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Richard Hooker - father of Anglicanism

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Historically, Richard Hooker's work during the Reformation helped shape England and make it what it is today. Born in Heavitree during 1554, his father saw service in Ireland, on the estates of some of the great Devon families, including the Carews. The young Hooker was raised by his uncle, John Hooker, the Chamberlain of Exeter and early historian of the city. Their home was adjacent to the Cathedral, close to St Mary Major Church. Hooker was educated at the Grammar School in the High Street before going to Corpus Christi College, Oxford at the age of 15. He was a bright student and before long, was himself a tutor. In 1581 he took Holy Orders.

Queen Elizabeth I noticed his work and appointed him Rector of the Temple Church in London. The congregation of lawyers, judges and members of parliament stimulated his ideas for changes in the established church. He wished to promote a moderate, more tolerant form of Protestantism, open to all for the worship of God. It was while at the Temple, that Hooker published the first of 8 parts of his great work 'Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity', which stated that the newly formed Anglican Church should "...hold up the highest ideal of a church rooted in antiquity, ever studious in Scriptural and primitive Christianity, and, at the same time, large minded, open and tolerant". It was this work that gave the Church a theoretical background to develop into the present Church of England, and perhaps even prevent civil war at that time, by blocking the attempts by either the extreme Roman Catholic or Calvinist Protestants to gain influence in England.

He married in 1588 to a wealthy young woman, the daughter of a London merchant - this gave Hooker the financial security needed to continue with his writing. The couple had six children. He ended his days as the vicar at Bishopsbourne in Kent and died on 2nd November 1600 at the early age of 46. The eighth and last part of his great work was published in 1660. The Church of England Synod still refers to Hooker's writings when considering the doctrine of the church. See Hooker Statue

Richard Hooker

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