The History and Topographical Survey of the County of Kent: Volume 4. Originally published by W Bristow, Canterbury, 1798.
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The diocese, bishops and archdeacons
The DIOCESE OF ROCHESTER is the smallest of any in this kingdom; the whole of it is situated within the western division of this county. It has one archdeacon, and contains ninety-nine parishes, included in the deanries of Rochester, Malling, and Dartford.
The deanry of Shoreham, though properly indeed within this diocese, yet being a peculiar of the archbishop, is subject to his immediate jurisdiction, in like manner as the parishes of Frekenham in Suffolk, and Isleham, in Cambridgeshire, as belonging to this see, are subject to the jurisdiction of the bishops of Rochester, and not to those of Norwich.
This bishopric is not only distinguished from almost every other in the kingdom, by the narrowness of its district, but likewise for the slenderness of its revenues. Before the conquest the revenues of it were not a sufficient maintenance for the bishop and four or five secular priests; and after bishop Gundulf had received from archbishop Lanfranc, the manors and lands, part of the antient possessions of this see, which had been recovered from Odo, the great bishop of Baieux, at the famous assembly at Pinenden, and had gained others back again of which it had been deprived, he allotted so large a part of the revenues of his church to the priory, when he separated his own from those of the monks, that his successors were much impoverished by it, and would have been more so, had not bishop Gilbert de Glanvill disputed their title to them, and recovered many of these manors and churches to his see, for the use of himself and his successors: and yet after all this, the income of the bishop of Rochester was so slender, that the bishops were compelled to retire for good part of the year to some of their palaces in the country, with a few attendants, nor could they afford to attend the parliament or council at any distance beyond London; and although they solicited and obtained on this account some appropriations from the pope, yet from the increasing dearness of the times, they felt but little benefit from them and the monks, though they were most plentifully provided for in comparison of their bishop, yet they were dissatisfied, and frequently laid claim to part of his maintenance, and put him to much expence in defending his right; indeed, it was with the greatest difficulty he withstood their incroachments. However, as the manors and possessions of this bishopric were but few, so it in great measure escaped the general plunder others suffered at and after the Reformation.
In bishop Fisher's time the income of this see amounted to only 300l. in the king's books it is valued at 358l. 4s. 9½d. and, like many other ecclesiastical benefices, was then most probably over rated. In the year 1559, the clear annual profits of it are said not to exceed 207l. per annum, part of its possessions being then wrested from it; (fn. 1) at present it is about 600l. clear yearly value, notwithstanding which many of the bishops of this diocese may, with great truth, be said to have been inferior to few of their brethren in abilities or learning, and several of them have enjoyed the highest posts both in church and state.
The PATRONAGE of this bishopric, in very early times, seems to have been wholly annexed to the see of Canterbury. King John, by his letters patent, in his 16th year, restored it to archbishop Langton, as his right. (fn. 2) King Henry III. in his 10th year, confirmed to the archbishop the possession of the temporalities of this see during the vacancy of it, so that the archbishop at such times always seized on them, and on the consecration of the elect restored them to him, on his performing his fealty to him, as the archbishop in his turn did the like for this bishopric to the king. In these times the archbishops and bishops of this realm usually kept their kennels of hounds, as did the bishop of Rochester; at whose death, as appears by antient records, this kennel of hounds was rendered to the archbishop as a mortuary, so likewise was his palfrey, saddled and well caprisoned, and his silver cup; and to the king, sede vacante, under the name of, muta canum et multura.
For many years, though the monks of Rochester made some shew of electing a bishop, yet their choice was almost always made in conformity to the archbishop's Congé de liré till the year 1235, when the archbishop refusing to confirm the election of Richard de Wendover, as not being nominated by him, the monks appealed to Rome, and the pope confirmed their choice, and prohibited the archbishop from interfering any more in the elections of the bishops of this fee. This did not however secure to the monks that freedom of election they contended for, though the archbishop could not interfere, yet the pope assumed the privilege he had deprived the archbishop of; and from the time above mentioned, for the space of one hundred years and upwards, there were only two bishops of this see that were not advanced to it by the plenitude of the papal power, the succession to it being provided for by the usual method of the bull of papal provision. In which situation the patronage of it continued till the 25th year of king Henry VIII. when, by an act then passed, the election of this bishop, as well as the others in this realm, was to be made by the dean and chapter, on receiving the king's Congé de liré, with which a letter was to be sent, containing the name of the person they should elect and choose; in which method the election of the bishops of this see continue to be made at this time.
A list of the Bishops of Rochester.
Justus, one of the companions of St. Augustine, at his first coming hither, was made by him the first bishop of this church, in 604 soon after the building of it, and he seems to have been a person eminent for his holiness and integrity of life. On the death of king Ethelbert, which happened in 616, Eadbald his son succeeded him in the kingdom of Kent, and immediately forsook the Christian religion; after which the torrent of infidelity ran so high, that Justus was obliged to abdicate his see, and retire to France, from whence he came back on the conversion of king Eadbald again to Christianity, and exercised his pastoral office here till 624, when, on the death of Mellitus, he was translated to the see of Canterbury. (fn. 3) He appointed
Romanus to succeed him in this bishopric that year, but he did not enjoy it long, for being sent to Rome with some letters from the archbishop to pope Honorius, he was unfortunately drowned before he reached the continent, in the year 627. After which there seems to have been some intermission before another bishop was appointed; but about the year 633, Paulinus, who came over with St. Augustine into Britain, and had been made archbishop of York, from whence he had been obliged to fly on the death of king Edwin, arriving at Rochester, and finding it destitute of a pastor, accepted the government of this church at the desire of archbishop Honorius. He continued bishop of this see till his death, in 644; he was buried in the sacristy of his church, but being afterwards canonized in 1704, his relics were removed, and placed in a silver shrine in the body of the new church, built by bishop Gundulph, to which a great concourse of people afterwards flocked, and many rich offerings were made at it. On his death,
Ithamar, a Kentish man born, and the first of this nation that had been made a bishop, was advanced by archbishop Honorius to this see, one who was not at all inferior to any of his predecessors, either in piety or learning. He died in 655, and was buried in the body of this church, whence on account of the many miracles said to be wrought at his tomb, his relics were removed and enshrined by bishop Gundulph; this shrine was afterwards repaired and much ornamented by bishop John, who believed himself cured of a distemper in his eyes by touching these relics; on these accounts he was canonized.
Putta was ordained bishop by archbishop Theodore, who, though well skilled in the discipline of the church, was contented with a private station, for which he was more fit than to encounter the times in a public character. Being disgusted with the poverty of his see, he had thoughts of resigning it, when Ethelred, kirg of Mercia, entering Kent, and burning this city, together with part of the church, confirmed him in that design. This was in 676, after which he went into Mercia, and accepted the charge of some small retired parish, under Saxulf, the bishop of those parts, getting his living mostly by teaching the Roman method of church music, in which occupation he spent the remainder of his days, nor would he hearken to any persuasions of returning to his bishopric. The see of Rochester was at this time in a wretched desolated state, the church was greatly damaged, if not in ashes, by the fire above mentioned, its bishop was fled, and its revenues so scanty, as to induce few to take the future care of it; however, archbishop Theodore prevailed on one
Quichelm, or Gulielmus as Bede calls him, to accept of this charge, and accordingly ordained him bishop of Rochester about the latter end of the year 676; but he finding himself destitute of a maintenance, abandoned this see, after no long continuance in it. To whom, after some space of time, succeeded
Tobias, a monk of Canterbury, who was consecrated by archbishop Brithwald. He was an Englishman, and was well skilled in the Greek, Latin, and Saxon languages, and in various other parts of learning, being a scholar of archbishop Theodore, and Adrian, abbot of St. Austin's. He died in the year 726, and was buried in the portico of St. Paul, within the church of St. Andrew, which he had made as a place for his own burial.
Eardulf seems to have been consecrated bishop of this see soon afterwards, during whose government here the church of Rochester may be said to have recovered in some measure its past misfortunes, by the countenance and assistance of several princes, though there appears to be great confusion in the dates of the several grants made to it.
Weremund, in English, Worre, was bishop in 788, and died soon after the year 800. (fn. 4)
Godwyn I. succeeded him, and was at the council at Kingsbury, in 851, being probably dean of London. From this period to the Norman conquest the account of the bishops of this see is mutilated and uncertain. The deplorable state of those times, occasioned by the confusion of the Danish wars, darkening the history of both church and state with impenetrable obscurity; so far indeed we know by what followed, that most of the estates of this church were wrested from it, by one side or the other, none of which seem to have been restored till after the Norman conquest, so that this church and its bishops must have continued in a state of great poverty till that time.
Swithulf succeeded him, and appears to have been bishop in 880; he was, in 897, appointed one of the guardians of the western part of Kent, to defend it against the Danes, who then infested it, soon after which he died of the plague.
Godwyn II. who seems to have been the same that king Ethelred II. in 986, having taken offence at his haughty behaviour, besieged in the city of Rochester; after which the king plundered the estates belonging to the church, and took several of them from it, however before his death he made some restitution for these injuries.
Godwyn III. was the next bishop, and seems to have been the same who was taken prisoner with archbishop Alphege, when Canterbury was surrendered to the Danes, in 1011, and who is mentioned in a letter of king Edward the Confessor, as bishop of Rochester, as late as the year 1044; he must therefore have sat in this see thirty-three years at the least, but how long he lived after this date does not appear.
Siward, abbot of Chertsey, was consecrated bishop in 1058; before which, from the death of Godwyn, this see being impoverished by a variety of misfortunes, continued destitute of a pastor. This bishop was present at the synod begun at Winchester, in 1072, and is reported to have died in 1075; whenever that event happened, he certainly left his church in a miserable state of poverty, and in want of every thing, as well within as without; for there were at that time only four secular canons in it, who were forced to live on scanty food, each meal of which was either begged or bought at the time, and were cloathed in a common lay habit.
Ernost, a monk of the abbey of Bec, in Normandy, was consecrated bishop of Rochester by archbishop Lanfranc, in the beginning of the year 1076, as the archbishop had experienced his worth, he advanced him to this see, that he might bring the distracted affairs of this church into better order, but he was removed by sudden death in the month of July that year; on which
Gundulph, a monk of the same monastery of Bec, was by archbishop Lanfranc's means advanced to the bishopric in 1077, who turned the secular priests out of this priory, and filled it with monks of the Benedictine order. (fn. 5) He was a man not so eminent for his learning as distinguished for his prudence and subtle management of those affairs he had the direction of. He, with the assistance of the archbishop rebuilt the church from the foundation, and enlarged the priory, both which at that time were hastening to ruin, and though he did not live to finish them, yet the future greatness and prosperity of both were owing to him. He removed the bodies of his predecessors, which had been buried here, into some part of his new fabric; he inclosed the remains of his predecessor, St. Paulinus, in a shrine of silver, at which such considerable offerings were made as proved a fund of wealth to this church and monastery. Besides the manors and lands restored to him by Lanfranc, he recovered many others which had been wrested from his church, and divided the possessions of it, one part of which he allotted to the monks, and the other as a maintenance to himself and successors. He founded an hospital at Chatham for poor people and lepers, dedicating it to St. Bartholomew, and a nunnery at Malling; he repaired the castle walls of Rochester, and began the large white tower of the castle, which still goes by his name, as has been already observed. Besides the above, he obtained many other benefits to his priory, and never ceased his endeavours till he had advanced it to wealth, beauty, and estimation. Having enjoyed this see thirty-two years, in the reigns of the Conqueror, William Rufus and king Henry I. he died in 1107, (fn. 6) and was buried in his own church before the cross of the high altar, perhaps on the south side near the confessionary, in a chest without any effigies. He was succeeded by
Ralph, abbot of Seez, in Normandy, who was consecrated in 1108. This prelate, though he was sickly and infirm, yet he had the character of being pleased with toys and jests, insomuch that he was by some called Nugax or the Trifler. In the year 1114, he was by the king advanced to the archbishopric of Canterbury.
Ernulf, a native of France, was the next bishop of this see. By the persuasions of archbishop Lanfranc he came over to England, and continued some time a monk in Christchurch, Canterbury, till he became prior there; after which he was made abbot of Peterborough, and lastly he was sent for by the king, who obliged him to accept of this bishopric, and accordingly he was consecrated in 1115. He was ever active and industrious for the benefit of the churches over which he presided, and left noble monuments of his assiduity in each of them. In this of Rochester, he built a dormitory, refectory, and chapter house, and bestowed lands and a variety of gifts on this church and monastery. To him the famous manuscript, called the Textus Roffensis, being a collection of records, gifts, and antient privileges of the church of Rochester, owes its birth. He died in 1124, aged 84.
John, archdeacon of Canterbury, was consecrated bishop in 1125. The church of Rochester was finished in his time, and was dedicated by him, in the presence of the king, many of the nobility, clergy, and others, on May 7, 1130; but whilst the king and his company were here, the city took fire, and the new church, as well as the priory, suffered considerably by it, insomuch that the monks were forced to disperse themselves in different abbies whilst the monastery was repairing. He died in 1137; after his death this bishopric was committed to the care of
John, bishop of Seez, in Normandy, who was consecrated after the middle of the year 1137, in whose time the church and convent were repairing, the monks of it being dispersed. He died before the year 1142.
Ascelin, prior of Dover, succeeded him in this see, and the priory being now repaired, the monks returned to it. He seems to have been strenuous and active, as well in maintaining as restoring the rights of his church, on which account he repaired in person to the court of Rome. (fn. 7) He died in 1147.
Walter, archdeacon of Canterbury, succeeded him, being consecrated in 1147. He was brother to archbishop Theobald, who being present, nominated and presented him to the monks of Rochester, assembled in the chapter house of Canterbury, to be by them elected bishop, according to ancient custom, by which the new bishop was likewise obliged, before his consecration, to swear fealty to the church and archbishop of Canterbury, and that he would not endeavour or consent that they should be deprived of their rights over this church, and that the pastoral staff of the deceased bishop ought to be brought to the altar of Christ church by the monks of Rochester, and that during the vacancy of the see of Canterbury, or absence of the archbishop, the bishop of Rochester ought to perform the episcopal services in the church of Canterbury, as the right and peculiar chaplain of the said church, whenever he should be called upon by the convent for that purpose. In 1170, he was present with other bishops, and assisted at the coronation of Henry, eldest son of king Henry II. for which he was excommunicated by archbishop Becket. He was much addicted to hunting; and when he was in his eightieth year, Peter Blesensis wrote his fiftysixth Epistle to him, to persuade him to leave it off. He died, when he had sat almost thirty-five years, in 1182.
Gualeran, archdeacon of Baieux, and domestic chaplain to archbishop Richard, was that year elected bishop of Rochester, in the usual manner, in the presence of the archbishop, who holding the gospel in his hands, first committed the care of this bishopric in spirituals to the bishop elect, and then put him in possession of the temporalities, by the delivery of a ring to him, the chief justice of England being present, and making no objection to it on the king's behalf. It is said, that disagreeing with his monks, whilst he was preparing for a journey to Rome, to soliclt the pope for leave to eject them from his priory, and to introduce seculars again, he was seized with a fit of illness, of which he died at Rochester, in 1184, and was buried in his own church. After his death a great dispute arose between the monks of Canterbury and Rochester, concerning the placing the pastoral staff of the deceased bishop on the altar of Christ church, to be left there, and delivered by the former to the new bishop, but on the interposition of the archbishop, the latter at last acquiesced, and the whole of this ceremony was performed accordingly. The archbishop being at his palace at Otford, the monks of Rochester went thither to him, and there, on his nomination, in 1185, they elected
Gilbert de Glanvill, archdeacon of Lisieux, for their bishop, who was accordingly consecrated. Soon after his coming to the see, he demanded from them many of the manors and possessions which his predecessor, bishop Gundulph had given to them, which he alledged had belonged to his see, which was greatly impoverished by his granting them away from it. This occasioned a dispute, which was carried on with uncommon heat and violence for some years; but the monks were in the end obliged to submit to his clemency, and award in every thing they had contested with him, and the bishop again resumed several of the manors and possessions above mentioned for the maintenance of himself and his successors. The monks were put to such heavy charges during this litigation, that they were necessitated to coin the silver shrine of St. Paulinus into money; this they did perhaps with less reluctance, as this saint began now to be not so much regarded in comparison of St William, who having undertaken a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, had been, as they termed it, martyred on the 23d of May, 1201, on the high road beyond Chatham, in his journey towards Canterbury, and his body having been brought back to Rochester, was solemnly interred in this church, where the rumour of several miracles wrought at his grave soon brought crouds of people to partake of them, and the continual gifts and offerings made at it yearly, greatly inriched this priory.
About the year 1194, bishop Glanvill began the foundation and endowment of an hospital, in the neighbouring parish of Stroud, for the relief of poor persons, and committed the care of it to secular priests. This the monks looked on with a jealous eye, as done merely in opposition and prejudice to them and their order; but the bishop regarded them not, and all their endeavours to ruin it from time to time were in vain. However, to appease them, and if possible to unite the two foundations in one band of affection, he behaved much more gracious to the monks than before, and conferred several marks of his favor on them and their monastery. He built a new cloister for them at his own expence, furnished their church with an organ, and gave them several utensils, ornaments and books. (fn. 8)
Bishop Glanvill, on his promotion to this see, found the buildings of his palace either fallen down or ruinous, he therefore rebuilt it, and erected likewise a new mansion for himself and his successors at Lambeth. He died in 1214, to the great joy of the monks, who could not forgive the injuries he had formerly done them. He was buried, without any pomp or funeral ceremony, the nation being at that time under an interdict, on the north side of the altar, where his tomb may be seen within the rails, with his essigies, in his robes and mitre, lying at length upon it.
Benedict, precentor of St. Paul's, London, was elected bishop in his room, in the chapter-house at Rochester, in 1214; preceding which, king John, by his letters patent, had granted and confirmed to Christ-church, Canterbury, and Stephen, archbishop of the same, and his successors, the patronage of this bishopric, and the custody and management of the church during the vacancy of the fee, as patrons of it, and that neither before nor after the election, the king's affent should be required, but that the whole should belong to the archbishop for the time being, and that the bishop elect should receive his temporalities heretofore called royalties, plenarily from the hands of the archbishop, and should perform his fealty to him for the fees belonging to it, and perform such services as were due to the king and his heirs, to the archbishop and his successors, as lords and patrons; and that the archbishop should perform the same services to the king and his heirs; and lastly, that the bishop should perform his fealty to the king and his heirs, as to his prince, but not on account of any fee. (fn. 9)
The year following king John besieged the castle of Rochester, then in the possession of the discontented barons, at which time this church and convent suffered severely. The former was so rifled, that not a pix with the sacrament remained on the altar. (fn. 10) He died in 1226, and was buried in his own cathedral.
Henry de Sandford, archdeacon of Canterbury, stiled the great philosopher, was elected bishop of Rochester in 1226, and was consecrated accordingly. Before his election the old dispute was again revived, concerning the delivery of the late bishop's pastoral staff at Christchurch, Canterbury, which being referred to the archbishop, he determined that the monks of Rochester should deliver their crozier to the archbishop, who should give it to the prior of Christ-church, and he to the bishop elect.
In 1227, the new choir of the church of Rochester had service first performed in it; next year died Stephen Langton, archbishop of Canterbury, and the monks of Christ-church, to secure their privileges, immediately elected another in his room; on which the king sent bishop Sandford to Rome, to set aside the election, and he succeeded in his negociation. On his return Richard Wetherside, the successor of Langton, was consecrated, together with the bishops of London and Ely, at Canterbury, in 1229. But a great dispute arose concerning the right of performing this ceremony, the bishop of Rochester claiming it, as chaplain of the church of Canterbury, and the bishop of Bath, as the senior bishop of the province. After much altercation they compromised the matter; the bishop of Rochester consecrated the archbishop, and the bishop of Bath the other two. King Henry III. and many of the nobility being present at the ceremony. He died in 1235, and was buried in his own church.
Richard Wendover, rector of Bromley, in Kent, was elected by the convent that year, and presented to Edmund, archbishop of Canterbury, (afterwards sainted) who rejected him, on pretence of his ignorance and want of learning, but more probably because he was not nominated by him. Upon which the monks appealed to Rome, and after a contest of three years, obtained their suit, and a bull for his consecration, which was performed by the archbishop in the church of St. Gregory, Canterbury, in 1238. After which it does not appear that the archbishop interfered any more in the elections of the bishops of this fee, nor do we find any further mention of the pastoral staff being sent to Canterbury. On November 5, 1240, he, together with the bishop of Bangor, performed the dedication of the church of Rochester. Four years after which, a council of the British bishops was held at Rochester. He died in 1250, and from a regard to his piety and holiness of life was buried in the abbey church of Westminster, by the king's especial command. (fn. 11)
Laurence de St. Martin, chaplain and counsellor to king Henry III. and archdeacon of Coventry and Litchfield, was elected bishop by the monks in 1250, and was consecrated accordingly. In 1256 he was at Rome, and then obtained the canonization of St. William the Martyr, at whose tomb many miracles had been said to be wrought, from the time of his being buried in this church. Probably William's body was at this time removed into the north end of the upper cross isle, and a suitable tomb erected over it. What remains of it at present near the tomb of bishop Merton, consists of a large coffin of Petworth marble, decorated with antient ornaments. The pope likewife granted indulgencies to all such as should offer at this tomb, which so increased the numbers of pilgrims and devotees, that the church reaped a good harvest from them, even to the time of the dissolution of the priory.
In 1264, in the contests between king Henry and his barons, this city was besieged, and in the confusion a party of the latter entered this church, plundered it of all its valuables, defaced the monuments, abused and slew many of the monks, and then converted it into a stable.
Bishop Laurence died in 1274, and was buried in this church, near the great altar, on the north side, where his tomb still remains, having his effigies at full length, in his habit, and mitre lying on it.
Walter de Merton was elected bishop of this fee that year, and was consecrated accordingly. He was a person of great abilities, and was lord chancellor at the time of his election. (fn. 12) About the year 1264, he had laid the foundation of a college at Maldens, in Surry; but afterwards changing his mind, he turned his thoughts to Oxford, where he began the foundation of Merton college, which he finished in 1274, and liberally endowed it about the time of his becoming bishop here. He procured the grants of the manors of Cobhambury and Middleton for his bishopric; but notwithstanding his great interest and power, the priory itself did not reap the least benefit from him. He died in 1277, being unfortunately drowned as he was passing over the river Medway here in a boat, there being then no bridge, and was buried near the north wall of the upper cross isle in the chapel, and near the tomb of St. William, where a new and elegant monument was erected for him, at the charge of the warden and fellow of Merton college, in 1598.
John de Bradfield, monk and precentor of this priory succeeded him, and was consecrated next year. The monks elected him for his quiet and humble behaviour, and as one, who being of their own society, would greatly benefit their convent; but in this they were grievously disappointed, for after his election he neglected them, and never conferred a single favor on them. He died anno 1283, and was buried in this church, on the south side, where his tomb, having his effigies at length on it, still remains. On his death, the monks elected John de Kyrkeby, archdeacon of Coventry, but he renounced it by an instrument soon afterwards, on which they elected
Thomas de Inglethorp, dean of St. Paul's, London, who was confirmed and afterwards consecrated by the archbishop at Canterbury that year. He had the character of being worthy, mild and affable, of a cheerful disposition, and given to hospitality. He died in 1291, and was buried with all due solemnity in his own church, near the high altar, on the south side. (fn. 13)
A few days after the burial of this bishop, the great dispute and skirmish happened between the monks of St. Andrew and the brethren of Stroud hospital, relating to the former's passing in procession through the hospital in their way to Frindsbury, the whole of which has been already related in the account of the hospital.
Thomas de Woldham, prior of Rochester, was next elected by the monks, but on account of some ill usage he received from the archbishop's domestics, utterly refused it; however, the monks elected him a second time, when he acquiesced, and was consecrated at Chartham, in 1291. He died in 1316, and by his last will left ten pounds to the finishing of St. Williams's tomb, and by other legacies to the poor, seems to have been charitably disposed. After which great influence was used by the archbishop and other great personages, to induce the monks to chuse according to their recommendations, which Hamo de Hethe, then prior of Rochester, who was a competitor for this bishopric, observing, and fearing they would prevail against him, privately sent for the monks of Fylchestow, in Suffolk, a cell to this monastery of St. Andrew, and by that means secured a large majority in his favor; for on the election, in 1316, of thirty-five monks present on this occasion, twenty-six voted in his favor; but pope John XXII. having by his bull of provision reserved this turn to himself, conferred it on one John Puteolis, a Frenchman, the queen's consessor; this kept the see vacant more than two years. However, the archbishop certifying that the election of Hamo preceded the date of the pope's reservation one day, after much delay and rehearings, it was pronounced in favor of the elect; and accordingly
Hamo de Hethe was consecrated at Avignon in 1319, but the expences of this fuit, the journey, his consecration and fees, amounted to more than 1441 florins, or two hundred and sixteen pounds. This sum, which probably exceeded his whole yearly income, greatly distressed him; it appears he was not able to discharge the debt of it for near a year and an half after his consecration, nor was this the only difficulty he had to struggle with; the buildings of his palaces and manorhouses were not only ruinous, but were despoiled of the stock, implements of husbandry and furniture, which ought to have remained in them. Thus embarrassed, he retired, with a very small family, and not having a sufficiency for the support of his few domestics, the clery of his diocese supplied him with provisions and money, the proportion of which amounted to twelve pence in every marc of the annual value of their benefices. The repairs and improvements which he afterwards made at his palaces and manor-houses, from time to time, were considerable; at Halling in particular, in 1323, he rebuilt the hall at the cost of one hundred and twenty pounds, the lofty front of the palace, and and great part of the walls, the chapel and dining-room, and likewise the neighbouring mill at Holborough, and that at Borstall; and at Trottescliff he built a diningroom for himself, another for his clerks, and a kitchen, and surrounded the whole with walls; he endowed and augmented several vicarages, and was a good benefactor to this church, to the several buildings of the convent, to the re-edifying of which he gave large sums at different times; and what they esteemed more than all, presented them with a costly mitre of St. Thomas Becket, which he had purchased of the executors of the bishop of Norwich. He founded an hospital for ten poor persons at Hith, the place of his birth, and endowed it with rents of twenty marcs per annnm. Being grown old and decrepit, and weighed down with numberless afflictions, he requested the pope to take the resignation of his bishopric, but this seems to have been refused; for he died in possession of it three years afterwards, and was buried in this church, by the north wall.
John de Shepey, prior of Rochester, was nominated to this see, at the king's recommendation, by bull of papal provision, that year, and was consecrated by the bishop of Winchester, at the priory of St. Mary Overies. He was appointed chancellor of England in 1356, and executed that office for two years; after which he was constituted lord treasurer, which office he held till his death. He had the character of being well skilled in science and literature. He died at his house, called the Place, at Lambeth, in 1360, and was buried in this church, and his portraiture was painted on the wall over his place of burial, nothing of which now remains. By his will, he bequeathed one hundred marcs for defraying his funeral expences, the same sum towards the reparation of his church, and one hundred pounds to the cellarer's office for providing necessaries.
William Wittlesey, LL. D. master of Peter-house, archdeacon of Huntingdon, and vicar-general to the archbishop, was elected bishop of Rochester that year, and was consecrated accordingly. He was afterwards made dean of the arches, and was rector of Croydon and Cliff. He was translated to the see of Worcester by the pope's bull in 1363. (fn. 14)
Thomas Trilleck, dean of St. Paul's, London, and brother to John, bishop of Hereford, was appointed to this fee by the pope's bull of provision next year, before he was elected by the monks, and was confecrated the same month by Guido, cardinal of Bologna, in the chapel of his palace. He died about Christmas 1372, and lies buried in St. Mary's chapel in his own church.
Thomas de Brinton to this bishopric. He was doctor of the decretals, and had been some time a benedictine monk at Norwich. He had travelled much, and arriving at Rome he preached several learned sermons in Latin before the pope; for which and other exercises, in which he discovered great abilities, he was much admired, and became very famous. Pope Urban made him his penitentiary, and afterwards advanced him to this see as before-mentioned; after which he became confessor to king Richard II. and a great benefactor to the English hospital at Rome. He died in 1389, and was buried, according to some, near his predecessor in St. Mary's chapel in this church; but according to others, in the church of Seal, in this county. On his death the monks elected John Barnet, but the pope rejected him, and in his room appointed by his bull of provision
William de Bottlesham to this see, who was so called from that town in Cambridgeshire, where he was born. He was a dominican friar, and subprior of Anglesea; having commenced doctor of divinity at Cambridge, he became very much samed for his learning and eloquence in his sermons, which advanced him to the see of Landaff; from whence he was translated to his bishopric by papal provision in 1389. He died in the beginning of the year 1400, and was buried in the dominican church in London.
John de Bottlesham, chaplain to the archbishop, was consecrated bishop of Rochester next year in his room. He had been prebendary of Brampton, in the church of Lincoln, master of Peter-house, and vicar-general to the archbishop of York. He died anno 1404, and lies buried in this church. (fn. 15)
Richard Yong, bishop of Bangor, was his successor, being translated to this fee by papal provision the same year, but the pope dying, as well as his successor, before the bull was compleated, the confirmation of his translation met with much delay; however, at last he obtained it, and had possession of this see, in spirituals as well as temporals, delivered to him at Lambeth by the archbishop, in 1407. He died in 1418, and was buried in St. Mary's chapel on the south side of this church, having a marble stone over him.
John Kemp, LL. D. archdeacon of Durham, was elected by the monks in 1419, and consecrated accordingly. He was at the time of his election keeper of the privy-seal. He was translated to the see of Chichester anno 1421, and thence again successively to those of London, York, and Canterbury. He was a native of Wye, in this county, the church of which he made collegiate, and amply endowed it. On his translation the monks elected John Spofford, abbot of St. Mary's, York, whom the pope translated to the see of Hereford before his consecration, and on the same day, by his bull provision, advanced
John Langdon, a monk of Christ-church, Canterbury, and master of Canterbury-college, to this see, who was consecrated on the Trinity Sunday following. He was born in this county, and educated at Oxford, where having commenced bachelor of divinity, he soon became celebrated for his learning, and wrote a chronicle of English history, which he published among other works. Bale asserts that he afterwards commenced doctor of divinity, and became sub-prior of Christ-church, Canterbury, and afterwards keeper of Canterbury college, as before-mentioned. In the 10th year of king Henry VI. he was sent the king's ambassador to France, and afterwards to the council of Basil, and had one hundred pounds paid him for the expences of his journey. He died there that year, and his body being brought over to England, was honourably entombed in the Carthusian monastery in London. This bishop was a good benefactor to the new bridge at Rochester.
Thomas Brown, LL. D. first subdean, then prebendary of Lincoln, (fn. 16) and dean of Salisbury, and for many years vicar-general to the archbishop, succeeded to this see, being consecrated anno 1435, at Canterbury. He was sent to the council of Basil to supply the place of his predecessor; whilst he was there he was declared bishop of Norwich by the pope's bull, in 1436.
William Wells, abbot of St. Maries, York, was his successor, being consecrated that year. He was employed by the king as ambassador both to the pope and the emperor. The register, which passes under his name, shews the great attention he paid to the business of his diocese. He died at Trottescliff in 1444, and was interred in this church.
John Lowe, S. T. P. was his successor, he was born in Worcestershire. and was early received into Worcester college, Oxford, where he acquired his doctor's degree by the fame of his superior abilities; after which he became prior of the Augustines at London, and at last provincial of the order. He was not only learned himself, but a great friend to literature, and collected from all parts a library in his convent in London, and by his diligence preserved several copies of the fathers from perishing, and besides wrote several books himself. King Henry VI. in 1433, made him bishop of St. Asaph, on account of his great learning and frequent zeal in preaching, whence he was translated by the pope's bull in 1444 to this see. He is said to have rebuilt his palace at Rochester; he died in the latter end of the year 1467, and was buried under a marble tomb near that of bishop Walter de Merton, in his own church.
Thomas Scott, LL. D. surnamed afterwards Rotheram from the place of his birth in Yorkshire, was the next bishop of this see, he was educated at King's college, and was master of Pembroke-hall, and prebendary of Lincoln. King Edward IV. gave him the provostship of Beverly, made him keeper of his privy seal, and bishop of Rochester in 468, in which year he was one of the king's ambassadors to France. He was translated from hence to Lincoln in 1471. (fn. 17)
John Alcock, LL. D. succeeded him in this see. He was a very temperate and pious man, born at Beverly, and educated at Cambridge; he was first dean of the royal chapel of St. Stephen, Westminster, and prebendary of Salisbury; he was made master of the rolls, and in 1472 was advanced to the see of Rochester, and next year he had the custody of the great seal, and in 1476 was translated to Worcester, and from thence to Ely.
John Russel a native of the city of Winchester, was bred at Oxford, where he commenced LL. D. He was afterwards archdeacon of Salisbury, then keeper of the privy seal, and then lord chancellor; he had been likewise a prebendary of St. Paul's, and chancellor of Oxford, and was consecrated bishop of Rochester in 1476, after which he was translated to Lincoln in 1480, where he lies buried, on his tomb his name is spelt Roscel.
Edmund Audley, A. M. second son of James, lord Audley, prebendary of St. Paul's, canon of York, and archdeacon of the East Riding, succeeded to this see, and was consecrated in 1480. He was translated to Hereford in the middle of the year 1492, and thence again to Salisbury.
Thomas Savage, LL. D. of Cambridge, canon of York, and dean of the king's chapel at Westminster, was appointed to this see by papal provision in 1492, but he was not consecrated till next year, when he obtained licence for that ceremony to be performed elsewhere than in the church of Canterbury. This licence began about this time to be commonly applied for by the several bishops of this province, and granted for a certain fee and recompence paid to the priory of Christ-church in lieu of their being consecrated in it, few bishops after this time being consecrated in the church of Canterbury. He was translated to London in 1496, and afterwards to York.
Richard Fitzjames, LL. D. prebendary of St. Paul's, vicar of Minehead, and rector of Aller, canon of Wells, warden of Merton college, Oxford, master of St. Leonard's hospital, Bedford, and almoner to Henry VII. was appointed bishop of this see the same year. He obtained the like licence that his predecessor had done for his consecration, and was translated to Chichester in the beginning of the year 1504, and afterwards to London.
John Fisher, S. T. P. succeeded him. He was born of a gentleman's family at Beverly, in Yorkshire, where he received his first education, and was sent from thence to St. Michael's-hall, Cambridge, now part of Trinity college, and succeeded at length to the government of it, and in 1504 and 1514, was chancellor of the university, in which first year, he had been deservedly for his care in that office, promoted to the mastership of Queen's college. The same of his singular erudition increasing, Margaret, countess of Richmond, made him her chaplain, and it was through his means that the founded those two magnificent colleges, Christ's and St. John's, in Cambridge, and endowed them liberally, and settled a yearly stipend for ever on the divinity professor in both universities. He was nominated by the king in 1504, to this bishopric, the pope's bull of provision bearing date that year, as well as his licence for consecration without the church of Canterbury. He was a man of uncommon learning, far beyond most other divines of his time, and of a fanctity of life which approached near that of the apostolic times. In 1508 he resigned his mastership of Queen's college, on the death of the countess of Richmond, who left the whole care of finishing her foundation of St. John's college to him; this he happily completed, and not only increased its revenues himself, but gave it afterwards one of the best furnished libraries of the time, which, however, it was deprived of. He had formed likewise a design of founding at his own proper cost, a third college at Cambridge. In 1512, he was deputed by the English bishops to the council of Lateran. Bishop Fisher is thought to have been the principal composer of that refutation of the tenets of Luther, which king Henry VIII. is supposed to have written, and which in 1521 was presented in his name to the pope; as a reward for which, the pontiff dignified him with the title of defender of the faith. About the year 1530, the bishop and his whole family nearly escaped being poisoned, one John Rouse, his cook, having thrown some poison into a pot of gruel, which was prepared not only for the bishop and his family, but the neighbouring poor; seventeen persons were poisoned, of which, however, all recovered except two, who died of it. This occasioned the act, passed that year, to punish those who were guilty of the crime of wilful poisoning, by throwing them into boiling water, (fn. 18) The bishop warmly opposed the king's divorce, and his marriage afterwards with Anne Bullen; and what was amazing for a man of his learning and abilities, he in 1534 countenanced, though with others of superior rank and equal abilities, the imposture of Elizabeth Barton, the nun, commonly called the holy maid of Kent; but he made his peace with the king, by presenting him with what was then thought to be one year's produce of his bishopric, viz. three hundred pounds. Next year, refusing to swear to the act of the king's supremacy, he was, together with Sir Thomas More, the chancellor, sent to the tower, and an act of attainder passed against him, and being cast in a præmunire, his bishopric was declared vacant. In the mean time the bishop was hardly used; for his goods being seized, he had little left but rags to cover him, and was as ill supplied with diet and other necessaries. At last, to make an example that should make the boldest tremble, the king resolved to give both bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More up to the rigor of the law. To this end the bishop was required again to take the oath of supremacy, which he refused, as it was supposed he would: about the same time pope Paul III. to reward his fidelity to the church of Rome, raised him to the dignity of a cardinal. This, in all likelihood, might hasten his death, and being condemned he was beheaded on Tower-hill, on June 22, 1535, a month after his being made cardinal, and some days before the hat sent by the pope arrived in England. He suffered in the 80th year of his age; his head was afterwards set on London bridge, and his body buried in Barking church-yard, and afterwards removed to the tower. (fn. 19) Far unlike many of his predecessors, as well as successors in this see, but following the rule of the primitive church, he would never change this bishopric for a better, saying frequently, his church was his wife, and he would never part with her, because she was poor.
John Hilsey, S. T. P. of the order of Friars Preachers, was successor in this see after the death of bishop Fisher, and was consecrated at Winchester, in 1535. He was head of the Dominican convent in London, which he held till 1538, when he resigned it. Though he favored the reformers in some matters, yet in others he was zealously devoted to the church of Rome. He died in 1538, and was buried in his own cathedral. (fn. 20)
Nicholas Heath, S. T. P. fellow of Clare-hall, and archdeacon of Stafford, was his successor, and was consecrated in 1540, being bishop here at the time of the new foundation, which took place about three months afterwards; soon after which he had a dispensation to hold the rectories of Cliff and Shoreham, in commendam. In 1543 he was translated to Worcester, and afterwards to York.
Henry Holbeach, alias Rands, which last was his family name, but being a native of Holbeach, he assumed that name, according to the custom of the ecclesiastics of that time, (fn. 21) though his son assumed the name of Rands. (fn. 22) He was S. T. P. first prior and afterwards dean of Worcester, having been consecrated suffragan bishop of Bristol in 1537, was elected bishop of Rochester in 1543, and confirmed soon afterwards. He held the rectory of Bromsgrove, with the chapel of Norton, in Worcestershire, in commendam, and was translated to Lincoln in 1547.
Nicholas Ridley, S. T. P. was a native of Northumberland, and became first fellow, and afterwards master of Pembroke-hall, in Cambridge, after which he was prebendary of Canterbury and Westminster, vicar of Herne, and of Soham, in Cambridgesnire, and was consecrated bishop of Rochester in 1547, and translated to London in 1550. He was afterwards in the reign of queen Mary, in 1555, burnt at Oxford, at the same stake with bishop Latimer. (fn. 23)
John Poynet, S. T. P. succeeded to this see. He was nominated to it by the king's letters, in 1549, and consecrated at Lambeth in 1550. He was born in Kent, and finished his education at Queen's college, Cambridge. He is said to have been a man of learning, well skilled in different tongues, and an excellent mathematician, and to have been frequently consulted by archbishop Cranmer in religious matters. About the time of his promotion an order of council was made, that no bishop should for the future hold any other benefice in commendam, except John Poynet, bishop elect of Rochester, and that because he had no episcopal palace; accordingly he had licence to hold in commendam with his bishopric the vicarage of Ashford, the rectories of Towyn, in Merionethshire, and of St. Michael's, Crooked-lane, with a prebend in the church of Canterbury. He was translated to Winchester in 1551, and afterwards, on the accession of queen Mary, fled from England, and died at Strasburgh in 1556. (fn. 24)
John Scory, B. D. one of the six preachers of Canterbury cathedral, was appointed his successor in this see, in 1551, he was translated to Chichester in 1552, and afterwards by queen Elizabeth to Hereford.
Maurice Griffith, frequently styled Dr. Mores, was elected and consecrated in 1554. He was born in Wales, and educated among the Dominicans at Oxford, and was at the time of his election archdeacon of that diocese, and prebendary of that church, rector of St. Magnus, London bridge, and of Southfleet, chancellor and vicar-general to the bishop of London; several of which preferments he held afterwards. About Midsummer 1555, the judges held their assizes in the open air at the bishop's palace, in the College-yard, at Rochester, and as the season was warm, a sail was extended from the wall over them, to screen them from the funbeams; at which time a storm arose, and the wind obtained such power over the sail as to pull down part of the wall to which it was fastened, and the judges and people fled hastily away for safety.
Many persons are said to have died in the year 1559, by a pestilential fever and quartan ague, which then raged in different parts of England, and seized those mostly who were advanced in life, and it is remarked as an extraordinary circumstance, that thirteen bishops died within twelve months; one of this number was bishop Griffith, who died in his palace of Southwark, and was interred with much solemnity in his parish church of St. Magnus, in London. (fn. 25)
Edmund Allen, B. D. was nominated on his death to this bishopric. He was a native of Norfolk, and on queen Elizabeth's accession was appointed one of her chaplains, and ambassador, though to what place is not mentioned; but he died before his consecration in 1559, and was buried in the church of St. Thomas Apostle, London.
Edmund Guest, or as his name is sometimes spelt Gheast, S. T. P. fellow of King's college, Cambridge, and archdeacon of Canterbury, was next consecrated bishop of Rochester that year. He held his archdeaconry and the rectory of Cliff in commendam, and was translated to Salisbury in 1571.
Edmund Freake, S. T. P. originally a monk at Waltham, in Essex, in which county he was born, and afterwards a prebendary of Westminster, canon of Windfor, archdeacon of Canterbury, dean of Salisbury, and then of Rochester, was consecrated bishop of this see in 1571. He held the above archdeaconry, and the rectory of Purleigh, in Essex, in commendam. He was translated to Norwich in 1576, and afterwards to Worcester. He bore the character of a pious and learned man, and a zealous assertor of church discipline.
John Piers, S. T. P. was elected bishop of this see in 1576, and consecrated at Lambeth. He was first a fellow of Magdalen college, in Oxford, then made master of Baliol college, and afterwards dean of Chester, both which preferments he probably resigned, on his being admitted to the deanry of Christ-church, which he likewise quitted when he was raised to the see of Rochester. After which he held in commendam the deanry of Salisbury, in which, as well as in this bishopric, he succeeded Dr. Freake; and had licence to hold the livings of Laingdon and Fillingham. He is said to have been a man of humanity, liberality, and beneficence, and not only learned himself, but an encourager of learning in others. He was translated to Salisbury and thence to York. (fn. 26)
John Yonge, S. T. P. was nominated his successor. The congé d'elire for which was dated in 1577, and he was consecrated at Lambeth. He was a native of London, and the rectory of St. Margaret, New Fish street, was probably the first benefice he enjoyed. He was afterwards collated to the vicarage of St. Giles's, Cripplegate; elected master of Pembroke hall, in Cambridge, on the recommendation of bishop Grindal, who likewise preferred him to a stall in the church of Southwell; which last, as well as a prebend in Westminster abbey, and the benefices of St. Muge and Wouldan, he had licence to hold in commendam. He was accused to lord Burleigh of avarice and want of hospitality; which he excused himself in, from the scanty revenues of his see, which did not amount to more than two hundred and twenty pounds clear yearly income. (fn. 27) He died at his palace of Bromley in 1605, in the 71st year of his age, and was buried in the chancel of that church.
William Barlow, S. T. P. was his successor, being elected in 1605, and soon afterwards was consecrated. He was a native of Lancashire, and became fellow of Trinity hall, in Cambridge. Archbishop Whitgift collated him to the rectory of St. Dunstan's in the East, and he occurs likewise a prebendary of St. Paul's; he was installed prebendary of Westminster, and the next year dean of Chester, and afterwards a prebendary of Canterbury. He continued bishop of this see near three years, and was translated to Lincoln in 1608. He was an excellent and learned preacher, and when dean of Chester, was employed by archbishop Whitgift to draw up an authentic relation of the famous conference held at Hampton court, in 1603, before king James. He published several books and discourses in divinity.
Richard Neile, S. T. P. of St. John's college, Cambridge, who had been first prebendary, then treasurer of Chichester, vicar of Cheshunt, master of the Savoy, and clerk of the closet, and was then dean of Westmister, was consecrated bishop of Rochester in 1608, and held the above deanry in commendam. About the end of the year 1610, he was translated to the see of Litchfield and Coventry, and afterwards to Lincoln, Durham, Winchester, and York, where death put a stop to his further translation on this side the grave.
John Buckeridge, S. T. P. was elected bishop of this see that year, but was not confirmed till the year following; he was elected from Merchant Taylor's school to St. John's college, Oxford, where he became fellow, and afterwards president. He appears to have been possessed at times of the rectories of Tanbridge, North Kilworth, a prebend of Hereford and Rochester, the vicarage of St. Giles's, Cripplegate, the archdeaconry of Northampton, and a canonry of Windfor; what of these he enjoyed at the same time, and what he held in commendam, I have not found. He was translated from hence to Ely, in 1628, and dying in 1631, was buried at Bromley, to which parish he bequeathed the sum of twenty pounds, and was a benefactor to St. John's college, Cambridge. He is said to have been a sedulous preacher (his sermons being now extant) and to have written a book against the pope's power in temporal matters.
Walter Curle, S. T. P. was nominated his successor, and consecrated bishop of Rochester in 1628. He was a native of Hertfordshire, and became fellow of Peterhouse college, and afterwards vicar of Plumsted, in 1608, which he resigned that year, probably on his being promoted either to the rectory of Bemerton, in Wiltshire, or of Mildenhall, in Suffolk, of both which he is said to have been incumbent. The dignities he enjoyed previous to his being made bishop were, the prebends of Lyme and Hastock, in the church of Salisbury, which he afterwards held in commendam with this see, and the deanry of Litchfield in 1620. In 1629 he was translated to the see of Bath and Wells, and afterwards to Winchester. (fn. 28)
John Bowle, S. T. P. formerly fellow of Trinity college, Cambridge, and then dean of Salisbury, was his successor in this see, being consecrated in 1629. He died in 1637, and was buried in St. Paul's cathedral, London.
John Warner, S. T. P. was elected bishop of Rochester, that year, and was consecrated accordingly. He had been fellow of Magdalen college, Oxford, rector of St. Michael. Crooked-lane, and of St. Dionis Backchurch. Archbishop Abbot gave him a prebend at Canterbury, by which means he afterwards became rector of Bishopsborne, and was soon after nominated to the deanry of Litchfield. At this period he stood forth a zealous defender of the constitution, both in church and state; and he was the last bishop who exerted his eloquence to preserve the right of his order to sit in parliament. Not long before the death of king Charles I. bishop Warner, by the king's command, wrote a treatise against the ordinance for the sale of church lands, and he afterwards published several sermons against the murder of the king, at his own no small hazard: but what arguments or discourses could avail when justice, equity, and reason, were grown odious to the times; the tide of fanaticism and rebellion swept away all that was desireable by good men, and every thing submitted to superior force. In this general ruin the bishop and his brethren were despoiled not only of their spiritual dignities and revenues, but of much of their private fortunes, and the king himself fell a sacrifice to the merciless rage of enthusiasts, and the then wicked designs of the worst of men. This bishop was one of those nine prelates who lived to see the re-establishment of both church and state, being at that time about seventyseven years of age. He does not seem to have held any benefice in commendam, yet as well before as after the Restoration he shewed the piety and munificence of his disposition, and few instances have of late times been found of persons devoting such large sums to pious and charitable uses; for before his re-establishment he distributed 8000l. among necessitous clergymen, who had been ejected from their preserments. He expended 700l. in making and repairing the beautiful and elegant font in the cathedral of Canterbury, of which church he had been a member; and he bequeathed 500l. more to the dean and chapter there for books in their new erected library. His gift and legacy, towards the repair of his own cathedral, amounted to 1000l. and in his will he added 50l. to a like benefaction of 1000l. which he had formerly made to the repair of the church of St. Paul, London. He had before his death presented Magdalen college, Oxford, with 1300l. for books, and he left to that society 50l. more to be applied to the same use. He founded four scholarships in Baliol college; he bequeathed 2000l. for purchasing impropriations towards the augmentation of the smallest vicarages in it. He gave liberally towards the redeeming of captives out of slavery in Barbary; and lastly, what will ever reflect the greatest honour on his name and memory, he was the munificent founder of Bromley college. The bishop died in an advanced age, at his palace in Bromley, in 1666, and was interred in his cathedral at Rochester, where a handsome monument is erected to his memory. (fn. 29)
John Dolben, S. T. P. was elected bishop of this see in 1666, and was consecrated at Lambeth. He was a native of Northamptonshire, and was a student of Christ church, of which he was deprived by the parliamentary visitors, on the breaking out of the civil war. He afterwards served as ensign in the royal army, at the battle of Marston-moor, and was much wounded at the siege of York. In 1656, he took orders, and on the Restoration was well rewarded by the king for his past sufferings and loyalty; for he was immediately appointed clerk of the closet, and was installed canon of Christ church, Oxford; then prebend of Caddington Major in the church of St. Paul; archdeacon of London; vicar of St. Giles's, Cripplegate; and dean of Westminster; he was also almoner to the king, and rector of Newington, in Oxfordshire. After his advancement to this see, he held his deanry above mentioned in commendam with it, and in 1683, he was translated to the archbishopric of York. He was a person of genius and abilities, and left behind him the character of being a worthy good man.
Francis Turner, S. T. P. dean of Windsor, and master of St. John's college, Cambridge, was elected bishop of Rochester in his room, in 1683, and was consecrated accordingly. He was the son of Dr. Thomas Turner, successively dean of Rochester and Canterbury, and was elected from Winchester school to New College in Oxford, where of course he be came fellow; after which he became rector of Therfield, in Hertfordshire, and was a considerable benefactor to that parish. He then was collated to the prebend of Sneating, in the church of St. Paul, and was afterwards a canon residentiary in that church; though he had regularly taken all his degrees at Oxford, yet he was elected master of St. John's college, Cambridge. He had, after his advancement to this see, a dispensation to hold in commendam with it the deanry of Windsor, as well as the rectory of Hasely, in Oxfordshire; but he possessed these preferments but a very short time, for he was translated to Ely in 1684.
Thomas Spratt, S. T. P. was his successor, being elected that same year. He was a native of Dorsetshire, and became fellow of Wadham college, then prebendary of Carlton cum Thurleby, in the church of Lincoln and of Westminster; he was afterwards presented to the living of St. Margaret's, Westminster; and made canon of Windsor. These preferments he quitted on his promotion to the deanry of Westminster, and had on his election to this see licence to hold it in commendam. After the accession of king James he was appointed clerk of the closet, and dean of the chapel royal. About the latter end of the year 1692, the bishop and several other persons of distinction were charged with treason, by three men, who had forged an association under their hands, and then one of these villains contrived to drop it in one of the bishop's parlours at Bromley, that it might be found there by the king's messengers. He then laid an information against him, and the paper being discovered, he was put under confinement; but the forgery appeared so gross, that the bishop was immediately discharged. He died of an apoplexy, at his palace of Bromley, in 1713, aged seventy-seven, and was interred in Westminster abbey, where there is a monument, with an elegant inscrip tion by bishop Smalridge, erected to his memory. He was a person of great sharpness of wit, and bad that elegance of stile, both in his writings and discourse, that he was inferior to none in either. At first he cultivated the muses, but left them to study and improve the beauties of the English language in prose; by which means he became one of the greatest masters of it, of which his writings are sufficient proof.
Lewis Atterbury, S. T. P. was his successor in this see, being elected in 1713, and consecrated soon afterwards. He was a younger son of Dr. Lewis Atterbury, prebendary of Lincoln and rector of Milton Keynes, in Buckinghamshire, in which parish he was born. He was elected from Westminster school to Christ church, where he distinguished himself as an able and strenuous advocate for the present church establishment. His fine genius, improved by study, with a noble spirit to exert his talents, could not remain long unnoticed; and he was, soon after his leaving the university, appointed chaplain to king William and queen Mary. He was afterwards appointed preacher at Bridewell and lecturer of St. Bride's. In 1700 he was presented to the archdeaconry of Totness, and then made a canon residentiary of the church of Exeter; which preferments seem to have been in reward for his endeavours to retrieve the synodical rights of the clergy; and it was for his happily asserting the rights and privileges of the English convocation, as the vote of the university expresses it, that he had the degree of doctor of divinity conferred on him by diploma, without doing exercise or paying fees. Upon the accession of queen Anne, he was appointed one of her chaplains, then installed dean of Carlisle, and presented to the rectory of Shepperton; he was afterwards made preacher of the Rolls, and the next year chosen speaker of the Lower House of Convocation; in 1711 he was promoted to the deanry of Christ church, and two years afterwards was ad vanced to this see, as has been before-mentioned, and had licence to hold the deanry of Westminster in commendam with it, as his predecessor had done before; and had a vacancy happened during the queen's life, it is generally imagined, he would have been translated to the see of Canterbury.
From the personal marks of disrespect which were shewn to the bishop by king George I. immediately on his accession, his resentment was stimulated to oppose the measures of the court constantly in the house of lords. His uncommon abilities, joined to an unceasing assiduity, had rendered him a troublesome antagonist to the ministry, at the time when he was accused of holding a treasonable correspondence, and as no punishment could be inflicted on him by the laws then in being, it was resolved to make a special law to deprive him of his preferments, and to sentence him to perpetual banishment. The bill to inflict these pains and punishments on the bishop of Rochester, received the royal assent in 1723, and within a month afterwards he embarked and landed at Calais. While in exile the bishop resided principally at Paris, and died there in 1732. His body was brought over to England, and privately interred in a vault, which he had prepared before his banishment, in Westminster-abbey. On the urn which contained his bowels was inscribed, In hac urna depositi sunt cineres Francisci Atterbury, Episcopi Roffensis; but there is no memorial over his grave. (fn. 30)
Samuel Bradford, S. T. P. was on the above deprivation translated from the see of Carlisle hither, being elected in 1723, and as his predecessor had done, held the deanry of Westminster in commendam with it. He was a native of London, and was of Benet college, but quitted the university without taking a degree, intending to follow the profession of physic; the design of which he soon relinquished, and afterwards procured, by means of archbishop Sancroft, a royal mandate for the degree of master of arts. After the revolution he took orders, and in the beginning of the year 1691, was appointed minister of the church belonging to St. Thomas's hospital, Southwark, and was collated by the archbishop to the rectory of St. Mary le Bow. He was nominated preacher of Boyle's lecture, and on queen Anne's visiting the university of Cambridge, in 1705, he was, with several others, created doctor of divinity; he was made a prebendary of Westminster, and in 1710 nominated to the bishopric of St. David's, and he was given to understand that he should keep his prebend in commendam with that see; but by a change of times, which soon after followed, this favor was not only refused, but he was not even to be permitted to keep his rectory of Bow, and this, from the circumstances of his family, obliged him to decline the bishopric; after which he was elected master of Benet college, advanced to the see of Carlisle, and in 1723 to this of Rochester, as has been before-mentioned. He died at the deanry of Westminster in 1731, in his 79th year, and his remains were deposited in Westminster abbey. On the west wall of the north cross of that church, not far from the place of his interment, there is a monument erected to his memory. (fn. 31)
Joseph Wilcocks, S. T. P. succeeded to this see, being translated from the bishopric of Gloucester in 1731, and at the same time appointed dean of Westminster, and allowed to hold it in commendam. He was of Magdalen college, Oxford, after which he became chaplain to the factory at Lisbon, and on his return from thence was appointed chaplain to king George I. and preceptor to the Prince of Wales's daughters, and in 1721 was made a prebendary of Westminster, and advanced to the bishopric of Gloucester, where he repaired the episcopal palace, which had been uninhabited for a consi derable time before. The magnificent western front of Westminster abbey, which was finished chiefly under his care, may be considered as a splendid monument of his zeal in promoting the welfare of that church. Though the revenues of this bishopric were so small, yet he declined any higher promotion, though he was offered the archbishopric of York, frequently using the expression of his predecessor, bishop Fisher: This church is my wife, and I will not part with her because she is poor.
He was a person endowed with many virtues, both public and private, of great innocence and cheerfulness of manners, and of a disposition ever desirous of doing good to all. He was a continual patron to Bromley college, whilst he lived, and constantly resided at Bromley palace, where he laid out much money in the repair and improvement of it. The fatigue of his last visitation of his diocese probably shortened his days, for he died quickly afterwards, in 1756, being then about eighty-two years of age, (fn. 32) and was buried at Westminster abbey, where an elegant monument is erected to his memory.
Zachary Pearce, S. T. P. was his successor, as well in his bishopric as his deanry. He was fellow of Trinity college, Cambridge, and was presented to the rectory of Stapleford Abbats, in Essex, and next year to that of St. Bartholomew, behind the Exchange, which he resigned in 1723, for the vicarage of St. Martin in the Fields. He was afterwards made dean of Winchester, and was elected prolocutor of the lower house of convocation; in 1747 he was advanced to the see of Bangor, and held the vicarage of St. Martin's in commendam with it, till his translation to this bishopric.
In 1768, bishop Pearce, having obtained the king's leave, resigned his deanry of Westminster; he had before that warmly solicited leave to resign his bishopric; but his request was not thought proper to be complied with. Neither the request, nor the refusal can be well accounted for. The bishop died, advanced in years, at his house at Faling, in Middlesex, where he chiefly resided in winter, in 1774, and was buried at Bromley, having been in his life-time a good benefactor to the college there. He was a person of much learning, and of distinguished taste and judgment, and his numerous publications, both as a divine and a critic, have sufficiently proved the truth of this assertion.
John Thomas, LL. D. rector of Blechingley, in Surry, who had succeeded bishop Pearce, in his deanry of Westminster, in 1768, likewise succeeded him in this bishopric in 1774. He died at Bromley palace, on August 22, 1793, having bequeathed by his will, among other benefactions, one thousand pounds to Christ church, and the like sum to Queen's college, in Oxford. He was buried in a vault at Blechingley, in Surry.
Samuel Horsley, S. T. P. succeeded him in this bishopric, as well as in the deanry of Westminster, in the October following, being at that time bishop of St. David's, and vicar of South Weald, in Essex, which he held in commendam with it, but then resigned. He is the present bishop of this see, and the 91st in succession from the first erection of it by St. Augustine, in the year 604.
THE DIOCESE of Rochester has in it one archdeaconry, stiled, the Archdeaconry of Rochester, which is valued in the king's books at 34l. 14s. 9½d. and the yearly tenths at 3l. 9s. 5¾d. (fn. 33)
A list of the Archdeacons of Rochester
Paris was archdeacon in 1176, (fn. 34) on the resignation of the former.
Roger de Weseham, about 1238; he was also dean of Lincoln, and resigned this archdeaconry in 1245, on being made bishop of Litchfield and Coventry. (fn. 35)
Henry Edyall was archdeacon in 1495. He had been collated to the prebend of Gala Minor, in the church of Litchfield, in 1480. (fn. 36)
John Bridgewater succeeded in 1560, being then rector of Wotton Courtney; he was afterwards rector of Lincoln college, rector of Luccomb, canon residentiary of Wells, and rector of Porlock; all which he resigned in 1574, being a Roman Catholic, and retired to Rheims, where it is said he became a jesuit.
Ralph Pickover, S. T. P. of Christ-church, Oxford, was installed in 1576. He was sub almoner to the queen, and in 1580 was preferred to a canonry of Christ-church, Oxford, and afterwards to the archdeaconry of Salisbury, on which he resigned this dignity, and was succeeded by
Elizeus Burgess, S. T. P. was installed in 1621, during whose time king Charles I. by his letters patent in 1636, annexed the sixth stall, or prebend of the church of Rochester, to this archdeaconry; of which, as well as his other preferments, he was deprived in the time of the troubles by the fanatics. He was also prebendary of Ely, vicar of Canewdon, in Essex, and rector of Southfleet. He died in 1652, and was probably buried at Southfleet. (fn. 37)
John Lee, S. T. P. had this dignity conferred on him in 1660. He was the son of Thomas Lee, of London, by Anne, sister of John Warner, bishop of Rochester, and wrote himself afterwards Lee, alias Warner. He died in 1679.
Thomas Plume, S. T. P. was installed in 1679. He was likewise vicar of East Greenwich. He died in 1704, æt. 74, and lies buried in Longfield church-yard, having bequeathed the greatest part of his considerable property to charitable uses. (fn. 38)
Thomas Spratt, A. M. succeeded in 1704. He was son of the bishop of this see of the same name. He was likewise prebendary of the churches of Winchester and Westminster, rector of Stone, and vicar of Boxley. He died in 1720, and was buried near his father in Westminster abbey.
John Denne, S. T. P. was appointed his successor. He was rector of St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, and afterwards of Lambeth; both which he held at his decease. He died in 1767, æt. 74, and lies buried in this cathedral.
John Law, S. T. P. was his successor, and is the present archdeacon of this diocese. He was vicar of Shorne, in this county, which he resigned in 1776, and now holds the rectory of Westmill, with that of Much Easton, and the perpetual curacy of Chatham, in this diocese.