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After some years passed at Cambridge, Ridley visited France, and studied at the universities of Paris and Louvain. On his return (about 1529), he pursued his theological studies with much earnestness, in particular committing to memory the greater part of the epistles in the original Greek, and his mind appears to have been enlightened by the study of the scriptures. In 1534, he took an active part in the public discussions relative to the pope's supremacy, and, in 1537, archbishop Cranmer appointed him one of his chaplains.
In 1538, Ridley was collated to the vicarage of Herne, in Kent, where the people for many miles round crowded to attend his preaching; and he diligently instructed his charge in the doctrines of the gospel, although on the point of transubstantiation, he was not as yet fully emancipated from popish errors.