Nicholas Ridley, born in Northumberland around 1500, was educated in Newcastle and Cambridge, then at the Sorbonne in France as an ordained priest, before taking up the position of senior proctor at Cambridge University around the age of 30. He opposed the Roman papacy during the English Reformation and helped Thomas Cranmer with the Book of Common Prayer. In 1550 he was appointed the Bishop of London and Westminster. During his time as bishop he contended with John Hooper over the vestments controversy, affirming the authority of monarch and clergy in ‘matters indifferent’, and ultimately prevailing upon Bishop Hooper to wear the vestments for his ordination. When King Edward VI died and willed the throne to Lady Jane Grey, Ridley signed the letters patent for her accession and condemned Princesses Mary and Elizabeth as ‘bastards’. So when Mary shortly afterwards took the crown, Ridley was arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Along with Hugh Latimer, he was condemned to death by burning, and it was to him during their martyrdom that Latimer is reported to have said:
Be of good comfort, and play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.