FISHER, JOHN, bishop of Rochester, was b. in 1456 at Beverley, in Yorkshire, edu cated at Michael House college (maw incorporated with Trinity college), Cambridge, where he took his degree in 1491, and of which lie became master in 1495. Margaret, countess of Richmond, mother of Henry VII., charmed by the report of his virtues and learning, next appointed him her chaplain and confessor. In 1501, he was elected chancellor of the university; and in 1502, became first Margaret professor of divinity. Two years later, he obtained the bishopric of Rochester. For many years after this appointment, he labored diligently for the welfare of the church and the universities. The reformation of Luther found in him—as might have been expected from his devout ecclesiastieism—a strenuous, if not an able opponent. In 1527, a rupture took place between him and Henry in regard to the divorce of queen Catharine. F. refused to declare the marriage unlawful. From this period, he figures in the politico-religious strifes of his time as a stanch adherent of the papacy. He opposed the suppression of the lesser monasteries in 1529, and the acknowledgment of Henry as head of the church in 1531, and thereby excited the dislike of the party of progress in the English nation.
His credulity—many would apply a harsher term—in reference to Elizabeth Barton (q.v.), the "holy maid of Kent," involved him in a still more perilous antagonism to the king. He was imprisoned; and on refusing to take the oath affirming the legality of Henry's marriage with Anne Boleyn, he was committed to the Tower, April 20, 1534, where he was treated with great barbarity. A kind but inconsiderate act of pope Paul III. now hastened the destruction of the old man. His holiness, as a reward of his faithful services, sent him a cardinal's hat in May, 1535. When Henry was informed of this, he exclaimed: "Mother of God! he shall wear it on his shoulders, then; for I will leave him never a head to set it on." His ruin was now certain. He was accused of high treason, and after a brief trial was condemned and executed, 22d June, 1535. F. was one of those unfortunate persons who, with abundance of personal virtues, find themselves opposed to the overwhelming tendencies of the times in which they live.