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THE LIFE OF BISHOP RIDLEY*. NICHOLAS RIDLEY, descended from an ancient family of the county of Northumberland, which had for many generations held the rank of knighthood, was born at Wilmontswick, in Tynedale, not far from the Border. The period of his birth is not further known, than that he was born in the beginning of the 16th century. He received his school education at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, from whence, having given early proof of his talents, he was removed about the year 1518, at the charge of his uncle, Dr. Robert Ridley, Fellow of Queen's College, in Cambridge, to Pembroke Hall, in that University. Here he applied him. self with great zeal to the acquisition of learning, and was soon distinguished as a proficient both in the Greek and Latin languages. Richard Crook, the first Public Orator of the University, about that time began to revive the neglected study of the Greek language; and Ridley enjoyed the advantage of attending his lectures. In the year 1522 he took the degree of Bachelor of Arts. So great a reputation had he already attained, that in the beginning of the year 1524, he was invited by the master and fellows of University College in Oxford, to accept of a fellowship, then recently founded by the Bishop of Durham, at their College. Declining this honour, he was, in the course of the same year, chosen Fellow of his own College. The year after he became Master of Arts, and the next following he was appointed by the College their general agent in all causes relating to the churches of Tilney, Soham,, and Saxthorpe, belonging to Pembroke Hall.
By the continued patronage of his uncle, he was enabled to extend his means of improvement by visiting foreign Universities. We find him accordingly, in the year 1527, and the two following years, a student, first at Paris, and then at Louvain.
In the year 1530, returning to Pembroke Hall, he served the office of junior Treasurer in his College. He now applied himself with great diligence to the reading of the Scriptures. As a means of perfecting
** The authority which lias been followed is The Life of Dr. Nicholas Ridley, some time Bishop of London, &c. by the Rev. Gloucester Ridley, LL.B. 4to. London, 1763.
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his knowledge of them, it was his habit to walk in the orchard at Pem'broke Hall, and there commit to memory the epistles in Greek :-the walk which he frequented there, being long after known by his name.
In the year 1533, he was chosen senior Proctor of the University. During his continuance in that office, the point of the Pope's supremacy began to be agitated at Cambridge. Public disputations were held for the purpose of examining the question, and after mature deliberation it was resolved, " that the Bishop of Rome had no more authority and jurisdiction derived to him from God, in this kingdom of England, than any other foreign Bishop.” Ridley, as one of the Proctors, subscribed his name to this resolution.
Having discharged this office, he took his degree of Bachelor in Divinity in the year 1534, and was then appointed Chaplain of the University, and Public Reader *. At this period he lost his excellent relative and friend, Dr. Robert Ridley, who died June the 12th, 1536. But his great merits readily obtained for him another patron in Archbishop Cranmer, to whom his reputation, both as a preacher and as a disputant, his extraordinary memory, and intimatę knowledge of the Scriptures and the Fathers, were not unknown. The Archbishop's palace was the resort of learned men of all countries, and it was now destined to receive no ignoble addition to its inmates in the person of Ridley, who ob. tained the Archbishop's appointment to be his Chaplain. This post, to which he succeeded in the year 1537, enabled him to enjoy much of Cranmer's society. The plague about this time happening to rage with great violence at Lambeth, the Archbishop was induced to take refuge at his house at Ford, in Kent, where he continued several months in-retirement; and in consequence of this, Ridley had more ample opportunity of intercourse with him.
On the 30th of April of the following year, the Archbishop collated him to the vicarage of Herne, in East Kent. This new appointment placed him in a situation for displaying his eminent usefulness as a parochial minister. So far as he was himself enlightened on points of doctrine, for as yet he was a strict asserter of transubstantiation, he was earnest and active in instructing his flock : the fruits of his pains being particularly shewn in the conversion of the Lady Fiennes, who shewed the sincerity of a right conviction by her exemplary conduct through her subsequent life. During his residence, indeed, at Herne, he obtained such repute as a preacher, that the people for many miles round would resort to him in preference to their own ministers. i · He repaired to Cambridge the same year, and was admitted to the degree of Doctor in Divinity. In the October following, the mastership.of Pembroke Hall being vacant, in compliance with the wishes of the Fellows, he became the Head of his College. About this time also, at the instance of Archbishop Cranmer, he was appointed Chaplain to the King, and soon after (1541) through the saine interest, made Prebendary of Canterbury. How actively he acquitted himself in this last appointment, appears from an information laid against him at the Arch
* He is also mentioned under the title of Magister Glomeriæ, which was the same office as tbat afterwards termed the University Orator.