Henry Cole


Biography of Henry Cole

Henry Cole (b. ca. 1500, Godshill, Isle of Wight — died 1579 or 1580, Fleet Prison) was an English Roman Catholic churchman and academic.

He was educated at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, was admitted a perpetual fellow there (1523), and received the degree of B.C.L. (1525). He then went to Italy for seven years, residing chiefly at Padua.

During his career he was successively prebendary of Yatminster (1539); rector of Chelmsford (1540); prebendary of Holborn, Sweting (1541) and Wenlakesbarn (1542); warden of New College (1542–51), and rector of Newton Longueville in Buckinghamshire. Created a D.C.L. at Oxford (1540), he resigned his fellowship the same year. At first he conformed to Anglicanism, but afterwards returned to Catholicism about 1547, and eventually resigned all his preferments.

In Mary I of England's reign he became Archdeacon of Ely, a canon of Westminster (1554), vicar-general of Cardinal Pole (1557), and a judge of the archiepiscopal Court of Audience. He was one of the commissioners who restored Cuthbert Tunstall and Edmund Bonner to their bishoprics, and a disputant against Thomas Cranmer, Nicholas Ridley, and Hugh Latimer at Oxford (1554). He preached the sermon on the occasion of Cranmer's burning in 1556, where he had "the job of explaining why a repentant sinner should still be burnt at the stake for heresy".

On 13 July 1554, Cole was appointed as Archdeacon of Ely and Provost of Eton College, a post which he had vacated by 5 July 1559. He was made dean of St. Paul's in 1556, judge of Prerogative Court circa 1548-58 and dean of the arches in 1557/8.

He was a delegate for the visitation of Oxford (1556), and Visitor of All Souls College in 1558, in which year he received the rectory of Wrotham, and was sent to Ireland with a commission for the suppression of heresy there. Cardinal Pole appointed Cole one of his executors.

During Elizabeth's reign he remained true to the Catholic faith and took part in the discussions begun at Westminster in 1559. He was fined 500 marks, then deprived of all his preferments, committed to the Tower of London (20 May 1560), and finally removed to the Fleet prison (10 June), where he remained for nearly twenty years, until his death.

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