Biography of Joseph Hall
He was second son of the twelve children of John Hall, of Bristow Park, in the parish of Ashby de la Zouche, and was born there on 1st July, and baptized on 4th July, 1574.
Educated at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, he was appointed the first Master of Blundell's Grammar-school at Tiverton, but resigned it almost immediately on being offered the Rectory of Halsted, in Suffolk. He was then appointed to the Deanery of Worcester.
In the sequel, King Charles I. promoted him to the vacant seer of Exeter, and he was consecrated on 23rd December, 1627. His theological acumen had recommended him long before to King James I., who made him his chaplain, and commissioned him to attend the Synod of Dort in 1619; but the weak state of his health compelled him to return after a short stay. To enable him to maintain his station of bishop, the Rectory of St. Briock, in Cornwall, was given him in commendam.
His Register testifies to his diligence in his official duties, as also his care in providing good benefices for his children. In his transactions with the Mayor and Chamber of this city he was frank and honourable. In one of his letters he says: "I beseech you, let us mutually have all fayre termes, without trenching upon each other's libertyes; that so neither part have any cause of grievance."
His numerous writings - moral, theological, ascetic, and poetical - display abundant evidence of nervous vigour and genius: still, his warmest admirers must concede that his religious zeal would have been improved by greater meekness and moderation. In evil times, viz. on 16th November, 1641, or as his 'Act Book' affirms, on 16th December, he was hence translated to the wealthier see of Norwich; yet the promotion was far from adding to his peace and comfort. There he adopted for his seal, the ark of Noah on the waters, with the dove bearing the olive-branch, the sun rising above, and the inscription DA PACEM DOMINE. In the exergue, the arms of the See of Norwich, Azure three mitres or, impaling his family arms, Sable, three Talbots' heads erased argent.
The venerable and learned prelate had to endure much personal ill-treatment and barbarous persecution. He sunk under it at his house (now the Dolphin Inn), at Higham, close to Norwich, on 8th September, 1656, aged 82, and was buried in the parochial church the same day. His monument represents him as a skeleton, holding in the right hand his bond to Death, sealed and signed "Debemus Morti nos nostraque;" and in the left hand the same bond cancelled and torn, with the endorsement "Persolvit et quietus est." Dr. Peterson.
His works were published in 1625 in a large volume folio, but a much enlarged edition, in ten volumes octavo, appeared in 1739.
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Saw'st thou ever Siquis patcht on Pauls Church door
To seek some vacant vicarage before?
Who wants a churchman that can service say,
Read fast and fair his monthly homily?
And wed and bury and make Christen-souls?
Come to the left-side alley of St. Paules.
Thou servile fool, why could'st thou not repair
To buy a benefice at Steeple-Fair?
There moughtest thou, for but a slendid price,