William Downham

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William Downham (1511–1577) was bishop of Chester.

Under Mary of England, he was chaplain to her sister Princess Elizabeth.[1] He became bishop of Chester in 1561, shortly after Elizabeth's accession.[2]

As bishop, he was considered rather ineffectual against the Roman Catholics, preferring not to offend the gentry.[3] The reformer Christopher Goodman attacked him in 1571, as supine, on a pretext of the continuing Whitsun plays.[4]

He had further problems with the diocesan finances, being dependent on rents that could prove hard to collect.[5] He also had very few university graduates among his candidates for ordination.[6]


George Downame and John Downame were his sons.[7]


  1. ^ Andrew Pettegree, The Reformation: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies (2004), p. 337.
  2. ^ https://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=35844
  3. ^ Christopher Haigh, Reformation and Resistance in Tudor Lancashire (1975), p. 210.
  4. ^ https://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=57329
  5. ^ Christopher Haigh, Reformation and Resistance in Tudor Lancashire (1975), p. 225.
  6. ^ Richard L. Graves, Society and Religion in Elizabethan England (1981), p. 78.
  7. ^ Benjamin Brook, The Lives of the Puritans (1813), p. 496.
Church of England titles
Preceded by
Cuthbert Scott
Bishop of Chester
Succeeded by
William Chaderton