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Nicholas Ridley

Ridley, Nicholas, c.1500–1555, English prelate, reformer, and Protestant martyr. In 1534, while a proctor of Cambridge, he signed the decree against the pope's supremacy in England. In 1537 he became chaplain to Thomas Cranmer, in 1540 master of Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, and in 1541 chaplain to Henry VIII and canon of Canterbury. As bishop of Rochester (1547), Ridley was chosen to strengthen and establish the Reformed teachings at Cambridge. In the reign of Edward VI, he took part in compiling (1548) the Book of Common Prayer, and he was a commissioner in the examination that resulted in the deposition of bishops Stephen Gardiner and Edmund Bonner. In 1550 he succeeded Bonner as bishop of London, where he did much to improve the condition of the poor by preaching on social injustices before the king. Ridley supported Lady Jane Grey's claims to the crown, and in 1553, shortly after Mary Tudor's accession as the Catholic Mary I, he was imprisoned. With Cranmer and Hugh Latimer he took part (1554) in the Oxford disputations against a group of Catholic theologians and would not recant his Protestant faith. He was burned at the stake with Latimer before Balliol Hall, Oxford. Latimer's parting words to Ridley are often quoted: "Be of good courage, brother Ridley, and play the man; for we shall this day light such a candle by God's grace in England, as I trust shall never be put out."

See his works (ed. by H. Christmas, 1841); biography by J. G. Ridley (1957).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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