The archbishops: Walter Reynolds to William Whittesley

Pages 379-400

The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 12. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1801.

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Walter Reynolds to William Whittesley

51. WALTER REYNOLDS, or REGINALD, as his name is sometimes written, bishop of Worcester, was accordingly translated from that see to this archbishopric in 1313. He was the son of a tradesman at Windsor, and became chaplain to king Edward I. and afterwards, though a man of mean learning, was appointed preceptor to his son, afterwards king Edward II. His first preferments in the church were, a prebend of St. Paul's, London, and the rectory of Wimbledon, to which he was instituted in 1298, and quitted it in 1308, on his promotion to the bishopric of Worcester, at the king's request. Being bred a courtier, he was more distinguished for his politeness, than his integrity; indeed, had he lived in times in which he had been less tried, he might have died with a fairer character.

Upon king Edward II.'s accession to the throne, he became his singular favourite, and he appointed him his treasurer and chancellor; (fn. 1) but the archbishop, under cover of a mild and courteous disposition, sheltered a mean and abject spirit, which became notorious in his want of courage, constancy and sidelity, at the time when the king, his great benefactor, fell under distress, when he shewed himself not only defective in duty, but was guilty of the greatest perfidy to him.

To the convent of Christ-church, the archbishop was a good benefactor, by appropriating to them at their request, the manor of Caldicot, and the wood of Thorolt, near Canterbury, which had been long in the possession of the archbishops, for the use of their table. To the nuns of Davington, who, as Harps field thinks, were French women, he gave and prefcribed rules and ordinances in the French tongue, for their more easy understanding; and he amerced the abbot of St. Bertin's, at St. Omer's, for leasing out, without his privity, the fruits of the parsonage of Chilham, which belonged to the priory of Throwleigh, a cell to that abbey; and he was a good bene. factor to the hospital at Maidstone, of his predecessor Boniface's foundation, and likewise to Langdon abbey in this county. (fn. 2)

He crowned king Edward III. on the Sunday after the conversion of St. Paul, anno 1326, in the church of St. Peter, at Westminster, before the high altar, in the presence of the bishops, earls, and great men of the realm. (fn. 3)

After having sat as archbishop for near fourteen years, he died on November 16, 1327, at Mortlake, as Weever says, of grief and anger, at the pope's behaviour to him, and was buried in his own cathedral, the bishops of Winchester and Rochester attending the ceremony, in the south wall of it, under a window, beside the choir, where his tomb, having his effigies, habited in his pontificals lying at full length on it, is still extant. Weever has recorded his inscription, as follows, which was very difficult to be read in his time. Hic requiescit dominus WALTERUS REYNOLDS prius episcopus Wigorniensis & Anglieæ cancellarius, deinde arcbiepiscopus istius ecclesie qui obiit 16 die mensis Novembris, ann gratie 1327.

There are two seals of this archbishop among the Chartæ Antiquæ, in the treasury of the dean and chapter, appendant to them, ovals, the archbishop standing mitred, robed, pall, blessing, holding a crozier in left hand; on each side two symbols of the evangelists, and a coat of arms, one England, the other the see of Canterbury, impaling the archbishop's own coat; legend, WALTERUS DEI GRA CANTUAR ARCHIEP TOTIUS ANGLIÆ PRIMAS. No counterseal. c. 130—132. He bore for his arms—Azure, on a cross, or, five lions rampant, gules; in the first quarter, a beast winged passant, with a human face; in the second, a dove crowned, volant; in the third, a saint kneeling, a glory round his head; in the fourth, a bull winged passant, all four, or.

52. SIMON MEPHAM, S. T. P. was next chosen archbishop in 1327, by the free election of the convent, with the king's consent, who solicited the pope in his behalf, stiling him canon of Chichester, S. T. P. and archbishop elect of Canterbury, and wrote to him again for that purpose, on April 20, anno 1328, and in the 2d year of his reign, on the same account again, and having heard that the pope had made some objections to his confirmation, and that he designed to put in one, by his bull of provision, he intreated him in that case to place Henry, bishop of Lincoln, in this see; (fn. 4) but the pope, by means of a good present, consented, and Mepham was confirmed and consecrated at Rome, by him. (fn. 5) Simon Mepham was a native of the parish of the same name, in the county of Kent, and was educated at Merton college, in Oxford, where he proceeded S.T.P. and became fellow of it; (fn. 6) he afterwards was promoted to a prebend of Landaff, to the like of Chichester, and of St. Paul's, London, and he was rector of Tunstall, in Kent.

He, soon after his return to England, held a provincial council in 1331, in which a rubric of the principal holidays was settled, and the manner of the observance of them. In the same year he began a metropolitical visitation, and made a progrels through the southern dioceses, without opposition; but when he drew near the west, the bishop of Exeter appealed, not withstanding the archbishop going forward to that city, was not permitted to enter either the church or the precincts of it, but was opposed by a multitude of persons armed. (fn. 7)

Between this archbishop and the monks of St. Augustine's, there was a great and long controversy, which is related at large by Thorn, in his chronicle. In this cause the monks succeeded, and the archbishop was condemed by Icherius, whom the pope had delegated to hear it, in 1210l. to be paid to that monastery for costs of suit; but he would not submit to this judgment, and was therefore pronounced contumacious, upon which he retired to Mortlake in great solitude, being the last archbishop who resided there, and he died under sentence of excommunication, nor could he be buried till the abbot of St. Augustine's had absolved him. His next successor, however, caused this judgment to be reversed. (fn. 8)

Having sat in this see five years, four months and seventeen days, with small comfort during the whole time of it, he fell sick from the continual vexations and troubles he had been involved in, and died at his palace of Mayfield, on February 11, 1333, (fn. 9) and his body being conveyed to Canterbury, was laid in his own cathedral, the bishop of Rochester performing his obsequies, under a tomb of black marble, on the north side of St. Anselm's chapel, where it still re mains. (fn. 10) He made one Laurence Falstaff his executor, who gave to the convent of Christ-church, 50l. to purchase forty shillings annually, to celebrate his anniversary.

Archbishop Mepham was accounted well learned, as learning went in those times; he is said to have rebuilt the church of Mepham, in which parish he was born, as before-mentioned. His coat of arms was, Argent, on a cross, azure, the letter [M], or, crowned of the same.

53. JOHN STRATFORD, LL. D. so called from the place of his birth, was next elected archbishop in the year 1333. He was educated at Oxford, where he commenced doctor of both laws, and was afterwards preferred to a prebend in the church of York, and to the archdeaconry and a prebend of Lincoln; after which he was nominated to the bishopric of Winchester, but the pope intending to fill that see with one of his own appointment, consented to the king's nomination of an archbishop; upon which the king recommended Stratford to the convent for their choice, which they complied with; however, the pope, to keep up his authority, cassated the election, and then appointed him, by his bull of provision, to this see, (fn. 11) but it was not till after tedious suits and great charges in his attendance at the court of Rome. On the death of king Edward II. in 1327, the Spencers and others being brought to punishment, an inquisition was made concerning him, as to what could be laid to his charge; but nothing appeared against him, it was only noted, that when that king was forsaken and betrayed, as it were by his other counsellors, John Stratford continued faithful and constant to him.—This generous honesty, so far from turning to his disadvantage, that it gained him the favour of king Edward III. and his queen, (fn. 12) insomuch, that at the time when the king passed with his army into Flanders, he appointed the archbishop to be his sole justiciary, and committed to him the whole care and government of this kingdom during his absence. He had long had this king's, as well as his father's, esteem and confidence; whilst bishop of Winchester, in the 12th year of the former reign of king Edward II. he was appointed treasurer, and in this reign, whilst in the same see, he had in the fourth year of it, the great seal delivered to him; two years after which, being employed in the king's business, his brother Robert de Stratford had the custody of the seal on that account. Being archbishop elect of Canterbury, he was on April 6, 8 Edward III. anno 1335, confirmed chancellor; on June 6, next year, he had the great seal delivered to him and on April 28, 1341, he was again made chancellor and keeper of the great seal. (fn. 13) At length, by the evil suggestions of some about the king, he fell under his heavy displeasure, and received harsh treatment from him; (fn. 14) but he vindicated his own innocency so clearly and fully, that he was not only admitted again to the king's favour, but likewise of his privy council, and the king afterwards ever esteemed him to be what he really was, a man of singular prudence and intergrity. (fn. 15)

The archbishop was a man of learning, in the civil law especially, and was no less a faithful than an able servant of the crown. His disinterestedness in his state employment was almost unparalleled; he crossed the channel two and thirty times, in the public service, besides several journeys towards Scotland, whilst he was bishop, for all which he never received more than 300l. out of the king's exchequer; and he is recorded to have been an able politician, a disinterested patriot, and an excellent metropolitan. He was exceeding liberal in deeds of alms and charity; multitudes were fed daily with the remains of his table; and he relieved, for the most part with his own hands, thirteen poor people, three times a day; besides which he built a fine college at Stratford-upon-Avon, the place of his birth, which he amply endowed; and he had the character of being very gentle and merciful, rather too remiss than any ways rigorous against ofsenders, and one of great pity to the poor and needy. In the former part of his life, he met with many undeserved crosses and severe treatment, but at the latter end he enjoyed, for a few years, much quiet and tranquility.

By his will, he bequeathed to his church his most costly cope, his mitre, two books of the canon law, and a yearly pension of 100s. out of the churches of Preston and Boughton, which he appropriated to the abbey of Faversham. Having sat as archbishop for about fifteen years, he fell ill at Maidstone, and being carried to Mayfield, in Susffex, he died there, and was buried in this cathedral, on the south side of the high altar, beside the choir, near where the steps of St. Dunstan's altar formerly was, under a tomb of alabaster, having his effigies in his pontifical habit, lying at full length on it, but without any inscription.

Among the Harleian manuscripts are several letters, between him and the abbot of St. Augustine's; his treatise, entitled, Commentarius de Deo; and there is a provincial letter of his, among the Bodleian manuscripts.

Among the Chartæ Antiquæ, in the treasury of the dean and chapter, appendant to them are three seals of this archbishop, one an oval, 3¼ by 2 diam. being the archbishop standing mitred, robed, pall, blessing; a cross in his left hand; on one side a bishop's head; on the other a sword and key crossed; legend, 3. JOHANIS DEI GRE CANTUARIENSIS ARCHIEPI TOCIUS ANGLIE PRIMATIS. Counterseal, Becket's murder; legend, CHRISTO TRANSLATUM PRECIBUS FAC THOMA BEATUM. A 184. another very fine and fair, the same as above, no counterseal; the third two inches by 1 and 1/2 diam. seal the same as above; counterseal, Becket's murder, a figure holding up a small cross, above three niches, 1st and 3d, angels kneeling; in the centre one, God the Father, hands uplisted; legend, CHRISTO TRANSLATUM PRECIBUS FAC THOME BEATUM. z. 72.

The archbishop bore for his arms, Per fess, gules and sable, three plates, or, according to archbishop Parker and others, Argent, a fess, gules, between three bezants.

Upon the death of John Stratford, the prior and convent elected Thomas Bradwardin, but the pope, by title of his bull of provision, filled the chair with John Ufford.

54. JOHN UFFORD, LL. D. chancellor of England, was elected archbishop in 1348. He was brother to Robert de Ufford, earl of Suffolk, (fn. 16) and was educated at Cambridge, where he took his degree of doctor of both laws, after which, he was preferred to a prebend of Wells, and to be dean of Lincoln, and lastly, lord chancellor of England, which last office he held when he was promoted to this archbishopric, in which he sat only six months and four days, for being a sickly, weak man, and much afflicted with the palsy, he died before he was either consecrated or confirmed, on July 18, 1349, in the time of the great plague, which, as Walsingham writes, destroyed nine parts of the men throughout England, and his body being brought to Canterbury, without any pomp or solemnity, was there secretly buried in the middle of the night, in the cathedral, by the north wall in the martyrdom, beside the wall of St. Thomas Becket. He does not seem to have had any monument erected for him, though that remaining there now, besides Warham's tomb, and allowed by most to be that of archbishop Peckham, has been by some conjectured to have been erected for archbishop Ufford, (fn. 17) whose gravestone is still to be seen on the pavement, in the martyrdom, though it has for a long time been robbed of its brasses.

Archbishop Ufford is said to have died intestate, and that his brother Andrew Ufford, archdeacon of Middlesex, was sued for dilapidations by archbishop Islip, his next successor but one, to the value of 1101l. and upwards, which he was sentenced to pay, notwithstanding Ufford was archbishop so short a time. Thus Parker, in his Antiquities of the British Church. In one of the registers of this church, there is a commission given by this prior and chapter to John Leech, canon of the church of Sarum, dated June 11, 1349, to prove the last will and testament of John Ufford, late archbishop, and to deliver a copy of it before the feast of St. John Baptist; but there is no such will registered, which probably would have been, had there been any such. (fn. 18)

These great dilapidations most probably arose from the unfinished state in which he had left the palace at Maidstone, which he had begun to rebuild, but died before he had done hardly any thing to the finishing of it. (fn. 19) The archbishop bore for his arms, Sable, a cross engrailed, or. (fn. 20)

55. THOMAS BRADWARDIN, S. T. P. after this see had been vacant for two months and three days, was elected a second time in 1349, by the convent; (fn. 21) but the pope taking no notice of his election, constituted him archbishop by his papal power. (fn. 22) He was born at Heathfield, in Sussex, and was educated at Merton college, in Oxford, of which he became fellow, and commenced there S. T. P. and had afterwards a prebend of Lincoln conferred on him. He was the most famous divine and theologist of his time, on which account he was named by the pope, doctor profundus; he was in every respect a good and pious man, and had been rcommended by archbishop Stratford to the king, as a man well qualified to be his sucsessor. He was the king's confessor, in which office he reproved the king with a becoming freedom, whenever he saw occasion for it, and as such, he attended the king, both at home and abroad likewise, in all his wars, and yet never made a petition for reward or preferment; and when the king restored the temporalities to him, he saluted him by the name of father.

The fatigue of his journey to Rome for his confirmation and consecration was so great, that he fell ill of a fever, of which he died soon after his return to England, (fn. 23) at a house of the bishop of Rochester, at Lambeth, on December 18, 1349, within five weeks and four days after his consecration, having never been inthronized, and was buried in this cathedral, in St. Anselm's chapel, by the south wall. (fn. 24) Weever has recorded this inscription for him:

Doctor doctorum BRADWARDIN hac jacet urna,
Norma pastorum laudabilis & diuturna.
Qui invidia caruit vitam sine crimine duxit,
Et ex ore suo quicquid sit scibile fluxit.
Nullus sub sole est cui sic fuere omnia nota.
Cantia nunc dole, tristeris & Anglia tota.
Vos qui & transitis, hic omnes atque reditis,
Dicitc quod CHRISTI pietas sit promptior isti.

He was besides being so exquisite a divine, a good mathematician, a great philosopher, and a general scholar in all liberal sciences, as his writings, which are extant, shew; (fn. 25) but above all, he was commended for his uprightness and sincerity of life and conversation. He bore for his arms, Barry of six, sable and ermine, six guttees de larmes, or, according to archbishop Parker, Barry of six, ermines and ermine.

56. SIMON ISLIP, LL. D. was next constituted archbishop in 1349, and as it is said, by the monks election, the pope's approbation, and the king's good liking; but he was consecrated by virtue of a bull from the pope.

He is said to have taken his name from the place of his birth at Islip, in Oxfordshire, (fn. 26) and to have been educated at Merton college, in Oxford, of which he became fellow, and where he took his degree of doctor of canon law. He afterwards held the two prebends of Welton, in the church of Lincoln, to the bishop of which he was vicar-general and official, and was preferred to the archdeaconry of Stow. When he was constituted archbishop of this see in 1349, he was then canon of St. Paul's church, in London, dean of the arches, privy counsellor, secretary and keeper of the privy seal to king Edward III. which offices he administered so well, that he became gracious to the king, which induced the monks to chuse him archbishop. (fn. 27)

When he first came to the see, there was a great mortality, by the raging of the plague, as Harpsfield notes from Walsingham, with this comment on it; when, says he, the fields lay untilled, waste and deserted, by reason of this mortality of men and cattle, and the owners were disappointed of receiving their accustomed rents, being forced not only to remit somewhat of the usual pension which was wont to be paid, but even to hire out to husbandmen their fields ready furnished, with all manner of husbandry furniture. —He was strict and severe, even to extremity, upon the clergy in his visitations; he obtained a bull for the pope to levy a tax upon the clergy of his province, after the rate of four-pence in the marc, towards his support; but he went beyond his commission, and extorted from the clergy of his diocese, a whole tenth. He founded and endowed about the year 1363, Canterbury college, in Oxford, of which a full account has already been given. He restored and annexed to his convent, for the use of the almnery, the parsonages of Monkton and Eastry, which archbishop Baldwin had taken from it, and with his consent Buckland parsonage was appropriated to the priory of Dover, and the parsonage of Bilsington to the priory there; to recover the impoverishment of his see, he lived frugally all his life, and when he was inthronized, he dined privately, and spared the expences of that usual great feast. (fn. 28)

The archiepiscopal palace at Maidstone having been left unfinished by archbishop Ufford, he took it in hand, and for this purpose pulled down the antient palace at Wrotham; and though he recovered from the administrators of archbishop Ufford to the amount of 1101l. for dilapidations, most part of which was probably on account of the unfinished state of the above house, yet his not finding that sum sufficient, was, in all likelihood, one of the causes of his levying the tenth on his clergy, as above mentioned.

Having sat as archbishop for the space of sixteen years and upwards, he died at Mayfield, in Sussex, April 26, 1366. (fn. 29) By his will he bequeathed to the convent of Christ church, 1000 sheep, to be kept as a perpetual stock; six dozen of silver plates, and as many silver salt sellers; four silver basons, with their ewers, &c. his vestments which were all of cloth of gold, and a very sumptuous cope.

Having ordered his funeral to be as private as possible, and with as little expence as might be contrived, he was buried at midnight, in the middle, near the upper end of the nave of the cathedral; on the rebuilding of which his tomb, which was a handsome one of marble, having on it his figure and inscription, inlaid with brass, was removed and placed between the two pillars, opposite to it on the north side of the new nave, where it remained till it was taken away, on the making of the new pavement, a few years ago. (fn. 30)

Weever has preferved the infcription, on the verge of this tomb, the braffes on which had been torn away many years agon.

SIMON ISLIP oricns, vir bina lege probatus,
Ut nascens, moriens sic nunc jacet arcte locatus,
Arcem qui tenuit hic quondam pontisicatus,
Clero quique fuit regno toti quoque gratus.
Princeps pastorum fac SIMON apostolorum,
SIMON ut iste chorum per eos pertingat eoruin
Mil. trecenteno, sexageno modo seno
Ejus septeno pastoratus quoque deno
Hic kal. Maii seno rupto carnis nece freno:
Flos cadit a feno celo peto qui sit ameno
O spes sanctorum decus & pie CHRISTE tuorum,
Cetibus ipsorum prece jungas hunc precor horum.

Archbishop Islip wrote a treatise, entitled, Speculum Regis Edwardi 3tii, which is among the Harleian manuscripts.

Among the Chartæ Antiquæ of the dean and chapter, in their treasury, are two seals of this archbishop, 3 inches by 2 diam. having on them a fine representation of Becket's murder, before the altar; underneath is archbishop Islip, in a nich, praying; the legend not fair enough to be read; no counterseals. Q. 165, Z. 49. He bore for his arms, Gules, a cross, formee, or.

57. SIMON LANGHAM, bishop of Ely, was translated from that see on November 4, 1366, to this archiepiscopal chair of Canterbury. He had been first a monk, then prior, and lastly, abbot of Westminster, from which office he was elected to the see of London, but before his consecration he was, in 1361, translated to that of Ely, with which he held several preferments in commendam, among which was the archdeaconry and treasurership of Wells. On his being translated to Canterbury, it is said by an author (fn. 31) to have been a cause of as much joy to Ely, as it was of grief to Canterbury; but what gave occasion to this severe censure is not known, as he does not appear to have deserved it.

He had been lord treasurer, and in 1363 was made lord chancellor of England, (fn. 32) at which time it is observed, that all the great and public offices of state were usually held by the clergy. In 1368 the archbishop was created a cardinal presbiter of the church of Rome, by the title of Sti Sixti, (fn. 33) upon which he resigned his archbishopric, (fn. 34) and went to Rome; of which he is said to have repented afterwards, (fn. 35) and to have tried to be reinstated in it again; in which, however, he did not succeed, as will be further mentioned hereafter.

He died at Avignon on July 22, 1376, where he had lived in great estimation about eight years, being suddenly taken with the palsy, as he sat at dinner, and was first buried there in the church of the Carthusians, which he had founded; from which his body was, three years afterwards removed, by his own appointment whilst he was alive, to Westminster, and buried in the abbey church there, (fn. 36) to which he had been, whilst abbot of it, wonderfully bountiful, (fn. 37) close to the north side of the choir, where he lies under a handsome tomb of alabaster, having his effigies, lying at full length on it, habited in his pontificals, and this inscription round the verge of it: Hic jacet dom. SIMON DE LANGHAM quondam abbas hujus loci thesaur arius anglie, electus London, episcopus Elien. Cancellarius anglie, archiepiscopus Cantuar. presbyter cardinalis & postea episcopus cardinalis.

SIMON de LANGHAM sub petris hijs tumulatus,
Istius ecclesie monachus fuerat, prior, abbas;
Sede vacante fuit electus Londoniensis
Presul, et insignis Ely, sed postea primas
Totius regni, magnus regisque minister:
Nam thesaurarius, et cancellarius ejus,
Ac cardinalis in Roma presbyter iste.
Postque Prenestinus est factus episcopus, atque,
Nuncius ex parte pape transmittitur istuc.
Orbe dolente pater, quem nunc revocare nequimus
MACDALENE festo, milleno septuageno,
Et ter centeno sexto CHRIST ruit anno.
Hunc DEUS absoluat de cunctis que male gessit,
Et meritis matris sibi celica gaudia donet.

As to his character, he is said to have been a very great and wise man, of a noble appearance, capable of filling with a good grace the several places he held in church and state. He was, whilst chancellor, esteemed a good speaker, and it was in a very critical juncture of affairs when he steered the helm. As to church matters, he is said to have managed them with the highest commendation, except, that being a Benedictine monk, he was too much bigotted to his own order; as to his turning the seculars out of Canterbury college, contrary to the will of the founder, and placing regulars in their room, it certainly was an action by no means justisiable; but it raised a spirit in that body of learned men, with Wickliffe at their head, and indeed of the best part of the university, to speak more openly of the insufferable oppressions of the prelacy, and to inveigh vigorously against the orders of regulars. These invectives, as they began largely to convulse the state at that time, so in their effect they shook the papal power so considerably, that it never rightly recovered even to the time it ceased totally within the realm.

As to his private character, he is said to have been affable, humble, temperate, and very munisicent, and therefore the satirical reflection, above-mentioned. seems to have been the produce of some personal, and perhaps single discontent; and who does not know how often a very trifle, repeated by rote and handed about, will stigmatize the best of characters. That this was his case, appears from the regard those of both his cathedrals had for him; the monk of Ely calls him a discreet and provident pastor, and says, that his memory should ever be remembered among the blessed bishops; and the value those of Canterbury had for him, appears by their readiness to elect him a second time; and the reason they gave the pope for it, that having lately presided as their pastor, he had been very kind and beneficent to their church; facts which must annihilate every malicious stigma, so wantonly spread abroad to depreciate the character of this great and munificent prelate.

There is a seal of this archbishop appendant to one of the Chartæ Antiquæ, in the treasury of the dean and chapter; it is very fair and fine, having the archbishop mitred, robed, pall, blessing, a crozier in his left hand; the legend, … CARDINALIS ARCHIEPI TOCIUS ANGLIÆ PRIMAS; on his right hand, the arms of England; on the left, the fee of Canteroury E. 56.—The archbishop bore for his arms, Or, a chevron embattled, gules, between three trefoils slipt, vert.

58. WILLIAM WITTESLEY, LL. D. bishop of Worcester, was on October 11, 1368, translated from that see to this archbishopric.

He was a native of Huntingdonshire, and nephew to archbishop Islip, at whose charges he had been brought up at Oxford, where he proceeded doctor of the common law, whence he was sent by his uncle to Rome, to solicit his causes, and gain experience by seeing the practice of that court; after some time he was called home and by his uncle preferred to be his vicar general, and dean of the arches; he was next preferred to the archdeaconry of Huntingdon, and prebend of Nassington, in the church of Lincoln, and then to the rectories of Croydon, and Cliff, near Hoo; after which he was promoted to the see of Rochester, from whence he was translated to that of Worcester, and thence again to this archbishopric, as above mentioned.

Nothing remarkable happened during his presiding over this church, excepting his procuring a bull from the pope to free the university of Oxford from the jurisdiction of the bishop of Lincoln, and to govern themselves by their own officers and statutes.

He had long been troubled with a lingering disease, of which he died at Lambeth, on June 5, anno 1374, (fn. 38) having sat in this see five years and upwards. By his last will he gave all his books of the civil and canon law, and of divinity, to St. Peter's, commonly called Peter-house college, in Cambridge, of which he had formerly been custos, or master. (fn. 39) He bequeathed his substance to his poor relations, by which it should seem, that he was not very rich, and appointed John de Woodall, Walter Dancy and John de Sustorn, his executors.

He was buried over against the tomb of his uncle archbishop Islip, between two pillars, on the south side of the upper part of the nave of this cathedral, under a handsome marble tomb, (fn. 40) having his portraiture, in his pontificals, with an inscription round it, engraved in brass, long since torn from it; but the tomb itself has been removed only some few years since, on the new paving of the nave.

Weever says, (fn. 41) only the following part of his inscription remained in his time:

… WITTLESEY natus,
Gemmata luce. (fn. 42)

He was esteemed a man of singular learning, and an excellent preacher, as appears by the two sermons in Latin, which he preached at the two synods he convened.

There is a seal of this archbishop's appendant to one of the Chartæ Antiquæ, in the treasury of the dean and chapter, oval, four inches by two and a half, having the archbishop standing, mitred, robed, pall, blessing; cross in his left hand; above, gothic niches; in the upper one, God the Father holding a crucifix; on each, side the archbishop, a shield with the arms of the see. O. 112. The archbishop bore for his arms, Or, a saltire, azure. After his death, the monks elected to this see their former archbishop, Simon Langham, then a cardinal of the church of Rome, who repenting that he had resigned this chair, endeavoured thus to obtain possession of it again; (fn. 43) but on the monks making this election, the king was so highly exasperated against them, that he had intentions of expelling and banishing them from the convent for ever; but the pope interposing, in order to appease the king, he transhated Simon Sudbury from the see of London to this archbishopric. (fn. 44)


  • 1. On August 22, in the 11th year of king Edward II. anno 1308, Walter Reginald, the king's chaplain, was appointed treasurer, and in the same year, being then canon of St. Paul's, he was made bishop of Worcester; in the 4th year of it he was made lord keeper, and on July 6, next year, he was made chancellor. Dugd. Orig.
  • 2. See Battely's Somner. p. 133.
  • 3. Cl. 1 Edward III. m. 24, dorso.
  • 4. Rym. Fœd. vol. iv. p. 351.
  • 5. Walsingham, p. 518.
  • 6. See Leland's Collect. vol. iv. p. 55.
  • 7. See Walsingham, p. 131.
  • 8. Among the Chartæ Antiq. in the treasury of the dean and chapter, are two seals of this archbishop; one an oval, 2½ by 1¾ diam. archbishop standing, mitred, robed, pail, blessing; cross in his left hand; gothic nich over his head, the ground tretted—Counterseal Becket's murder; the legends oblit. E. 137. The other a different counterseal, being a small seal, a bust profile bearded; legend, SIGNUM SECRETUM. N. 25. Thorn, col. 2066. Battely, pt. ii. p. 72.
  • 9. Weever says, on October 12.
  • 10. This chapel was then known by the name of the chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul. The record of the place kept in the church, of the manner and time of his burial, tells us, that he he was laid in St. Peter's chapel, on the south side of the high altar.
  • 11. Mr. Battely has transcribed a copy of this bull in his Appendix, as a notorious instance of the intolerable usurpations of the court of Rome over this church; it is dated at Avignon the 6th of the calends of December, and the 18th year of the pope's pontificate. Besides this bull, to enhance the expence as much as possible, there were five other bulls sent by the pope upon this occasion, viz. a second, being a bull of provision of the said archbishop, directed to the chapter of Canterbury, concerning his translation, where it was received on February 11, 1334 A third bull directed to the clergy of the city and diocese of Can terbury. A fourth bull to the people of the city and diocese.—A fifth bull to all the vassals of the church of Canterbury. A sixth bull to all the suffragans of the church of Canterbury; all which bulls were published in the church of Canterbury on the same day in which they were received, by Nicholas de Tharent, provost of the collegiate church of Wingham. Battely, pt. ii. appendix, p. 16, No. v. from the register of the church of Canterbury, marked P. pt. ii. fol. 26.
  • 12. Antiq. Eccl. Brit. p. 327.
  • 13. Dugd. orig.
  • 14. In the parliament held at Westminster in the week after Easter, anno 15 Edward III. the king came into St. Edward's chamber, commonly called the painted chamber, before whom, all the lords and commons being present, the archbishop humbled himself, and required his favour, which he granted; after which the archbishop desired, that where he was defamed through the realm, he might be arraigned in open parliament before his peers; to which the king answered, that he would attend to the common affairs, and after, hear others. See Cotton's Records, p. 34.
  • 15. Steph. Birchington. Antiq. Brit. Eocles. The king directed his letters patent to his faithful and well beloved the archbishop, his chancellor, and others, to hold his parliament, as he himself could not be present at the same, dated at Newcastle upon Tyne, anno 10 Ed. II. 1336. Rymer's Fœdera, vol. iv. p. 702. The king delivered the great seal to the archbishop, whom he had before made chancellor, on April 28, 14 Ed. III. 1340. Rym. Fæd. vol. v. p. 180. Which same office and seal he resigned into the king's hands, on June 20 that year, on account of his infirmities and ill health. Rym. Fœd. vol. x. p. 194. And on January 26, in his 15th year, the king recites that he had frequently summoned the archbishop to his presence, but that he had always excused himself, on account of his fears of his danger in it; the king therefore granted him his protection, and a safe conduct in coming, staying and returning, dated as aforesaid. Rym. Fœd. vol. x. p. 223.
  • 16. His name is so spelt in general by those who have mentioned him as archbishop, and his family and kindred, as before-mentioned; and in particular by the learned author of the Antiq. Brit. Eccl. p. 360; but in all the records which I have seen, his name is written Offord, or De Offord. Thus, John Offord, archdeacon of Ely, was sent in 1341, by the king, to conclude a trucewith the French king. See Rymer's Fædrea, vol. v. p. 338; and next year John de Offord was privy seal; when on October 4, the king being at Sandwich, ready to embark for foreign parts, delivered the great seal to him to keep; and he delivered one certain other seal to be used by the chancellor, whilst the king remained abroad, to Robert Parming, which seal the said chancellor opened at Dartford on the Sunday following, in his return to London, and sealed with it.—Rym. Fæd. vol. v. p. 343. Master John de Offord was made chancellor, to whom the great seal was delivered October 26, 19 Ed. III. anno 1346. Dugd. orig. John de Offord confirmed archbishop elect and chancellor, died on the eve of the Ascension, 23 Ed. III. anno 1349, at Tettenhall, near London, after sunset. Rym. Fæd. vol. v. p. 343. Andrew Offord, brother to the archbishop, and professor of the civil law, was much employed by the king in his negociations of state.—Rym. Fæd. vol. v. p. 343, passim.
  • 17. See Battely's Somner, p. 129.
  • 18. Batt. Somn. pt. ii. p. 72.
  • 19. Lambarde, p. 231, 559.
  • 20. So Parker in his Antiq. Brit. Eccl. being the coat borne by the family of Ufford, earls of Suffolk.
  • 21. See before.
  • 22. After this manner all the succeeding archbishops to the time of the reformation, excepting some few who were duly elected by the convent, received their admission to this dignity, by virtue of the authority of the pope's bull of provision. All those bulls which had formerly been granted by the several popes to confirm the convent's right of election, being superseded by these bulls of provision.
  • 23. See Stephen Birchington. H. Knyghton, col. 2600; and Antiq. Brit. Eccl.
  • 24. See Battely's Somner, p. 133.
  • 25. He wrote Geometrica & Arithmetica Speculativa, both printed at Paris, anno 1512; and Tractatus Proportionum. Venet. 1505; and some other tracts which are not printed. He wrote a treatise against Pelagius, and another, De Virtute Causarum, ad surs Mertonenses, in three books, published by Sir Henry Saville, London, 1618, folio; before which Sir Henry wrote and prefixed his life. Among the Bodleian manuscripts, there is the treatise of this archbishop's on geometry, and that against Pelagius, both above-mentioned.
  • 26. In the parish church of Islip, in memory of him, there was formerly in several of the windows, his device, which was, a boy slipping down from a tree, and over his head, and in a label from his mouth, these words on a scroll, I slip, in allusion to his name.
  • 27. Parker Antiq. Eccl. Brit
  • 28. Steph. Birchington. Lambarde, p. 231, 539, 559. See Battely, pt. ii. p. 73.
  • 29. See Battely's Somner, p. 134.
  • 30. On the removing the old pavement of the nave in 1786, at a small distance from the tomb of this archbishop, there was found a stone cossin, the lid of which had been purloined, most probably by the fanatics, in the middle of the last century; it was in some measure fitted to the human body, and of the shape underneath; the dimensions were Weever has preserved the inscription, on the verge of this tomb, the brasses on which had been torn away many years ago.                                                         ft.     in. Cavity of the head                              1     11 Breadth of shoulders                          2     0 Breadth at the feet                              1     3 Length from shoulder to feet              6     3 From out to our                                 6     10 Depth of the coffin                             0     10½ Some have supposed that this curious coffin contained the remains of archbishop Islip, who was buried in the middle of the old nave, near the upper end, about the place where this was found. The bones, like almost all the rest within this church, appeared to have been disturbed, the skull much broken, and lying upon the breast, but the teeth were nearly perfect; from this coffin being of stone, and from the shape of it, there seems a greater probability of its being of a much earlier date than the time of archbishop Islip.
  • 31. Stephen Birchington.
  • 32. Simon de Langham, abbot of Westminster, made treasurer November 21, 34 Edward III. anno 1361, being bishop of Ely, he received the great seal from the king, Feb. 19, 36 Ed. III. Dugd. orig.
  • 33. He was afterwards made a cardinal bishop of Preneste.
  • 34. He sat in this see two years and three weeks.
  • 35. Battely, pt. ii. p. 73.
  • 36. Ibid. p. 134.
  • 37. Leland's Coll. vol iv. p. 23, vol. v. p. 194. The value of what he bestowed on this church of Westminster, at different times, amounted in the whole to 10, 800l. See the particulars in Willis's Mitred Abbeys, vol. i. p. 205, and in Weever, p. 480.
  • 38. Chron. Tables, anno 1375.
  • 39. Battely, pt. ii. p. 73. His will may be seen in the register of the church of Canterbury, dated June 5, 1374; and proved June 13th following. Battely, pt. ii. app. No. xiiia.
  • 40. Leland in his Itin. vol. vi. f. 3, p. 5, says, one of the high tombes of bishops in the body of the church was for Whitlesey born at Whitlesey in Hunteduneshire, first archdiacon of Huntendune, then bishop-of Rochester, and last of Cantwarbyri.
  • 41. See Weever, p. 26.
  • 42. On the laying the new pavement in 1786, on the south side of the nave, between two of the pillars, under this archbishop's tomb, his remains were found. He was buried in the solid chain of foundation, made from one pillar to the other, along the whole of the nave on both fides. The place where he lay was cut out in the foundation partly in the shape of a coffin, the skeleton was entire, the body had been laid in wood ashes; a leaden seal of a papal bull of indulgence was found near the hand. See the figure of it on page 393.
  • 43. Antiq. Brit. Eccl. p. 283. Ang. Sacr. P. i. p. 120, 794.
  • 44. On archbishop Wittesley's death the king granted the custody of the archbishopric to Thomas Newe, parson of the church of Godmersham; John de Wodhull, clerk; Simon de Burgh; Richard Sansemere, clerk; and William Tydecombe; dated at Westminster 8 Aug. 48 Ed. III. acno 1374 Rymer's Fæd. vol. vii. p. 42.