Wetenhall, Edward (1636–1713), Church of Ireland bishop of Cork and Ross, and later of Kilmore, was born 7 October 1636 in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England; no details of his parents are available. He was initially educated at Westminster School, being admitted as a King's scholar in 1651. From there he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, which he entered as a foundation scholar (1655), graduating BA (1658). In 1660 he transferred to Lincoln College, Oxford, where he was incorporated BA (1660) and MA (1661). He later graduated BD from Oxford (26 May 1669) and was incorporated BD at Cambridge (1670).
Wetenhall held a number of posts during his time at Oxford, including curate of Longcombe, Oxfordshire, and vicar of St Stephen's parish, Hertfordshire. On 11 June 1667 he was appointed canon residentiary of Exeter, and was later appointed master of the Blue-Coat school there. In 1672 he was invited to Ireland by Archbishop Michael Boyle (qv) to be master of the Blue Coat School. He also held a number of other posts in Dublin, including the curacy of St Werburgh's parish and two prebendaries in St Patrick's, those of Tasagart and Castleknock (being installed in them respectively in July 1674 and April 1675). He also succeeded to the post of praecentor of Christ Church in 1675. On 14 February 1678, after being nominated by the duke of Ormond (qv) as ‘a man exceedingly well qualified for the function’, he was appointed bishop of Cork and Ross in succession to Edward Synge (qv) (d. 22 December 1678), being consecrated on 23 March 1679.
In this office he busied himself improving the diocese, repairing the bishop's palace at his own expense, and recovering lands that had been alienated from the church's possession. He also, after much effort, reestablished the choir of St Finbarr's cathedral in the early 1680s. Wetenhall's other activities at this time are characterised by a concentration on catechising and a tolerance for dissenting protestants, though he continued to insist on the supremacy of the anglican communion. Even prior to being appointed bishop he wrote catechismal works, publishing A method and order for private devotion (1666), Two discourses on the furtherance of Christian piety (1671), and The catechism of the Church of England, with notes (1678; revised and republished 1696, 1698). Regarding dissenters, he wrote The protestant peace-maker: or a seasonable persuasive to all serious Christians, called protestants (1682), which was a call to all protestants to unite. He only engaged in prosecuting dissenters in the immediate wake of the Rye House plot of 1683. By 1688, however, he was allowing quakers to register their marriages in his diocese.
By the early 1680s Wetenhall had attracted the admiration of the earl of Arran (qv), lord deputy, who recommended in 1682, and again in 1683, that Wetenhall be considered for the archbishopric of Cashel when it fell vacant. Likewise, Archbishop Boyle proposed that he be translated to Elphin in 1684, though this was partly motivated by Wetenhall's having angered some of the local gentry in his diocese. In 1684, when the archbishop of Cashel did die, some proposed that Wetenhall be appointed archbishop of Tuam. None of these proposals bore fruit, and Wetenhall continued to be bishop of Cork throughout the reign of James II (qv). At this time he preached obedience to the crown throughout the diocese, publishing sermons on the subject under the title Hexapla Jacobaea: a specimen of loyalty to his present majesty (1686). During the Williamite war Wetenhall remained in Ireland, being one of four Church of Ireland bishops who attended James II's parliament. Subsequently he was imprisoned by the Jacobites in Cork in September 1690.
After the war Wetenhall published anonymously The case of the Irish protestants in relation to recognizing or swearing allegiance to and praying for King William and Queen Mary stated and resolved (1691). This work, influenced by anglican arguments emanating from England, assigned William of Orange (qv) the role of a protestant saviour sent by Providence and defended protestant participation in the ‘glorious revolution’ on the grounds that James II had forfeited his right to loyalty by his actions, though it claimed that Irish protestants had only taken a passive part in the events. Despite this he was suspected by some of having pro-Jacobite sympathies. He continued in office, nonetheless, and on the day of commemoration of the 1641 rebellion he preached an anti-catholic sermon to the Irish parliament in 1692. From 1691 to 1697, furthermore, he took on the role of archdeacon of Cork in commendam. During these years Wetenhall became involved in a number of theological disputes. From 1691 to 1693 he was involved in a dispute with William Sherlock and John Wallis on the Trinity, publishing An earnest and compassionate suit for forbearance . . . by a melancholy stander-by (1691) and The antapology of the melancholy stander-by (1693), both of which led some to question his orthodoxy. Between 1698 and 1699 he entered into a dispute with William Penn (qv), publishing ‘Gospel truths’ . . . by the people called quakers (1698) and A brief and modest reply to Mr Penn's tedious, scurrilous, and unchristian defence against the bishop of Cork (1699).
On 18 April 1699 Wetenhall was translated to the diocese of Kilmore and Ardagh, though it seems that he would gladly have given way to the former possessor of the see, the non-juror William Sheridan (qv). Here he once again repaired the bishop's palace and the cathedral at his own expense and recovered alienated church lands. In 1710 he subscribed to a memorial submitted to the 2nd duke of Ormond (qv), which supported the anglican missionary efforts through the Irish language then being advocated by John Richardson (qv), a cleric in his diocese. This interest, perhaps together with his earlier catechising, suggests that a recent description of him as ‘a quirky reformer’ is apt (Barnard, 193). Others did not approve of all Wetenhall's actions here, however. In 1714 Archbishop King (qv) criticised him for having chopped down a forest at Kilmore, and thus devalued the church's holdings in the diocese.
Wetenhall was a prolific writer all his adult life. Aside from the previously mentioned pieces, his published work included sermons: A sermon of destructive ignorance and saving knowledge, preached in Christ-Church (1672); A sermon setting forth the duties of Irish protestants, arising from the Irish rebellion of 1641, and the Irish tyranny of 1688 (1692); Two sermons preached to the religious societies in St Michael's Church, Dublin (1701), and A sermon preached before the earl of Pembroke, lord lieutenant, and house of lords (1707). His other writings included, The wish; being the tenth satyr of Juvenal, in pindaric verse (1675); Of gifts and offices in the public worship of God (1678); A judgement of the comet, which became first generally visible at Dublin 13th of December 1680 (1682); A practical and plain discourse of the form of godliness visible in the present age; and of the power of godliness, how and when it obtains (1683); Scripture authentick and faith certain (1686), aka A plain discourse (1689); Invisibilia, a discourse opening and demonstrating the unseen world (1705); and View of our Lord's passion (1710). He also published a Greek grammar, Graeca grammaticae institutio compendariae, which ran to numerous editions.
Wetenhall died in London, where he spent his final years, on 12 November 1713. He was survived by his second wife, Philippa (d. 1717), sixth daughter of Sir William D'Oyly, of Kent, and by his sons by his first marriage (no other details of which are known), Edward Wetenhall (c.1663–1733), MD, and John Wetenhall (c.1669–1717); the latter became archdeacon of Cork in succession to his father in 1697. Edward Wetenhall was buried in Westminster abbey. In his will he made it clear that, though he considered the anglican church to be the most perfect church, he felt that it could still be improved in a number of points. Most notably, he felt that clerical communion was in need of particular improvement. There is a portrait in the National Portrait Gallery, London by Isaac Beckett (after Jan van der Vaart).