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John Hooper.

John Hooper, Johan Hoper, (ca. 1495-1500 – 9 February 1555) was an Englishmarker churchman, Anglican Bishop of Gloucester and Worcester. A Protestant Reformer, he was martyred during the Marian Persecutions.


Little is certain about Hooper's early life. Hooper is thought to have been born in Somersetmarker to a wealthy family, but he may have been born and raised in Devonmarker or Oxfordshire. He earned his BA at Oxfordmarker in 1519. He is said to have then become a Cistercian monk at Gloucestermarker (which is problematic as there were no Cistercian houses there and Gloucester Abbeymarker was Benedictine), but in 1538 a John Hooper appears among the names of the Black Friars at Gloucester and also among the White Friars at Bristolmarker who surrendered their houses to the king. A John Hooper was likewise canon of Wormesley Priory in Herefordshiremarker; but identification of any of these with the future bishop is doubtful. Rather, he appears to have been in 1538 rector of Liddingtonmarker, Wiltshiremarker, a benefice in Sir Thomas Arundell's gift, though he must have been a non-resident incumbent. The Greyfriars' Chronicle says that Hooper was "sometime a white monk"; and in the sentence pronounced against him by Stephen Gardiner he is described as "olim monachus de Cliva Ordinis Cisterciensis," i.e. of the Cistercian house of Cleeve Abbeymarker in Somersetmarker. On the other hand, he was not accused, like other married bishops who had been monks or friars, of infidelity to the vow of chastity; and his own letters to Heinrich Bullinger are curiously reticent on this part of his history. He speaks of himself as being the only son and heir of his father and as fearing to be deprived of his inheritance if he adopted the reformed religion.

Before 1546 Hooper had secured employment as steward in Arundell's household. Hooper speaks of himself at this period as being "a courtier and living too much of a court life in the palace of our king." But he chanced upon some of Zwingli's works and Bullinger's commentaries on St Paul's epistles which elicited an evangelical conversion. After some correspondence with Bullinger on the lawfulness of complying against his conscience with the established religion, and following some trouble in England ca. 1539–40 with Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester to whom Arundell had referred him out of concern for his new views, Hooper determined to secure what property he could and take refuge on the continent in Paris for an unknown period of time. Hooper returned to England to serve Sir John St Loe, constable of Thornbury Castlemarker, Gloucestershiremarker, Arundell's nephew.

Hooper found it necessary to leave for the continent again, probably in 1544, and he reached Strasbourgmarker by 1546 in the midst of the Schmalkaldic war when he decided to permanently move to Zürichmarker. But first he returned to England to receive his inheritance, and he claims to have been twice imprisoned. In Strasbourg again in early 1547, he married Anne de Tserclaes (or Tscerlas), a Belgian in the household of Jacques de Bourgogne, seigneur de Falais. He proceeded by way of Baselmarker to Zürichmarker, where his Zwinglian convictions were confirmed by constant intercourse with Zwingli's successor, Heinrich Bullinger. He also made connections with Martin Bucer, Theodore Bibliander, Simon Grinaeus, and Conrad Pellican. During this time Hooper published An Answer to my Lord of Wynchesters Booke Intytlyd a Detection of the Devyls Sophistry (1547), A Declaration of Christ and his Office (1547), and A Declaration of the Ten Holy Commandments (1548).

Jan Łaski urged Hooper to not give in during the vestments controversy.

It was not until May 1549 that Hooper returned to England. There he became the principal champion of Swiss Calvinism against the Lutherans as well as the Roman Catholics, and was appointed chaplain to Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset, the Lord Protector. Hooper then had a hand in the formation of the Zwinglian inspired Dutch and French Stranger churches in Glastonbury and London. Hooper enjoyed at this time a friendship with Jan Łaski and served as a witness for the prosecution in Bishop Bonner's trial in 1549.

Somerset's fall from power endangered Hooper's position, especially as he had taken a prominent part against Gardiner and Bonner, whose restoration to their sees was now anticipated. John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and subsequently Duke of Northumberland, however, overcame the reactionaries in the Council, and early in 1550 the English Reformation resumed its course.

Vestments controversy

Hooper became Warwick's chaplain, and after a course of Lenten sermons before the king he was offered the bishopric of Gloucestermarker. This led to a prolonged controversy (see vestments controversy); in his sermons before the king and elsewhere Hooper had 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. Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, Martin Bucer and others urged him to submit; 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 prisonmarker that the "father of nonconformity" consented to conform, and Hooper submitted to consecration with the legal ceremonies (8 March 1551).

Once installed as bishop, Hooper set about his episcopal duties with enthusiasm. His visitation of his diocese (printed in English Hist. Rev. Jan. 1904, pp. 98–121) revealed a 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; but in less than a year the bishopric of Gloucester was reduced to an archdeaconry and added to Worcestermarker, of which Hooper was made bishop in succession to Nicholas Heath. He was opposed to Northumberland's plot for the exclusion of Mary Tudor from the throne; but this did not save him from speedy imprisonment when she became queen.

He was said to have been given sanctuary at Sutton Courtmarker ( ) before being sent to the Fleetmarker on 1 September on a doubtful charge of debt; the real cause was his steadiness to a religion which was still by law established. Edward VI's legislation was 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 he was kept in prison; the revival of the heresy acts in December 1554 was swiftly followed by execution. On 29 January 1555, Hooper, John Rogers, Rowland Taylor and others were condemned by Gardiner and degraded by Bonner. Hooper was sent down to suffer at Gloucester, where he was burnt on 9 February, meeting his fate with steadfast courage and unshaken conviction.

Hooper was the first of the bishops to suffer because he represented the extreme reforming party in England. While he expressed dissatisfaction with some of Calvin's earlier writings, he approved of the Consensus Tigurinus negotiated in 1549 between the Zwinglians and Calvinists of Switzerlandmarker; and it was this form of religion that he laboured to spread in England against the wishes of Cranmer, Ridley, Bucer, Pietro Martire 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.


Two volumes of Hooper's writings are included in the Parker Society's publications and another edition appeared at Oxford in 1855. In 1550 he translated book 2 of Tertullian's "Ad Uxorem" (To his wife), which is the first English translation of any of Tertullian's works.

See also

  • Gough's General Index to Parker Soc. PubI.;
  • Strype's Works (General Index);
  • Foxe's Acts and Monuments, ed. Townsend; Acts of the Privy Council;
  • Cal. State Papers, "Domestic" Series; Nichols's Lit. Remains of Edward VI.;
  • Burnet, Collier, Dixon, Froude and Gairdner's histories; Pollard's Cranmer;
  • Dict. Nat. Biogr..

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