John Fisher

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Saint John Fisher (1459[2] /c. 19 October 1469[1] – 22 June 1535) was an English Roman Catholic Bishop, Cardinal and martyr. He shares his feast day with Saint Thomas More on 22 June in the Roman Catholic calendar of saints and 6 July on the Anglican calendar of saints. Fisher was executed by order of King Henry VIII during the English Reformation for refusing to accept him as Head of the Church of England and for upholding the Catholic Church's dogma of papal primacy.


Early life

John Fisher was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, England in the year 1469, the eldest son of Robert Fisher, a modestly prosperous merchant of Beverley, and Agnes his wife. He was one of four children. His father died when John was eight. His mother remarried and had five more children by her second husband, William White. Fisher seems to have had close contacts with his extended family all his life. Fisher's early education was probably received in the school attached to the collegiate church in his home town. One of the Houses in Beverley Grammar School is named in his honour.

John Fisher studied at the University of Cambridge from 1484, where at Michaelhouse, Cambridge, he came under the influence of William Melton, a pastorally-minded theologian open to the new current of reform in studies arising from the Renaissance. Fisher earned a B.A. degree in 1487, and later a M.A. degree in 1491 the same year that he was elected a fellow of his college. He was also made Vicar of Northallerton, Yorkshire. In 1494 he resigned his benefice to become proctor of the university, and three years later was appointed Master debator, about which date he became chaplain and confessor to Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby, mother of King Henry VII. On 5 July 1501, he received his doctorate in theology and ten days later he was elected Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge University. Under Fisher's guidance, Lady Margaret founded St John's and Christ's Colleges at Cambridge, and a Lady Margaret Professorship of Divinity at each of the two universities at Oxford and Cambridge, Fisher himself becoming the first occupant of the Cambridge chair. He was also in the years (1505–8) the President of Queens' College. At the end of July, 1516 he was at Cambridge for the opening of St John's College and consecrated the Chapel.

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