John Hooper (1495-1555AD)

  Bishop John Hooper

Engraved from a drawing by Robert White, 17th century.


Protestant Martyr of the English Reformation.

JOHN HOOPER, or HOPER, the martyr, was born in Somerset about 1495, and was educated at Oxford. According to the probable account of some writers, he joined the Cistercian monks. At an early period, however, he imbibed the doctrines of the Reformation during a residence at Oxford. When the statute of the six, or bloody articles, was published by Henry VIII., “certain rabbines at Oxford began to stir coales against him;” and feeling that his life was endangered, he took refuge for a brief season with Sir Thomas Brundel, and resisted all the efforts and arguments of Bishop Gardiner in favour of the old faith. He ulti­mately fled to France; and on his return to England, being again sought after, he betook himself in disguise first to Ireland; and then to Switzerland, where he made the acquaintance of Bullinger, and by his advice married, and devoted himself to the study of Hebrew.

He came back to England when Edward VI. ascended the throne, and distinguished himself by his eloquent preaching, his zeal against popery, and his boldness in confronting Bishop Bonner. His popularity was equalled only by that of Latimer. By the patronage of the earl of Yarmouth, afterwards duke of Northumberland, he was promoted to the see of Gloucester in 1550. His consecration was all but prevented by his refusal to wear the episcopal robes, particularly the rochet, the vestments being so similar to those of the popish church. Nor could he take the oath of supremacy with the addition “all saints” to the phrase “so help me God.” Cranmer, Bucer, and Peter Martyr laboured to remove his scruples, but in vain. He published a defence of his opinions, in what he called “A Godly confession and protestation,” &c. He was even imprisoned for his obstinacy, first in his own house, and then in the Fleet, but afterwards a compromise was effected. The words “all saints” were expunged from the oath, and he was to wear the episcopal robes only on high occasions, as when he preached before the king.

His consecration took place in March, 1551; and Gloucester being “so poor a pittance for so great a clerk,” he was also declared Bishop of Worcester the year following, holding it in commendam. He laboured faithfully in his two dioceses, preached often, and was rigid in the enforcement of discipline. His piety and hospitality were equally marked; out of his revenues he “pursed nothing, and in his palace was a daily dinner for so many poor people in succession,” and he exercised a special superintendence over schools.

At the accession of Mary he was brought up to London, and after several examinations and many efforts to induce him to recant, he was condemned to the stake. He was formally degraded on the 4th of February, and he died with heroic firmness at Gloucester, amidst the flames that were thrice kindled, on the 9th February, 1555.

He published many treatises, and was, as Anthony Wood says, “a tolerable philosopher, but better theologist.” Portions of his correspondence with Bullinger are preserved. Fox says of him, “that he was spare of diet, sparer of sleep, and sparest of time.” Bishop Hooper’s quarrel at his consecration was the precursor of the great national dispute, for as Heylin says, he was the first “non­conformist”. His principles, as Wood hints, were “too rigid and dissenting for the English church as appointed by King Edward VI.” In that case he was the first of the puritans, and the debate about vestments soon aroused a fierceness which for years embittered the nation, and brought out no little intolerance on the one hand, confronted by no less inflexibility and stern endurance on the other.—Rev.  J. Eadie. (Imp. Dict. of Universal Biography 1888AD)


A Declaration of Christ and His Office. (1.2mb) pdf (320k) docx (229k) Compiled by John Hooper A.D. 1547.


PDF BOOK (1.12mb) on Bishop John Hooper by J. C. Ryle 1868AD

John Hooper ch. 1  (109k) by J. C. Ryle from "Bishops & Clergy of Other Days."1868AD

John Hooper ch. 2 (111k) by J. C. Ryle from "Bishops & Clergy of Other Days."1868AD

John Hooper ch. 3 (91k) by J. C. Ryle from "Bishops & Clergy of Other Days."1868AD

John Hooper ch. 4 (110k) by J. C. Ryle from "Bishops & Clergy of Other Days."1868AD


Martyrdom of Bishop John Hooper (171k) from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs pdf (94k) docx (53k) zip (38k)