Lambert, John (d.1538) (DNB00)

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LAMBERT, JOHN (d. 1538), martyr, whose real name was Nicholson, was born at Norwich and educated at Cambridge, where in 1521, at the request of Queen Catherine, he was admitted fellow of Queens' College, being then B.A. Bilney and Arthur are said to have converted him soon afterwards to protestantism. He was ordained priest and lived for some time, according to Bale, at Norwich, where he suffered some persecution, probably for reading prohibited books. He found it convenient to take the name of Lambert, and passed over to Antwerp, becoming chaplain to the English factory, and a friend of Tindal and Frith. One John Nicholson was examined on a charge of heresy before convocation 27 March 1531 and following days (Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, v. 928); but it is stated that Sir Thomas More caused Lambert to be brought to London about 1532 to answer an accusation made against him by one Barlow. Lambert seems to have been asked by the king's printer whether he was responsible for the translation of the articles of Geneva; and although he denied the charge was imprisoned in the counter. Thence he was taken to the manor of Ottford and afterwards to Lambeth, where he was examined by Warham on forty-five articles. To each of these he gave a separate answer, showing considerable learning. The articles and the answers are printed by Foxe. He obtained his discharge on the death of the archbishop (25 Aug. 1532), and for some time taught children Latin and Greek near the Stocks Market in London. He resigned his priesthood, contemplated matrimony, and seems to have entered the Grocers' Company, About March 1536, on the accusation of the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Essex, and the Countess of Oxford, he was summoned before Cranmer, Shaxton, and Latimer on a charge of saying that it was sinful to pray to saints. Latimer on this occasion was 'very extreme' against him (Latimer, Works, Parker Soc., vol. i. pp. xvii, xxxii), but he was very quickly discharged. In 1538 Lambert heard a sermon by Dr. Taylor, afterwards bishop of Lincoln, at St. Peter's, Cornhill, and, disagreeing with the doctrine put forth, had some discussion on transubstantiation with the preacher, who by the advice of Barnes carried the matter before the archbishop. Lambert appealed from the archbishop's court to the king, who resolved to hear the case in person. The matter excited the more attention as Lambert was branded as a 'sacramentary,' and the king desired to disavow any connection with the foreign drift of opinion on the subject. Accordingly Lambert was examined on 16 Nov. 1538 in Westminster Hall before the peers. The unfortunate man disputed for five hours with ten bishops and the king, and at last, being tired out with standing and consequently saying little, was condemned to death by Cromwell for denying the real presence. He suffered a few days later at Smithfield, having first breakfasted at Cromwell's house. The legend that Cromwell asked his forgiveness is probably unauthentic, but Cranmer afterwards acknowledged, in his examination before Brookes, that when he condemned Lambert he maintained the Roman doctrine. While in prison at Lanmbeth before his trial Lambert was helped by one Collins, a crazy man who was afterwards burnt, and at this tune he in said to have written 'A Treatyse made by John Lambert vnto Kvnge Henry the VIII concerninge hys opynyon in the sacramēt of the aultre as they call it, or Supper of the Lorde as the Scripture nameth it. Anno do. 1538.' Bale printed the work at Marburg about 1547. Lambert is also credifted with various translations of the works of Erasmus into English.

[Froude's Hist. of Engl. iii. 152, &c; Strype's Cranmer, pp. 92. 93, 664; Foxe's Acts and Mon. v. 181; Cooper's Athenæ Contabr. i. 61 (where he is called Nichols) Wright's Three Chapters of Suppr. Letters (Camden Soc.), pp. 35, 37, 38; Tyndale's Works, Answer to More's Dialogue, p. 197, Cranmer's Works, ii. 218, Bale's Select Works, p. 394, Zurich Letters, 3rd ser. p. 201, all in the Parker Society: Tanner's Bibl. Brit.]

W. A. J. A.