The move to Canterbury

The move to Canterbury – his final days.

On the 25th.November 1595, Adrian Saravia was installed as the Vicar of Lewisham, at that time outside London, and he was to receive a stipend of £23 19s 2d (not including tithes). He must have employed a curate, because he actually took up residence in Canterbury.and the distance from Lewisham was too great for the journey to have been undertaken frequently. The reason for going to Canterbury was that on the 6th.December he was installed as a Canon of Canterbury Cathedral with the substantial remuneration of £40 2s 11d (plus an additional sum for the year in which he acted as Vice Dean). He would have preferred a parish nearer to Canterbury and he wrote to the Archbishop asking for a transfer from Lewisham, but there were no vacant livings. Adrian played a large part in the life of the town and the cathedral, as well as entertaining many Dutch refugees, so that he kept himself well informed about events in the Netherlands. He also collected information about English Jesuits who were being trained secretly on the continent and he sent the details to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In 1601 he became a Canon of Westminster Abbey, for which he received an annual sum of £28 5s 0d and the Abbey records show that he attended many of the Chapter meetings. Some sources state that he also became a Canon of Worcester during this year, but the Cathedral archives do not substantiate this.

The year 1603 saw the death of Queen Elizabeth and the accession of James I. And then, on the 1st February 1605, Adrian’s wife, Catherine, died and she was buried in Canterbury Cathedral. She had been his stalwart support throughout forty four turbulent years. Towards the end of 1606 he married again this time to Margaret Wijts.

Two years earlier Adrian had published A TREATISE ON THE HOLY EUCHARIST which was dedicated to King James. Again, this was written in Latin and only appeared in English in 1885.

He was spending a great deal of time in London and this was increased after 1607 when he was asked to join a group of theologians and scholars who were to undertake the translation of Genesis to Kings II, inclusive, for the Authorised Version of the Bible. This work was completed in 1611. However his visits to London became fewer with the onset of illness.

He had relinquished the living in the Parish of Lewisham in 1604, but it was not until February, 1610 that a living near to Canterbury became vacant and that was the Parish of Great Chart. It is difficult to see why he wanted it at his age, because he had more than enough to cope with as it was. Nevertheless, the stipend of £25 6s 1/2d was quite sufficient to pay for a curate.

In 1611 he published a portfolio of treatises called DIVERSI TRACTATUS THEOLOGI, and on the 11th May 1612 he attended his last Chapter Meeting at Westminster Abbey. At the end of that month he had an audience with King James and Adrian noted that he was impressed with the King’s knowledge of theology.

These were the last occasions on which he visited London. He died in Canterbury on the 15th.January 1613 at the age of eighty two, and he was buried in the Cathedral, with his wife Catherine, on the 19th.January. He ended his life with an estate estimated to be in the region of £1366 which was truly an enormous sum for those days. His second wife, Margaret, erected the following plaque in his memory, and it can be seen in the cathedral near the north west door of the nave :

Dilecto conivgi Hadriano de Seravia
Margareta Wiits adhuc svperstes
Qvacvm ille nuptias secundo iniit
annosq. sex pie et feliciter vixit
Memoriale hoc syncervm, Licet
exigvvm Amoris svi qvasi pignvs
ponendvm coravit. Fvit is dvm vixit
Theologiae Doctor egregivs, Cathe-
dralis hvius ecclesiae Praebendarivs
meritissimus vir in omni literarum
Genere eximivs; pietate, probitate,
gravitate, svavitate, morvm Insignis:
scriptis clarvs, Fide plenvs, et bonis
operibus dives valde. Natione Belga
natvs Hedinae Artesiae. Rexit
Qvondam Lvgdvni Batavorvm Angliam
Petit primo svb initivm Regni beatae
Memoriae Elizabethae. Doctor
(Lvgdvni ante creatvs) Oxoniae
Post incorporatvs est.
In memoria aeterna erit Ivstvs.

The following is a translation :

‘To Hadrianus de Saravia, a beloved husband, Margaret Wiits, surviving to the present, whom he married as his second wife and with whom he lived piously and happily for six years, arranged for this memorial to be set up as an, albeit small, but sincere token of her love. Whilst he lived he was a distinguished Doctor of Theology, a most worthy prebendary of this cathedral church, an outstanding man in all branches of letters, remarkable for the piety, uprightness, sobriety and sweetness of his conduct, renowned for his writings, full of faith and abounding richly in good works. He was a native of the Netherlands born at Hesdin in Artois. Sometime rector of Leiden, he first came to England at the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth of blessed memory. Doctor, first of Leiden, and afterwards incorporated at Oxford. The righteous man will be remembered forever.1612.’

The introductory passage to his will reveals an interesting insight into his beliefs.

“First of all I confess that I die in the faith delivered to the church by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ and the prophets which form the contents of the canonical books of the Old and New Testament and which is presently accepted in the English Church by public authority. These fifty Years, after I had quitted and renounced the errors of tyranny and idolatry which hold sway in the Roman Church, I have taught and professed this faith privately and in public. I accept and greatly esteem the so called Apostles’ Creed, the Creed of Nicea and of the other three ecumenical Councils with that of Athanasius because they are gathered from God’s Word. To these I add the Confession of the English Church together with that which the German princes presented to the Emperor at Augsburg in the year of our Lord 1530 . I am not aware of any errors which have been condemned by God’s Word or by the fathers of the Church’s earliest days. I therefore condemn all heresies and teachings which are contrary to the written Word of God and particularly those which were condemned by those four renowned councils, that of Nicea, of Constantinople, the first of Ephesus and that of Chalcedon. When God shall once summon me out of this life, then, certain of the salvation proclaimed to me by Christ the Lord, I entrust my soul into his hands and I leave my body to be committed to the earth without ostentatious funeral”.

The Secretary of State to King James I, Sir Thomas Lake, a former pupil of Adrian Saravia, described him in these words:-

‘He is a Minister of State fit to serve the greatest prince in Europe. He has displayed great learning in defence of Episcopacy against Beza’.

Theodore Beza had written a treatise against Episcopacy in Scotland.

Isaac Casaubon, who was a friend of Saravia, further described him as

“of no mean reputation, of very great learning and as most anxious and earnest in seeking for general peace and concord in the church of God”.

He was also a great friend of Richard Hooker, with whom he was said to have had a Holy friendship.

He was clearly a most remarkable man.