Reverand Andrew Willett1,2,3,4

M, b. 1562, d. 4 December 1621
FatherReverand Thomas Willett b. 1511, d. 14 Apr 1598
MotherElizabeth Stanton d. 15 Mar 1589
     Andrew was born in 1562 in the Isle of Ely, Cambridgeshire, England. Andrew married Jacobina Goade, daughter of Dr. Roger Goade and Katharine Hill, during Michaelmas 1588 in England.5 He and Jacobina were blessed with 18 children bur all their names are not known.6 He was a graduate of Cambridge University in 1580. He was a Proctor of Cambridge University in 1585, Prebend of Ely Cathedral in 1597, Rector of Childerby, Grantesden, and Chaplain & tutor to Prince Henry.7 On 24 November 1621, while returning home from London, his horse threw him, breaking his leg. He was taken to a nearby inn near Hoddesdon, where his leg was badly set. Andrew died on Saturday, 4 December 1621 in Herefordshire, England, at that inn near Hoddesdon from the complications of the badly set leg. On 8 December 1621, Andrew was buried at the chancel of St. Margaret's of Antioch Church, Barley, Herefordshire, England. An effigy and brass were placed by his parishioners and friends over the place of burial in the floor of the nave below the pulpit. The effigy showed a priest, full-length, dressed in his doctor's robes, with square cap, ruff, and scarf, and wearing a beard. The effigy has since been moved to the west wall of the church.8,9


Jacobina Goade b. c 1572, d. b 11 Jul 1637


  1. [S27] Robert Bolton, A History of the County of Westchester, from its first settlement to the present., page 274.
  2. [S993] Cornelius Tyler, Autobiography of William Seymour Tyler and Relared Papers with the Genealogy of the Ancestors of Professor and Mrs. William S. Tyler, pages 308-309 - Rev. Andrew Willetts D.D., was a very learned divine, according to the Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. LXI. After attending the collegiate school at Ely. he entered Cambridge June 26, 1577. aged fifteen, and graduated B.A. 1580, M.A. 1581. D.D. 1601. He took holy orders in 1585 and was admitted in 1587, on the presentation of Queen Elizabeth, to the prebendal stall at Ely which his father resigned in his favor. [Note: Aprebendal stall is a seat usuallyin the back of the Choir, where a prebendary sits. It was a place of honor for dignitaries who were members of the clergy on the staff of a cathedral or collegiate church - Wikipedia - KLM] He married 1588 Jacobina, daughter of Rev. Dr. Goad, Provost of Kings College, Cambridge. He was greatly admired, and preached much at Court. He wrote forty-two books, the most prominent, his "Synopsis Papismi" (1300 folio pages), passed through five editions, and was considered the best refutation of Popery of that period. He was imprisoned for his opposition to the proposed Spanish marriage for the Prince of Wales. He died December 4, 1621, as a result of a fall from a horse. His portrait and his "Life and Death" by his son-in-law, Peter Smith, D.D., are prefixed to the fifth edition of the "Synopsis Papismi," 1630.
  3. [S994] Andrew Willet, Andrew Willet (Ely, 1562 - 4 December 1621) was an English clergyman and controversialist. A prolific writer, he is known for his anti-papal works. His views were Calvinist, conforming and non-separatist, and he appeared as a witness against Edward Dering before the Star-chamber. Joseph Hall (who knew him well) eulogised Willet in Noah's Dove, and Thomas Fuller modelled 'the Controversial Divine' of his Holy State on him.
    He was born at Ely in 1562, son of Thomas Willet (1511?-1598), who began his career as a public notary, and later in life he took holy orders, becoming rector of Barley, Hertfordshire, fourteen miles from Cambridge and admitted to a prebendal of Ely by his patron, Bishop Richard Coxe, with whom he had been associated as sub-almoner to Edward VI.
    Andrew had one brother and four sisters. After attending the collegiate school at Ely, he entered Cambridge University, matriculating at the age of fifteen (20 June 1577); he first went to Peterhouse, the master of which was Andrew Perne, his godfather, but in the same year moved to Christ's College, Cambridge. He was quickly elected a scholar, graduated B.A. in 1581, was elected to a fellowship at Christmas 1583 (aged twenty-one), proceeded M.A. in 1584, and in the same year was incorporated a member of the university of Oxford. He was B.D. in 1591, and D.D. 1601.[1] Among the fellows of Christ's, he was on good terms with George Downham, and when Willet spent his vacations at his father's rectory of Barley, he was often accompanied by Downham. He took holy orders in 1585, and was admitted on 22 July 1587, on the presentation of the queen, to the prebendal stall at Ely, which his father had resigned in his favour.
    In 1588 Willet left the university, and at Michaelmas, on his marriage with Jacobine, a daughter of his father's friend Roger Goad, provost of King's, gave up his fellowship. He earned a reputation as a preacher of power, especially against the Catholics. He was selected to read the lecture for three years in Ely Cathedral, and for one year in St. Paul's Cathedral, London. In the same year he was presented to the rectory of Childerly in Cambridgeshire. This living he held till 1594. He was admitted in 1597 to the rectory of Gransden Parva in Huntingdonshire, but almost immediately moved, by exchange to Barley, his father having died in April 1598 in his eighty-eighth year. He was instituted on 29 January 1599. He spent most of his ministerial life at Barley, being rector for twenty-three years. Willet's village preaching is preserved in his Thesaurus Ecclesiae (an exposition of St. John xvii.), which contains the substance of afternoon lectures addressed to his parishioners. Willet persuaded Andrew Perne to leave by will an annual sum to the poor scholars of the free school founded in the village of Barley by Archbishop William Warham when rector; he also influence his friend Thomas Sutton, founder of Charterhouse School.
    He was chaplain-in-ordinary and tutor to Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales, as well as a frequent preacher before the court. Willet got into trouble over the Spanish match, to which he was strongly opposed. Under care of Sir John Higham of Bury St. Edmunds he sent letters and arguments to the justices of Norfolk and Suffolk, urging them to protest against the marriage. Willet himself presented a copy of his arguments to the king, and, thereby incurring his high displeasure, was committed to prison under the custody of Dr. White. He appears to have been released after a month.
    Towards the close of his life he was admitted (19 Jan. 1613) to the rectory of Reed, Hertfordshire, a parish adjoining that of Barley; but he only held it something over two years, resigning in favour of his eldest son, Andrew, who was admitted on 10 November 1615. The year before his death he was presented to the rectory of the small parish of Chishill Parva, across the border in Essex.
    Willet's death was the result of an accident. On his return home from London his horse threw him near Hoddesdon. His leg was broken and was set badly. Ten days later he died at the inn to which he had been taken (4 December 1621), in his fifty-ninth year. On 8 December he was buried in the chancel of Barley parish church. An effigy and brass were placed by his parishioners and friends over the place of burial. The effigy showed a priest, full-length, dressed in his doctor's robes, with square cap, ruff, and scarf, and wearing a beard.
    Of his eighteen children, nine sons and four daughters survived him. His widow was buried in 1637 by his side. His son, Henry Willet (d. 1670), who lost a fortune by his loyalty to the king, was apparently ancestor of Ralph Willett. A special license was granted to another son, Paul, in 1630, for a reprint of the Synopsis Papismi. The fourth son, Thomas Willet, was the first mayor of New York.
  4. [S1281] Gleanings, page 244 - I am indebted to J. Wingate Thornton, Esq., for the following particulars concerning the probable ancestry of one of the most noted of our early settlers, Thomas Willett. He came from Leyden about 1629 with Allerton, “as his fellow (in some sorte) and not merely as a servante,” says Bradford; was a freeman in Plymouth 1633; m. 6 July, 1636, Mary, dau. Of John Brown, and had a large family, as recorded by Savage. He was mayor of New York, but returned to Swanzey; m. for second w. Joanna (Boys), widow of Rev. Peter Prudden, and d. 4 Aug., 1674, “in ye 64th year of his age, “ as appears by his gravestone at Bullocks's Cove in Seekonk, as copied in Bliss's Attleboro', p. 279.
    This inscription represents his as born in 1611, but considering the great error made in the inscription on his wife's tombstone, we need not accept this as certain.
    Mr. Thorton wrote some time since to the rev. Mr. Gordon, rector of Marley, near Royston, co. Leicester (a place of which Rev. Andrew Willett was a rector in 1589), and received from him copies of the entries concerning the name on the records of that parish. This Andrew was son of Thomas Willett, canon of Ely, rector of Thurcaston, co. Leicester, and vicar of Barley, and was born at Ely in 1562. He held several livings, was chaplain to Henry, Prince of Wales, and published several treatisies. From the preface of his Synopsis Papismi published by his son-in-law, Dr. Peter Smith, it seems he had “eleven sons and seven daughters, whereof nine sons and four daughters remaine to this day” (1634). At f. 19 it is also said that one who was a “Separatist” of “affinite with Dr. Willett, and who was more than once at Amsterdam,” was a frequent and familiar inmate of Dr. Willett's family. It seems also that Dr. W. was for some time in custody for his opposition to the Spanish Match. If his sympathies were with the Separatist, we should not be surprised to find one of his sons joining the new colony at Plymouth; the only discrepancy being that Thomas, son of Andrew was four years older than the above inscription would make our settler; a fact which leaves this affliation still extremely probable. … [Note - There is additional information at the end of this article from the church records at Barley. - KLM].
  5. [S506] Note: Michaelmas - is on the 29th of September and is associated with the equinox and the beginning of autum in the northern hemisphere & is the feast of St. Michael the Arcangel.
  6. [S1003] Daniel H. Carpenter, New York's First Mayor, page 193 - 11 sons & 7 daughters - 9 sons & 4 daughters survived him.
  7. [S46] William Richard Cutter, New England Families, genealogical memorial; a record of the achievements of her people in the making of commonwealths & the founding of a nation, Volume III: page 1427 - Rev. Andrew Willet, D. D. (1562-1621), a graduate of Cambridge, England, in 1580; proctor of Cambridge College, 1585; chaplain and tutor to Prince Henry; preacher to King James ; appointed prebend of Ely on Presentation of the Queen. He was famous as a powerful preacher and as the most learned and prolific author of his time. He was the author of more than forty treatises on Scriptural interpretation and church history, one large work passing through eight editions. His contemporaries spoke of him as a "walking library," as "one that must write while he sleeps, it being impossible he should do so much waking." Bishop Hall, of Exeter, styled Willet as "Stupor Mundi Clerus Brittanicus"; also from Rev. Thomas Willet (1511-98), rector of Barley, prebend of Ely and subalmoner to King Edward VI.
  8. [S995] E J Wiseman, St Margaret of Antioch, Barley, In the floor of the Nave, below the Pulpit, there used to be a monumental brass to the memory of Andrew Willet, who was Rector here for twenty years and a prominent theologian of the time. It is now shown on the west wall of the church. -
  9. [S1002] Daniel H. Carpenter, Willet Record, St. Margaret's Church Records, Barley date illegitable.