People: Nutter, John







Approx Year of Birth


Marital Status


Occupation Status

Preacher of the God's word


Yes - graduate


CCEd person ID 32188

Career: John Nutter graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Divinity from Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1575, having studied Theology for 16 years. He had joined the chapter of Chester cathedral in 1567, possibly as second prebendary; by 1575 he was sub-dean and was appointed dean in 1589, holding that position until his death in 1602. He was a considerable pluralist, holding the rectories of Sefton (1568-1602); Aughton (1577-1602) and Bebington (1579-1602). He owed at least some of these appointments to his position as one of the chaplains to Queen Elizabeth, who presented him to the rectory of Bebington.

Further notes:

It is commonly reported that the Queen, who often gave nicknames to those close to her, called him her ‘Golden Ass’, which is often taken to refer to his reputed wealth. However, it is more likely to refer to the Metamorphoses of Apuleius, a classical Latin text, in which the protagonist is a young man with great potential.

Evidence given at a commission of enquiry following his death in 1602 at the age of about 63, heard that he was thought to be the illegitimate son of Richard Nutter of Goldshaw Booth in Pendle in Lancashire, who was quite wealthy. He attended Manchester School around 1555, at which time he depended upon the charity of others because ‘his father and friends esteemed not of him because he was base born’. During his school days spent time at the home of Sir Urian Brereton of Handforth, who had been a courtier and perhaps facilitated his appointment as royal chaplain.

During his time as dean, Nutter was reported to have removed some of the glass from the cathedral, which was in a state of disrepair at the time, and taken it to his parish of Sefton, where he seems to have spent much of his time, renting out the house in Chester to which he was entitled as subdean and then dean.

He was active in the pursuit of suspected Catholics in Sefton parish, being instrumental in the apprehension of William Blundell of Crosby.

In the course of his career he amassed considerable wealth, and the commission of 1602 heard evidence that after his death twelve or thirteen bags of gold and silver were found under the floorboards of Sefton Rectory.


R.V.H. Burne, Chester Cathedral, (London, 1958), pp. 43-44; 54-56; 58-60; 65-66; 72; 75; 83; 85; 88.

Rev. T. E. Gibson, ‘A century of recusancy, illustrated from the records of the Blundells of Crosby (Part I)’, Transactions of the Historical Society of Lancashire, volume 31 for 1878/1879. Available online:

Calendar of Patent Rolls 1578-1580, item 207.

Cheshire Sheaf, 3rd series, xviii, pp. 37-41.

Oxford Historical Society Publications, First Series, vol. 12 (1888), p. 54.


EDC 5/1580/3 – plaintiff

All People

Directory – People