Matthew Parker

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Matthew Parker (6 August 1504 – 17 May 1575) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 until his death in 1575. He was also an influential theologian and arguably the co-founder (with Thomas Cranmer and Richard Hooker) of Anglican theological thought.

Parker was one of the primary architects of the Thirty-Nine Articles, the defining statements of Anglican doctrine. The Parker collection of early English manuscripts, including the book of St. Augustine Gospels and Version A of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, was created as part of his efforts to demonstrate that the English Church was historically independent from Rome, creating one of the world's most important collections of ancient manuscripts.

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Early years

The eldest son of William Parker, he was born in Norwich, in St. Saviour's parish. His mother's maiden name was Alice Monins, and she may have been related by marriage to Thomas Cranmer. When William Parker died, in about 1516, his widow married John Baker. Matthew was sent in 1522 to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge,[1] where he is said to have been contemporary with William Cecil, but Cecil was only two years old at the time. Parker graduated BA in 1525, was ordained deacon in April and priest in June 1527, and was elected fellow of Corpus in the following September. He commenced MA in 1528, and was one of the Cambridge scholars whom Thomas Wolsey wished to transplant to his newly founded "Cardinal College" at Oxford.

Parker, like Cranmer, declined the invitation. He had come under the influence of the Cambridge reformers, and after Anne Boleyn's recognition as queen he was made her chaplain. Through her, he was appointed dean of the college of secular canons at Stoke-by-Clare in 1535. Hugh Latimer wrote to him in that year urging him not to fall short of the expectations which had been formed of his ability. In 1537 he was appointed chaplain to King Henry VIII. In 1538 he was threatened with prosecution, but Richard Yngworth, the Bishop of Dover, however, reported to Thomas Cromwell that Parker "hath ever been of a good judgment and set forth the Word of God after a good manner. For this he suffers some grudge." He graduated DD in that year, and in 1541 was appointed to the second prebend in the reconstituted cathedral church of Ely. In 1544, on Henry VIII's recommendation, he was elected master of Corpus Christi College, and in 1545 vice-chancellor of the university. He got into some trouble with the chancellor, Stephen Gardiner, over a ribald play, Pammachius, performed by the students, which derided the old ecclesiastical system.

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