John Vesey

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Memorial dedicated to Vesey in Vesey Gardens, located to the side of Holy Trinity Church in Sutton Coldfield where he is buried
For other people named John Vesey, see John Vesey (disambiguation).

John Vesey or Veysey (1462?–1554) was an English bishop.


Vesey was born John Harman, probably about 1462, the son of a yeoman farmer, in a farmhouse now known as Moor Hall Farm, Sutton Coldfield. He received his education at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he gained a doctorate in Canon and Civil Law, and after ordination was appointed Rector of St Mary's, Chester. He set up Bishop Vesey's Grammar School for boys in Sutton Coldfield in 1527, which today continues to bear his name.

He became a friend of Thomas Wolsey, also educated at Magdalen. Until 1508 he served as Archdeacon of Barnstaple. In 1509, Wolsey became a Canon of Windsor and Chaplain to Henry VIII of England, and Vesey was appointed a Canon of Exeter. Vesey was promoted Bishop of Exeter in 1519 and the King awarded him the temporalities of the see, worth about £1,500 a year. The town of his birth would benefit greatly from his wealth. In 1527 he obtained permission to enclose a large plot of land close to his birthplace and built a grand house, (as of 2013 the site of Moor Hall Hotel) where he occasionally lived, in great style.

The township of Sutton Coldfield had fallen on hard times and he took it on himself to restore the fortunes of the town and its inhabitants. He prevailed upon the King to grant a Royal Charter of incorporation for Sutton in 1528; this entrusted the government of the town to a warden and to 24 local inhabitants known together as the Warden and Society of the Royal Town of Sutton Coldfield.

He is credited[by whom?] with rebuilding the aisles of the church, reviving the markets and building a marketplace, paving the town, building two stone bridges, founding and endowing a Free Grammar School, Bishop Vesey's Grammar School, and building 51 stone houses.

Vesey survived the fall of Wolsey in 1529 and prospered reasonably under Thomas Cromwell until 1551, where his opposition to Protestant reform caught up with him. He was deprived[by whom?] of his see, and its temporalities, in exchange for a pension of £485 a year. He was restored to the see of Exeter when Queen Mary came to the throne in 1553. He died in 1554 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church on Trinity Hill, Sutton Coldfield, which the school visits annually in a ceremony.

Sutton Coldfield was granted the Royal Tudor Rose by King Henry VIII in thanks for being aided by a young lady who shot dead, with an arrow, a wild boar which was charging at the King. He asked for the person responsible to come forward and a young lady of Sutton Coldfield came out of the trees.[when?]. Bishop Vesey, a close friend of the King, was in attendance at this incident. They also returned dispossessed land to the young lady's family.[citation needed]


  • George Oliver, The Lives of the Bishops of Exeter, 1861.
  • Fryer, Geoffrey R.D. (1997), John Vesey and His World: A Biography of Bishop Vesey (c.1465-1554) of Sutton Coldfield: published by the author. ISBN 0-9682625-0-3.

External links[edit]

Religious titles
Preceded by
Hugh Oldham
Bishop of Exeter
Succeeded by
Myles Coverdale
Preceded by
Myles Coverdale
Bishop of Exeter
Succeeded by
James Turberville