Harsnet Samuel archbishop of York, was born at Colchester in 1561; was educated as a sizer at King's — College, Cambridge; and was subsequently elected fellow of Pembroke Hall. In 1580 he took the degree of B.A., and in 1584
that of M.A. He then applied him-self to theology, in which he soon made his mark by a sermon preached in 1584 at St. Paul's Cross (first printed at the end of three of Dr. Stewart's sermons in 1658), in which he boldly attacked the doctrine of unconditional predestination, then to some extent prevailing in the Church of England. He became successively proctor of the university in 1592, vicar of Chigwell, in Essex, in 1595, and archdeacon of Essex in 1602, but resigned all these offices on being appointed rector of Shenfield, in Essex, and of St. Margaret's, New Fish Street; London, in 1604. He became master of Pembroke College in 1605, and bishop of Chichester in 1609. He was translated to Norwich in 1619. While in the latter see, the Dissenters prevailing in the House of Commons, he was accused before the last Parliament of James I of several misdemeanors, and of Romanist tendencies. He made a defense, in which, among other points, he says, "that popery is a fire that never will be quiet; he had preached a thousand sermons, and nothing of popery can be imputed to him out of any of them. That there were divers obstacles to keep him from popery: among them, the usurpation of the pope of Rome; their religion dyed in blood; their juggling and feigned miracles, of which he wrote a book against them, and their equivocations." He concluded by proclaiming that in his view the Church of England came nearest to the primitive Church, and that its principles were not derived from Wickliffe, Huss, or Luther, but from the four first centuries after Christ. This defense was considered valid, and in 1628 Dr. Harsnet was translated to the archbishopric of York. He died in May 1631.
Among his works we notice A Discovery of the Fraudulent Practices of John Darrell, Bachelor of Arts, etc. (Lond. 1599, 4to): — Declaration of egregious Popish Impostures, etc. (Lond. 1603, 4to), against an exorcist named Edmonds, alias Weston, a Jesuit. See Collier, Eccles. History; Strype, Memorials; Biog. Brit.; Hook, Eccles. Biography, v, 546 sq.