1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hooper, John

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HOOPER, JOHN (d 1555), bishop of Gloucester and Worcester and martyr, was born in Somerset about the end of the 15th century and graduated B A at Oxford in 1519 He is said to have then entered the Cisterian monastery at Gloucester, but in 1558 a John Hooper appears among the names of the Black friars at Gloucester and also among the White friars at Bristol who surrendered their houses to the king A John Hooper was likewise canon of Wormesley prior in Heretordshire, but identnication of any of these with the future bishop is doubtful The Greyfriars' Chronicle says that Hooper was “sometime a white monk ”; and in the sentence pronounced against him by Gardiner he is described as “olim monomachus de Clivo Ordinis Cistercienus," i. e. of the Cistercian house at Cleeve in Somerset. On the other hand. at his deprivation he was not accused, l1ke the other marr1ed bishops who had been monks or f1iars, of infidelity to the vow of chastity; and his own letters to Bullinger are curiously reticent on this part of his history He there speaks of himself as be1ng the only son and he1r of his father and as fearing to be depr1ved of his inheritance if he adopted the reformed religion Before 1546 he had secured employment in the household of Sir Thomas Arundell, a man of influential connexions. Hooper speaks of himselt at this period as being “a courtier and living too much of a court life in the palace of our k1ng ” But he chanced upon some of Zwingli's works and B11ll1nger's commentaries on St Paul's epistles; and after some molestation i11 England and some correspondence with Bullinger on the law fulness of comply111g against h1S conscience with the established religion, he determined to secure what property he could and take refuge O11 the continent He had an adventurous journey, being twice imprisoned, driven about for three months on the sea, and reaching Strassbulg in the midst of the Schmalkaldic war. There he married Anne de Tserclaes, and later on he proceeded by way of Basle to Zurich where his Zwinglian convictions were confirmed by constant intercourse with Zwingli's successor, Bullinger.

It was not until May 1549, after he had published various works at Zurich, that Hooper again arrived in England. He at once became the principal champion of Swiss Protestantism against the Lutherans as well as the Catholics, and was appointed chaplain to Protector Somerset Somerset's fall in the following October endangered Hooper's position, and for a time he was in hourly dread of imprisonment and martyrdom, more especially as he had taken a prominent part against Gardiner and Bonner, whose restoration to their sees was now anticipated Warwick, afterwards duke of Northumberland, however, overcame the reactionaries in the Council, and early in 1550 the Reformation resumed its course Hooper became Warwick's chaplain, and after a course of Lent lectures before the king he was offered the bishopric of Gloucester. This led to a prolonged controversy, Hooper had already denounced the “ Aaronic vestments ” and the oath by the saints prescribed in the new Ordinal, and he refused to be consecrated according to its rites. Cranmer, Ridley, Bucer and others urged him to submit in vain; confinement to his house by order of the Council proved equally ineffectual, and it was not until he had spent some weeks in the Fleet prison that the “father of nonconformity” consented to conform, and Hooper submitted to consecration with the legal ceremonies (March 8, 1551).

Once seated in his bishopric Hooper set about his episcopal duties w1th exemplary vigour. His visitation of his diocese (printed in English Hist. Rev. Jan 1904, pp 98-121) revealed me condition of almost incredible ignorance among his clergy Fewer than half could say the Ten Commandments, some could not even repeat the Lord's Prayer in English Hooper did his best in the time at his disposal, but in less than a year the bishopric of Gloucester was reduced to an archdeaconry and added to Worcester, of which Hooper was made bishop in succession to Nicholas Heath (q v) He was opposed to Northumberland's plot for the exclusion of Mary from the throne, but this did not save him from speedy imprisonment He was sent to the Fleet on the 1st of September 155; on a doubtful charge of debt to the queen, but the real cause was h1s stanclmess to a religion which was st1ll by law established Fdward VI's legislation was. however, repealed in the following month, and in March 1554 Hooper was deprived of his bishopric as a married man There was still no statute by which he could be condemned to the stake, but Hooper was kept in prison, a11d the revival of the heresy acts in December 1554 was swiftly followed by execution On the 29th of January 1555, Hooper, Rogers, Rowland Taylor and others were co11<len111ed by Gardiner and degraded by Bonner. Hooper was sent down to suffer at Gloucester, where he was burnt on the 9th of February, meeting his fate with steadfast courage and unshaken conviction. Hooper was the first of the bishops to suffer because his Zwinglian views placed him further beyond the pale than Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer. He represented the extreme reforming party in England. While he expressed dissatisfaction with some of Calvin's earlier w ritings, he approved of the Consensus Tzgurinus negotiated in 1549 between the Zwinglians and Calvinists of Switzerland; and it was this form of religion that he laboured to spread in England against the wishes of Cranmer, Ridley, Bucer, Peter Martyr and other more conservative theologians. He would have reduced episcopacy to narrow limits, and his views had considerable influence on the Puritans of Elizabeth's reign, when many editions of Hooper's various works were published.

To volumes of Hooper's writings are included in the Parker Society's publications and another edition appeared at Oxford in 1855 See also Gough's General Index to Parker Soc. Publ.; Strype's Works (General Index); Foxe's Acls and Monumerzls, ed. Townsend; Ads of [he Prwy Counczl; Cal. Slate Papers, “ Domestic ” Series; lichols's Lil. Remains of Edward VI.; Burnet, Collier, Dixon, Froude and Ga1rdner's histories; Pollard's Cranmer; Did. Nal. Bwgr.