Beverley, John of (DNB00)


BEVERLEY, JOHN of (d. 1414), a Carmelite of great theological fame, doctor and professor of divinity at Oxford, was born at Beverley, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. He became a canon of St. John's, Church in that town, and from the few records left of him it api)ears that in 1367 he gave a chaplain and his successor forty acres of land in North Burton and Raventhorpe, and in 1378 alienated by license certain tenements in Yorkshire for the benefit of a chancery priest and his successors. He was trained in the theology of the Carmelite friars; wrote 'Quæstiones in Magistrum Sententiarum '(Master of the Sentences; i.e., Peter Lombard), Lib. iv., and 'Disputationes Ordinariae,' Lib. i., and other works of a like nature which exist in manuscript in the Queen's College Library, Oxford; and being a popular preacher, was specially regarded by Oxford men for the soundness of his theology and the variety of his literary studies. No more is told of him in general history; than that he flourished about 1390, and he is even confounded with, and his works attributed to, Johannes Beverlay, an Augustinian monk, ordained by Oliver Sutton, bishop of Lincoln, in 1294.

We think, however, that he is the same person as John of Beverley the Lollard. He certainly lived in the days of this society of itinerant preachers, the followers in England of John Wycliffe, so severely persecuted by Richard II and Henry IV. In addition to denial of transubstantiation and other important doctrines of the then existing church, the Lollards preached against pilgrimages to Canterbury, Walsingham, and Beverley as ‘accursed, foolish, and a spending of goods in waste.’ And John of Beverley seems to have joined 'certain other Oxford men,' and become one of the earliest converts to their views. Shortly after Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, the chief favourer of the movement, had escaped from the Tower, the Lollards were taken at their usual assembly place in St. Giles's Fields, and tried for treason against church and state. In defence some of them stated that they were a persecuted flock, and as their worship in a public place was prohibited, they had simply met together in a thicket in Picket's field (part of St. Giles's Fields) to hear the preaching of John of Beverley the priest. On 12 Jan. 1413–14 sixty-nine of the prisoners were condemned, and next day thirty-seven of them were drawn to St. Giles's Fields and hanged and burned. On 19 Jan. John of Beverley the priest, and shortly after Sir Rocrer Acton, knight, and others, were drawn and hanged at the same place.

[Bale, Brit. Script. Cat. p. 543; Pits. De Angliæ Script. A.D. 1390: Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Holinshed's Chronicle; Villiers de S. Etienne, i. 797; Rot. Pat. 40 E. III, Inq. P.M. 51 E. III.]

J. W.-G.