Nicholas Ridley was probably born in 1503. His father was Christopher Ridley, a well-off member of the Northumbria gentry. Ridley himself had a distinguished academic record. He was educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, the Sorbonne, Louvain and once again at Cambridge University. Sometime in the 1530ís, he converted to Protestantism.
Ridley became the private chaplain and aide to Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury in 1537 and Master of Pembroke College in 1540. In 1547, Ridley was appointed Bishop of Rochester and in 1550 he became Bishop of London.
In the reign of Edward VI, Ridley played a major part in many intellectual discussions on religion, primarily Anglican doctrine. He also ordered the removal of images from churches under his jurisdiction. The beliefs of Edward safeguarded Ridley while the king was alive but in 1553 he died. Ridley supported the claim of Lady Jane Grey to the throne. When this failed and the staunch Catholic Mary became queen, his days were numbered.
When Mary was proclaimed queen, Ridley was arrested and his bishopric was withdrawn. He had to face a commission appointed by Convocation to examine his religious beliefs. In April 1554, this commission found him guilty of heresy. Ridley was returned to the authorities and put on trial charged with heresy. He was found guilty and was executed at the stake alongside Hugh Latimer at Oxford on October 16th 1555.