(Bishop of Ely)

Born: 1490, East Kirby, Lincoln, England

Died: 10 May 1554, Bishops Palace, Somersham, Cambridge, England

Buried: Ely Cathedral

Father: William GOODRICKE of East Kirby

Mother: Jane WILLIAMSON (dau. and heiress of William Williamson of Boston, Esq.)

Thomas Goodricke, Bishop of Ely and Lord Chancellor in the reign of Edward VI was the third son of William Goodricke of East Kirby, by his wife Jane, dau. and heiress of William Williamson of Boston, Esq. He was born at East Kirby about the year 1490, and showing early signs of talent and industry, he was entered at Bene't College, Cambridge, at the then usual age of ten. He took his B.A. Degree in 1510, the same year with Cranmer and Latimer, and M.A. 1514. He was a fellow of Jesus College, and was one of the Proctors of the University in 1515. He was presented to the rectory of St. Peter Cheap, 16 Nov 1529 by Cardinal Wolsey as Commendatory of the Abbey of St. Alban.

He was one of the divines consulted by the convocation as to the legality of the King's marriage with Catalina of Aragon, and also one of the syndics appointed by the University of Cambridge to determine that question in Feb 1529/30. At this time he was a doctor of divinity. Soon afterwards he occurs as one of the chaplains to Henry VIII and Canon of St. Stephen's, Westminster.

He was  a commissioner for reforming the Canon Laws in the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI. About a year after the death of Bishop West the King granted a license to the Prior and Convent at Ely, to choose themselves a Bishop and they thereupon, on 17 Mar 1534 elected Dr. Goodricke who was consecrated at Croydon by Archbishop Cranmer on 19 Apr 1534.

It was soon after his elevation to the See of Ely that he repaired and beautified the palace there entirely at his own expense and built the long gallery (called Bishop Goodricke's gallery) on the west side of it. His Arms are still to be seen beneath the central window of this gallery, as also on the sides of it: "Our duty towards God" and "Our duty towards our neighbour"; in nearly the same words as those with which we are familiar in the Church Catechism. This portion of the Catechism was composed by Bishop Goodricke and it has been conjecture with some show of reason that he was the author of the catechism as it appeared in the Prayer Book of 1549.

Bishop Goodricke was a zealous supporter of the Reformation, as may by seen from the mandate which he addressed in the next year to his diocese; in which he directs, that at High Mass or at Vespers, a declaration shall be made in English to the intent that the "Authoritie of long time usurped by the Bisshope of Rome in this realme, who then was called Pope, ys now by God's laws, justly, lawfully, and on grownde raysons and causes, by athorite of Parliament, and by and with the hole consent and agreement of the Bishops, Prelates, and both Universities of Oxforthe and Cambridge and also of the hole Clargie of this realme, extinct and ceased for ever". This document is dated from the Episcopal Palace at Somersham 27 Jun 1535.

In 1537 he was one of the compilers of what was called the "Bishops' Book" which was published under the title of "The Godly and Pious Institution of a Christian Man", (Hore 254) and soon after he was entrusted with the Gospel of St. John in the revision of the New Testament.
In 1541 he published a violent mandate for the utter destruction of "All images and bones of such as the Kyng's people resorted and offered unto", as also: "The ornaments, writings, table monuments of myracles or pylgrymage, shryns, coverings of shryne, appertaining to the said images and bones". These he commanded should be "So totally demolished and obliterated with all speed and diligence that no remains or memory of them might be found for the future".

On the accession of Edward VI he was sworn of the Privy Council, and in Nov 1548 was appointed one of the royal commissioners for the visitation of the University of Cambridge. He was one of the compilers of the First Prayer Book of 1549.

On 15 Mar 1548/9 Bishop Goodricke was sent to prepare Lord Seymour of Sudeley for death, after the warrant had been signed for his execution by his brother the Duke of Somerset.

The Dukes's harsh conduct induced the Bishop to join the malcontents in the Privy Council who sought the overthrow of the Protector. In 1550 Goodricke was one of the bishops who tried to obtain a recantation from Joan Bocher.

In Nov 1550 Goodricke was appointed one of the commissioners for the trial of Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester. Soon afterwards he and Cranmer were ordered by the Council to dispute with George Day, Bishop of Chichester, who was deprived and committed to Goodricke in "Christian Charity". In May 1551 Bishop Goodricke was appointed a commissioner to invest Henri II, King of France with the order of the Garter, and to treat of the marriage of his daughter Elisabeth with Edward VI. On 22 Dec 1551 the great Seal, on the retirement of Lord Chancellor Rich, was given into the Bishop's hands as keeper and Goodricke received the full title of Lord Chancellor on 19th Jan 1551/2 when it was discovered that Rich's illness has been pretended.

In Jun 1553, when the poor young King was stretched on his couch  at Greenwich, dying of a hopeless complication of diseases, the Duke of Northumberland laid a proposal dealing with the succession to the Crown before him, which set aside His Majesty's two sisters (Mary on account of her religion and Elizabeth on that of her doubtful legitimacy) and entailed the throne on the Lady Frances, Marchioness of Dorset, mother of Lady Jane Grey, the newly-wedded bride of Northumberland's son, Lord Guilford Dudley, and on her sisters and their heirs.
Northumberland ended by inducing the dying King to eliminate every one of these other heirs, save and except Lady Jane Grey, who was named his immediate successor. His first step had been the overthrow of Somerset; his second, the alliance of his family with the Royal blood by the marriage of his youngest son, Guilford, to Lady Jane Grey, and the proclamation of Lady Jane as Queen of England was to be the third, The King's Council was easily induced to approve the "Devise" as the scheme was called.  And so it came to pass that when Edward VI passed away on 6 Jul 1553, all was  prepared for the realization of Northumberland's audacious plan.

Bishop Goodricke, the Lord Chancellor, was apparently not consulted upon this settlement of the succession, but his well known zeal for the suppression of popery caused him to be easily persuaded by Northumberland and the Council to affix the great seal to the instrument in which it was declared, and with the rest of the Council he subscribed to the understanding to support the royal testament and he acted continuously on the Council during the nine days of the Lady Jane's usurpation, signing as Chancellor several letters on her behalf.

On 8 Jul 1553, two days after the death of the King, the Duke of Northumberland, accompanied by the Duke of Suffolk, Jane's father, the Earl of Pembroke, Bishop Goodricke, the Lord Chancellor and other members of the Council proceeded on that memorable journey to Syon House, Isleworth, and proclaimed Lady Jane Queen, an honour which she refused with tears and protestations. Lady Jane's scruples were however entirely overcome and on the following afternoon she was conveyed in state from Syon House to the Tower. There is a fine painting by Leslie, R.A. at Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire, which portrays the scene at Syon House on 8th Jul 1553. An engraving of it is here presented (from "Pictures & Royal Portraits; Blackie & Sons, Ltd. Glasgow).  Lady Jane is the chief figure, standing by her side is her husband drawing her attention to the Patent with the Great Seal hanging from it which the Duke of Northumberland, kneeling, is displaying to her view.  Prominent among the other figures - all kneeling - is the Lord Chancellor holding his insignia of office in both hands.

Jane was proclaimed Queen in the city of London on 10 Jul 1553 but the people received the announcement with manifest coldness. Meanwhile events within the Tower moved rapidly. Bad news came in daily and it became increasingly evident that Northumberland's efforts were being checked at every turn. At last, the Duke growing desperate, decided to take the field against Mary himself, and he departed, very unwillingly on 12 Jul, after a meeting of the Council which sat daily in the White Tower, and rode northwards with a troop of horse and several noblemen. He got as far as Bury St. Edmunds, and then, scenting defeat, fell back on Cambridge, where he was taken an unresisting prisoner by the Earl of Arundel and Sir John Gates, both of whom had, up to that time, pretended to be his warmest friends.

The leading actors in the conspiracy were now called to answer for their deeds. Northumberland was tried and sent to the block (22 Aug 1553). Sir Thomas Palmer and Sir John Gates suffered with him. Lady Jane Grey and her husband, Lord Guildford Dudley, were executed 12 Feb in the following year. Thus ends the tragic story of Lady Jane Grey one of the most popular heroines in our history, the helpless victim of circumstances, and of the soaring ambition of a singularly masterful and unscrupulous man.

Bishop Goodricke was imprisoned being one of those named for trial as  traitors. His action in affixing the great Seal to the "Devise" was alone sufficient to have speedily brought him to the scaffold along with Northumberland and those who suffered death with him.

Queen Mary had herself struck the Bishop's name out of the list of those to be tried, he was released and safely reached his home at Ely. Mary's reason for exempting from trial was consideration for his age and on account of his having joined in the order sent by the Council on 20 Jul commanding the Duke of Northumberland to disarm. The Great Seal, of course, was taken from him. He did homage the Queen on the day of her coronation 1 Oct 1553 and was permitted to retain his bishopric until his death.

Bishop Goodricke died on 10 May 1554, was buried in the Chancel of Ely Cathedral and the handsome monumental brass to his memory -much mutilated, however, during the Civil War- is the oldest remaining in that beautiful building. This brass is now in the south aisle of the choir and it seems probable that it was removed to that position when the Cathedral was renovated.

The Effigy represents the Bishop in full Episcopal vestments. The alb, which is handsomely ornamented in the orfray, reaches to the feet, which are sandaled; above these is the tunick; between the latter and the dalmatick the fringed ends of the stole are visible; the maniple and chasuble are both richly ornamented. In the left hand is the pastrol staff adorned with the vexillum; in the right, the Bible and the great seal.  The legend which is now much mutilated is in Latin. Six small scrolls contained the Bishop's motto "Si Deus nobiscum, quis contra nos" and his name "Goodryke".

Bishop Goodricke's Will, dated 24 Apr, was proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury 7 Oct 1554.

He stood forth boldly in defence of what he considered right, but that he was very considerably influenced by the "new learning" his conduct while in the See of Ely abundantly shows, and this burning zeal for the promotion of Protestantism undoubtedly contributed largely to his acquiescence in Northumberland's plans on behalf of Lady Jane Grey.

There is ample evidence that King Edward was entirely persuaded and most fully believed that Northumberland's intense desire to see the "Devise" carried into effect was the outcome of his zeal for the new religion. Archbishop Cranmer and others of the Council had qualms of conscience as to it legality but Cranmer, as the result of an interview with the King was finally converted to his views and it is on record that when he, with the others, signed the scheme for the succession of the Lady Jane Grey he did it unpainedly and without dissimulation.

There seems to be, therefore, no reason for doubting the "bona fides" of the Chancellor in his action, ill advised as it was. Bishop Hooper, writing to Bullinger on 27 Dec 1549, refers to Goodricke as one of the six or seven bishops who comprehended the (so-called) reformed doctrine relating to the Lord's Supper with as much clearness and piety as one could desire.


Goodricke family files

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