Robert King (bishop)

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Robert King

Robert King (died 1558) was an English churchman who became the first Bishop of Oxford.

He was a Cistercian monk, of Thame Park Abbey, and the last Abbot there, a position he obtained perhaps[1] through the influence of the Bishop of Lincoln, John Longland, as whose prebendary and suffragan bishop he had acted from 1535.[2] This was a move from the position of abbot at Bruerne Abbey.[3] Previously he had been vicar at Charlbury.[4]

King became abbot at Oseney Abbey in 1537. Both Thame Park and Oseney were dissolved in 1539, as part of the Dissolution of the Monasteries under Henry VIII. In 1541 King was made Bishop of Thame and Oseney. The next year his diocese was changed, into the Diocese of Oxford. In further changes the cathedral in Oxford was the previous priory of St Frideswide,[5] and became instead part of Christ Church, Oxford. King is commemorated there by a window made by Bernard van Linge.[6]

The buildings of the old Gloucester College, Oxford, which had become in 1542 the bishop's palace,[7] were under Edward VI taken back by the Crown. King lived in what is now called the Old Palace (rebuilt in the seventeenth century), and Littlemore Hall.

Under Mary, he returned to Catholicism. He was a judge at the trial of Cranmer.[8]


  1. ^ Others say John Williams (1500-1559), later, John Williams, 1st Baron Williams of Thame, a family connection.[1]
  2. ^ Concise Dictionary of National Biography.
  3. ^ David Knowles, The Religious Orders in England, vol. III p.72.
  4. ^ Commemorated on a plaque in the parish church there
  5. ^ Taken over by Cardinal Wolsey for his projected Cardinal College 1522, taken back by Henry VIII 1529.
  6. ^ View it online:[2]. Some say Abraham van Linge. The window was commissioned by collateral descendants of Robert King's brother William [3]; one of them being Henry King (1592-1669), bishop of Chichester and poet.
  7. ^ 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, article on Oxford; also mentions his monument; [4] for an illustration.
  8. ^

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