He studied at Winchester College and New College, Oxford, of which he became a Fellow in 1568. In June, 1576, he was deprived, with seven other Fellows, by the Visitor, Robert Horne, Bishop of Winchester.
Next year he went to Douay College to study civil law, returned to England in February, 1578, and probably married. Arrested in 1580, he was kept in iron shackles in Winchester gaol, and was condemned in April, 1583, together with John Slade, a schoolmaster, for maintaining the old religion and denying the Royal Supremacy. There was apparently a feeling that this sentence was unjust and illegal, and they were actually tried and condemned again at Andover, 19 August 1583, on the same indictment.
Bodey had a controversy with Lawrence Humphrey, Dean of Winchester, on the Nicene Council, and his notes from Eusebius still exist. After his second trial, he wrote from prison to Dr. Humphrey Ely, "We consider that iron for this cause borne on earth shall surmount gold and, precious stones in Heaven. That is our mark, that is our desire. In the mean season we are threatened daily, and do look still when the hurdle shall be brought to the door. I beseech you, for God's sake, that we want not the good prayers of you all for our strength, our joy, and our perseverance unto the end. ... From our school of patience the 16th September, 1583."
At his execution he said:
Indeede, I have been sufficiently censured, for I have been condemned twice; if you may make the hearing of a Blessed Mass treason, or the saying of an Ave Maria treason, you may make what you please treason... I acknowledge her as my Lawful Queen in all temporal causes, and none other... Ye shall understand, good people all, I suffer death not for not granting her Majestie to be supreme head of Christ's Church in England, which I may not and will not grant; I pray God long to preserve her Majestie in tranquility over you, even Queen Elizabeth, your queen and mine; I desire you to obey none other.
- Chapman, John H. "The Persecution under Elizabeth" Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, Old Series Vol. 9 (1881), pp. 21-43. Retrieved 2011-10-17.
- Account of the trial and execution of John Slade, schoolmaster, and John Body, M.A., by R. B. (London, 1583);
- Richard Challoner, Memoirs;
- Nicholas Sanders, Anglican Schism, ed. Lewis (London, 1877);
- John Hungerford Pollen, Acts of English Martyrs (London, 1891);
- J. B. Wainewright, Two English Martyrs: Body and Munden (London, Catholic Truth Society);
- Thomas Francis Knox, Douay Diaries (London, 1878);
- William Allen, A true, sincere, and modest defence of English Catholiques (Reims, 1584)