Archbishop William Sancroft (b. 1617)
William Sancroft was born at Fressingfield in 1617 and was brought up there. In 1662, he became Master of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. He was appointed to the Deanery of St. Paul's London in 1664 and after the Great Fire set himself the task of having the cathedral rebuilt, with Christopher Wren as the architect. His dedication to this work made him refuse the Bishopric of Chester in 1668.
He became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1678 and, when James II came to the throne, he did his best to crush attempts to impose Roman Catholicism on the English people and refused to order the clergy to obey the King's command to read publicly a declaration of liberty of conscience for Romans and Dissenters and, with six other Bishops, drew up a petition against it. This resulted in his being put on trial, although he was later acquitted.
Later, however, he refused, out of loyalty to the expelled king, to take the Oath of Allegiance to William and Mary and was ordered to resign his Archbishopric.
At the age of 72 he retired to Fressingfield and is though to have lived at Ufford Hall, just south of the village. He died in 1693 and is buried beneath a simple chest tomb, beside the church's South Porch.
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