John Bancroft 1574-1641

From Book Owners Online

John BANCROFT 1574-1641

Biographical Note

Born at Asthall, Oxfordshire, son of Christopher Bancroft, and nephew of Richard Bancroft, later Archbishop of Canterbury. BA Christ Church, Oxford 1596, MA 1599, BD 1607, DD 1610. Rector of Finchley, Middlesex 1601, of Orpington, Kent 1608; held other preferments before becoming a prebendary of St Paul’s, 1609. Master of University College, Oxford 1610. Bishop of Oxford, 1632.

Bancroft was a capable administrator, noted for his lack of preaching, who owed his advancements not only to his family connections but also to his friendship with William Laud; he was the agent and chief fundraiser for Laud’s project to build Canterbury Quadrangle at St John’s College, Oxford. He also built a new episcopal palace at Cuddesdon (demolished soon after his death). He sought to impose conformity and adherence to standards across his diocese.


The size of Bancroft’s library is not known; in his will he directed that all his printed books be sold, with one half of the proceeds being donated towards the repair of St Paul’s Cathedral (another Laudian project), and the other half given to his nephew John Bancroft. He gave 4 manuscripts and 31 printed books to University College in 1632. The book he gave to Christ Church in 1601 to mark his graduation survives there (Hyp.L.95).

Characteristic Markings

Cambridge University Library Aa*.1.22 (Sylburg, 1594) has the early 17th-century inscription ‘Multos tibi annos novos, omnesq[ue] faelices, faustos, et fortunatos exoptat Jo: Bancroft’, which may be his. The books given to University College were marked with a printed label (STC 3368.5/Bancroft).