Ridley, Nicholas

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RIDLEY, NICHOLAS

Bishop of Rochester and London and prominent English reformer; b. Unthank Hall near Willemoteswick, Northumberland, c. 1500; d. Oxford, Oct. 16, 1555. As a descendant of an ancient family of knights, he was educated at Cambridge, where he received the master of arts (1516). After further study at the Sorbonne and at Louvain, he returned to Cambridge as a fellow of Pembroke Hall (c. 1530); chaplain to Thomas cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury (1537); vicar of Herne, Kent (1538); master of Pembroke Hall (1540); and chaplain to Henry VIII (1540). As proctor to Cambridge (1534), Ridley had signed the decree against papal supremacy; and a few months after the accession of King Edward VI, he was made bishop of Rochester (1547) through Cranmer's influence. He was one of the principal theologians among the English reformers and was instrumental in establishing Protestantism at Cambridge. He assisted in compiling the Book of common prayer. Upon becoming bishop of London (1550), he ordered all altars in his diocese removed and replaced with tables. He denied the doctrine of transubstantiation. He supported Lady Jane Grey in 1553 as King Edward's successor, and soon after Queen Mary's accession, he was arrested. He was tried for heresy and convicted, and with Hugh latimer he was burned at the stake before Balliol Hall, Oxford.

Bibliography: Works, ed. h. christmas (Cambridge, Eng.1841), with biographical sketch. p. hughes, The Reformation in England, rev. ed., 3 v. in 1 (New York 1963). l. b. smith, Tudor Prelates and Politics, 15361558 (Princeton 1953). m. schmidt, Die Religion und Geschichte und Gegenwart, 6 v. (Tübingen 195763) 5:1099. s. lee, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 16:11721175.

[d. j. gunderson]

Ridley, Nicholas

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Ridley, Nicholas (c.1500–55). One of the celebrated ‘Oxford martyrs’, Ridley played a significant role in shaping the protestant Church of England under Edward VI. A Northumbrian by birth, he studied at Newcastle, Cambridge, Paris, and Louvain, and around 1524 became a fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge. In 1537 Archbishop Cranmer chose him as a chaplain; in 1540 he returned to Pembroke as master. Soon after the accession of Edward VI, he was made bishop of Rochester. He played a role in the drafting of the first, moderate but controversial 1549 version of the Book of Common Prayer. In 1550 he was translated to London when the then bishop, the staunchly catholic Edmund Bonner, was deposed and imprisoned. There he introduced some of the protestant liturgical innovations which were adopted nationally in the second Book of Common Prayer (1552). He was implicated in the duke of Northumberland's plot to divert the succession to Lady Jane Grey; however, it was for heresy rather than treason that Mary I pursued him. Ranged against catholic antagonists at the Oxford disputation of 1554, he defended himself bravely. He was degraded on 30 September 1555, and executed by burning at Oxford on 16 October, alongside the former bishop of Worcester, Hugh Latimer.

Euan Cameron

Ridley, Nicholas

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Ridley, Nicholas (c.1500–55). English Reformation bishop. Consecrated bishop of Rochester in 1547, he was, on Bonner's deprivation, made bishop of London (1550). A memorable preacher, he gave forceful publicity in his diocese to his revised eucharistic views by replacing the stone altar with a wooden Communion table. On Mary's accession he was arrested and later burnt with Latimer at Oxford. He exerted a great influence on Cranmer who always regarded him as of superior ability, especially in controversy.

Ridley, Nicholas

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Ridley, Nicholas (1500–55) English bishop and Protestant martyr. He was made bishop of Rochester (1547) and of London (1550). As chaplain to Thomas Cranmer, Ridley helped to compile the Book of Common Prayer (1549). In 1553, he supported the Protestant Lady Jane Grey against the Catholic Mary I. Convicted of heresy under Mary, he was burned at the stake.

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