Cambridgeshire
& the Isle of Ely
Timeline

1500-1599

Note: All entries in this colour cover other areas as well as Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely and can be regarded as general historic information.

Period

Dates

Events

1500-1599

1501

Richard Redman made Bishop of Ely

 

1506

James Stanley made Bishop of Ely

 

21 Apr 1509

Henry VII's reign of England ends.

 

22 Apr 1509

Henry VIII becomes King of England.

 

1509

Establishment of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms by King Henry VIII.

 

1515

Nicholas West made Bishop of Ely

 

1517

An Inquisition records enclosures at Cheveley, Childerley, Cottenham, East Hatley, Longstowe, Orwell, Shingay and Steeple Morden; to these could possibly be added Arrington and Tadlow; all this amounted to under 10% of Cambridgeshire's cultivated acreage.

 

1518

Royal College of Physicians founded by Thomas Linacre with charter from King Henry VIII.

 

1520

William Stockdale, vicar of Holy Trinity, Cambridge is charged with poaching deer in the queen's parks, using his parochial assistants as gamebeaters.

 

1525

Hugh Latimer, later to achieve greatness and martyrdom in the service of Edward VI, announced his Lutheranism from the pulpit of Cambridge Great St. Mary's. Nicholas West, the diehard Bishop of Ely, tried to stop the spread of pernicious doctrines in the diocese by an oath condeming Lutheranism and other heresies. Due to the close proximity of the Suffolk seaports and, therefore, reformist Holland, to Cambridgeshire made such precautions necessary. Imported Tyndale bibles spread in the county despite bans by Bishop West.

 

1531

King Henry VIII becomes head of the church & establishes the Church of England.

 

1533

Nicholas West, Bishop of Ely, dies.

 

1534

Thomas Goodrich made Bishop of Ely
Founding of Cambridge University Press (Grant of Letters Patent by King Henry VIII)

 

1538

Thomas Cromwell, Vice-Gerent, Henry II's closet advisor issued a mandate that ordered every parson, vicar or curate to enter in a book every wedding, christening and burial in his parish, with the names of the parties. The entries were to be made each Sunday after service, in the presence of one of the wardens. The mandate was enforced under a penalty of 3s. 4d. for the repair of the church. Thus started parish registers which were usually on scraps of paper.

 

1539

First Criminal Court established at Old Bailey.
Office of Lord Lieutenant of the County instituted by King Henry VIII.

 

Dec 1539

The dissolution of Crowland Abbey.

 

1540

Office of Secretary of State instituted.

 

1541

King Henry VIII of England declared King of Ireland.

 

1542

The dissolution of Crowland Abbey in December 1539 caused disruption to the life of Buckingham College, Cambridge. One of the Benedictine abbeys involved in the College, Walden, came into the possession of Thomas, Lord Audley as a consequence of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. A former Speaker of the House of Commons, Audley as Lord Chancellor presided over the trials of Sir Thomas More and Anne Boleyn, and helped rid Henry VIII of two other wives, as well as Thomas Cromwell. Having thus acquired Audley End, the Garter and his peerage, he then re-founded Buckingham College as the College of St Mary Magdalene in 1542.

 

1546

Trinity college Cambridge founded by Henry VIII as his memorial. This brought together existing establishments, namely King's Hall, Michaelhouse and some student hostels. Foul Lane, a wharfland street, was grassed overr to be part of Trinity, which was endowed with a Master, 60 Fellows and Scholars, and enormous revenues and privileges.

 

1547

Law passed which authorised the enslaving of vagrants which was widely ignored but Cambridge and most other parishes instituted patrols to catch beggars who were subsequently whipped out of the area to face the same treatment in the next parish; only in their native parishes could they obtain relief.

 

28 Jan 1547

Henry VIII's reign of England ends.

 

29 Jan 1547

Edward VI becomes King of England.

 

1549

Cambridge theologians participate in drafting of prayer book.

Discontent caused by Richard Kirby's attempt to enclose two parts of common land at Landbeach after eviction of some copyhold tenants. Arbitration by the rector, Matthew Parker, defused a confrontation. Matthew Parker went on to be Archbishop of Canterbury.

 

1552

Cambridge theologians participate in drafting of prayer book.

 

6 Jul 1553

Edward VI's reign of England ends.

This created a dispute of succession between the Catholic Mary Tudor and the Lady Jane Grey; the latter being supported by Edward's leading councillor, Northumberland, who was also her father-in-law. Mary fled across to Norfolk and, on the way, stayed overnight at the house of Sir John Huddlestone, a staunch Catholic living at Sawston. A Protestant mob arrived threatening to burn the place so Mary left but not before promising Sir John a better house; the result - Sawston Hall.

Northumberland, in pursuit of Mary, with 8,000 foot soldiers and 200 cavalry stayed in Cambridge, and was received by the university. As the people rallied around Mary and Northumberland's political position worsened he decided to admit defeat while in Cambridge by proclaiming Mary himself in Cambridge market square - he was beheaded nevertheless.

With the advent of Mary as Queen came a purge of protestants. The University suffered. The great Cambrdge trio, Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer, perished in flames in Oxford. All but three of the Masters of the colleges were dispossessed. Fellows were expelled in number, St. John's losing fourteen. Only Catholics could take a degree. Village clergy were also purged.

 

3 Aug 1553

Mary I (Queen of Scots) becomes Queen of England.

 

1554

Thomas Thirlby made Bishop of Ely

 

Maundy Thursday 1556

John Hullier, formerly vicar of Babraham became a Cambridgeshire martyr when burned in the smoke of Protestant tracts.

 

1557

Thousands die in famine as crops fail for the third year.
Catholic scholar and royal physician, John Caius, becomes Master of Gonville College. He spent his own money on the expansion of the college soon acquiring a pioneering reputation in medicine. The college was later renamed Gonvill and Caius in his honour.

 

7 Nov 1558

Mary I's reign of England ends.

 

15 Jan 1559

Elizabeth I becomes Queen of England.
With the succession of Protestant Elizabeth another purge took place at the Cambridge University and a return to old ways. The university remained close to royalty and was visited by Elizabeth early in her reign.

 

1559

Richard Cox made Bishop of Ely

 

1561

Mary Queen of Scots returns to Scotland.

 

23 Apr 1564

William Shakespeare born.

 

5 August 1564

Queen Elizabeth arrived in Cambridge from Haslingfield and was escorted through the streets by the mayor and aldermen, then through the univeristy by the Vice-Chancellor to a formal oration at King's Chapel. The Queen stayed for three days hearing numerous services.

 

1570

High tides broke the Roman Bank between Wisbech and Walsoken causing extensive flooding as far as Bedfordshire.

 

Jul 1570

Elizabeth I excommunicated by Pope Pius V.

 

1580-89

Ely Diocesan Records show that there were 30 schools in Cambridgeshire in the 1580s. Peasants were desperate to achieve education if only for their eldest sons; 102 tenants at Willingham raised 100 a year to maintain a local school.

 

1585

Sir Richard Grenville establishes first colony in Virginia.

 

8 Feb 1587

Mary Queen of Scots beheaded.

 

1597

A system of mandatory Poor Rates was finalised which established parish rates which were to be levied on residents to support the poor by providing materials for the genuine unemployed. Wisbech for one was already doing this. Villages like Linton built 'Taske Houses' to house and employ the poor. The workhouse remained a place of last resort, usable only by the minority of pupers. Able-bodied and 'shiftless' beggars remained subject to the whip.

 

crica. 1598

Further edict issued that parish registers were to be copied onto parchment in books, this means that registers that survive dating back to 1538-9 rarely contain original entries of this date. Transcripts were then copied from these books and sent to the Bishop responsible for that parish and some of these documents survive today (Bishop's Transcripts).

 


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