John Stokesley

Last updated

The Right Reverend

John Stokesley
Bishop of London
Church Roman Catholic
Diocese Diocese of London
Term ended1539 (death)
Predecessor Cuthbert Tunstall
Successor Edmund Bonner
Ordination1504 (deacon), 1505 (priest) [1]
Consecrationc. 1530
by  John Longland
Personal details
Born(1475-09-08)8 September 1475 [2]
Died(1539-09-08)8 September 1539
Nationality English
Denomination Catholic
Profession Academic
Alma mater Magdalen College, Oxford

John Stokesley (8 September 1475 – 8 September 1539) was an English clergyman who was Bishop of London during the reign of Henry VIII.



Stokesley was born at Collyweston in Northamptonshire, and became a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1495, serving also as a lecturer. He graduated MA in 1500, and was successively ordained a deacon in 1504, a priest in 1505, and then proceeded DTh in 1516. [2] In 1498 he was made principal of Magdalen Hall, and in 1505 vice-president of Magdalen College. [3] Soon after 1509 he was appointed a member of the royal council, and chaplain and almoner to Henry VIII; [3] he attended Henry as his chaplain at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. He succeeded his relative Richard Stokesley as rector of North Luffenham, Rutland, in 1527. [1]

In 1529 and 1530 he went to France and Italy as ambassador to Francis I and to gain opinions from foreign universities in favour of the king's divorce from Catherine of Aragon. [1]

He became Bishop of London and Lord Almoner in 1530, and in September 1533 christened the future Queen Elizabeth. [3] [1] His later years were troubled by disputes with Archbishop Cranmer; Stokesley opposed all changes in the doctrines of the church, remaining hostile to the English Bible and fought to maintain all seven traditional sacraments, shrines and pilgrimages. [4] Stokesley was a staunch opponent of Lutheranism, and very active in persecuting heretics, claiming himself to have caused more than 30 to be executed. [1]

In May 1538, the King's attorney took out a writ of Praemunire against Stokesley and, as accessories with him, against the Abbess Agnes Jordan and the Confessor-General of Syon Abbey. Stokesley acknowledged his guilt, implored Thomas Cromwell's intercession, and threw himself on the King's mercy. [2] He obtained the King's pardon. [1]

He was one of the primary architects of the Six Articles of 1539, which enshrined traditional religion into law.[ citation needed ] They became law in June 1539.

Stokesley died on 8 September 1539, and was buried at St Paul's Cathedral on 14 September 1539. [5]


Stokesley was a man of learning. He was well-versed in philosophy and theology, and had knowledge of the classical languages of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. He wrote in favour of Henry's divorce, and with Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, a treatise against Henry VIII's kinsman Cardinal Pole. [1] [2]

Related Research Articles

Thomas Cranmer 16th-century English Archbishop of Canterbury and Protestant reformer

Thomas Cranmer was a leader of the English Reformation and Archbishop of Canterbury during the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI and, for a short time, Mary I. He helped build the case for the annulment of Henry's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, which was one of the causes of the separation of the English Church from union with the Holy See. Along with Thomas Cromwell, he supported the principle of royal supremacy, in which the king was considered sovereign over the Church within his realm.

Thomas Cromwell English statesman and chief minister to King Henry VIII of England

Thomas Cromwell, briefly Earl of Essex, was an English lawyer and statesman who served as chief minister to King Henry VIII from 1534 to 1540, when he was beheaded on orders of the king, who later blamed false charges for the execution.

Thirty-nine Articles Doctrinal statement of the Church of England and other Anglican churches

The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are the historically defining statements of doctrines and practices of the Church of England with respect to the controversies of the English Reformation. The Thirty-nine Articles form part of the Book of Common Prayer used by both the Church of England and the U.S. Episcopal Church, among other denominations in the worldwide Anglican Communion and Anglican Continuum.

Edmund Bonner Sixteenth-century English Catholic bishop

Edmund Bonner was Bishop of London from 1539 to 1549 and again from 1553 to 1559.

Nicholas Ridley (martyr) Bishop of London; Anglican Saint

Nicholas Ridley was an English Bishop of London. Ridley was burned at the stake as one of the Oxford Martyrs during the Marian Persecutions for his teachings and his support of Lady Jane Grey. He is remembered with a commemoration in the calendar of saints in some parts of the Anglican Communion on 16 October.

Edward Foxe was an English churchman, Bishop of Hereford. He played a major role in Henry VIII's divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and he assisted in drafting the Ten Articles of 1536.

Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton

Thomas Wriothesley, 1st Earl of Southampton, KG was an English peer, secretary of state, Lord Chancellor and Lord High Admiral. A naturally skilled but unscrupulous and devious politician who changed with the times and personally tortured Anne Askew, Wriothesley served as a loyal instrument of King Henry VIII in the latter's break with the Catholic church. Richly rewarded with royal gains from the Dissolution of the Monasteries, he nevertheless prosecuted Calvinists and other dissident Protestants when political winds changed.

Anne Askew English Protestant martyr (1521–1546)

Anne Askew was an English writer, poet, and Anabaptist preacher who was condemned as a heretic in England during the reign of Henry VIII of England. She and Margaret Cheyne, wife of Sir John Bulmer, who was similarly tortured and executed after the Pilgrimage of Grace in 1537, are the only women on record known to have been both tortured in the Tower of London and burnt at the stake.

The Royal Almonry is a small office within the Royal Households of the United Kingdom, headed by the Lord High Almoner, an office dating from 1103. The almoner is responsible for distributing alms to the poor.

John Ponet, sometimes spelled John Poynet, was an English Protestant churchman and controversial writer, the bishop of Winchester and Marian exile. He is now best known as a resistance theorist who made a sustained attack on the divine right of kings.

John Scory was an English Dominican friar who later became a bishop in the Church of England.

Nicholas Shaxton was an English Reformer and Bishop of Salisbury.

George Day was the Bishop of Chichester.

John Capon, aliasJohn Salcot was a Benedictine monk who became bishop of Bangor, then bishop of Salisbury under Henry VIII. He is often referred to as John Salcot alias Capon.

William Kingsmill alias William Basyng (?–1549) was Prior of St. Swithun's Priory, Winchester until the Dissolution of the Monastery in 1539; it was a Benedictine monastic house and its shrine to the saint popularly associated with determining the entire period of pre-harvest weather was a place of pilgrimage. He was appointed as the first Dean of Winchester Cathedral at the foundation of the new chapter in 1541.

William Benson was an English Benedictine, the last Abbot of Westminster and first Dean of Westminster. He was a friend of Thomas Cranmer, and belonged to the evangelical circle around Cranmer that included Thomas Goodrich, Hugh Latimer and Thomas Thirlby.

Edward Lee was Archbishop of York from 1531 until his death.

Dr Richard Gwent was a senior ecclesiastical jurist, pluralist cleric and administrator through the period of the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. Of south Welsh origins, as a Doctor of both laws in the University of Oxford he rose swiftly to become Dean of the Arches and Archdeacon of London and of Brecon, and later of Huntingdon. He became an important figure in the operations of Thomas Cromwell, was a witness to Thomas Cranmer's private protestation on becoming Archbishop of Canterbury, and was Cranmer's Commissary and legal draftsman. He was an advocate on behalf of Katherine of Aragon in the proceedings against her, and helped to deliver the decree of annulment against Anne of Cleves.

John London, DCL was Warden of New College, Oxford, and a prominent figure in the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII of England.

The will of Henry VIII of England was a significant constitutional document, or set of contested documents created in the 1530s and 1540s, affecting English and Scottish politics for the rest of the 16th century. In conjunction with legislation passed by the English Parliament, it was supposed to have a regulative effect in deciding the succession to the three following monarchs of the House of Tudor, the three legitimate and illegitimate children of King Henry VIII of England. Its actual legal and constitutional status was much debated; and arguably the succession to Elizabeth I of England did not respect Henry's wishes.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Pollard 1898, pp. 403–405.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Chibi 2004.
  3. 1 2 3 Foster 1891, pp. 1422–1452.
  4. MacCulloch 1996, pp. 200–201, 204.
  5. Wriothesley 1875, pp. 105–107.


Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Stokesley, John". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 953.

Catholic Church titles
Church of England titles
Preceded by Bishop of London
Succeeded by