John Fisher (bishop of Salisbury)

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John Fisher by William Daniell, etching, 1793. National Portrait Gallery, London
For the 16th century bishop of this name, see John Fisher. For other people of this name see John Fisher.

John Fisher (1748, Hampton – 8 May 1825, Seymour Street, London), DD was a 19th-century Church of England bishop, serving as Bishop of Exeter, then Bishop of Salisbury.


Painting of Osmington by John Fisher

John Fisher was the eldest son of Rev. John Fisher, Rector of Calbourne, Isle of Wight. He was educated at Peterborough, St Paul's School and Peterhouse, Cambridge. Graduating BA as 10th Wrangler in 1770, he gained his MA and became a Fellow of St John's College in 1773.[1]

In 1780 he was appointed Preceptor to Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and in 1781 chaplain to King George III and Deputy Clerk of the Closet, a post he held until 1785.[2] In 1786 he was made Canon of St George's Chapel, Windsor, and in 1805 was appointed Preceptor to Charlotte, Princess Royal.[3], the only child of the Prince of Wales, the future George IV. Dr. Fisher also served as Chancellor of the Most Noble Order of the Garter.

John Fisher, nephew of the Bishop, by John Constable, 1816 (Fitzwilliam Museum)

He was consecrated Bishop of Exeter in 1803 and translated to Bishop of Salisbury in 1807, a position he held until his death in 1825. As Bishop of Salisbury he was also ex officio Chancellor of the Order of the Garter.

He is also notable for his friendship with the painter John Constable, presiding at Constable's wedding and commissioning his Salisbury Cathedral. Over time, Rev. Fisher became Constable's biggest patron and a close friend. Fisher himself was often called 'King's Fisher,' in reference to his connection to the Royal Family, and his patronage was a valuable asset to Constable.

Later Rev. Fisher introduced the painter to Fisher's nephew, another Rev. John Fisher, the son of Dr. Fisher's brother Philip, Master of the Charterhouse School of London. The younger Rev. Fisher (later the Archdeacon of Berkshire) became the painter's best friend and another important patron. The painter spent his honeymoon at the younger Rev. Fisher's home in Osmington, Dorset. Relations between the Fisher families and the painter were such that biographer C. R. Leslie based much of his work on Constable – Memoirs of the Life of John Constable of 1843 – on correspondence between the Fishers and the painter.[4]

On Rev. Dr. Fisher's death, Constable commemorated him in a painting with a rainbow alighting on Fisher's house in the Cathedral Close, now Leaden Hall School for Girls Leaden Hall School. He is buried in St George's Chapel, Windsor. There is a funerary monument to him in Salisbury Cathedral.


The Right Rev. Dr. John Fisher married Dorothea (Scrivener) Fisher, daughter of John Freston of Sibton Abbey, Yoxford, Suffolk, who had changed his name to Scrivener on an inheritance. Dorothea brought to the marriage a large income of £1700-a-year from the Scrivener estates in Suffolk. The couple had three children, Edward Fisher, who died unmarried, and two daughters, Dorothea, who married John Frederick Pike, who then assumed the additional name of Scrivener, and Elizabeth, who married John Mirehouse, JP, DL, of Brownslade, Pembrokeshire, Wales, and Common Serjeant of London (1833–1850).[5][6]

Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Grounds, c. 1825, John Constable. The couple strolling along elm alley are Bishop of Salisbury John Fisher and his wife.


  1. ^ "Fisher, John (FSR765J)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  2. ^ Britton, John. Wells, Exeter, and Worcester. p. 82.
  3. ^ The History and Antiquities of The Cathedral Church of Salisbury, John Britton, Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, London, 1814
  4. ^ John Constable, R.A., 1776–1837, Langham's History,
  5. ^ "Mirehouse, John [Cambell] (MRHS806JC)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
  6. ^ John Constable and the Fishers, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., London, 1952
Further reading
  • Memoirs of the Life of John Constable, C. R. Leslie, Reprinted by Kessinger Publishing, 2006
  • John Constable and the Fishers, Taylor & Francis, London, 1952
  • John Constable's Correspondence with the Fishers, Boydell & Brewer Ltd., London

External links

Church of England titles
Preceded by
Henry Reginald Courtenay
Bishop of Exeter
Succeeded by
George Pelham
Preceded by
John Douglas
Bishop of Salisbury
30 May 1807 to 21 May 1825
Succeeded by
Thomas Burgess
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