Tresham, William (d.1569) (DNB00)

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TRESHAM, WILLIAM (d. 1569), divine, born in the parish of Oakley Magna, Northamptonshire, was the son of Richard Tresham of Newton, Northamptonshire, by his wife Rose, daughter of Thomas Billing of Astwell, son and heir of Sir Thomas Billing [q. v.], lord chief justice. William was educated at Oxford University, graduating B.A. on 16 Jan. 1514–15, M.A. on 11 July 1520, B.D. on 17 July 1528, and D.D. on 8 July 1532. He filled the office of registrar of the university from 11 March 1523–4 to 11 Feb. 1528–9. In 1532, on Henry VIII's refoundation of Cardinal College, Oxford, as Christ Church, Tresham was, by way of reward for his advocacy of the divorce, nominated one of the first canons, and he was also canon of Oseney. He filled the office of commissary or vice-chancellor of the university from 1532 to 1547, holding office again in 1556 and 1558 (Brewer, Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, 1529–30 pp. 2864, 3004, 1530–2 p. 530). On 28 Feb. 1539–40 he was presented to the vicarage of Towcester, Northamptonshire, and on 1 Feb. 1541–2 he was appointed rector of Bugbrooke in the same county. In the same year Henry created the bishopric of Oxford, and by his charter dated 1 Sept. made Tresham a canon. In 1540 he was nominated a member of the commission appointed to investigate whether the present rites and ceremonies of the church were warranted by scripture and tradition. With this object they drew up ‘A necessary Doctrine and erudition for any chrysten Man,’ printed in octavo on 29 May 1543 (Strype, Memorials of Cranmer, 1812, i. 110).

In 1549, with William Chedsey [q. v.] and Morgan Philipps [q. v.], he entered into a public disputation with Peter Martyr [see Vermigli, Pietro Martire] at Oxford concerning the doctrine of the real presence in the eucharist. Tresham wrote an account of the debate, which he sent to the privy council, asking that it might be published ‘cum privilegio.’ The manuscript is extant in Harl. MS. 422, and, according to Wood, was printed in the same year in quarto at London under the title ‘Disputatio de Eucharistiæ Sacramento … contra Petrum Martyrem.’ On 21 Dec. 1551 he was committed to the Fleet for his strong catholic opinions, but on the accession of Mary found himself again in favour. He was appointed rector of Greens Norton in Northamptonshire, and vicar of Bampton in Oxfordshire.

In 1554 and 1555 Tresham was one of those selected to dispute with Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer concerning sacramental questions (ib. vi. passim; Latimer, Works, Parker Soc. ii. 266–8; Ridley, Works, Parker Soc. p. 191; Cranmer, Works, Parker Soc. i. 391–430, ii. 546, 549). On the accession of Elizabeth, Tresham was deputed with Thomas Raynold, the warden of Merton College, to offer the congratulations of the university. He was well received, and in 1559 appointed chancellor of Chichester. But refusing to take the oath of supremacy, he was deprived of all his preferments except the vicarage of Towcester, and committed to the custody of the archbishop, Matthew Parker, at Lambeth (Strype, Life of Parker, 1821, i. 95). On giving sureties that he would attempt nothing against the religion then established, he was permitted to retire to Northamptonshire, where he died in 1569 (Strype, Annals of the Reformation, 1824, i. 414). According to Wood, he spent the close of his life at Bugbrooke, and was buried in the chancel of the church. But as he was deprived of Bugbrooke in 1560, whereas he retained Towcester, it is probable that the latter place is intended. No record of his burial at Bugbrooke is extant.

[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 374; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, passim; Brodrick's Memorials of Merton (Oxford Hist. Soc.), pp. 46, 48, 49, 250; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500–1714; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib.; Lansdowne MS. 981, f. 74; Dixon's History of Church of England, passim; Acts of Privy Council, ed. Dasent; Wood's Colleges of Oxford, ed. Gutch.]

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