Henry King 1592-1669

From Book Owners Online

Henry KING 1592-1669

Biographical Note

Son of John King, Archdeacon of Nottingham and later Bishop of London. BA Christ Church, Oxford 1611, MA 1611, DD 1625. Prebendary of St Paul’s 1616, Archdeacon of Colchester 1617, Rector of Fulham 1618, Canon of Christ Church 1624. As well as preaching and publishing sermons, including his Exposition upon the Lord’s Prayer (1628), King was both a poet and a musician, and his verses circulated in manuscript (e.g. British Library Add ms 62134) before they were eventually printed in 1657 (the poetical manuscripts are described and illustrated in Keynes’s bibliography). He was a friend and executor of John Donne. Theologically he has been described as a moderate Calvinist with a dislike of extremes.

Dean of Rochester 1639, Bishop of Chichester and Rector of Petworth 1641. Fled from Chichester when it was besieged and captured by parliamentary forces in 1642, and spent the rest of the Civil War and Interregnum with various family members in Albury, Slough and elsewhere. He travelled with Brian Duppa in the 1650s to ordain clergymen according to the outlawed Book of Common Prayer. He was restored to Chichester in 1660 though he was mooted as a prospective Archbishop of York.


King inherited some books from his father John and he developed what he referred to in his 1653 will as “a large library” before most of it was seized in 1642. It is not clear what proportion of this collection he subsequently recovered; it was ordered to be brought to London for sale in 1651, though there is no evidence that this happened. A contemporary account of the capture of Chichester records that in plundering the Cathedral the soldiers “rent the books in pieces and scatter[ed] the torn leaves over the Church, even to the covering of the pavement”. Some books may have been restored to him after 1660. He bequeathed his library to his sons John and Henry but the latter died a few months before him and the books all went to John, then a canon of Chichester. On his death in 1671 he left all his Latin books “with some others I shall choose” to be a diocesan library for Chichester, in the care of the Dean and Chapter; it was subsequently absorbed in the Cathedral Library. This comprised ca. 970 volumes, many of which had belonged to Bishop Henry; ca. 300 of these remain at Chichester today, following various dispersals including two sales at Sotheby’s in 1947 and 1949.

Characteristic Markings

King commonly inscribed his books.