Henry VIII,the Reign
Bishop of London
Profile Edmund Bonner Bishop of London
EDMUND BONNER, Bishop of London, was the son of Elizabeth Frodsham and perhaps the natural son George Savage, rector of Davenham,Cheshire.
After that liaison, Elizabeth married to Edmund Bonner, a sawyer of Hanley in Worcestershire. This account, which was printed in Strype’s Ecclesiastical Memorials, was disputed by Strype's contemporary, Sir Edmund Lechmere, who claimed Bonner was of legitimate birth.
Notwithstanding Bonner was educated at Broadgates Hall, now Pembroke College, Oxford, graduating bachelor of civil and canon law in June 1519. He was ordained about the same time, and admitted D.C.L. in 1525.
In 1529 he was Wolsey's chaplain, and he was with the Cardinal at Cawood at the time of his arrest. Subsequently he was transferred to the service of King Henry VIII, and in January 1532 he was sent to Rome to obstruct the judicial proceedings against Henry in the papal curia. In October 1533 he was entrusted with intimating to Clement VII, while he was the guest of Francis I at Marseilles, Henry's appeal from the pope to a general council.
There is an unsubstantiated story that Clement threatened to have him burnt alive.
In 1535 he was made Archdeacon of Leicester.
Towards the end of that year he was sent to further what he called "the cause of the Gospel" in North Germany; and in 1536 he wrote a preface to Gardiner's De vera Obedientia, which asserted the royal supremacy and, denied that of the pope, which was received with delight by the Lutherans. After a brief embassy to the Emperor in the spring of 1538, Bonner superseded Gardiner at Paris, and began his mission by sending Cromwell a long list of accusations against his predecessor.
He was almost as bitter against Wyatt and Mason, whom he denounced as a "papist," and the violence of his conduct led Francis I to threaten him with a hundred strokes of the halberd. He seems, however, to have pleased his patron, Cromwell, and perhaps Henry, by his energy in seeing the King's "Great" Bible in English through the press in Paris. He was already King's Chaplain; his appointment at Paris had been accompanied by promotion to the see of Hereford, and before he returned to take possession he was translated to the bishopric of London in October 1539. Hitherto Bonner had been known as a somewhat coarse and unscrupulous tool of Cromwell.
After the death of henry VIII Bonner continued to serve under the new regime but became he was antagonized by the Protestant reforms introduced by Edward Seymour and reconciled himself to Roman Catholicism. He became notorious as "Bloody Bonner" for his role in the persecution of heretics under the Catholic government of Mary I of England, and ended his life as a prisoner under Queen Elizabeth.