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  Humphrey Henchman (bap. 1592, d. 1675), by Sir Peter Lely, c.1665 Humphrey Henchman (bap. 1592, d. 1675), by Sir Peter Lely, c.1665
Henchman, Humphrey (bap. 1592, d. 1675), bishop of London, was born at Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, in the house of the rector, Owen Owens, husband of his maternal aunt; he was baptized in the parish on 22 December 1592, the third son of Thomas Henchman, skinner of the city of London, and Anne, daughter of Robert Griffiths of Caernarfon, and grandson of Thomas Henchman of Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, whose family was well established in that county. The details of his early education have not been established, but on 18 December 1609 he matriculated from Christ's College, Cambridge. He graduated BA in 1612 or 1613 and proceeded MA in 1616, about which time he became one of the first two fellows on the Freeman foundation at Clare College, Cambridge, his grandmother being a close relation of the founder. He resigned his fellowship when appointed precentor and a prebend of Salisbury Cathedral in January 1623. On 4 May 1624 he became rector of St Peter's and All Saints', Rushton, Northamptonshire. In 1630 Henchman married Ellen, daughter of the former bishop of Salisbury, , cousin to Thomas Fuller, and perhaps most significantly the niece of the current bishop of Salisbury, John Davenant. Along with these connections to leading clerical dynasties Ellen brought considerable property with her to the partnership as a result of an earlier marriage to one J. Lowe. In 1631 on his own presentation in right of his precentorship Henchman became rector of Westbury, Wiltshire. In 1639 he became rector of Wyke Regis and Portland, Dorset, and Kingsteighton, Devon. Throughout the 1620s and 1630s Henchman devoted himself to his duties at Salisbury. His hospitality as a residentiary canon, his diligent attendance at cathedral services, and his careful attention to ceremonial and reverence were all noteworthy. He participated in the ordination of George Herbert and was a pallbearer at his funeral.

The civil wars threw Henchman's apparently quiet life into turmoil. He lost his benefices and some of his property. On 4 July 1643 the House of Commons admitted H. Way to the living of Portland because Henchman had allegedly gone to the royal army. Henchman later complained that his house and library at Portland were destroyed. His estate in Dorset was sequestrated but let again to him at a rent of £40 a year in 1645. In 1646 his wife was granted a fifth of the income from his former preferments for the support of herself and their family, but the following year some of these grants were revoked in view of Henchman's comfortable circumstances. In 1648 he compounded with the authorities for £200. It is clear from all this that Henchman was, and was recognized as, a committed royalist but was also a man of substance in the locality. He seems to have spent the 1640s and 1650s living privately and undisturbed in the cathedral close at Salisbury. He was in touch with royalist exiles, and after the battle of Worcester he met the fleeing Charles Stuart briefly at Hele House, near Salisbury. He maintained friendships with other excluded Anglican clergy such as Gilbert Sheldon, Henry Hammond, and Bishop Brian Duppa of Salisbury. In 1653 his name was mentioned as one of a group of clergymen meeting to consider the future for the Anglican communion. The same year he acted, at Duppa's behest, in gentry marriage negotiations in Hampshire.

Although he was probably involved in royalist intrigue there is no substantial evidence of Henchman's activities, bar a little correspondence, until 1659. In that year he became active in schemes promoted by Edward Hyde to fill vacant bishoprics in the proscribed Church of England. He was to approach likely candidates and to tell others that Charles would not bestow preferment on those who asked for it. His close relationship with Richard Allestree, another Anglican agent, at this time can be seen in the recommendation dated 27 October 1659 from Salisbury that Henchman supplied for The Gentleman's Calling (1660). He also provided the Latin epigraph for the monument to Henry Hammond, the leading Anglican theologian who died early in 1660, in the church of Hampton by Westwood, Worcestershire. In 1659 Henchman spent some time in London where he met other lay and clerical Anglicans such as Henry Ferne, Peter Gunning, and John Evelyn. Evelyn records that he preached on Psalm 143 in the capital on 29 June and encouraged the followers of the Church of England to submit their wills to God and pray for deliverance from calamity.

After the Restoration, Henchman became a leading clerical figure. He preached on ‘Christian circumspection’ on 8 July 1660 when the prayer book was first used in public. Late in September he was nominated to succeed Duppa as bishop of Salisbury, a promotion which was undoubtedly due to his local connections, but which may also have owed something to his meeting with the king in 1651 or even to a lease of church lands which he had been arranging for the secretary of state Sir Edward Nicholas. Henchman was consecrated at Westminster Abbey on Sunday 28 October alongside Sheldon, Robert Sanderson, George Morley, and George Griffith, in the first consecration to be held since 1644. The sermon by John Sudbury was one of undiluted praise for episcopacy. In the same month Henchman attended the meeting at Worcester House which produced a declaration that sketched a broad-based national church. In 1661 he was one of the episcopalian representatives at the Savoy Conference. Although Richard Baxter was complimentary about his learning, demeanour, and calm contributions to the debate, there was no mistaking Henchman's resolve when it came to asserting the liturgy and episcopal government of the Church of England.

In his diocese Bishop Henchman was firm, moderate, and undoubtedly popular. He received a warm welcome, for example, when he conducted his first visitation in the late summer of 1662. When he visited Chippenham in September, he conducted a confirmation service; he dined with local gentry, clergy, churchwardens; and his choice of the Calvinist Thomas Tully as preacher for the occasion pleased the numerous local puritans. A letter of October 1661 to Secretary Nicholas indicates that he was at that stage identifying potential dissidents and sectaries among both the clergy and the laity of the diocese. Yet after the Act of Uniformity came into force in August 1662 he seems to have underestimated the number of diocesan clergy who would refuse to conform or to have charitably regarded them as negligent rather than determined non-conformists; subsequently local nonconformists like Thomas Taylor seemed to have enjoyed a degree of indulgence from their bishop. Henchman was more of a stickler when it came to the church's own affairs: in correspondence with Sir John Nicholas over a preferment for Nicholas's nephew, Henchman was adamant that only the king could dispense with the age requirement stipulated by statute, but he admitted that a legal expert, Dr Berkenhead, said, ‘I am unnecessarily scrupulous in this’ (BL, Egerton MS 2537, fol. 389). Henchman was an energetic restorer of Salisbury's cathedral and the bishop's palace, where he repaired and consecrated the domestic chapel.

Inevitably service in the House of Lords distracted Henchman from his diocesan work. He was already serving Bishop Sheldon of London as an effective parliamentary ally over such matters as the Select Vestry Act and following Sheldon's appointment as archbishop in 1663, on 15 September Henchman succeeded him at London. The many and diverse duties which fell to the holder of the see (from policing the book trade to overseeing the pastoral provision of the tumultuous city) called for an energetic administrator rather than a theologian or spiritual leader. Accordingly Henchman's episcopate was marked by diligence and efficiency rather than brilliance. Yet even this is remarkable in view of his advanced age: when Pepys saw him give a blessing to a congregation at St Paul's in 1664 he described him as ‘a comely old man’ (Pepys, 5.67). Henchman was concerned that the parishes of the city were served during the great plague and took a leading role in organizing collections of money for distribution among the poor and the services of national humiliation and penance. He liaised with John Barwick and William Sancroft, successive deans of St Paul's, over the repair of that cathedral: he attended an inspection of the cathedral along with other commissioners on 27 August 1666, just days before it was reduced to a shell by the great fire. Thereafter he was energetic in the work of rebuilding: he made a personal annual subscription to the work and left a bequest towards its completion.

Bishop Henchman was never one to surrender the church's rights. He was concerned at the loss of rental income to the church as well as church buildings in the great fire, and was noted as a severe landlord to the mercers and booksellers of Paternoster Row in its aftermath. He was alert to the threat posed by parishioners' attempting to influence clerical appointments, as did those of St Martin Orgar in 1666. Yet he was a determined advocate for those who he judged were worthy of promotion. Along with Sheldon he did much to guide Sancroft's early career, lobbied hard for his appointment as dean of St Paul's, and tempted him in 1669 with the bishopric of Chichester. Henchman was far from confrontational. He threatened to make an example of one Essex minister who failed to conform fully, but another such incumbent, Ralph Josselin, noted at his death that Henchman was ‘a quiet man to mee. God in mercy send us one that may be a comfort to us’ (Diary of Ralph Josselin, 512, 587). Henchman understood the pastoral difficulties of his clergy. When, for example, Richard Kidder, the incumbent at St Helen, Bishopsgate, found that some of his parishioners would not receive communion while kneeling Henchman allowed him to give them the sacrament and advised that he ‘should in private conversation endeavour their satisfaction’ rather than preach against them (Life of Richard Kidder, 19–20). He drew a distinction between sectaries—crowing to Sancroft when a crackdown was ordered that ‘I alwayes sayd that the insolence of the sectaries would prove to our advantage’—and sober dissenters such as Dr Thomas Manton who ‘deported himself civilly and prudently’ when summoned before Henchman's consistory court (Bodl. Oxf., MS Tanner 44, fol. 101).

As lord almoner Henchman had duties at court, and these extended to washing the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday when Charles II was otherwise disposed. Henchman was an effective preacher to judge by the occasional references in Evelyn's diary, but he published virtually nothing. None of this prevented him from enjoying a high reputation for his learning, his pious life, and the traditional episcopal virtues of charity and hospitality.

Henchman died at his episcopal palace in Aldersgate Street, London, on 7 October 1675 and was buried in the south aisle of Fulham parish church. Various broadside elegies were published for ‘pious Henchman’ claiming ‘even schismaticks in Him could find no Blame’ and offering execrable praise,
and when the Lord shall come at the last Day,
He'll be his Hench-man, and prepare the Way.
He left money to the rebuilding of St Paul's and of Clare College, Cambridge; he bequeathed his communion plate and altar furniture to the chapel (which he had rebuilt) in the restored episcopal palace in Aldersgate Street. His will mentions three sons: Thomas (father of ), Humphrey, and Charles, and a daughter, Mary, married to John Heath; reference to a son-in-law, Thomas Cooke, implies another daughter who had already died.

John Spurr


BL, Harley MSS 3784, 3785; Egerton MS 2537; Lansdowne MSS, Cole MSS · Bodl. Oxf., MSS Tanner · An elegy on the right reverend father in God, the lord bishop of London (1675) · An elegy humbly offered to the memory of the reverend father in God, Doctor Humphrey Henchman (1675) · T. Blount, Boscobel (1662) · The life of Richard Kidder DD bishop of Bath and Wells, written by himself, ed. A. E. Robinson, Somerset RS, 37 (1922) · Pepys, Diary · The diary of Ralph Josselin, ed. A. Macfarlane (1976) · I. M. Green, The re-establishment of the Church of England, 1660–1663 (1978) · R. S. Bosher, The making of the Restoration settlement: the influence of the Laudians, 1649–1662 (1951) · Calamy rev. · Walker rev. · Wood, Ath. Oxon., new edn · Wood, Ath. Oxon.: Fasti, new edn · Foster, Alum. Oxon. · Venn, Alum. Cant. · W. Kennett, A register and chronicle ecclesiastical and civil (1728) · Fasti Angl. (Hardy) · The correspondence of Bishop Brian Duppa and Sir Justinian Isham, 1650–1660, ed. G. Isham, Northamptonshire RS, 17 (1951)


BL, letters to Sir Edward Nicholas, Egerton MSS 2537–2538 · Bodl. Oxf., Tanner MSS, corresp.


P. Lely, portrait, c.1665, priv. coll.; on loan to Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery [see illus.] · mezzotint (after Lely), BM, NPG · oils (after P. Lely); formerly Fulham Palace, London · oils (after P. Lely), Charterhouse, London