Robert More, 17th Century
Portrait of Robert Frampton, DD Bishop of Gloucester 1622 - 1708
Robert Frampton, DD Bishop of Gloucester
3rd May 1691

indistinctly signed …. Pinxit and inscribed and dated  Aetat. Suae 68, 1691

oil on canvas
76.20 x 63.50 cm. (30 x 25 in.)


Sir Lance V h Crawley-Boevey Bart. The contents of Flaxley Abbey March 29th-5th April 1960, lot 1301, Bt by Baden Watkins

in this family that the deprived Bishop was offered a home and shelter at Flaxley Abbey: and his portrait, a counterpart of which hangs in the Bishop's palace at Gloucester is preserved with great interest by the Family ."



Engraved : Henry Adlard for Crawley-Boevy (Arthur W) the peverse Widow" being passages from the life of Catherina wife of William Boevy Esq of Flaxley Abbey 1898 Ingamemells, J, Episcopal Portraits 1558-1835 a catalogie, Guildford 1981, P190 Gloucesterhsire Notes and Queries (p85) " There is  strong tradition in this family that the deprived Bishop was offered a home and shelter at Flaxley Abbey: and his portrait, a counterpart of which hangs in the Bishop's palace at Gloucester is preserved with great interest by the Family ."


Frampton, Robert (bap. 1622, d. 1708), bishop of Gloucester and nonjuror, was baptized on 26 February 1622 at Pimperne, near Blandford, Dorset, the youngest of eight children of Robert Frampton, a farmer, and his wife, Elizabeth Selby. Frampton was educated at the free school at Blandford before matriculating at Oxford in 1637 the age of fifteen. He studied at Corpus Christi College before moving to Christ Church, graduating BA on 25 June 1641. The English civil war began before he could proceed MA and his refusal to sign the covenant prevented him from continuing his studies. Though the civil war interrupted his education Oxford University honoured him with the degree of DD on 8 July 1673.


After leaving Oxford in 1641 Frampton served as tutor to the children of a widow at Farnham, Dorset, where he also set up a private school.

He joined the Clubmen of Dorset, a neutralist movement that sought an end to the war between the king and parliament, and participated in a battle with the New Model Army on 5 August 1645 at Hambledon Hill, near Blandford Forum in Dorset. Later he became the master of the free school at Gillingham, Dorset, teaching approximately one hundred boys. While teaching at Gillingham he was encouraged by the local pastor, Dr Davenant, to take holy orders, and Robert Skinner, bishop of Oxford, privately ordained him at Gillingham. Frampton then succeeded Davenant as pastor at Gillingham, where he boldly continued to use the proscribed liturgy of the Church of England. When this led to trouble he became the chaplain to the earl of Elgin, who allowed him to use the liturgy in the family chapel at Ampthill, Bedfordshire.


Frampton gained note as a preacher, preaching often in London during this period, but his royalist sympathies and commitment to the church's liturgy gained him ‘both admiration and disgust’ among his contemporaries (Evans, 19–20). He escaped further trouble by accepting an offer to become chaplain for the Levant Company at Aleppo, Syria. The company knew of Frampton's royalist views and believed that he would keep the factory ‘steady to the crown and church’ (ibid., 20). After informing the earl of Elgin of his decision he left England in 1655, aboard the Antelope, preaching every Sunday and reading the liturgy when asked. A storm broke the main mast and forced them back to Falmouth, where they stayed until leaving five months later. While serving as chaplain at Aleppo he learned Arabic and studied the archaeological remains in the region.

His linguistic ability, which included knowledge of Italian, German, and Arabic, gave him access to the local leaders, including the mufti of Aleppo, a relationship that allowed Frampton to help his friends.

He also took advantage of his time in the Middle East to visit the Holy Land, including Jerusalem, at Easter 1660. At the end of 1666 he returned to England, not long after the great fire of London.


After his return from Aleppo, Frampton married Mary Caning

(c.1632–1680) of Foxcote, Warwickshire. There is some confusion as to the date of their marriage. The licence seems to have been issued on

29 January 1667. However, the wedding is recorded in the parish register of St Paul's, Covent Garden (out of sequence, among 1667 marriages), as having taken place on 10 May 1666. They had met before his departure for Aleppo and corresponded during his tenure there.

Mary Frampton died on 11 October 1680 and was buried in a chapel of Gloucester Cathedral. Their daughter was to be a source of support to her father during his years of adversity.


Soon after his marriage, in 1667, Frampton received word of a plague in Aleppo. He returned there and served in Syria until 1670. Before he left he endowed a charity and then travelled overland to England, stopping in Rome, where he preached for the brother of the Catholic duke of Norfolk, Lord Henry Howard. He arrived back in England in May 1671, his wife joining him in London. After his return to London he was appointed a preacher at the rolls and served as chaplain to the lord keeper, Sir Orlando Bridgeman. Bridgeman presented him with prebends at Gloucester and Salisbury in 1672. Henry Howard, for whom he had preached in Rome, also obtained for him the rectory of Oakford Fizpain, in Dorset.


Already a noted preacher during the interregnum, Frampton's reputation continued to grow after the Restoration. John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys both spoke highly of his abilities. Writing in 1667, at the time of Frampton's furlough in London, Pepys commented upon hearing him preach that he gave the best sermon that he had ever

heard: ‘The truth is, he preaches the most like an apostle that ever I heard a man. And was much the best time that ever I spent in my life at church’ (Pepys, 8.21). Evelyn wrote that Frampton ‘was not only a very pious and holy man, but excellent in the pulpit; for the moving affections’ (Evelyn, 3.629). In 1673 Charles II appointed him to the deanery of Gloucester, after hearing him preach twice at the court, once after the naval defeat at Sole Bay. Though he was renowned for his preaching, none of his sermons was published.


After his installation as dean of Gloucester on 6 May 1673 Frampton divided his time between Gloucester, where he wintered, and Dorset, where he spent the summers. In 1681 he was nominated to succeed the recently deceased bishop of Gloucester, John Pritchett, and was ‘joyfully elected by the chapter’ (Evans, 126). After his consecration as bishop of Gloucester on Palm Sunday, 27 March 1681, he was licensed to hold his livings and the prebend of Torleton in commendam along with his see. He resigned the livings in 1683 at the request of Archbishop William Sancroft. However, apparently to provide for his old age, his friend Philip Sherd of Hampton obtained for him the rectory of Avening, Gloucestershire. He gave up this living a year later, taking instead the vicarage of Standish, which was in his patronage as bishop of Gloucester.


Frampton preached often as bishop at the court at Whitehall, as James II considered him, along with Thomas Ken, among the best preachers in England. However, he incurred the king's displeasure after preaching against Roman Catholicism in the king's chapel. Frampton angered him further by his refusal to install the candidate of Magdalen College's Catholic president in the living of Slimbridge in Gloucester. These actions led the king to complain without success to Archbishop Sancroft about the bishop's behaviour.


In 1688 Frampton opposed James's indulgence for Catholics and nonconformists and the requirement that the indulgence be read from the church's pulpits. Sancroft wanted Frampton to join the delegation that took the bishops' petition to the king, but a travel delay prevented him from joining the six envoys to the king, sparing him imprisonment in the Tower. Though not arrested Frampton showed his solidarity with his colleagues by his constant attendance at the prison during their incarceration.


Although opposed to the papist policies of James II, Frampton refused to take the oaths to William and Mary. After their accession to the throne he withdrew to the country and awaited his deprivation. He was suspended from his position from 1 February until 1 August 1689, when the seven bishops who refused the oaths were deprived [see also Nonjuring bishops]. Like Thomas Ken, he was a moderate nonjuror. He did not actively participate in the nonjuring activities of some of his fellow nonjuror bishops, strongly disapproving of the consecrations of George Hickes and Thomas Wagstaffe as bishops in a new nonjuring line. Unlike Hickes he did not consider the established church to be schismatic. Though he could not take the oaths he still considered himself a member of the established church. Therefore, while no longer able to serve as bishop, he was allowed to return to his living at Standish, Gloucestershire, officiating there as his conscience allowed, reading the service, preaching, and catechizing the young. Although he refused to say prayers for the reigning monarchs he was not an active Jacobite. None the less, his attempts to raise funds to assist nonjuring clergy put him under suspicion in

1696 after a plot to assassinate William III was discovered; he was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower and then released soon after when no evidence was found of his complicity in the plot.


After the death of James II, Queen Anne sought to bring Frampton back into the episcopate by appointing him to the see of Hereford.

Frampton declined, insisting that he be allowed to resume his duties as bishop of Gloucester, as he had never accepted his deprivation as lawful. In addition, he did not feel that he could take the new oaths any more than he could the old ones. Already near seventy at his deprivation he remained in relatively good health until his death at eighty-six, though the frailty of age kept him confined to his home at Standish. Six months before he died, he fell and broke two ribs.

Then in mid-March of 1708 he developed a fever, which led to his death at his home on Tuesday 25 May 1708. Later that week he was buried on the north side of Standish church.


Robert D. Cornwall  DNB