TRAHERON, Bartholomew (by 1518-58 or later).

Published in The History of Parliament: the House of Commons 1509-1558, ed. S.T. Bindoff, 1982
Available from Boydell and Brewer



Family and Education

b. by 1518, ?s. of George Traheron of Herefs. educ. Oxf. by 1532. m. 1542, at least 1da.2

Offices Held

Writer of letters patent under the great seal and examiner of letters patent 22 Apr. 1547-1 Dec. 1549; keeper, King’s library at Westminster 14 Dec. 1549-22 Oct. 1553; commr. eccles. laws 1551; dean, Chichester Jan.-Dec. 1552; prebendary, St. George’s chapel, Windsor castle 10 Jan. 1553.3


When Bartholomew Traheron’s parents died leaving him a young child ‘destitute’, Richard Tracy ‘conceived a fatherly affection’ towards him and adopted him, financing his studies at Oxford and afterwards on the Continent. The influence of the Protestant Tracy was decisive in Traheron’s development, as Traheron acknowledged in dedicating to him a translation of The most excellent workes of chirurgerye made and set forth by maister John Vigon, head chirurgie of our tyme in Italy: Traheron wrote that Tracy had ‘earnestly exhorted me to forsake the puddles of sophisters and to fetch water from the pure fountains of the scripture’. In 1532 Traheron, described as an ‘old disciple’, was reported to the authorities at Oxford as having been in contact with the suspected heretic John Frith. Following this disclosure one of Traheron’s companions recanted but he himself preferred to quit the university for the Continent: he remained abroad for five years, travelling mostly in Germany and Italy and attending various universities. It was from Strasbourg that in 1538 he encouraged his brother Thomas to embrace the reformed faith.4

Believing that Henry VIII intended to complete the Reformation in England, Traheron returned at the beginning of 1539 and by early March was found employment in the service of Cromwell. A year later he was reporting on the religious changes which had been accomplished and on the friendly disposition of Chancellor Audley towards him and Henry Bullinger, but the fall of Cromwell heralded a period of disappointment and discomfort from which he finally escaped by going abroad again in 1546. Four years earlier he had married the daughter of a man who ‘followed godly doctrine’, but her portion was so meagre that he had to subsist by teaching. His condition was alleviated when, shortly before his departure, he was granted three rectories in St. Asaph’s diocese on the recommendation of Chancellor Wriothesley. At Geneva in 1546 Traheron met Calvin and was converted to his views. He was thinking of staying at Geneva when Henry VIII’s death brought him a summons to return: he bade Calvin farewell with the words, ‘I must follow where fortune leads me. I pray you therefore, though we are far separated in person, we may yet be united in spirit’. His first appointment was to two minor clerkships.5

The man responsible for these and for Traheron’s election for Barnstaple in 1547 was probably John Cheke, the King’s tutor. The two men held similar religious views and moved in the same circles: it was Cheke who afterwards recommended Traheron to Roger Ascham as his successor in the keepership of the royal library and to the Council as a tutor for the young Duke of Suffolk. From the outset of the Parliament Traheron campaigned vigorously for the reform of doctrine. In the first session he attacked Thomas Smith I for his ‘lukewarmness’, and during the second, as Cheke’s father-in-law put it, he made it his duty to see ‘that there should be no ambiguity in the reformation of the Lord’s supper, but it was not in his power to bring over his old fellow-citizens to his views.’ Traheron followed the progress of the debate both in and out of Parliament and reported it all to Bullinger in a series of letters. After the end of the third session Traheron was one of the civilians named to the commission for the overhaul of the canon law. During the prorogations he pursued his studies at Oxford and read Greek.6

On the death of Suffolk in July 1551 Cecil suggested to Traheron that he would be of value in the Church, and on 29 Sept. he was nominated to the deanery of Chichester. The cathedral chapter resented this intrusion of a layman and so obstructed him that he asked leave to resign. Although the Council found him another appointment at Windsor he had evidently become a nuisance, and his denunciation of covetousness and pride in high places cost him the backing which might have brought him a seat in the second Edwardian Parliament.7

Traheron had hailed Edward VI as the young Josiah and had relished his reign. For such a man the accession of Mary was a disaster; he soon resigned his librarianship and went into exile at Frankfurt, where he supported Richard Cox against John Knox. After Knox’s expulsion by the English congregation Traheron was appointed reader in theology at the new university there: later he went to Wesel where he continued his lectures, several of which were published, among them A warning to England to repente and to turn to god from idolatries and poperie by the terrible example of Calece given the 7 of March Anno C.1558. That Traheron did not return to England at Elizabeth’s accession and that no more books were published under his name after 1558 implies that he died either in that year or shortly afterwards.8

Ref Volumes: 1509-1558

Author: A. D.K. Hawkyard


  • 1. C219/282/2; Hatfield 207.
  • 2. Date of birth estimated from education. Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. 1501-40, pp. 573-4; DNB; D. G. C. Elwes, Castles of W. Suss. 156; LP Hen. VIII, xvii.
  • 3. CPR, 1547-8, p. 250; 1549-51, pp. 8, 74; 1550-3, pp. 114, 408; 1553, p. 8; 1553-4, p. 284.
  • 4. B. Traheron, Ad Thomam Fratrem Paraenesis (1538) unpaginated; Lansd. 2, f. 9; Narr. Ref. (Cam. Soc. lxxvii), 32-33; Strype, Eccles. Memorials i(1), 581, 420; Orig. Letters 1537-58 (Parker Soc.), 608.
  • 5. Orig. Letters, 316-17, 328, 626; LP Hen. VIII, xiv, xv, xvii, xxi; M. L. Robertson, ‘Cromwell’s servants’ (Univ. California Los Angeles Ph.D. thesis, 1975), 574-5.
  • 6. Orig. Letters, 265, 319-23, 431, 465; Harl. 6989, f.141; W. K. Jordan, Edw. VI, i. 176, 322, 340; ii. 61; Strype, Cheke, 87; APC, iii. 382; Lit. Rems. Edw. VI, p. i.
  • 7. APC, iii. 377; CSP Dom. 1547-80, pp. 38, 49; Lansd. 2(60), f. 135; Dickens, Eng. Ref. 256.
  • 8. Orig. Letters, 755-63; Strype, Eccles. Memorials, iii(1), 415; Cranmer, 450, 514.