Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hales, John (d.1571)
HALES or HAYLES, JOHN (d. 1571), miscellaneous writer, younger son of Thomas Hales of Hales Place in Halden, Kent, was not educated at any university, but contrived to teach himself Latin, Greek, French, and German. He was lamed by an accident in youth, and was often called ‘club-foot’ Hales. About 1543 he published ‘Highway to Nobility,’ and translated Plutarch's ‘Precepts for the Preservation of Health’ (London, by R. Grafton, 1543). He profited by the dissolution of monasteries and chantries, but converted St. John's Hospital in Coventry, of which he received a grant in 1548, into a free school (Dugdale, Warwickshire, p. 179; Tanner, Notitia). By this act he seems to have made himself the first founder of a free school in the reign of Edward VI (Dixon, ii. 508). For the use of this foundation he wrote ‘Introductiones ad Grammaticam,’ part in Latin, part in English. At this time he was also honourably distinguished by his opposition to the enclosure of lands. When Somerset issued his commissions for the redress of enclosures in 1548, Hales was one of the six commissioners named for the midland counties. The commission, and the charge with which, wherever they held session, he was wont to open it, have been preserved (Strype, Eccl. Mem. iii. 145; Cal. of State Papers, Dom. i. 9). By his zeal and honesty he incurred the resentment of Dudley, then earl of Warwick, and the inquiry was checked.
In the parliament of the same year, 1548, Hales, who was M.P. for Preston, Lancashire, made another effort to assist the poor by introducing three bills: for rebuilding decayed houses, for maintaining tillage, against regrating and forestalling of markets. They were all rejected (Strype, iii. 210). On Somerset's fall Hales fled from England, and in 1552 was at Strasburg (Cranmer's Lett. p. 434, Parker Soc.). On the accession of Mary his property was confiscated, and he retired to Frankfort, and with his brother Christopher was prominently engaged in the religious contentions among the English exiles in that city (Strype, iii. 404; Orig. Lett. p. 764, Parker Soc.) His property was confiscated in 1557. He returned to England upon Mary's death, and greeted Elizabeth with a gratulatory oration, which is extant in manuscript (Harleian MSS. vol. ccccxix. No. 50). This was not spoken, but was delivered in writing to the queen by a nobleman. But in 1564 he fell into disgrace by interfering in the curious case of the marriage between the Earl of Hertford, eldest son of the late protector Somerset, and Katherine, one of the daughters of Grey, late duke of Suffolk, which Archbishop Parker, sitting in commission, had pronounced to be unlawful, the parties being unable to prove it. Hales put forth a pamphlet (now in Harl. MS. 550) to the effect that the marriage was made legitimate by the sole consent of the parties, and that the title to the crown of England belonged to the house of Suffolk if Elizabeth should die without issue. He was committed to the Tower, but was soon released by the influence of Cecil, yet in 1568 he was under bond not to quit his house without the royal license (Cal. Dom. i. 306). The affair was complicated, and endangered the reputation of Sir Nicholas Bacon [q. v.] and other eminent men.
Hales died on 28 Dec. 1571, and was buried in the church of St. Peter-le-Poer in London. His estates, with his principal house in Coventry called Hales's Place, otherwise the White Fryers, passed to John, son of his brother Christopher. Hales has been confused by Strype and later writers with John Hales, clerk of the hanaper under Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth.[Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 404–5; works cited.]