John Fisher was born in 1469, in Beverley, Yorkshire, a thriving cloth market town. 1 He was one 2 of the four children of Robert Fisher, a mercer, who died in 1477. 3 John's mother, Agnes Fisher, later married William White, by whom she had five more children. Of these, Edward and Elizabeth White remained close to their stepbrother all their lives: Edward lived in Fisher's household, and when the bishop was in the Tower of London regularly brought him news and provisions. Elizabeth became a Dominican nun at Dartford and for her John wrote his spirituall consolation and The wayes to perfect Religion. The bishop's brother, Robert, became his steward and later was to be the Member of Parliament for Rochester.
At about the age of 13, 4 John Fisher left home for Cambridge, to join Michaelhouse, which later was incorporated into Trinity College. He took his degree in grammar in 1483, his BA in 1487 or 1488, and, in 1491 5 became an MA and Fellow of the college. In this year a papal dispensation was granted for him to be ordained although only 22 years old. Fisher began the ten-year course for a doctorate of theology.