Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The burning of Robert Ferrar

March 30th was the 460th anniversary of the burning at the stake in Carmarthen market place of Robert Ferrar, the Edwardian Bishop of St David's, in 1555. I missed the precise anniversary as it fell in Holy Week.

A posthumous portrait of Robert Ferrar c.1504-1555

Image: tudorplace.org
My interest in Ferrar arises from the fact that he was the last Prior of Nostell in my home area, and as I am writing this in the Oxford Union I am virtually on the site of St Mary's College where he would have studied as an Augustinian canon - St Mary's was their house of study in Oxford. Ferrar's career as a bishop in Wales was troubled - he clearly became entangledin the internecine politics of the chapter and diocese at St Davids in his early years in the diocese under King Edward VI, and ended up being detained in London. His marriage led to his deposition under Queen Mary, his death a result of his views on Transubstantiation.

There is an online introduction to his life at Robert Ferrar and there is another from the website Tudor Place here.

John Foxe's account of Ferrar, citing original texts (something Foxe was very good at doing) in the Book of Martyrs  can be read at Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 276. ROBERT FERRAR

There is a short note about him from John Cannon's Oxford Companion to British History which can be read here.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry about him is the most detailed and modern academic account. It is by Glanmor Williams and can be read here.

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