Copyright 1994 Ian Lancashire. ISBN 1-896016-00-6

All 33 homilies were published unsigned because they derive their authority, not from any individual or even any group of bishops and chaplains, but from the Church of England itself and of course the living monarch. Some one person was responsible for writing or drafting each homily, yet we can be reasonably certain that all texts were revised, perhaps heavily, by several people. Cranmer's correspondence with Stephen Gairdner suggests that he collected contributions from others. Elizabeth's archbishop , Matthew Parker, would have certainly reviewed the texts. The queen herself took enough of an interest in the second volume to delay her final imprimatur.

Despite the impersonal nature of these compositions, there is a history of attributions. Ronald Bond concisely summarizes what is known about the first volume (1987: 26-28). John Bale attributed the whole, and Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, much of it (Letters 1933: 397, 403, 406, 408, 413), to Cranmer personally. Yet three homilies certainly came from Edmund Bonner, bishop of London (no. 6), John Harpefield his chaplain (no. 2), and Thomas Becon (no. 11) because they published these homilies afterwards as their own work. Latimer has also been suggested as an author, although his remarks in his other published sermons do not sound as if he were personally involved in Cranmer's project. In a letter to Cranmer of mid-June 1547, Gairdiner attacks Cranmer's chaplain, John Joseph, formerly a friar minor from Cambridge, for having preached a sermon on justification that sounds a great deal like the homily on salvation attributed commonly to Cranmer (1933: 299-316). Cranmer need not have written even the three homilies attributed to him. Bonner delegated at least one homily to his chaplain, Harpesfield, and they would have been secure in doing so if they had known Cranmer practiced this personally. It is possible that Cranmer wrote notes and abstracts of most of the sermons and then left the actual composition to men like Joseph. Cranmer's notes on what looks like a sermon or homily on sedition survive (1840: II.840-42); these contain ten passages from the Bible, six arguments in point form that the devil, not God, inspires subjects to take up swords, and remarks on the remedies and authors of seditions.

Other candidate contributors among the bishops are not hard to find: William Knight (Bath and Wells), Paul Bush* (Bristol), Robert Aldrich (Carlisle), John Bird (Chester), George Day (Chichester), Cuthbert Tunstall* (Durham), Thomas Goodrich (Ely), John Veysey (Exeter), John Wakeman or Wiche (Gloucester), John Skip or Skyppe (Hereford), Richard Sampson* (Coventry and Lichfield), John Longland* (Lincoln), William Repps or Rugge (Norwich), Robert King* (Oxford), John Chamber or Chambers (Peterborough), Henry Holbeach or Rands (Rochester), John Salcot or Capon (Salisbury), Henry Man (Sodor and Man), Nicholas Heath* (Worcester), and Edward Lee or Robert Holgate (York). Tunstall and Heath oversaw the Great Bible of Henry VIII (STC 2072); and Bush, Tunstall, Sampson, Longland, and King all published sermons. VOLUME 1

  1. A Fruitfull exhortation to the reading of holy Scripture. Suggested as the work of Thomas Cranmer (by Griffiths 1859: xxvii).

  2. Of the misery of all mankinde. Signed with the name of John Harpesfield, archdeacon of London, when it was published in the Marian homilies in 1555 (A profitable and necessarye doctryne, sig. 1v; article by T.C., DNB 8.1313-15).

  3. Of the saluation of all mankinde. Assigned to Cranmer by Gairdner (cf. Cranmer 1846: 128, n. 1).

  4. Of the true and liuely fayth. Assigned to Cranmer by Gairdner (Cranmer 1846: 128, n. 1).

  5. Of good workes. Assigned to Cranmer by Gairdner (Cranmer 1846: 128, n. 1).

  6. Of Christian loue and charity. Signed by the initials of Edmund Bonner in the 1555 homilies (A profitable and necessarye doctryne, sig. 1v).

  7. Against swearing and periury. Unknown.

  8. Of the declining from God. Unknown.

  9. An exhortation against the feare of death. Suggested as the work of Cranmer by Cox (Cranmer 1846: 128, n. 1).

  10. An exhortation to obedience. Unknown.

  11. Against whoredome and adultery. Acknowledged by Thomas Becon as his work in his folio of works in 1563-4 (Becon 1844: 641-50).

  12. Against strife and contention. Unknown.
Little specific is known about the authors of the homilies in the second volume, although 19th-century editors have attributed many to John Jewel, bishop of Salisbury (nos. 1-3, 7-9, 16-17), and some few to Edmund Grindal, bishop of London (no. 4), James Pilkington, bishop of Durham (nos. 5-6), and Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury (no. 18). Yet the bishops' "Interpretations" of Elizabeth's injunctions specified that the work of writing the planned 36 homilies in the second volume was to be shared equally by seventeen bishops, except that the bishop of London (Grindal) would have four. John Ayre, the editor of Jewel's works, does not agree that he contributed eight of the twenty; rather, he says, "it is more likely that he was called on merely to revise them" (Jewel 1850: xviii and n. 5).

Some neglected evidence exists, however, that Grindal did contribute the four homilies expected of him. In 1563 he provided a "form" for the reading of homilies on fasting Wednesdays during bouts of the the plague. This form specified that seven homilies be read, in the following sequence, one each Wednesday -- the justice of God (one of Bonner's homilies in another collection), the declining from God (no. 8 in the first volume), the fear of death (no. 9 in the first volume), and four pieces from the second volume: fasting (2.4, already assigned to him), prayer (2.7, assigned to Jewel), almsdeeds (2.11), and repentance (2.20) -- and urged the clergy to repeat the cycle until the plague was over. One reason why Grindal might have selected these four homilies out of the twenty published might be that he was responsible for them.

Other candidate bishops from 1559 to 1563 are the following: Gilbert Berkeley (Bath and Wells), Richard Cheyney (Bristol and Gloucester), John Best (Carlisle), William Downham (Chester), William Barlow* (Chichester), Richard Cox* (Ely), William Alley* (Exeter), John Scory* (Hereford), Thomas Bentham* (Coventry and Lichfield), Nicholas Bullingham* (Lincoln), John Parkhurst* (Norwich), Edmund Scambler (Peterborough), Edmund Gheast (Rochester), Robert Horne** (Winchester), Edwin Sandes** or Sandys (Worcester), and Thomas Young* (York). Because Elizabeth's bishops was virtually a clean slate, every Catholic bishop under Mary being deprived of his see shortly after her death, the Protestant bishops faced large administrative challenges and may well not have had enough time or experience to provide all the homilies that Parker, as Archbishop of Canterbury, wanted. However, Barlow, Cox, Alley, Scory, Bentham, Bullingham, Parkhurst, and Young, at least, appear in STC as authors (sometimes only of injunctions), and Horne and especially Sandes produced sermons.


  1. Of the right vse of the Church. Possibly John Jewel, bishop of Salisbury (A. F. P., Encycl. Brit. 7.376).

  2. Against perill of Idolatry. Possibly Jewel (A. F. P., Encycl. Brit. 7.376).

  3. For repayring and keeping cleane the Church. Possibly Jewel (A. F. P., Encycl. Brit. 7.376).

  4. Of good workes. And first of Fasting. Assigned to Edmund Grindal, bishop of London (A. F. P., Encycl. Brit. 7.376).

  5. Against gluttony and drunkennesse. Possibly James Pilkington, first protestant bishop of Durham (DNB 15.1179-81).

  6. Against excesse of apparell. Possibly Pilkington (DNB 15.1179-81).

  7. An Homilie of Prayer. Possibly Jewel (A. F. P., Encycl. Brit. 7.376) or Grindal.

  8. Of the place and time of Prayer. Possibly Jewel (A. F. P., Encycl. Brit. 7.376).

  9. Of Common Prayer and Sacraments. Possibly Jewel (A. F. P., Encycl. Brit. 7.376).

  10. An information of them which take offence at certaine places of holy Scripture.

  11. Of almes deeds. Possibly Grindal.

  12. Of the Natiuity.

  13. Of the Passion for good Friday.

  14. Of the Resurrection for Easter day.

  15. Of the worthy receiuing of the Sacrament.

  16. An Homilie concerning the comming downe of the holy Ghost, for Whitsunday. Possibly Jewel (A. F. P., Encycl. Brit. 7.376).

  17. An Homilie for Rogation weeke. Possibly Jewel (A. F. P., Encycl. Brit. 7.376).

  18. Of the state of Matrimony. Possibly Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury. (A. F. P., Encycl. Brit. 7.376).

  19. Against Idlenesse.

  20. Of Repentance and true Reconciliation vnto God. Possibly Grindal.

  21. An Homily against disobedience and wilfull rebellion.

Stylistic tests may be able to confirm or rule out these attributions or associate homilies with other men, but the field of possible candidates is large, if bishops' chaplains are included. The homilies in the first volume, for example, exhibit several distinctive styles.