Pits (or Pitseus), John, Dd
Pits (or Pitseus), John, D.D.
an English divine, noted as a biographer, was born at Alton, in Hampshire, A.D. 1560. He received his early education at Winchester School, whence, at the age of eighteen, he was elected a probationer fellow of New College. Oxford; but in less than two years he left the kingdom as a voluntary Romish exile, and went to Douai. He went thence to Rheims, and a year afterwards to the English college at Rome, where he studied seven years, and was then ordained priest. He returned to hold the professorship of rhetoric and Greek at Rheims. Towards the end of 1590 he was appointed governor to a young nobleman, with whom he traveled into Lorraine, and afterwards went through Upper Germany and Italy. He subsequently returned to Lorraine, where he was preferred to a canonry of Verdun. When he had passed two years at his hew residence, Antonia, daughter of the duke of Lorraine, who had married the duke of Cleves, invited him to Cleves to be her confessor. He continued in her service twelve years, till her death, when he returned a third time to Lorraine, and was promoted to the deanery of Liverdun, where he died in 1616. The leisure he enjoyed while confessor to the duchess of Cleves enabled him to compile a work which has given him great renown, The Lives of the Kings, Bishops, Apostolical Men, and Writers of England (four large volumes). The first contains the lives of the kings, the second of the bishops, the third of the apostolical men, and the fourth of the writers. The three first are preserved in the archives of the collegiate church of Verdun; the fourth only was published after his decease, under the title of Joannis Pitsei Angli, S. Theologiae Doctoris, Liverduni in Lotharingia Decani, Relationum Historicarum de Rebus Anglicis Tomus Primus (Paris, 1619 and 1623, 4to), but the running title by which it is most frequently quoted is "De Illustribus Anglise Scriptoribus." In this work Pits took much from Bale's book, De Scriptoribus Majoris Britannice, without acknowledgment, pretending at the same time to abhor both Bale and his work. He also quotes Leland's Collectanea de Scriptoribus Angliae, which Wood asserts he never could have had the means of perusing, but must likewise have taken at second hand from Bale. His partiality is also great. He leaves Wickliffe and his followers, together with the Scotch and Irish writers, entirely out of his work, and in their room gives an account of the Roman Catholic writers, such especially as had left the kingdom after the Reformation in queen Elizabeth's time, and settled at Rome, Douai, Louvain, etc. This, however, is the best and most valuable part of Pits's work. He published three small treatises, which are less known: De Legibus (Trier, 1592): — De Beatitudine (Ingolstadt, 1595): — De Peregrinatione (Düsseldorf, 1604, 12mo). The last is dedicated to the duchess of Cleves. See Biogr. Brit. s.v.; Dodd, Ch. Hist.; Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Auth. s.v.; English Cyclop. s.v.; Wood, Athen. Oxon. 2, 173.