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William Alley

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William Alley

William Alley (or Alleyn) (1510 – 15 April 1570) was an Anglican prelate and the Bishop of Exeter during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.


William Alley was a native of Wycombe, Bucks, and educated at Eton, but finished his course of studies at Cambridge and Oxford. While Prebendary of St. Paul's, London, he was fixed on by Queen Elizabeth to succeed the deprived James Turberville. On 27 April 1560, she issued her congé d'élire to the Dean and Chapter. It was delivered to the President, Chancellor Levison, on 5 May, in the absence of the newly elected Dean, Dr. Gregory Dodds, the election took place on 20 May; but his consecration was held on 14 July that year.[1]

The revenues of the see and of his chapter had of late been lamentably reduced. Fortunately the Rectory of Honiton was given to the Bishop towards the better maintenance of his rank; and in its parochial church, and even in the rectory-house, he held several ordinations "in Rectoria - in domo Domini Episcopi apud Honyton," as we learn from his Registers. Owing to the impoverished state of the finances of his Dean and Chapter, with the unanimous consent of its members, and under the Royal authority, he diminished the number of the Canons of the Cathedral from twenty-four to nine. His statute for this purpose is dated 22 February 1561. Attempts were made at subsequent periods to set aside this ordinance, which conferred the power and emoluments on the favoured nine, to the exclusion of the other fifteen. It proved useless, however, to combat a practice which had been legalised by time and authority.

Richard Hooker, who knew the bishop well, commends his affability of manners, regularity of life, and singular learning. He added that,

Later, however, in his History,[2] in describing the Mayor, Robert Midwynter, Hooker says that,

After governing the diocese for about nine and a half years, he died, according to his epitaph, on 15 April 1570, aged 60, and was buried in the choir of his cathedral.


He is known to the literary world by his Poor Man's Librarie, printed in folio by John Day, London, 1565, or Lectures upon the First Epistle of Saint Peter, red publiquely in the Cathedrall Church of Saint Paule, within the Citye of London, in 1560. Here are adioyned at the ende of euery special treatise, certain fruitful annotacions called miscellanea, because they do entreate of diverse and sundry matters.

See also


  • George Oliver. Lives of the Bishops of Exeter Broadgate, England: William Roberts, 1861.

This article contains text from Lives of the Bishops of Exeter, a work in the public domain.

Church of England titles
Preceded by
James Turberville
Bishop of Exeter
Succeeded by
William Bradbridge

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