accordance with the act of 1549, which directed that the scheme should be completed by 1552. The work was not finished within the specified time. A bill introduced into the parliament of 1552 for the renewal of the commission was not carried, and Edward's death put an end to the scheme, but Haddon and Cheke's 'Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum' appeared in 1571. On the refusal of Bishop Gardiner, master of Trinity Hall, to comply with the request of the Duke of Somerset, lord protector, to amalgamate that college with Clare Hall, the king in February 1551-2 appointed Haddon to the mastership of Trinity Hall.3 On 8 April 1552 he, Parker, Ralph Aynsworth, master of Peterhouse, and Thomas Lever, master of St. John's, were commissioned to settle a disputed claim to the mastership of Clare Hall.4 When Cheke was lying desperately ill in 1552, he recommended Haddon to the king as his successor in the provostship of King's College.

At Michaelmas 1552 the king and council removed Owen Oglethorp, president of Magdalen College, Oxford, who was opposed to further religious changes, and Haddon was appointed to succeed him. The fellows in vain petitioned the king against this flagrant breach of the college statutes. Oglethorp, finding the council inflexible, made an amicable arrangement with Haddon. He resigned on 27 Sept., and Haddon was admitted president by royal mandate on 10 Oct., Michael Renniger, one of Oglethorp's strongest opponents, addressing him in a congratulatory oration. The new president 'contrived, during his short and unstatutable career, to sell as many of the precious effects of the chapel as were valued at about a thousand pounds for £52 14s. 8d., which sum he is said to have consumed on alterations, as also nearly £120 of the public money'.5 Some libellous verses against the president, affixed to various parts of the college, were attributed to Julius Palmer, who was expelled on the ground of 'popish pranks.'

On Mary's accession (August 1553) Haddon wrote some Latin verses congratulating her majesty.6 On 27 Aug. 1558 he prudently obtained leave of absence from college for a month on urgent private affairs. The following day letters were received from the queen commanding that all injunctions contrary to the founder's statutes issued since the death of Henry VIII should be abolished; and Haddon having retired, Oglethorp was re-elected president on 31 Oct. A commission for Haddon's admission to practise as an advocate in the arches court of Canterbury was taken out on 9 May 1555.7 He was admitted a member of Gray's Inn in 1557, and was one of the members for Thetford, Norfolk, in the parliament which assembled 20 Jan. 1557-8.8

In 1557 he translated into Latin a supplicatory letter to Pope Paul IV from the parliament of England, to dissuade his holiness from revoking Cardinal Pole's legatine authority. His sympathy with protestantism was, however, displayed in a consolatory Latin poem addressed to the Princess Elizabeth on her afflictions. On her accession he was summoned to attend her at Hatfield, 'congratulated her in Latin verse, and was immediately constituted one of the masters of the court of requests. In spite of his protestant opinions he was an admirer of the learning of Bishop Cuthbert Tunstal, and composed the epitaph placed on his tomb in 1559. On 20 June in that year he was appointed one of her majesty's commissioners for the visitation of the university of Cambridge and the college of Eton; and on 18 Sept. following the queen granted him a pension of £50 per annum.9 He was in the commission for administering oaths to ecclesiastics (20 Oct. 1559); was also one of the ecclesiastical commissioners; and received from his friend, Archbishop Parker, the office of judge of the prerogative court.10

In 1560 a Latin prayer-book, prepared under the superintendence of Haddon, who took a former translation by Aless (Alexander Alebius) as a model, was authorised by the queen's letters patent for the use of the colleges in both universities and those of Eton and Winchester.11 On 22 Jan. 1560-1 he was one of the royal commissioners appointed to peruse the order of lessons throughout the year, to cause new calendars to be printed, to provide remedies for the decay of churches, and to prescribe some good order for collegiate churches in the use of the Latin service. He was one of the learned men recommended by Bishop Grindal in December 1561 for the provostship of Eton College, but the queen's choice fell upon William Day. In June 1562 he and Parker, at the request of the senate, induced Cecil to abandon his intention of resigning the chancellorship of the university of Cambridge.12

In 1563 Jerome Osorio da Fonseca, a Portuguese priest, published in French and Latin an epistle to Queen Elizabeth, exhorting her to return to the communion of the catholic church. Haddon, by direction of the government, wrote an answer, which was printed at Paris in 1563 through the agency of Sir Thomas Smith, the English ambassador. In August 1564 Haddon accompanied the queen to Cambridge, and determined the questions in law in the disputations in that faculty held in her presence.13 In the same year the queen granted him the site of the abbey of Wymondham, Norfolk, with the manor and lands pertaining to that monastery. He was employed at Bruges in 1565 ana 1566 with Viscount Montacute and Dr. Nicholas Wotton, in negotiations for restoring the ancient commercial relations between England and the Netherlands. In November 1566 he was a member of the joint committee of both houses of parliament appointed to petition the queen about her marriage.14

Osorio, who had been meanwhile created bishop of Silves, published in 1567 a reply to Haddon, and the latter commenced a rejoinder. It was left unfinished at the time of his death, but was ultimately completed and published by John Foxe. There appeared, probably at Antwerp, without date, 'Chorus alternatim canentium,' a satire in verse on the controversy between Haddon and Osorio, attached to a caricature in which Haddon, Bucer, and P. V. Vermigli are represented as dogs drawing a car whereon Osorio is seated in triumph. According to Dr. Edward Nares the English Jesuits at Louvain sought to deter Haddon from proceeding with his second confutation of Osorio, 'endeavouring to intimidate him by a prophetic denunciation of some strange harm to happen to him if he did not stop his pen.' He died, adds Nares, in Flanders, whence the warning came, and his death naturally raised suspicions of foul play.15 The Rev. George Townsend says that Haddon died at Bruges after being threatened with death if he continued the controversy with Osorio.16 As a matter of fact, however, Haddon died in London on 21 Jan. 1571-2, and was interred on the 25th at Christ Church, Newgate Street, where, previously to the great fire of London, there was a monument to his memory, with a Latin inscription preserved by Weever.17

He married, first, Margaret, daughter of Sir John Clere of Ormesby, Norfolk, by whom he had a son, Clere Haddon, who was drowned in the river Cam, probably in 1571; and secondly, Anne, daughter of Sir Henry Sutton, who survived him, and remarried Sir Henry Cobham, whom she also survived.

Queen Elizabeth being asked whether she preferred Buchanan or Haddon, adroitly replied, 'Buchannum omnibus antepono, Haddonem nemini postpone.' In his own day unqualified encomiums were bestowed on his latinity. Hallam, however, remarks of his orations: "They seem hardly to deserve any high praise. Haddon had certainly laboured at an imitation of Cicero, but without catching his manner or getting rid of the florid, semi-poetical tone of the fourth century." Of the' Reformatio Legum Ecclesiasticarum,' the work of Haddon and Cheke, Hallam says: "It is, considering the subject, in very good language."18 Apparently Haddon was not very courtly in his manners. On coming into Queen Elizabeth's presence her majesty told him that his new boots stunk. He replied: 'I believe, madam, it is not my new boots which stink, but the old petitions which have been so long in my bag unopened.'

1. Cooper, Athenae Cantabrigienses, i. 299. [link]
2. Strype, Life of Parker, ii. 365, fol. [link]
3. BL Addit. MS. 5807, f. 106.
4. Strype, Life of Parker, i. 30, p.60, fol. [link]
5. Ingram, Memorials of Oxford, Magd. Coll., p. 16 footnote. [link]
6. Strype, Eccl. Memorials, iii. 23. [link]
7. Tanner, Bibliotheca Britannica p. 367; Coote, Sketches of Eminent English Civilians, p. 41.
8. Foster, The Register of Admissions to Gray's Inn, p. 27 [link]; Official List of Members of Parliament, i. 397.
9. £50 in 1560 was roughly equivalent to £10,400 in 2008. Source: Measuring Worth
10. Strype, Life of Parker, p. 305, fol.
11. Clay, Liturgical Services in the Reign of Elizabeth, pref. p. xxiv. [link]
12. Strype, Life of Parker, i. 118, p.233. [link]
13. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, ii. 196. [link]
14. Parliamentary History, 1763, iv. 62. [link]
15. Nares, Memoirs of the Life of Lord Burghley, ii. 306, 307. [link]
16. Townsend, Life of Foxe, pp. 209-11. [link]
17. Weever, Funerall Monuments, p. 891.
18. Hallam, Introduction to the Literature of Europe, p. 507-8. [link]

      Excerpted from:

      Dictionary of National Biography. Vol. VIII.
      Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds.
      New York: The Macmillan Company, 1908. 872-5.

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This page was created on March 30, 2010. Last updated February 22, 2023.

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Chart of the English Succession from William I through Henry VII

Medieval English Drama

London c1480, MS Royal 16
London, 1510, the earliest view in print
Map of England from Saxton's Descriptio Angliae, 1579
London in late 16th century
Location Map of Elizabethan London
Plan of the Bankside, Southwark, in Shakespeare's time
Detail of Norden's Map of the Bankside, 1593
Bull and Bear Baiting Rings from the Agas Map (1569-1590, pub. 1631)
Sketch of the Swan Theatre, c. 1596
Westminster in the Seventeenth Century, by Hollar
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c. 1690. View of London Churches, after the Great Fire
The Yard of the Tabard Inn from Thornbury, Old and New London

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