(Bishop of London)

Born: ABT 1475

Died: 8 Sep 1539

English prelate, was born at Colly Weston in Northamptonshire, and became a fellow of Magdalen College, serving also as a lecturer. In 1498 he was made principal of Magdalen Hall, and in 1505 vice-president of Magdalen. College. Soon after 1509 he was appointed a member of the royal council and chaplain to Henry VIII. In 1520 he was at the Field of the Cloth of Gold; in 1529 and 1530 he went to France and Italy as ambassador to Francois I, accompanied by George Boleyn, Lord Rochford. and to gain opinions from foreign universities in favor of the kings divorce from Catalina of Aragon. In 1530 he became Bishop of London. In 1533 he christened the princess Elizabeth, and his later years were troubled by disputes with Archbishop Cranmer. Stokesley opposed all changes in the doctrines of the Church and was very active in persecuting heretics.

The clash between John Stokesley and Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII's leading councillor, mirrored the larger clash between church and state. Stokesley, a staunch opponent of Lutheranism, differed with Cromwell, who urged Henry to look to Germany's Lutheran principalities for an ally.

In 1539 all Catholic monastic orders were suppressed due to their resistance to Henry VIII's religious policy. Of all the English monasteries only Syon Abbey refused to surrender. So Cromwell devised another method to suppress the monastery and gain possession of its property. In May 1538, the King's attorney took out a writ of Praemunire against John Stokesley, Bishop of London, and, as accessories with him, against the Abbess Agnes Jordan and the Confessor-General of Syon, accusing the Bishop of having officiated on three occasions, in 1537 and 1538, at the profession of Brethren at Syon; that on these occasions he had executed a bull of Pope Martin (A.D. 1418) attributing authority to the See of Rome and to the present Bishop of Rome, and that thereby those taking part had made themselves liable to the penalty of praemunire. The punishment for praemunire was: "They should be out of the King's Protection, attached by their Bodies and lose their Lands, Tenements, Goods and Chattets". Stokesley, taken into custody, acknowledged his guilt, implored Cromwell's intercession, and threw himself on the King's mercy. He obtained the King's pardon in JuI, for it was not the Bishop but Syon that Cromwell aimed at.

Stokesley was a man of learning, writing in favor of Henrys divorce, and with Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of Durham, a treatise against Cardinal Pole.

He died on the 8 Sep 1539.

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