HALL, Joseph

HALL, Joseph
Joseph Hall, an English bishop and controversialist during the reigns of James I* and Charles I, was an opponent of John Milton, a moral philosopher, and a churchman of some importance. Born in Leicestershire, Hall was educated at the staunchly Puritan Ashby School and later at Emmanuel College of Cam­bridge, where his satires attracted attention. Feeling called to the ministry, he accepted Sir Robert Drury's offer of Hawstead's rectory in Suffolk in 1601. He continued to write satires, including the Latin Mundus alter et idem (c. 1605), which would influence Gulliver's Travels, and began a lifetime of meditative writing with Meditations and Vows Divine and Moral (1605). In 1608 he left Hawstead to become one of Prince Henry s domestic chaplains and curate of Waltham Holy Cross, Essex. In 1616 Hall was named dean of Worcester; in 1617 he went with King James to Scotland; and in 1618 he served the king at the Synod of Dort.
In 1627 Hall was consecrated bishop of Exeter. To assuage Archbishop Wil­liam Laud, who suspected him of Puritan sympathies, Hall wrote against Puritan attacks on church government in Episcopacy by Divine Right (published in 1640). In 1641 Hall engaged the Puritans in a battle of pamphlets and became an opponent of John Milton. In this conflict the moderate Hall, who underesti­mated the Puritans passion, urged compromise concerning church government and liturgy in the interest of peace.
In 1641 Hall was translated bishop of Norwich, but before entering his new see he was imprisoned in the Tower of London with the other bishops for four months. Stripped of most revenues in 1643, Hall was eventually ejected from his palace. He retired to Higham, where he died on 8 September 1656.
In his own time Hall was known for his satires and his Christian adaptation of Stoicism in such works as Heaven upon Earth (1606). In the twentieth century scholars became increasingly interested in his moral and meditative work.
F. L. Huntley, Bishop Joseph Hall, 1574-1656: A Biographical and Critical Study, 1979.
Kevin Lindberg

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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