An English family distinguished for its fidelity to the Catholic Church and for its literary activity, especially during the reigns of the Henrys and Elizabeth I.
John, poet and playwright; b. Coventry, c. 1497; d. 1579?. He is the most famous member of this family, and
is said to have attended Oxford University, but there are no records. For some years after 1519 he was a singer and musician at court. By 1523 he had married Joan Rastell, the only daughter of John Rastell and niece of Thomas More. They had six children: two sons, Ellis and Jasper, and four daughters, one of whom, Elizabeth, was the mother of John donne.
In 1533–34 four of Heywood's plays were printed by William Rastell: A Play of Love, The Pardoner and the Frere, The Play of the Wether, and Johan the husbande, Johan Tyb the wife and Syr Johan the preeste —these are indisputably Heywood's. Two other plays are attributed to him: The Foure PP and Wytty and Wyttles.
During the latter part of the reign of Henry VIII and the brief reigns of Edward VI and Mary, Heywood was prominent in dramatic and entertainment activities. At least five interludes, plays, and masques were written by him during this time, but nothing is known of them save the title of one (King Arthur's Knights ). A certain amount of Heywood's writing was addressed to Queen Mary, whose favorite he was; his graceful "Description of a Most Noble Lady" ("Geve place, ye Ladyes") was written for her in 1534, when she was 18 and under a political cloud. His long poem, The Spider and the Flie (an allegory of some 7,600 lines, published in 1556), seems to celebrate Mary's liberation of Catholicism (the entrapped "flie") in England; the crushing of the spider perhaps represents Thomas cranmer, who was burned at the stake in 1556. The allegory is obscure and the work is now little read.
As a result of the Elizabethan Settlement in 1564, Heywood and many other English Catholics went into exile in the Low Countries. In 1576 his son Ellis obtained special permission for him to lodge at the Jesuit college at Antwerp. He lived there through many disturbances in 1578, and seems to have died about 1579 or 1580.
As the author of widely quoted collections of proverbs and epigrams, and a famous wit, John Heywood was well known during the Elizabethan period. His interludes have been produced with success in the 20th century (especially at Birmingham-Malvern, England), and their historical importance in the history of the Tudor interlude, though generally recognized, has only in recent times been adequately understood.
Ellis, son of John; b. London c. 1530; d. Louvain, the Low Countries, Oct. 2, 1578. He studied civil law at Oxford, and received the degree of B.C.L. in 1552, having become a fellow of All Souls College (then a center for legal studies) in 1548. Leaving England (c. 1554–55) for travel in France and Italy, he served for some time as a secretary to Cardinal Reginald pole, to whom he dedicated his Il Moro in 1556. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1566, and later became spiritual father and preacher in the Jesuit college at Antwerp. As chief executor and beneficiary of William Rastell (d. 1565), Ellis deeded his inheritance to Jesuit educational work at Louvain, Cologne, and Munich.
Jasper, son of John; b. London, 1535; d. Naples, Jan. 9, 1598. He was sent to Oxford in 1547 at the youthful age of 12, and took his B.A. in 1553 and his M.A. in 1558. In 1554 he was made a fellow of Merton College (also, the last Lord of Misrule) and served with distinction there until he was elected a fellow of All Souls in 1558. He resigned from All Souls in 1558 or 1559 because of his recusancy, and in 1561 entered Gray's Inn, but he left within the year to go abroad. Jasper is known for his translations of three Senecan tragedies (published 1559, 1560, 1561); T. S. Eliot has called him "the first and best of the translators" of Seneca. This work reveals Jasper as the associate of Thomas Sackville, Thomas North, and William Baldwin, all men of the Inns who were making distinguished contributions to Tudor literature.
After leaving England Jasper was admitted into the Society of Jesus at Rome in 1562. At Dillingen, in Bavaria, he took the degree of doctor of divinity. He was sent into England for missionary work, and arrived in the summer of 1581; he was imprisoned in 1583 and then exiled (1584–85). In 1589 he was sent to Rome, then to Naples, where he died.
See Also: recusants.
Bibliography: e. heywood, Il moro d'Heivodo (Florence 1556). w. bang, "Acta Anglo-Lovaniensia: John Heywood und sein Kreis," Englische Studien 38 (1907) 234–249. h. de vocht, ed., Jasper Heywood and His Translation of Seneca's Troas, Thyestes, and Hercules (Materialen zur Kunde des älteren englischen Dramas 41; Louvain 1913). h. foley, ed., Records of the English Province of the Society of Jesus, 7 v. (London 1877–1882) 1:388. r. j. schoeck, "Anthony Bonvisi, the Heywoods and the Ropers," Notes and Queries 197 (April 26, 1952) 178–179; "Satire of Wolsey in Heywood's 'Play of Love'," ibid., 196 (March 17, 1951) 112–114. t. s. graves, "The Heywood Circle and the Reformation," Modern Philology 10 (1912–13) 553–572; "On the Reputation of John Heywood," ibid. 21 (1923–24) 209–213. r. g. w. bolwell, The Life and Works of John Heywood (New York 1921). i. c. maxwell, French Farce and John Heywood (Melbourne 1946). a. w. reed, Early Tudor Drama (London 1926).
[r. j. schoeck]
"Heywood." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/heywood
"Heywood." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved September 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/heywood