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Thomas Goodrich

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Thomas Goodrich

Bishop Goodrich.

Thomas Goodrich (or Goodricke) (1494 – 10 May 1554) was an English ecclesiastic and statesman.


He was a younger son of Edward and Jane Goodryke of East Kirkby Nee Williamson daughter and heiress of William Williamson of Boston Co, Lincolnshire, and brother of Henry Goodricke of Ribston Hall, North Yorkshire. Born about 1490 in East Kirkby, and died May 10th 1554 at the Bishops Palace, Somersham, Co Cambridge and buried Ely Cathedral. Bishop Thomas Goodrick. Pedigree in the Genealogist vol, IV, P.31 taken from the Visitations of Lincolnshire 1564 spelling Goodryke. Goodricke [Goodryke], Thomas (1494–1554), bishop of Ely and the last Ecclesiastical High lord chancellor, He was educated in Lincolnshire and at Bennett College Cambridge, at then the usual age of ten, afterwards becoming a fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge in the same university. [1] His early life at Jesus, Goodrick was an exact contemporary and close friend of his fellow Lincolnshire student Thomas Cranmer. Having graduated BA in 1510 and MA in 1514, he became a fellow of the college and was made a proctor in 1515. He was ordained deacon in Lincoln diocese in 1522, and priest the next year. Little is known of his Cambridge career, though he proceeded to a doctorate in civil law during the 1520s. In 1529, perhaps as a consequence of his friendship with Cranmer, he was drawn into royal favour, as one of the team of divines researching the legality of the king's marriage to Katherine of Aragon. In 1533 Goodrick was sent on embassy to France, and then early in 1534 was catapulted to high ecclesiastical office. Nicholas West's designated successor as bishop of Ely, his nephew Nicholas Hawkins, died on embassy to Emperor Charles V in January of that year. Within a month of the government receiving the news Goodrick was promoted to Ely: he was elected on 17 March, given custody of the temporalities on 2 April, and consecrated at Croydon by his friend the new archbishop on 19 April. Goodrick's rapid rise to the senior ranks of the episcopate must have been driven by the regime's need to find a reliable prelate and sure supporter of the royal supremacy to manage the see that contained the key University of Cambridge. He proved his worth to his royal master in the first turbulent years of the Reformation: in 1535, for example, he ordered the preaching of the royal supremacy in all Cambridge parishes by the masters and fellows of the colleges. His support for the supremacy already seems to have been underpinned by cautious evangelical sentiment. He intervened as college visitor in the affairs of St John's College in the early 1540s, negotiating a compromise between the warring fellows by which the radical master, John Taylor, was required to reinstate three conservatives he had expelled, but Thomas Lever was admitted to the fellowship in balance. His interest in the wider reform movement is also indicated by those he supported in his immediate entourage: Peter Valens, an important French reformer, became his almoner, and William Meye, much later to be nominated as archbishop of York under Elizabeth, was his first vicar-general and official principal. During the rest of Henry VIII's reign Goodrick was a consistent supporter of his friend Cranmer's efforts to sustain moderate reformation. He was one of those involved in the production of the Bishops' Book in 1537, but achieved greater prominence as a vigorous speaker during the controversy over the Act of Six Articles (1539), when he was often one of only three prelates speaking openly for the evangelical cause.

In the aftermath of the conservative triumph Goodrick had some uncomfortable moments: in December 1540, for example, he was suspected of encouraging the translation of Melanchthon's attack on the six articles and the privy council ordered his study to be searched. However, he continued as a spokesman of the evangelical cause: in 1541 he and Robert Holgate, bishop of Llandaff, contributed to the king's doctrine commission and worked to modify conservative views on the liturgy. The next year he was one of only two bishops, the other being Barlow of St David's, who supported Cranmer's reformist view on the revision of the Great Bible, and he no doubt assisted the latter's efforts to torpedo the whole project. But Goodrick did not automatically replicate the archbishop's beliefs: in his responses to questions on the mass posed in 1540 he argued against his friend that communion in both kinds was unnecessary. In both 1543 and the last year of Henry's reign Goodrick seems to have been in the thick of battles between evangelicals and conservatives: he was one of those commissioned to examine Dean Heynes of Exeter in 1543, and participated in the trial of the Windsor heretics, where, according to Foxe, he and the bishop of Hereford showed sympathy with John Marbeck ‘so far as they durst’ (Acts and Monuments, 5.486). The execution of Anne Askew and John Lascelles in 1546 touched some of his close contacts, especially the courtier George Blagge, who was arrested but not tried. On 16 November he was admitted to the rectory of St Peter Westcheap, London, on the presentation of Wolsey, who held it as commendatory of St Albans Abbey. Further promotions followed: to a royal chaplaincy and to one of the canonries of St Stephen's, Westminster, the latter during 1533. He enjoyed the patronage of the Boleyns. Meanwhile he had been one of the syndics appointed by the University of Cambridge to rule on the legality of the Aragonese marriage, and his support of the royal cause led to further work for the annulment team. He had a major share in the production of The Glass of Truth (1532), which argued against the resolution of the divorce dispute at Rome. He was among the divines consulted about the legality of Henry VIII's marriage with Catherine of Aragon, became one of the royal chaplains about 1530, and was consecrated Bishop of Ely in 1534. He was favourable to the Reformation, helped in 1537 to draw up the Institution of a Christian Man (known as the Bishops' Book), and translated the Gospel of St John for the revised New Testament.

On the accession of Edward VI in 1547 the bishop was made a privy councillor, and took a conspicuous part in public affairs during the reign. "A busy secular spirited man," as the historian Burnet called him, he was equally opposed to the zealots of the "old" and the "new religion."

He assisted to compile the First Prayer Book of Edward VI, was one of the commissioners for the trial of Bishop Gardiner, and in January 1552 succeeded Richard Rich as Lord High Chancellor. This office he continued to hold during the reign of Lady Jane Grey (July 1553); but he made his peace with Queen Mary, conformed to the restored Catholic religion, and, though deprived of the Chancellorship, was allowed to keep his Bishopric until his death on May 10th 1554 at the Bishops Palace, Somersham, Co Cambridge and buried Ely Cathedral. Bishop Thomas Goodryke was buried in the south aisle of the choir of Ely Cathedral, between the graves of Bishop Walter de Luda and Bishop Heton; and a handsome monumental brass to his memory, much mutilated, is I believe the oldest remaining in that edifice. The brass represents the Bishop in full robes, the Bible and great seal in his right hand and the pastoral staff in his left. The canopy, a large portion of the legend, the arms, and the small scrolls, excepting two, are lost. The six scrolls contained the Bishop’s motto, “Si Deus nobiscum quis contra nos “. If God is with us who will stand against us. (Other images of him from this period offer a bearded and thinner faced man.[2])


  1. ^
  2. ^ Sources D. MacCulloch, Thomas Cranmer: a life (1996). register of Archbishop Cranmer, LPL. Goodrich register, CUL, Ely diocesan records, G/1/7. ‘Roberti Stewarde, prioris ultimi Eliensis, continuatio historiae Eliensis’, Anglia sacra, ed. [H. Wharton], 1 (1691), 675–7. Correspondence of Matthew Parker, ed. J. Bruce and T. T. Perowne, Parker Society, 42 (1853). C. A Goodricke History of the Goodricke Family 1885.The acts and monuments of John Foxe, ed. J. Pratt [new edn], 8 vols. in 16 (1853–70). Martin Bucer and the Book of Common Prayer, ed. E. C. Whitaker, Alcuin Club, 55 (1974) • H. Robinson, ed. and trans., Original letters relative to the English Reformation, 1 vol. in 2, Parker Society, [26] (1846–7) G. Burnet, The history of the Reformation of the Church of England, rev. N. Pocock, new edn, 7 vols. (1865) • M. Aston, England's iconoclasts, 1 (1988) J. B. Mullinger, The University of Cambridge from 1535 to 1625 (1884). A. R. Maddison, ed., Lincolnshire pedigrees, 2, Harleian Society, 51 (1903). History of the Goodrick Family. Likenesses H. Holbein, grant of charter to Bridewell Hospital • brass effigy, Ely Cathedral, Goodrick family archives. . History of the Goodrick, By M B Goodrick


  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Nicholas West
Bishop of Ely
Succeeded by
Thomas Thirlby
Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Rich, 1st Baron Rich
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
Stephen Gardiner
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