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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]

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