Bishop William Barlow was born about 1498 in Essex, England to Robert Barlow and his wife, Anna. William, along with three of his four brothers, all entered the clergy at a time of religious change in England. Because there were three active Bishops by the name Barlow and William’s son were also clergy it has at times been confusing as to which “Barlow” is being referenced in historical documents from the time of Henry VIII to Elizabeth I. It is also believed that he may be Friar Jerome who is considered the author of a number of satirical pieces that attacked Cardinal Thomas Wolsley. Knowing the family history with Woosley it would not be surprising (two of William’s brothers were confidants to Anne Boylen). He was the author of “On the Luthern Factions.” During the reign of Mary I he spent time in the Tower of London. Later he and his family were exiled in Germany and he met many Protestant reformers there including Martin Luther. He later went to Poland before returning to England when Elizabeth was crowned. He also contributed to The Institution of the Christian Man.
Religiously he was a staunch reformer who was behind selling church properties and breaking up the monastaries among other things. He did not believe that confession was biblical and purgatory did not exist. He also was for translating the Bible into English.
While there is little evidence that he took an active role in the court of Henry VIII he was sent to James V of Scotland at least twice on the King’s behalf. During the second visit his stay was extended on behalf of Margaret Tudor, the king’s sister. While at Holyrood Palace William presented James with the Order of the Garter.
William is considered the first English bishop to wed. He married Agatha Wellsbourne before 1544, the marriage was before the demand for clerical celibacy was lifted. Their five daughters all married bishops and their oldest son also became a bishop.
William had been Bishop of St. Asaph, St. Davids, and Chichester.
William died in 1568.
Schwartz-Leeper, Gavin, From Princes to Pages: The Literary Lives of Cardinal Wolsey, Tudor England …