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Hugh Latimer

Hugh Latimer ( – 16 October 1555) was the bishop of Worcester, and by his death he became a famous martyr among Protestants and the Church of England.


Latimer was born into a family of farmers in Thurcastonmarker, Leicestershiremarker. From around 14 years of age he started to attend Peterhouse, Cambridgemarker, and was known as a good student. After receiving his academic degrees and being ordained, he developed a reputation as a very zealous Roman Catholic. At first he opposed the Lutheran opinion of his day, but his views changed after meeting the clergyman Thomas Bilney.

Latimer preaching to a crowd, including Edward VI, in Westminster, from John Foxe's book (1563)
In 1510, he was elected a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridgemarker and in 1522 became university preacher. He became noted for his reformist teachings, which attracted the attention of the authorities. He became a noted preacher more widely. In 1535, he was appointed Bishop of Worcester, in succession to an Italianmarker absentee, and promoted reformed teachings in his diocese. In 1539, he opposed Henry VIII's Six Articles, with the result that he was forced to resign his bishopric and imprisoned in the Tower of Londonmarker (where he was again in 1546).
During the reign of Henry's son Edward VI, he was restored to favour as the English church moved in a more Protestant direction, becoming court preacher until 1550. He then served as chaplain to Katherine Duchess of Suffolk. However, when Edward VI's sister Mary I came to the throne, he was tried for his beliefs and teachings in Oxfordmarker and imprisoned. In October 1555 he was burned at the stake outside Balliol College, Oxfordmarker.


Burning of Latimer and Ridley, from John Foxe's book (1563)
Latimer was executed beside Nicholas Ridley. He is quoted as having said to Ridley:

Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.

The deaths of Latimer, Ridley and later Cranmer — now known as the Oxford Martyrs — are commemorated in Oxford by the Victorian Martyrs' Memorialmarker which is located near the actual execution site. The Latimer room in Clare College, Cambridge is named after him.

Hugh Latimer said, "It may come in my days, old as I am, or in my children's days, the saints shall be taken up to meet Christ in the air, and so shall come down with Him again" (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4).

See also



  • This entry includes public domain text originally from the 1890 Pronouncing Edition of the Holy Bible (Biographical Sketches of the Translators and Reformers and other eminent biblical scholars).
  • Susan Wabuda, ‘Latimer, Hugh (c.1485–1555)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [28493], accessed 28 March 2008.

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