Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/King, Robert (d.1557)

KING, ROBERT (d. 1557), bishop of Oxford, although stated to have belonged to the Devonshire family of that name, appears to have been second son of William King of Thame, Oxfordshire, yeoman, who was living in 1508 (F. G. Lee, Hist. of the Prebendal Church … of Thame, pp. 383, &c.; Hannah, Poems and Psalms by Henry King, Bishop of Chichester, lxxxiii. lxxxvi.; Brit. Mus. Add. MS. 24488, ff. 1–3). His brother, William King of Thame and Worminghall, Buckinghamshire, gentleman, married Anne, daughter of Sir John Williams of Burghfield, Berkshire, and sister of Joan Williams, prioress of Studley, Oxfordshire, and of Sir John Williams of Thame; Robert King was thus connected with the same family as Thomas Cromwell [q. v.] He joined the Cistercians at Rewley Abbey, near Oxford, but, as was not unusual, passed some of his early years in the Oxford house of the Cistercians, now St. John's College (cf. Wood, City of Oxford, ed. Clark, Oxf. Hist. Soc., ii. 306–9). He proceeded B.D. in February 1506–7, was abbot of Brewern, Oxfordshire, in May 1515, and proceeded D.D. on 1 March 1518–19. John Longland [q. v.], bishop of Lincoln, was a patron of King, and helped him to obtain the office of abbot of Thame in 1530. King seems to have continued to hold Brewern, for at the dissolution he received a pension of 22l. a year in respect of it. King probably became suffragan to the Bishop of Lincoln on 7 Jan. 1527, taking the title Reonensis, from the name of a diocese in the province of Athens. He is thus described on 15 April 1535, when he received the prebend of Crackpole St. Mary in the cathedral of Lincoln. He exchanged this on 28 Nov. 1536, for Biggleswade, which he held till 1541.

On 22 Dec. 1537 King was elected abbot of Oseney, Oxfordshire, by the management of John London [q. v.] and John Tregonwell [q. v.], who acted on Cromwell's instructions. In 1539 he was a preacher at St. Mary's, Stamford, and is said to have preached there against those who used the English translation of the New Testament (Strype, Cranmer, i. 136). The abbey of Thame surrendered on 16 Nov., and that of Oseney on 17 Nov. 1539.

King was made bishop of Oseney and Thame probably in 1541 (ib.), but the letters patent were not issued till 1 Sept. 1542. He lived in Gloucester College until 9 June 1545, when he was made bishop of Oxford. He managed to retain his bishopric during the reigns of Edward VI and Mary. He sat at Cranmer's trial, and Foxe (Acts and Monuments, ed. Townsend, viii. 636), who is followed by Strype, includes ‘King, Bishop of Thame,’ among ‘persecuting bishops that died before Queen Mary.’ King died on 4 Dec. 1557, and was buried at Oxford, in Christ Church Cathedral, where a tomb was erected to his memory. This tomb, of which an engraving was published, was, with a stained window containing a portrait, moved later to another part of the cathedral by his great-grand-nephews, John and Henry King [q. v.], bishop of Chichester. Wood asserts that they found a coat of arms for the bishop which he never had or knew of himself. A painting of the window is at Tythorpe House, Oxfordshire.

[Authorities quoted; Strype's Annals, iv. 173; Memorials, I. ii. 407, II. ii. 172; Cranmer, pp. 52, 481, 1649; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 774; Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i. 18, 48; Wood's Hist. and Antiq. of the Univ. of Oxf. ed. Gutch, pp. 431, 629; Reg. of the Univ. of Oxf. ed. Boase (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), i. 47; Browne Willis's Hist. of Mitred Abbeys, ii. 172, 181, 187; Rymer's Fœdera, xiv. 755, xv. 12, 75, 671; Letters and Papers Henry VIII, ed. Gairdner, XII. i. 360, ii. 1246; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 112, 138; Turner's Selections from the Records of the City of Oxf. pp. 152, 155; Oxf. City Docs. ed. Thorold Rogers (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), p. 133; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, i. i. 260, ii. 252; Godwin, De Præsulibus, p. 545.]

W. A. J. A.