The Tudor Society

October 6 – John Capon, Bishop of Salisbury

Salisbury Cathedral Choir, photo by Diliff, Wikimedia Commons

Salisbury Cathedral Choir

On this day in Tudor history, 6th October 1557, John Capon (also known as John Salcot), former Benedictine monk and Bishop of Salisbury, died, probably from influenza. He was buried in the choir at Salisbury Cathedral.

Capon appeared to have reformist leanings in the reigns of Henry VIII and Edward VI, but became a conservative Catholic again in Mary I's reign, and was involved in the examination of those deemed to be heretics.

Here are some facts about John Capon:

  • It is thought that Capon probably came from Salcot in Essex. His birthdate and background are unknown.
  • He was ordained deacon at St John's Abbey, Colchester, as a Benedictine monk in 1502.
  • He graduated with a BTh (1512) and DTh (1515) from Cambridge University.
  • By 1517, Capon had become prior of St John's Abbey.
  • His brother William served Cardinal Thomas Wolsey as his chaplain so Capon knew Wolsey and also got to know Thomas Cromwell.
  • In 1517, Capon became abbot of St Benet of Hulme in Norfolk.
  • He preached at Henry VIII's court.
  • In 1530, Capon took Henry VIII's side when he and twenty-eight others were chosen to act on behalf of Cambridge University and make a pronouncement on Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon.
  • In 1530, he became abbot of Hyde Abbey in Winchester.
  • In 1533, Capon became Bishop of Bangor. It is thought that his appointment was due to the favour of Queen Anne Boleyn. He never actually resided there.
  • In November 1533, when Elizabeth Barton, the Holy Maid of Kent, and her followers did penance at Paul's Cross, Capon was chosen to preach there.
  • He preached again at Paul's Cross in 1536.
  • In July 1539, Capon was elected Bishop of Salisbury.
  • In Henry VIII's reign and that of Henry's son, Edward VI, Capon seemed to support reform. He was part of a project revising the Great Bible in 1542 and seemed to be in support of the 1549 Act of Uniformity. However, when Mary I came to the throne, he embraced Catholicism.
  • In his diocese of Salisbury, six people were executed for heresy during Mary I's reign and 73 clergymen were deprived of their livings, probably due to them having married.
  • The 1555 heresy burning victims Rowland Taylor, John Bradford and Laurence Saunders were tried by a commission on which Capon sat. Capon and his chancellor, William Geffrey also examined Protestants John Maundrel, William Coberley and John Spicer who were burnt in March 1556.
  • Capon died on this day in 1557.

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Image: Salisbury Cathedral Choir, photo by Diliff, Wikimedia Commons.

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October 6 – John Capon, Bishop of Salisbury