Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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FERRAR , ROBERT (d. 1555 ), Protestant martyr and bishop ;

b. within the parish of Halifax . Ferrar first entered Cambridge University , but later went to Oxford . Here he became an Augustinian canon . In 1528 , he was one of a group of students discovered secretly trafficking in Lutheran literature , and was compelled to recant.

In 1535 , he accompanied William Barlow (q.v.) , on an embassy to Scotland , and later became Prior of Nostell, Yorks. , in time to surrender the house to the king , 20 Nov. 1540 , whereupon he received a pension of £80. A leading reformer and high in Somerset 's favour he was made a royal preacher and visitor in 1547 . His consecration as bishop of S. Davids , 9 Sept. 1548 , was the first to be celebrated according to the English form of service. At S. Davids he came into sharp conflict with a powerful group of canons , who took advantage of Somerset 's fall to present a series of grave accusations against his protégé.

After the accession of Mary , Ferrar was imprisoned in Southwark , and, in March 1554 , was deprived of his bishopric for heresy and marriage. After some indecision, Ferrar , fortified by Bradford and other Protestant prisoners, refused to recant when examined by bishop Gardiner and other commissioners in Feb. 1555 . He was then arraigned before his successor, Henry Morgan (q.v.) , at Carmarthen , and, still refusing to retract his opinions, he met his death (by burning ) with great courage on Carmarthen market square 30 March 1555 .


  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ;
  • Foxe 's Acts and Monuments of these latter and perilous days (1563) ;
  • Athenae Oxonienses (1813–20) , ii, 759-61;
  • Athenae Cantabrigienses (1858–1913) , i, 125-6;
  • E. Yardley , Menevia Sacra. Arch. Camb. (1927) , 91-4;
  • R. Jennings , Martyrdom of Bishop Ferrar at Carmarthen, A.D. 1555 a lecture (1867) ;
  • Transactions of the Halifax Antiquarian Society , 1934 , 193-266.
  • [See Constantine, George, in Appendix.]


Sir Glanmor Williams, M.A., Swansea

Published date: 1959