« Burn, Richard Burnet, Gilbert Burnet, Thomas »

Burnet, Gilbert

BURNET, GILBERT: Bishop of Salisbury; b. in Edinburgh Sept. 18, 1643; d. at Salisbury Mar. 17, 1715. He was educated at Aberdeen; became a probationer 1661; studied and traveled in England, Holland, and France till 1664; became minister at Saltoun 1665; professor of divinity at Glasgow 1669; removed to London 1674 and was made chaplain at the Rolls Chapel, and lecturer at St. Clement's, 1675. The popularity he enjoyed in Scotland did not forsake him in London, but his intimacy with Lord William Russell, whom he attended on the scaffold (July 21, 1683), cost him the court favor and he was dismissed from both these positions. On the accession of James II. he left England and, after visiting France and Italy, settled at The Hague and was active in promoting the accession of William and Mary. He returned to England with William in 1688 and by him was made in 1689 bishop of Salisbury, in which office he was a model. His family connections, wealth, and ambition, his scholarship, friendships, and positions, his employment in diplomacy and honorable politics, all qualified him to write his admirable History of his own Time (i., London, 1723; ii., 1734; best ed. by M. J. Routh, 8 vols., Oxford, 1833; Part I. The Reign of Charles the Second, edited by Osmund Airy, 2 vols., 1897–1900; a Supplement to the History was edited by Miss H. C. Foxcroft, 1902), a work of great accuracy and fairness. Other works worthy of mention are: History of the Reformation of the Church of England (i., 1679; ii., 1681; iii., 1714; ed. N. Pocock, 7 vols., 1865); his works against the Roman Catholic Church, The mystery of iniquity unveiled (1673); Rome's glory, or a collection of divers miracles wrought by popish saints, (1673); Infallibility of the Roman Church confuted (1680); also his life of William Bedell (1685); Exposition of the XXXIX. Articles (1699), which was censured by the Lower House of Convocation.

Bibliography: The Life, by his son, Thomas B. Burnet, is prefixed to the Oxford edition of his works, in 6 vols., 1833, which contains also a list of the bishop's writings. A detailed account is given in DNB, vii. 394–405. Consult also S. A. Allibone, Critical Dictionary of English Literature, i. 296–298, Philadelphia, 1891. Further sources are the History, and the Letters to Herbert in the Egerton MSS. in the British Museum.

« Burn, Richard Burnet, Gilbert Burnet, Thomas »
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