Taylor, John (1503?-1554) (DNB00)

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TAYLOR, JOHN (1503?–1554), bishop of Lincoln, born about 1503, was probably a relative, and possibly a son, of John Taylor (d. 1534) [q. v.], master of the rolls, to whose arms his own were very similar. He was educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1523–4, and M.A. in 1527. He was elected fellow of his college about 1524, was bursar from 1527 to 1529, and proctor in 1532. On 14 April 1536 he was admitted rector of St. Peter's, Cornhill, on the presentation of Sir William Butts [q. v.], the king's physician (cf. Wriothesley, Chron. i. 72). A sermon which he preached here in 1538 led John Lambert (d. 1538) [q. v.] into controversy about the eucharist, and Lambert's death is said to have so affected Taylor that he became an enemy to all persecution. In the same year he was elected dean of Lincoln, and on 3 Feb. 1538–9 he was collated to the prebend of Bedford Minor. In 1540 he signed the letter of the clergy to Henry VIII pronouncing null his marriage with Anne of Cleves (State Papers, Hen. VIII, i. 633).

On 4 July 1538, on Henry VIII's nomination, Taylor was elected master of St. John's College, Cambridge, proceeding D.D. at the same time. The first two years of his mastership were peaceful, and Ascham congratulated him on the success of his rule (Epistolæ, lib. ii. No. 12). But the preferment of a stranger to the mastership alienated the other fellows, and the dissensions between them and Taylor led in 1542 to a visitation of the college by Bishop Goodrich of Ely (Baker, Hist. of St. John's College, ed. Mayor, i. 115–18). The result was the restoration of three fellows who had been expelled; but a further struggle followed over Taylor's attempt, backed up by court influence, to reduce the number of fellowships held by natives of the northern counties; eventually in March 1546–7 Taylor was compelled to resign the mastership (ib. i. 119–23).

Meanwhile Taylor's adoption of reformed doctrines involved him in difficulties with the dominant catholic party at the court. In 1542 he had been selected by Cranmer to assist in preparing a revised version of the bible, and in June 1546 he preached a sermon at Bury St. Edmunds which was brought before the notice of the council (Acts of the Privy Council, 1542–7, p. 467). Taylor was imprisoned for the opinions expressed in it, but soon retracted. On 10 Sept. 1546 Wriothesley, St. John, and Gardiner informed the king that Taylor ‘uppon further conference with Mr. Shaxton hath subscribed all Maister Shaxton's articles and dooth nowe shewe himself very penitent. He was never indicted, nor did never directly, but by conclusions, affirme anything against the most Blessed Sacrament of th' Aultre, wherupon he is putt to libertye, with bonde not to departe from London till he shall knowe further the kinges majesties pleasour’ (State Papers, Hen. VIII, i. 866). A fortnight later they wrote: ‘Doctour Taylour hath faithfully promised to acknowledge playnly, openly, and ernestly his errour, and with condempnacion of himself, travaile to releve the people that have by occasion of him fallen into errour’ (ib. i. 878).

Under Edward VI Taylor was at liberty to assert his real opinions, and in the first year of the reign he was appointed a royal visitor. He was prolocutor of the convocation which met in November 1547 (Wriothesley, Chron. i. 187), and in that capacity supported its declaration in favour of the marriage of priests. On Sunday, 26 Feb. 1547–8, he preached at court, and in the same year was one of the commissioners appointed to draw up the first Book of Common Prayer. On 16 March 1548–9 he was installed in the prebend of Corringham in Lincoln Cathedral; in that year he was placed on the commission appointed to examine anabaptists, and on 6 Oct. 1551 and again on 10 Feb. 1551–2 he was nominated one of the commissioners for the reformation of ecclesiastical law. On 18 June 1552 he was appointed by letters patent bishop of Lincoln, and he was consecrated by Cranmer at Croydon on the 26th. On the meeting of Queen Mary's first parliament on 5 Oct. 1553, Taylor took his seat in the House of Lords, but withdrew at the celebration of mass. He was not allowed to resume it, and in March 1553–4 he was deprived of his bishopric on the ground that his appointment by letters patent was invalid and that his consecration was null. Taylor died in December following at Ankerwick in the house of his friend Sir Thomas Smith (1513–1577) [q. v.] He left 6l. 13s. 4d. to St. John's College.

[State Papers Henry VIII, vol. i.; Cal. Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, ed. Gairdner; Acts of the Privy Council, ed. Dasent, vols. i–iv.; Rymer's Fœdera, xv. 310, 312; Lansdowne MS. 980, f. 124; Parker Corresp. pp. viii, 482; Ridley's Works, p. 316; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl. ed. Hardy; Foxe's Actes and Mon.; Fuller's Church Hist. ed. Brewer; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, ed. Pocock; Strype's Works; Lit. Remains of Edw. VI (Roxburghe Club), pp. civ, 398, 399, 414; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 121, 545–6; Baker's Hist. St. John's Coll. ed. Mayor; Froude's Hist. of England; Dixon's Hist. Church of England.]

A. F. P.