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The Right Reverend
|Bishop of London|
|Diocese||Diocese of London|
|Term ended||1539 (death)|
by John Longland
|Died||8 September 1539|
|Alma mater||Magdalen College, Oxford|
Stokesley was born at Collyweston in Northamptonshire, and became a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1495, serving also as a lecturer. In 1498 he was made principal of Magdalen Hall, and in 1505 vice-president of Magdalen College. Soon after 1509 he was appointed a member of the royal council, and chaplain and almoner to Henry VIII; he attended Henry as his chaplain at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520. He succeeded his brother Richard as rector of North Luffenham in 1527.
He became Bishop of London and Lord Almoner in 1530, and in September 1533 christened the future Queen Elizabeth. His later years were troubled by disputes with Archbishop Cranmer; Stokesley opposed all changes in the doctrines of the church, remaining hostile to the English Bible and clerical marriage. Stokesley was a staunch opponent of Lutheranism and very active in persecuting heretics.
In May 1538, the King's attorney took out a writ of Praemunire against Stokesley and, as accessories with him, against the Abbess Agnes Jordan and the Confessor-General of Syon Abbey. Stokesley acknowledged his guilt, implored Thomas Cromwell's intercession, and threw himself on the King's mercy. He obtained the King's pardon, for it was not the Bishop but Syon that Cromwell aimed at.