CONSTANTINE, GEORGE (c. 1500 - 1560?), cleric

Name: George Constantine
Date of birth: c. 1500
Date of death: 1560?
Gender: Male
Occupation: cleric
Area of activity: Religion
Author: Glanmor Williams

Born, on his own evidence (P.R.O., E321/39/24), about 1500, Constantine was educated at the University of Cambridge where he graduated B.Can.L. in 1524. He adopted the reforming doctrines and fled to Antwerp, where he assisted Tyndale and Joye in translating the New Testament and compiling books against the Roman church. He also lived in Paris for a time, and made his house there a centre for the dissemination of Lutheran literature (L. & P., iv, 4396). During these years he was active in smuggling contraband literature into England. He was arrested by Sir Thomas More for this activity in 1531 and, under pressure, informed on some of his confederates. He escaped early in December 1531 and fled again to Antwerp. Returning to London after More's death he entered the service of Sir Henry Norris, who was executed with Anne Boleyn.

Constantine was brought to S. Davids diocese by bishop Barlow, who made him vicar of Llawhaden. Following some unguarded remarks to John Barlow in 1539, Constantine was denounced to Cromwell as a 'sacramentary' and was lodged in the Tower. He regained favour, however, and became registrar of S. Davids in 1546, royal visitor of the diocese in 1547, archdeacon of Carmarthen in 1549, and prebendary of Llangamarch. Anticipating official policy, he had the high altar at S. Peter's, Carmarthen, pulled down and replaced by a table, thereby occasioning much consternation. Though an ardent Protestant and registrar of the diocese, he played a leading part in the opposition to bishop Ferrar, at whose trial he sat as a judge with bishop Henry Morgan. Later in Mary's reign, however, he was deprived of his registrarship and his livings. In the summer of 1559 Elizabeth appointed him one of the visitors for the western circuit of dioceses, and in November 1559 he became archdeacon of Brecon. Since his successor there was instituted on 3 February 1561, Constantine would seem to have died late in 1560 or early in 1561. He was married and had one daughter, who became the wife of Thomas Young.


Published date: 1959

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