Cuthbert Tunstall - Encyclopedia

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TUNSTALL (or TONSTALL), Cuthbert (1474-1559), English prelate, was an illegitimate son of Thomas Tunstall of Thurland Castle, Lancashire, his legitimate half-brother, Brian Tunstall, being killed at Flodden in 1513. Cuthbert seems to have studied at Oxford, at Cambridge and at Padua, and he became a distinguished scholar, winning favourable comment from Erasmus. Having held several livings in quick succession, he became chancellor to William Warham, archbishop of Canterbury, in 1511, and he was soon employed on diplomatic business by Henry VIII. and Wolsey, being sent to Brussels in 1515 and to Cologne in 1519, while he was at Worms during the famous Diet of 1521. In 1516 he had been made master of the rolls; in 1521 he became dean of Salisbury, in 1522 bishop of London, and in 152 3 keeper of the privy seal. For Henry VIII. he negotiated with Charles V. after his victory at Pavia in 1525 and he helped to arrange the Peace of Cambrai in 1529. In 1530 he succeeded Wolsey as bishop of Durham. Tunstall's religious views now gave some anxiety. He adhered firmly to the traditional teaching of the Church, but after some slight hesitation he accepted Henry as its head and publicly defended this position. In 1537 the bishop was appointed president of the new council of the north, but although he was often engaged in treating with the Scots he found time to take part in other public business and to attend parliament, where in 1539 he participated in the discussion on the bill of six articles. Although he disliked the religious policy pursued by the advisers of Edward VI. and voted against the first act of uniformity in 1549, he continued to discharge his public duties without molestation until after the fall of the protector Somerset; then in May 1551, he was placed in custody. A bill charging him with treason was introduced, but the House of Commons refused to pass it; he was, however, deprived of his bishopric in October 1552. On the accession of Mary in 1553 he was released and was again bishop of Durham, but during this reign he showed no animus against the Protestants. When Elizabeth came to the throne he refused to take the oath of supremacy, and he would not help to consecrate Matthew Parker as archbishop of Canterbury. He was arrested, and was still a prisoner at Lambeth when he died on the 18th of November 1559.

Among Tunstall's writings are De veritate corporis et sanguinis domini nostri Jesu Christi in eucharistic (1554); and De arte supputandi libri quattuor (1522). The bishop's correspondence as president of the council of the north is in the British Museum.

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