The Tudor Society

31 December – The bishop who angered Elizabeth I

On this day in Tudor history, 31st December 1559, Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle, died while under house arrest in London. He was buried at St Dunstan-in-the-West on 6th January 1560.

Oglethorpe is known for officiating at Queen Elizabeth I's coronation in 1559, but also for infuriating the queen at Christmas 1558 by disobeying her instructions at Mass.

What did Oglethorpe do?

Find out about Owen Oglethorpe's life and career, and how he upset the queen and ended his days under house arrest, in today's talk.

Also on this day in history:

  • 1535 – Death of Sir William Skeffington, known as “the Gunner”, Lord Deputy of Ireland, at Kilmainham in Dublin. He was buried at St Patrick's Cathedral in the city. His nickname, “the Gunner”, came from his use of heavy artillery while taking Maynooth Castle in County Kildare. He killed, or had executed, the whole garrison there.
  • 1564 – Death of Edward North, 1st Baron North, administrator, at the London Charterhouse, which he had acquired in 1545. North served Henry VIII as Treasurer of the Court of Augmentations, Chancellor of the reformed Court of Augmentations and executor of his will. In Edward VI's reign, he was a Privy Councillor but lost this position in Mary I's reign. His Charterhouse was used as lodgings for Elizabeth I and her court for a few days following her accession, and she appointed him Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire. North was buried at Kirtling, in the family vault.
  • 1600 – The East India Company, or “Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies”, was chartered, i.e. given royal approval, by Queen Elizabeth I.

On this day in Tudor history, 31st December 1559, Owen Oglethorpe, Bishop of Carlisle, died while under house arrest in London. He was buried at St Dunstan-in-the-West on 6th January 1560. In his will, he left provisions for the foundation of a grammar school and almshouse at Tadcaster, Yorkshire
Let me share some facts about this bishop, and tell you how he disobeyed a queen and how he ended up dying under house arrest.
• Owen Oglethorpe was born in around 1502/3 and was the third son of George Oglethorpe of Newton Kyme, near Tadcaster, Yorkshire.
• He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford, graduating BA in 1525 and MA in 1529. He then became a lecturer in logic followed by a lecturer in moral philosophy in 1534.
• He became a priest in 1531.
• In 1536, he graduated with a Bachelor of Theology and then Doctor of Theology.
• Also in 1536, he became president of Magdalen College, and became Canon of Lincoln.
• Between 1540 and 1544, he was Canon and prebendary of St George's, Windsor
• In 1542, Oglethorpe was canon and prebendary of King Henry VIII College, Oxford, which later became known as Christ Church, and, in the 1540s, served as canon of Ripon and held several benefices in Yorkshire.
• In the late 1540s and early 50s, he corresponded with Heinrich Bullinger, the Swiss reformer.
• In 1551, he was Vice-chancellor of Oxford University.
• In September 1552, in Edward VI’s reign, he ended up having to resign from his presidency of Magdalen College following problems regarding his conservative Catholic beliefs. He did however serve in that role again in Mary I’s reign until 1555.
• Between February 1554 and November 1556, Oglethorpe served as dean of St George’s, Windsor
• In 1555, he became Registrar of the Order of the Garter.
• In August 1556, Oglethorpe was consecrated as Bishop of Carlisle and went on to have benefices in Oxfordshire and Nottinghamshire. However, he didn’t take full possession of the bishopric until early 1558, the last year of Mary I’s Catholic reign.
• He upset Queen Elizabeth I on Christmas Day 1558 in the Chapel Royal when he elevated the host at Mass. The queen had ordered him not to elevate the host, which suggested the real presence of the body of Christ, but Oglethorpe disobeyed, stating that he could not act contrary to his beliefs and his training in the Church. After the reading of the Gospel, the furious queen left.
• Oglethorpe officiated at Elizabeth I’s coronation ceremony on 15th January 1559, but it appears that George Carew, the new dean of her Chapel Royal, led the coronation mass and he did not elevate the host.
• Oglethorpe was deprived of his bishopric in June 1559 due to his Catholic faith and in November 1559, while under house arrest, he drew up his will. He died on this day in 1559.
• The boys’ grammar school he founded, Tadcaster Grammar School, is still going today, although it moved just outside of Tadcaster in 1960. It also merged with Dawson’s Girls’ School at the beginning of the 20th century.

Only 1 comment so far Go To Comment

  1. R

    This is a famous event, but the poor man, just doing what he has always done. Go Bishop Owen! The Host is more important than Elizabeth I or any earthly monarch. At least he wasn’t thrown into the Tower or worse.

Leave a Reply

31 December – The bishop who angered Elizabeth I