Item 9 - Exemplification: John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester

Identity area

Reference code


Unique identifier

GB 1859 SJLM/4/4/9


Exemplification: John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester


  • 1508 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

1 item, parchment

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

John Fisher was an English bishop, theologian and humanist academic, who was instrumental in the founding of St John's College. He is venerated as a martyr and saint by the Roman Catholic Church. Born in the town of Beverley, Yorkshire, in 1469, Fisher was a student at Cambridge in the 1480s, gaining his BA in 1488. He was subsequently elected Fellow of Michaelhouse, one of the two Colleges later refounded as Trinity College by Henry VIII. He became chaplain and confessor to Lady Margaret Beaufort, and in 1504, was appointed as Bishop of Rochester. At Cambridge, Fisher was made Vice-Chancellor of the University in 1501 and served as President of Queens’ College from 1505 to 1508. He also encouraged the creation of the University’s oldest professorship, the Lady Margaret Professorship of Divinity, in 1502, and was elected as its first occupant.

It was through Fisher’s influence that Lady Margaret was moved to support the foundation of Christ's College (1505) and St John's College, and it was Fisher who was to secure the establishment of St. John’s in 1511, after Lady Margaret’s death in 1509. Fisher fiercely opposed the dissolution of Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon, a position which brought him into grave conflict with the King. Fisher’s refusal to take an oath supporting Henry's right to act as Supreme Head of the Church in England led ultimately to his imprisonment in the Tower of London in 1534. Since such a refusal was considered a treasonable offence, Fisher was tried and sentenced to death, despite his late appointment to the office of cardinal by Pope Paul III. He was executed on Tower Hill on 22 June 1535.

Archival history

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Exemplification at request of J[ohn Fisher],Bishop of Rochester and Henry Hornby, clerk, of a licence dated 22 May 1472 by which Lady Margaret granted lands in Devon and Somerset to trustees.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

  • Latin

Script of material

Language and script notes

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Great seal, broken

Finding aids

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Related descriptions

Notes area


This purports to be 4 Henry VII, but since J must be John Fisher it is most likely misdated for 24 Henry VIII, 21 Oct 1508.

Alternative identifier(s)

Former Ref.


Access points

Subject access points

Place access points

Genre access points

Description control area

Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Accession area

Related subjects

Related genres

Related places

Physical storage

  • Box: 57/ESTATES