He was born the son of a farmer around the year 1470. Around 14 years of age he attended Christ's College, Cambridge, where he was known as a good student. After receiving his degrees and being ordained, he was known as a very zealous Romanist. At first he opposed the Lutheran opinion of his day, but after meeting a clergyman by the name of Thomas Bilney, his opinions changed.
He was elected a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge in 1510 and became university preacher in 1522. He then became noted for his reformist teachings, which caught the eye of the authorities. During King Henry VIII's reign he was twice imprisoned in the Tower of London (1539 and 1546) and, under Queen Mary I, was tried at Oxford, England where he was jailed. He was burned for his teachings and beliefs outside Balliol College, Oxford in 1555.
Nicholas Ridley was burned with him, and Latimer is quoted as having said to him: