LAMBERT [alias NICHOLSON], JOHN (d. 1538), English Protestant martyr, was born at Norwich and educated at Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. and was admitted in 1521 a fellow of Queen's College on the nomination of Catherine of Aragon. After acting for some years as a " mass-priest," his views were unsettled by the arguments of Bilney and Arthur; and episcopal persecution compelled him, according to his own account, to assume the name Lambert instead of Nicholson. He likewise removed to Antwerp, where he became chaplain to the English factory, and formed a friendship with Frith and Tyndale. Returning to England in 1531, he came under the notice of Archbishop Warham, who questioned him closely on his religious beliefs. Warham's death in August 1532 relieved Lambert from immediate danger, and he earned a living for some years by teaching Latin and Greek near the Stocks Market in London. The duke of Norfolk and other reactionaries accused him of heresy in 1536, but reforming tendencies were still in the ascendant, and Lambert escaped. In 1538, however, the reaction had begun, and Lambert was its first victim. He singled himself out for persecution by denying the Real Presence: and Henry VIII., who had just rejected the Lutheran proposals for a theological union, was in no mood to tolerate worse heresies. Lambert had challenged some views expressed by Dr John Taylor, afterwards bishop of Lincoln; and Cranmer as archbishop condemned Lambert's opinions. He appealed to the king as supreme head of the Church, and on the 16th of November Henry heard the case in person before a large assembly of spiritual and temporal peers. For five hours Lambert disputed with the king and ten bishops; and then, as he boldly denied that the Eucharist was the body of Christ, he was condemned to death by Cromwell as vicegerent. Henry's condescension and patience produced a great impression on his Catholic subjects; but Cromwell is said by Foxe to have asked Lambert's pardon before his execution, and Cranmer eventually adopted the views he condemned in Lambert. Lambert was burnt at Smithfield on the 22nd of November.
See Letters and Papers of Henry VIII.; Foxe's Acts and Monuments; Froude, History; Dixon, Church History; Gairdner, Lollardy and the Reformation, Diet, of Nat. Biog. and authorities there cited. (A. F. P.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)