John KYTE

(Bishop of Carlisle)

Died: 19 Jun 1537, London, Middlesex, England

Buried: Stepney


A citizen of London, sub-dean in the King's chapel, and was sent by Henry VII as Ambassador to Spain. In 1513 he was made Bishop of Armagh by papal provision, which he afterwards, 1521, resigned for the archiepiscopal see of Thebes, in Greece, and held this nominal dignity with the prelacy of Carlisle. His translation to Thebes and Carlisle was effected by the influence of Cardinal Wolsey, whose friendship Kyte requited by continuing steadfast to him even in his adversity. Wolsey made him his intimate acquaintance, conversed freely with him in his prosperity. and applied to him for aid in his adversity. It is worth while to mention that the fees demanded by the Papal Court on Kyte's translation amounted to 1890 ducats. In the tariff issued in 1511, on authority of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, the papal ducat is valued at 33 groats, so we get 1,039 10s. as the demand made upon Kyte, or two years' income of the see of Carlisle, which in the Valor of Henry VIII is estimated at 541. No wonder the nation had long groaned under such exactions, and under the large sums which were drawn from their pockets for probates and mortuaries by Bishops and priests, too often imposed upon them by foreign authority.

In 1524 and 1526, Henry VIII appointed Bishop Kyte one of his commissioners to treat for peace with the King of Scots. In 1529, he signed "an instrument approving the reasonableness of the King's scruples concerning his marriage"; and in 1530 he again disgraced his name by signing with Wolsey and the whole peerage of England, "the bold letter to pope Clement VII in the case of the King's divorce"; and yet, in 1538, we find his name amongst the list of Bishops who adhered to Edward Lee, Archbishop of York in opposing the change of religion which was favoured by Thomas Crammer and his party.

In Oct 1536, a rebellion of some sixty thousand persons, rose in Lincolnshire, and subsided in a fortnight. It was followed by the rising in Yorkshire, known as Aske's Rebellion or "Pilgrimage of Grace". This was compromising for Bishop Kyte, as pointing to his complicity with the insurgents, but Kyte was beyond the King's power.

Bishop Kyte made large additions to Rose Castle, and died in London 19 Jun 1537. He was buried at Stepney, where an inscription upon a marble stone which is placed over his remains, records, in doggerel rhyme, virtues which it is supposed he did not possess. He was succeeded by Robert Aldridge.

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