John Alcock (bishop)

Last updated

John Alcock
Bishop of Ely
Jesus College Glass.jpg
Stained glass depicting John Alcock, in
Jesus College, Cambridge, which he founded
Appointed6 October 1486
Term ended1 October 1500
Predecessor John Morton
Successor Richard Redman
Consecration15 March 1472
by  Thomas Bourchier
Personal details
Died1 October 1500
Denomination Catholic
Previous post(s) Bishop of Rochester
Bishop of Worcester

John Alcock (c.1430 – 1 October 1500) was an English churchman, bishop and Lord Chancellor.



Alcock was born at Beverley in Yorkshire, son of Sir William Alcock, Burgess of Kingston upon Hull, and was educated at the University of Cambridge. [1] In 1461 he was made dean of St Stephen's Chapel, Westminster, and his subsequent promotion was rapid in both church and state. In the following year he was made Master of the Rolls, [2] and in 1470 was sent as ambassador to the Crown Court of Castile. He was nominated to the see of Rochester on 8 January 1472, was consecrated Bishop of Rochester on 15 March [3] and was successively translated to the see of Worcester on 15 July 1476 [4] and the see of Ely on 6 October 1486. [5] He was the first president of the Council of the Marches in Wales from 1473 to 1500. He twice held the office of Lord Chancellor, once from June 1475 to September 1475 and then again from October 1485 to March 1487. [2]

Alcock was one of the leading pre-Reformation divines; he was a man of deep learning and also of great proficiency as an architect. Besides founding a charity at Beverley and a grammar school at Kingston upon Hull, he restored many churches and colleges; but his greatest achievement was the building of Jesus College, Cambridge, which he established on the site of the former Convent of St Radegund.

Alcock was appointed to the Council in 1470 and became Master of the Rolls in 1471, soon after being appointed tutor to King Edward IV's eldest son, Prince Edward. After the King's death he was with Prince Edward when he was intercepted by Richard, Duke of Gloucester, at Stony Stratford. Alcock was arrested and removed from office but soon rejoined the council. He was with King Richard III when he entered York in August 1483 and was a member of the English delegation that met the Scots at Nottingham.

Later Alcock was one of several clerics who openly canvassed the proposition that Henry Tudor marry Elizabeth of York. Appointed temporary Lord Chancellor he opened King Henry VII's first Parliament on 7 November 1485 and became one of the new king's most trusted servants.

Alcock died on 1 October 1500 [5] and lies buried in the Alcock Chantry in Ely Cathedral.

Princes in the Tower

The novelist Valerie Anand, a believer in the innocence of Richard III in the matter of The Princes in the Tower, points out that Alcock, the tutor of Edward V, never quarrelled with Richard III, either publicly or privately, but chose to "continue to work serenely beside Richard". [6] This would have been unthinkable if Alcock had any reason at all to suspect that King Richard had done any harm to his nephew Edward.


Alcock's published writings, most of which are extremely rare, are: Mons Perfectionis, or the Hill of Perfection (London, 1497); [7] Gallicontus Johannis Alcock episcopi Eliensis ad frates suos curatas in sinodo apud Barnwell (1498), a good specimen of early English printing and quaint illustrations; The Castle of Labour, translated from the French (1536), and various other tracts and homilies. [8]


  1. "Alcock, John (ALCK469J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. 1 2 Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 88
  3. Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 268
  4. Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 280
  5. 1 2 Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 245
  6. Anand, Valerie Crown of Roses (1989), p. 404
  7. Full text (page views) at Internet Archive.
  8. See J. Bass Mullinger's History of the University of Cambridge, vol. i.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Bourchier (cardinal)</span> 15th-century Archbishop of Canterbury, Chancellor of England, and cardinal

Thomas Bourchier was a medieval English cardinal, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Lord Chancellor of England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Rotherham</span> 15th-century Archbishop of York and Chancellor of England

Thomas Rotherham, also known as Thomas (Scot) de Rotherham, was an English cleric and statesman. He served as bishop of several dioceses, most notably as Archbishop of York and, on two occasions as Lord Chancellor. He is considered a venerable figure in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, his town of birth.

Robert Stillington was an English cleric and administrator who was Bishop of Bath and Wells from 1465 and twice served as Lord Chancellor under King Edward IV. In 1483 he was instrumental in the accession of King Richard III, leading to later reprisals against him under King Henry VII.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Richard Foxe</span> 15th and 16th-century Bishop of Bath and Wells, Exeter, Durham, and Winchester

Richard Foxe was an English churchman, the founder of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He was successively Bishop of Exeter, Bath and Wells, Durham, and Winchester, and became also Lord Privy Seal.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Burghersh</span> 14th-century Bishop of Lincoln, Treasurer of England, and Chancellor of England

Henry Burghersh, was Bishop of Lincoln (1320-1340) and served as Lord Chancellor of England (1328–1330). He was a younger son of Robert de Burghersh, 1st Baron Burghersh, and a nephew of Bartholomew de Badlesmere, 1st Baron Badlesmere. He was educated in France.

John Chishull or John de Chishull was Lord Chancellor of England, Bishop of London, and Lord High Treasurer during the 13th century. He also served as Dean of St Paul's.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Oliver King</span> 15th and 16th-century Bishop of Bath and Wells

Oliver King was a Bishop of Exeter and Bishop of Bath and Wells who restored Bath Abbey after 1500.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">George Neville (bishop)</span> 15th-century Archbishop of York and Chancellor of England

George Neville was Archbishop of York from 1465 until 1476 and Chancellor of England from 1460 until 1467 and again from 1470 until 1471.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas de Brantingham</span> 14th-century Bishop of Exeter and Treasurer of England

Thomas de Brantingham was an English clergyman who served as Lord Treasurer to Edward III and on two occasions to Richard II, and as bishop of Exeter from 1370 until his death. De Brantingham was a member of the Brantingham family of North East England.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John de Ufford</span> 14th-century Archbishop of Canterbury-elect and Chancellor of England

John de Ufford was chancellor and head of the royal administration to Edward III as well as being appointed to the Archbishopric of Canterbury.

John of Thoresby was an English clergyman and politician, who was Bishop of St David's, then Bishop of Worcester and finally Archbishop of York. He was Lord Chancellor of England under King Edward III starting from 1349.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lawrence Booth</span> 15th-century Archbishop of York and Chancellor of England

Lawrence Booth served as Prince-Bishop of Durham and Lord Chancellor of England, before being appointed Archbishop of York.

John Russell was an English Bishop of Rochester and bishop of Lincoln and Lord Chancellor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Hales (bishop of Coventry and Lichfield)</span> 15th-century Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield

John Hales was Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield (1459-1490). He was one of the Worthies of Devon of the biographer John Prince (d.1723).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Hotham (bishop)</span> Bishop, Chancellor and Treasurer of England (died 1337)

John Hotham was a medieval Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord High Treasurer, Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Ely. He was also effective Governor of Ireland for a time.

Robert Braybrooke was a medieval Dean of Salisbury and Bishop of London.

William Ayermin was a medieval Bishop of Norwich.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Low (bishop)</span> 15th-century Bishop of Rochester and Bishop of St Asaph

John Low or John Lowe was a medieval Bishop of St Asaph and then Bishop of Rochester, in Wales and England respectively. He was an Augustinian monk and opponent of the Lollard movement.

John Sandale was a Gascon medieval Lord High Treasurer, Lord Chancellor and Bishop of Winchester.


Political offices
Preceded by Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
Preceded by Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Rochester
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of Worcester
Succeeded by
Preceded by Bishop of Ely
Succeeded by