Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 34.djvu/103

This page needs to be proofread.
London
London
97

LONDON, HENRY of (d. 1228), archbishop of Dublin. [See Loundres.]

LONDON, JOHN, D.C.L. (1486?–1543), visitor of monasteries, a native of Hambleden, Buckinghamshire, was born about 1486, being admitted in 1497, at the age of eleven, a scholar of Winchester College (Kirby), whence he proceeded to New College, Oxford. Of that society he was a fellow from 1505 to 1518, taking the degrees B.C.L. 1513, and D.C.L. 1519 (Wood; Boase). He was instituted to the living of Ewelme, Oxfordshire, in 1502, held the living of Stockbury on the presentation of the prior and convent of Leedes, Kent, before 1511, and was also vicar of Adderbury, Oxfordshire. In 1519 he was installed a prebendary of York, in 1522 a prebendary of Lincoln, and was appointed treasurer of the cathedral. He was elected warden of New College in 1526, and was dean of Osney and Wallingford. He was active in persecuting the Lutherans at Oxford from about 1528 onwards, three or more of whom were members of his own college; one of them, Quinby, he imprisoned ‘very straitly’ in the steeple, where he died ‘half starved with cold and lack of food’ (Narratives of the Reformation). On the news of the escape of a prominent Lutheran he was seen in St. Frideswide's, ‘puffing, blustering and blowing like a hungry and greedy lion seeking his prey’ (Foxe, Acts and Monuments, v. 424). Probably in 1534 his nephew Edward confessed on examination that his uncle had reproved him for writing against the pope, telling him that he trusted that ‘though the king had conceived a little malice against the bishop of Rome, he would yet wear harness on his back to fight against heretics’ (Cal. State Papers, vii. No. 146). This confession having presumably placed him in the power of Thomas Cromwell [q. v.], London was anxious to please the minister and became one of his most active and subservient agents. He invoked Cromwell's help in the government of his college, complaining that the fellows desired too much liberty (ib. pp. 1299, 1394, viii. 799). In 1535 he was appointed one of the commissioners for the visitation of monasteries, and was busily engaged in that work during three years. He speaks contemptuously of the religious, but his letters prove him to be more anxious to gather spoil for the king than to collect scandal. When he obtained the surrender of a religious house, he stripped it of everything that had a pecuniary value, and sent the spoils to London, seized all relics, and defaced and destroyed whatever he could not remove, so that the bare walls of buildings were alone left; he was, indeed, the ‘most terrible of all the monastic spoilers’ (Gasquet).

In spite of the energy that he showed in the work of spoliation, his position was insecure, and in 1536 Cromwell heard something to his discredit; for in July London, who was visiting religious houses in Northamptonshire, wrote to him to beg him not believe those who said that he was upholding the bishop of Rome, purgatory, and pilgrimage, and declared that he would always be conformable to the king's council and submit to Cromwell and Bishop Latimer (State Papers, xi. No. 96). Thomas Bedyll [q. v.] also wrote to Cromwell, saying that London had heard that Cromwell had withdrawn his favour from him and meant to put him out of the wardenship of New College, though London had, according to his own account, done more for the reformation of ignorance and superstition than any of the other monastic visitors (ib. pp. 118, 1184, 1376). It is possible that the cause of Cromwell's displeasure may have been other than rumours as to London's doctrines, and that to this date may be referred the story that London was put to ‘open penance with two smocks on his shoulders, for mrs. Thykked and mrs. Jennynges, the mother and the daughter … as it was then known to a number in Oxford and elsewhere … as well as the penner of this history’ (Narratives of the Reformation, p. 35, from Archdeacon Louth's letter to Foxe). Burnet says that there were complaints that London used his opportunities as visitor to solicit nuns (notes on Sanders's book). In August 1537 London wrote to beg Bedyll to be his friend with Cromwell, who suspected him of being a papist and a hinderer of good learning, declaring that no man had spoken more openly against papistical abuses, and that he had trouble with the youth of his college, who were given to liberty, and, ‘because Duns and such barbarous dreamers are set apart, object to meddle with Archyrople, Faber, and Melancthon's Logic, and with Aristotle in the Greek;’ the report of Cromwell's displeasure had, he said, nearly killed him (State Papers, xii. pt. ii. No. 429). In the autumn of 1538 London visited the nunnery of Godstow, Oxfordshire, and not being able to persuade the abbess, Katherine Bulkeley, to surrender the house, stayed there some time. The abbess wrote to Cromwell on 5 Nov. complaining of his conduct, saying that she refused to surrender the house to him because he was her ‘ancient enemy,’ having opposed her promotion, and that he did ‘inveigle’ her sisters ‘one by one otherwise than