THIRLBY (or [[Thirleby), Thomas]] (c. 1506-1570), English prelate, was born at Cambridge and was educated at Trinity Hall in the university there, becoming a fellow of his college. Through the good offices of his friend, Thomas Cranmer, he was introduced to the court of Henry VIII., and he served this king, one of whose chaplains he had become, in several ways. Among his numerous public appointments were those of dean of the chapel royal and member of the council of the north. In 1540 he was made bishop of Westminster, being the first and only occupant of that see; in 1550, three years after Henry VIII.'s death, he resigned the bishopric, which was dissolved, and became bishop of Norwich. As a diplomatist Thirlby had a long and varied experience; on several occasions he was sent on embassies to the emperor Charles V., and he helped to arrange the peace between England and France in 1 559. He appears to have served Edward VI. loyally throughout his short reign, both at home and abroad, although it is certain that he disliked the religious changes and he voted against the act of uniformity in 1549. He was thus more at ease when Mary ascended the throne. Translated in 1554 to the bishopric of Ely, he took part in the trial of Cranmer at Oxford and in the consecration of Reginald Pole as archbishop of Canterbury, but he himself did not take severe measures against heretics. When Elizabeth became queen the bishop refused to take the oath of supremacy; in other ways he showed himself hostile to the proposed religious changes, and in 1559 he was deprived of his bishopric. For preaching against the innovations he was arrested in 1560, and he was in honourable confinement at Lambeth Palace when he died on the 26th of August 1570.
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