bishop of York. Born at Harpham (Humberside), he studied at Canterbury under Adrian; on returning to Yorkshire he became a monk at Hilda's double monastery of Whitby. In 687 he was consecrated bishop of Hexham in succession to Eata. He was reputed to have shown special care for the poor and the handicapped, including one young man whom he taught to speak. He also used to retire to a hermitage for periods of prayer; it was he who ordained Bede both deacon and priest.
On the death of Bosa in 705, John became bishop of York. At the same time, Wilfrid, now an old man, succeeded him at Hexham as part of the final settlement of his prolonged dispute with Northumbrian kings. John, however, never incurred the enmity of Wilfrid or his followers. As bishop of York he founded the monastery of Beverley, then in a forest. He retired there in 717, about four years before his death there on 7 May.
Both Bede and Alcuin recorded his miracles. King Athelstan (d. 939) invoked his intercession for victory against the Scots. Early calendars record his feast. In 1307 his relics were translated; this was the occasion for a Life by Folcard. Other devotees include the anchoress Julian of Norwich, King Henry V, who ascribed the victory of Agincourt on his translation feast to his intercession, and John Fisher, who was born at Beverley. Some of the relics were discovered in 1664. Feast: 7 May; translation, 25 October.
Bede, H.E., v. 2–6; AA.SS., Maii II (1680), 166–94; N.L.A., ii. 59–63; J. Raine (ed.), Historians of the Church of York (R.S.), i. 239–91.