Family History Notebook

 Lionel Gatford


Gatford, Lionel (d. 1665), Church of England clergyman, was a native of Sussex; his parents' names are unknown. He was admitted as a scholar to Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1618, graduated BA in 1622, and proceeded MA and was elected a fellow of his college in 1625. He was ordained a deacon at Peterborough on Christmas eve 1626, and elected junior proctor of the university in 1632. The following year he proceeded BD and was appointed vicar of St Clement's, Cambridge. He reacted strongly against Eleazar Duncon's DD thesis of March 1633 commending bowing at the altar and asserting the efficaciousness of good works, writing critically and at length on the subject to Lord Goring on 22 July. He enjoyed the patronage of Goring and of Sir John Rous throughout his career, and having resigned his fellowship in 1638 was presented by Rous in 1641 to the rectory of Dennington, Suffolk. About this time, or soon after, he married Dorcas, whose other name is unknown.

Soon after the outbreak of the civil war Gatford was ejected from his parish. He then went to Cambridge to supervise the printing of a pamphlet he had written concerning ‘the Right, Power, Honour and Dignity, of Kings … and the loyalty and obedience due to them from all their Subjects’ (Gatford, Exhortation, A2v). On the night of 26 January 1643 Oliver Cromwell seized the manuscript and those sheets which had already been printed, and arrested Gatford in his bed at Jesus College. He was sent to London, and on 30 January the Commons ordered that he be imprisoned in Ely House, Holborn. He spent seventeen months in custody, during which he wrote an attack on puritan preachers, An Exhortation to Peace (1643), before he was exchanged on 7 May 1644 for a puritan clergyman imprisoned by royalists at Oxford. After his release Gatford travelled to the royalist headquarters at Oxford, where he lodged in the house of the mayor, Thomas Smith, and wrote a pamphlet, Logos `alexifarmakos, or, Hyperphysicall Directions (1644), which dealt with the spiritual and bodily causes and effects of the outbreak of plague in the city.

On 18 February 1645 the committee for plundered ministers authorized a payment to his wife, but Gatford himself was that year appointed chaplain of the royalist garrison at Pendennis Castle in Cornwall. In the summer he drafted an address ‘to the valiant and loyal Cornish men’ urging them to rise up in support of the royal cause (Ogle and others, 1.271–2). He was taken prisoner at the surrender of Pendennis Castle in August 1646, and may have been exiled from England at this time. By March 1647, at the latest, he was with the royalists in Jersey and had become chaplain to Sir Edward Hyde. In Englands Complaint (1648), Gatford urged those who had been seduced by ‘the Devil and Devilish men’ to repent of rebellion. This pamphlet argued that the Jesuits were behind the attacks on the Church of England and warned that the execution of the king would lead to the shedding of the blood of more protestants than had ‘been shed since the Reformation’ (Gatford, Englands Complaint, 1648, 4, 14, 36).

It is not clear when Gatford returned to England, but he may have been in the country when his A Petition for the Vindication of the … Book of Common Prayer appeared in September 1654. This argued that the Book of Common Prayer had been an integral part of the most perfect church ‘that ever yet saw light in the Christian world’ (Gatford, Petition, sig. Aa4r). After his return to England, Gatford lived at various addresses in Norfolk, Middlesex, and Kent and his ‘poverty of condition’ evidently forced him to take boarders (ibid., sig. A2r). He was ‘much tormented by the county committees’ (DNB) because of his continued adherence to the traditional rites of the Church of England, but continued to publish, his Publick Good without Private Interest appearing in 1657.

After the Restoration, Gatford was created DD by royal mandate and restored to the parish of Dennington. In 1661 he petitioned the king for appointment as vicar of Plymouth in Devon because the chancel and parsonage house of his old parish in Suffolk were in ruins and he could not afford to have them rebuilt. In August 1662 the nonconformist minister of Plymouth was ejected, but the corporation elected Roger Ashton as his successor and Gatford never took up his position. In 1661 he addressed a petition To the most Reverend, the Archbishops and Bishops in convocation for the relief of the large number of impoverished royalists, in which he claimed to be ‘Chaplain to his Sacred Majesty’. In the same year he penned a vigorous defence of his patron, Sir John Rous, from puritan charges of drunkenness, A True and Faithfull Narrative of the … Death of Mr William Tyrrell (1661). In 1663 he was appointed curate of Great Yarmouth on the recommendation of Sir Edward Hyde, now earl of Clarendon. He died there of the plague in 1665 and the corporation of the town presented his widow, Dorcas, with £100 in consideration of his services to the cure.

Jason Mc Elligott


Venn, Alum. Cant. · Walker rev., 334 · Calendar of the Clarendon state papers preserved in the Bodleian Library, ed. O. Ogle and others, 5 vols. (1869–1970) · L. Gatford, An exhortation to peace (1643) · L. Gatford, A petition for the vindication of the publique use of the Book of Common Prayer (1655) · JHC, 2 (1640–42), 953 · CSP dom., 1633–4, 150, 279 · DNB


BL, Add. MS 5870, fol. 172