John Whitght, an English prelate, born in Great Grimsby, Lincolnshire, in 1530, died at Lambeth, Feb. 29, 1604. He was educated at Pembroke hall, Cambridge, under Ridley. After the accession of Elizabeth he entered into holy orders (1560), and was made chaplain to Cox, bishop of Ely; subsequently he became Lady Margaret's professor of divinity, and in 1567 master of Pembroke hall. Soon after the queen made him her chaplain and master of Trinity college, Cambridge, and the same year he also became regius professor of divinity. In 1571 he was vice chancellor of the university, and in 1572 prolocutor to the lower house of convocation. About this time, at the desire of Archbishop Parker, he wrote an answer to a work entitled "An Admonition to the Parliament," which had bitterly assailed the established church. His reply was attacked by Cartwright, and Whitgift rejoined in his "Defence." He was now made dean of Lincoln, and in 1576 bishop of Worcester, and, having also received a civil commission as vice president of the marches of Wales, made constant use of both the temporal and spiritual powers to put down Roman Catholicism and Puritanism. In 1583 he became archbishop of Canterbury. Making use of the court of high commission created under the act of supremacy passed at the beginning of Elizabeth's reign, he removed from stations in the church all schismatics or nonconformists.
In 1585 the star chamber, of which he was a member, at his instigation passed ordinances for the regulation of the press, by which no one was allowed to print except in London, Oxford, and Cambridge; and none but a few special printers were to be suffered to print anything whatsoever until it should be perused and allowed by the archbishop pf Canterbury and the bishop of London. In 1586 he was sworn of the privy council, and framed the statutes of cathedral churches; and in 1595 he assisted in drawing up the celebrated Lambeth articles. - His life was written by Strype and by Sir George Paule. See also Hook's "Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury," vol. x. (London, 1875).