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HOLYMAN, JOHN, D.D. (1495–1558), bishop of Bristol, was a native of Coddington, near Haddenham in Buckinghamshire. He was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford, and in 1512 became a fellow of New College. He graduated B.C.L. 1514, M.A. 1518, and B.D. 1526. He left his college about 1526, and became rector of Colerne, but for the sake of books and literary society settled in Exeter College, Oxford. Where he remained until he became a monk in St. Mary’s Abbey, Reading. There he soon acquired a great reputation for learning and sanctity. In 1530, by desire of Hugh Farindon, the abbot [q. v.], he applied to be excused from preaching at Oxford on taking his D.D. degree, in order that he might preach against the Lutheran heresy at St. Paul’s Cross (Wood, University of Oxford, ed. Gutch, ii. 32). In 1531 he proceeded D.D. He opposed the divorce of Henry VIII from Queen Catherine, advocating the validity of their marriage by writing and preaching (cf. Letters &c. of Henry VIII, vii. 38). He was obliged in consequence to remove to Handborough, near Woodstock, of which he appears to have been rector, In 1535 his abbey was dissolved, and for several years he lived in retirement, partly at Handborough and partly in Exeter College. He became vicar of Wing, Buckinghamshire, 3 May 1546.

On Mary’s accession Holyman was promoted to the bishopric of Bristol, and was consecrated in London on 18 Nov. 1554. In the Bristol Museum and Library are official manuscript copies (made in April 1823) of the original papal letters appointing Holyman to the bishopric (Nicholls and Taylor, Bristol, Past and Present, 68). Though a zealous Romanist, Holyman gave general satisfaction as a bishop. He was included in a commission to try Ridley and Latimer for heresy, and took part at Oxford in the disputation with Cranmer (1554) and in the trial of Bishop Hooper, but was never active in persecution. He refused to be present when Dalby, his chancellor, sent three men to the stake at Bristol for their religious profession.

In 1558 Holyman died and was buried in the chancel of Handborough Church. By his will, dated 4 June 1558, and proved 16 Feb. following, he bequeathed to Winchester College the works of St. Augustine, St. Jerome, and St. Cyprian, and others, which were afterwards chained in the library. He wrote, among other works, ‘Tract. Contra doctrinam M. Lutheri;’ and ‘Defensio matrimonii Reginæ Catharinæ cum Rege Henrico octavo.’

[Wood’s Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), i. 275, ii. 779; Wood’s Fasti (Bliss), i. 40, 47, 74, 85; Foxe’s Acts and Monuments, ed. 1684, iii. 749, 855; Pryce’s Hist. of Bristol, p. 82; Nicholls and Taylor’s Bristol, Past and Present, vol. ii.; Evans’s Hist. of Bristol, p. 146; Coate’s Reading, p. 256; Lipscomb’s Bucks, iii. 526; Strype’s Cranmer and Eccl. Mem.; Kirby’s Winchester Scholars, p. 101]

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