1286-1296 (John Romanus) York (Province). Archbishop.

The register of John Le Romeyn, lord archbishop of York, 1286-1296 (Volume 2) online

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the archbishop praying that he might submit himself to t\ie
king's will. He was told not to go from parliament until he
had heard the king's will, under pain of grievous forfeiture.

The end of the matter was that the archbishop made fine
of 4,000 marks with the king by deed obligatory, charging
the payment on himself and his goods, with the power of
distraint to the king. His sureties were the bishop of
Carlisle (John of Halloughton), the dean of York (Henry of
Newark), the archdeacon of York (William of Hambleton),
the archdeacon of the East Riding (John of Crowcumbe),
and the archdeacon of Nottingham (William of Pickering).
The fine bore date, Westminster, Wednesday before
Whitsuntide (May 13), 1293.1

It was never the king's intention to exact this enormous
fine. No part of it was ever levied. Immediately after
Romeyn's death the king forgave it to his executors. ^ The
object of the fine was to keep the archbishop in dependence
on the king's wishes. It is true he continued to be summoned

^The following is the account despectu sibi facto et de perturba-

given of this event by the Dunstable cione regi Angliae pro eo quod

Chionicler (Armale's Monastici, iii, subditum suum Dunelmensem

376), " Eisdem anno (1293) et episcopum excommunicavit rage

tempore post Pascha dominns rex non premunito ; sed archiepis-

tenuit parliamentum suum Lon- cojius fecit pacem cum rege."

doniae et ibi aconpiavit (corripuit ) 'K. C. ff., 1288-1296. p. 477.
Eboracensem archiepiscopum de


to Parliament! like other peers of the realm, but he did not
dare to oppose the royal wishes. The next year (1294) the
king appealed to the clergy for assistance in his war with
France. The bishops wished to consult before deciding,
but Romeyn, the only archbishop present, as the see of
Canterbury was vacant by the death of John Peckham,
terrified by the huge sum in which he was bound to the king,
ran away secretly^.

These troubles in no wise hindered Rome5m in the discharge
of his pastoral duties. Up to within a week of his death
he was still working. He died at Bishop Burton, near
Beverley, on Passion Sunday (March 10), 1295-6, having
held office as archbishop ten years, one month, and nearly a
day.3 " It is not known where he was first laid ; but when
archbishop Thoresby began the rebuilding of the choir, he
removed the bones of Romanus, and deposited them in the
presbytery, placing over them a marble stone which was
decorated with brass."*

Stubbs,^ the official chronicler of the church of York, says
Romeyn was honourably buried, but Knyghton^ tells a
very different story. He reports that the archbishop died
suddenly and in consequence derived little benefit from
the dispositions he had made by his will, and that the
expenses of his funeral were borne by strangers. His
executors' refused to act, and his exequies were celebrated
with but little pomp, no bread or money being distributed
for the benefit of his soul.

The archbishop's besetting sin was avarice, a failing

^He was summoned on June 24, proprio sed potius alieno fiebant

1295 (ibid., p. 445). expensae funerum, et in ecclesia sua

^Chronicon Henrici de Knyghton. cum honore simplici repositus est,

i, 347-349. " Eboracensis vero non enim panis vol obolus pro

(archiepiscopus) Johannes Romanus anima ipsius dabatur."

regis timore perterritus eo quod regi ''His executors were John del Lee

in magna summa pecuniae tenebatur, and Mr. Bartholomew le Florentyn

quasi dissimulando destituit." (Memoranda Roll, L. T. R., 25 Edw.

^Hist. of the church of York, li, i, m. 114). Little is known of the

410, and Cott. MS. Vitellius A., ii, contents of his will. On June 3,

fo. Hid. 1298, licence was granted to the

*Fasti Ebor., i, 349. vicars of the church of St. Peter's,

^Hist. of the church of York, ii, York, to retain in mortmain the

410. houses near the street (vicum) of

^Chronicon Henrici Knyghton, i, Giitherumgate, and a mill and 15

359. "Subita quasi morte praeventus acres of land in the suburb, be-

nullum vel modicum ex testamento queathed to them by the will of

proprio consecutus est emolumen- archbishop John le Romayn (C. P.

tum. Executores enim sui so intro- /?., 1292-1301, p. 352).
mittere noluernnt, ita quod non


he is said to have inherited from his Itahan father. Knyghtoni
accuses him of appropriating intestates' estates and says he
became, as it were, mad with the desire of gain. Canon
Raine^ tells a story showing into what dishonourable and
unseemly actions the archbishop's avarice led him. " Some
time before this (the infliction of the 4,000 marks fine) the
king had expelled the Jews from England,^ and appropriated
their possessions. Among the sufferers was a person of the
name of Bonamy, who had lived at York. When Romanus
was on his way home from the papal court he halted at
Paris,* where he met Bonamy. The Jew told him he had
lent the prior and convent of Bridlington the sum of 300//,
which was still owing to him, and begged him to recover it
for him. It was afterwards insinuated that the archbishop
bought the debt ; but this he denied, and it is only fair to
believe him. When Romanus came back to England he
made an official visitation of the priory of Bridlington,^ and
the existence of the debt being proved, the archbishop
compelled the prior to pay the ^ooli to one of his officers.
It was an obligation, he told him, which the convent could not
conscientiously disown. Quite true, my lord archbishop,
but the money ought to have gone, not to yourself, but to the
Jew or the king. Romanus, by receiving it, put himself at
the mercy of the prior, who lost no time in complaining of
his diocesan for concealing money which belonged to the
crown. The case was of course decided against the
archbishop, but we are not told to what penalty he was
subjected. His conduct, to say the least, was suspicious in
the extreme ; and most persons will be inclined to think it
was highly reprehensible." It must not be forgotten that
the archbishop was always pressed for money, and died
heavily in debt, leaving a deficiency of 1,000//.®

His quarrels with Bek and vScarborough and Corbridge,
all of whom he excommunicated, the two latter amongst the
most important ecclesiastics in his diocese, betray great
infirmity of temper. In his behaviour to Scarborough he
exhibited a vindictive spirit quite out of keeping with his
position, but even in this quarrel he managed to enlist the

^Chronicon Henrici Knyghton, i, ^Some time in October, 1292.

359. ^ There was notice of a visitation

^ Fasti Ebor., i, 348, quoting of Bridlington priory on March 2,

Prvnne's Records, iii, 565-6 and 1292-3 (no. 646).

Rot. Pari., i, 99, 100, 120. 6No. 1416 and Re^. Newark, no.

3The Jews were expelled in 1289. 302.


sympathies of the citizens of York, who were wilhng to
brave in his support the danger of excommunication by the
chapter, which the archbishop deemed unreasonable and
null.i Some of his quarrels may indeed be placed to his
credit : as with Bogo de Clare and Boniface of Saluzzo, on the
subject of pluralities. 2

The archbishop, notwithstanding these grave defects, was
not without qualifications suitable to his high office. His
attainments in theology were very considerable. For
several years he taught theology at Paris, ^ then the foremost
university in Europe, and Knyghton, who had much to say
against him, admits he was a great theologian and very well
read.* He is stated to have excelled his predecessors in
bounty and munificence. He had many knights in his
train, and did all in his power to advance and maintain the
honour and glory of his church.^ He was specially mindful
of the poor and oppressed. He endeavoured to protect
the Jews from harm when they w^ere expelled from England f
and when he learnt that in the East Riding the rector of
Skeme was exacting tithe from the very poor, he sternly
forbade this impost being taken from any whose wages did
not exceed 5s a year.'^ He relieved the tenants of some of
his manors from the irksome duty of attending the courts
every three weeks. ^ Another trait in his character, which
entitles him to our respect, was his admiration for bishop
Grosseteste. Romeyn may very possibly have known him
personally (the bishop died in 1254), his father certainly
must; but when he was precentor at Lincoln he would be sure
to hear of his great merits and the many miracles wrought at
his grave. He entertained such a profound veneration for
the bishop's memory that very shortly after he got to York,
more than thirty years after Grosseteste's death, he requested
the pope to take the necessary steps for his canonization. ^

In the discharge of his duties he set an example to other
prelates. He was most assiduous in visiting his diocese,

1X0. 1046. ^Dapsilis, munificus et in retinen-

2Nos. 950, 962, 1118. dis militibus honorabilis incom-

3C. P. L., i, 484. parabiliter existens, honorem

*Chronicon Henrici Knyghton, i, ecclesiae cui prasfuit, et gloriam in

359. In the Annals of Dunstable omnibus quserebat, et laudabiliter

(Annates Monastici, iii, 323) he is in manu tenebat (//zs/. o/ZAe church

called a master in theology. The of York, ii, 409).

Lanercost Chronicler (Chronicon de ^No. 290.

Lanercost, 1, 126) says, " sciencia 'No. 539.

satis clarus, quippe qui rexit ^No. 1286.

egregie in dialectica et theologia." ®No. 1473.


even the most remote parts. He was most vigilant in
looking after his clergy. The elder ones he encouraged to
attend the theological lectures of Master Thomas of
Wakefield, the chancellor of the diocese. i He endeavoured
to mitigate the evils caused by the appropriation of churches
by causing vicarages to be instituted with competent
endowments provided. 2 The scandal arising from clergy
receiving the revenues of churches to which they had not
been instituted was vigorously attacked.^

His chief claim, however, on our gratitude and admiration,
is the noble work he did in the minsters of York and
Southwell. In 1289 he persuaded the pope to let him
receive for three years the first year's proceeds of dignities,
prebends, and churches in his diocese not otherwise exempt,
which were to be applied to the repair of the fabric of the
cathedral, then in danger of ruin from excessive old age.*
Within a couple of years, thanks no doubt to the generosity
of the nobility and gentry of Yorkshire, many of whose arms
are recorded in the spandrils of the nave arches, he was in a
position to make a start. On Friday after the Sunday on
which " Laetare Jerusalem "^ was sung, that is, on April 8,
1291, the archbishop, standing at the south-east corner of
the nave, where he could look on his father's work in the
tower and north transept, laid the foundation stone of the
present magnificent nave in the presence of the dean, the
precentor, and the canons in residence. He did not live to
see the completion of the work, for it was not finished till
about the middle of the following century, but no name
should be more affectionately regarded by the lovers of York
Minster than that of him who so courageously began the
magnificent undertaking.

Other important edifices were erected about the same
time. Two years later the archbishop had the pleasure of
dating a deed in the new chapter house at York,^ and for the
chapter house at Southwell, one of the finest examples of
late thirteenth century architecture in the country, he made
special appeals to the canons of that minster to pay up the
arrears of their promised contributions.'^

iNo. 90. in Lent. Hist, of the church of

2No. 89. York, ii, 409.

8N0S. 417, 525, 687. 6^0. 1166.

*C. P. L., i, 496. 7Nos. 1058, 1110.

'The introit of the Fourth Sunday


i"It might also be noted that the lengthening eastward
of archbishop Roger's quire at Ripon, including the two
eastern bays and the magnificent east window, is usually
attributed to Romeyn's time, and the architectural charac-
teristics certainly point to a date c. 1290. There seems to
be no definite documentary evidence ; but this approximate
date seems clear, and the design of the east window, allowing
for variations in the tracery which naturally follow from its
later date, was clearly founded, I think, on the design of the
east window at Lincoln, the completion of which (1280)
Romeyn probably witnessesd while holding a dignity there.
Precentor Venables pointed out a curious piece of evidence
for the connexion between Romeyn's architectural work at
York and some work at Lincoln. The arcaded stone walls
at the back of the quire-stalls at Lincoln belong for the most
part to Grosseteste's day, when they were built in between
the piers on each side of St. Hugh's quire. But one of these
walls on the south side is much later than the rest, and was
built in connection with the shrine of Little St. Hugh, the boy
fabled to have been murdered by Jews, which projected into
the south aisle of the quire. The arcading on this wall is
approximately identical in design and measurement with the
arcading on the inner side, beneath the windows, of the aisle-
walls of the nave at York : the only difference being that there
is a row of ball-flower ornament in each case at Lincoln, filling
a hollow moulding which at York is left plain. This indicates
that the Lincoln work is rather later, and possibly was not
executed till 1300 or after ; but it was evidently executed
by a mason who had worked at York, and may have been
employed at Lincoln upon Romeyn's recommendation before
1295-6, There was, it is true, a certain amount of mutual
action and re-action between Lincoln and the great churches
of York diocese in the 13th century — e.g., the obvious
influence of the wall-arcades of St. Hugh's quire at Lincoln
upon the design of the triforium at Beverley — but this
particular coincidence is very striking ; and, if the authorities
at Lincoln were in want of masons, there was no one to
whom they would be so likely to apply as a prelate with
architectural interests who had been one of themselves. At
the same time, the chapters of York and Lincoln had several
common members, and one of these may be the really
responsible person."

^I am indebted to Mr. A. Hamilton Thompson for these remarks

about Ripon Minster.


Romeyn, besides providing for the fabrics of his minster
churches, took care that divine service should be celebrated
in tliem in a manner not unsuited to their noble surroundings.
With this object he instituted the prebend of Bilton at
Yorki and Eaton and North Leverton at Southwell,^ as well
as dividing into three portions the prebend of Masham in the
former church, ^ though this division seems to have been a
mistake and did not last long.

Archbishop Romeyn's register is now all printed except
Torre's index and the constitutions of Pope Boniface viii.
The latter of which have no local interest. In the portion
of the register now printed attention may be called to the list
of precedents (pp. 179-190) and the various Scotch documents
recorded amongst the letters to suffragan bishops (pp. 82-133).
The list of "forme" or precedents, numbering 172, affords
examples of nearly every kind of document likely to be
required in the archbishop's chancery. It is written in a
contemporary hand and would be used for reference at
once. The Scotch documents throw a good deal of light on
the history of the diocese of Whithorn at the end of the
thirteenth century. The records relating to the election of
a bishop of that see in 1293-4 (pp. 115, 126-130) should be
compared with those of an earlier bishop, in 1236, given in
Gray's Register (pp. 170-173). To the kindness of Mr. C.
Hunter Blair, who is compiling an illustrated catalogue
of the seals in the Treasury at Durham for the Newcastle
Society of Antiquaries, the Society is indebted for the
negative of archbishop Romeyn's seal, from which the
frontispiece has been made. He gives the following
description : —

Oval, 3|-" X 2". The archbishop, standing on a carved
corbel beneath a church-like canopy, vested in amice, alb,
dalmatic with orphreys, pall, sandals, and mitre, his right
hand is blessing, his left holds his cross. In the field, on
each side, in a raised quatre-foiled panel, is the head of a

man (SS. Peter and Paul ?). .S: lOHIS A: EBORA-

Catalogue, no. 3227).*

iNo. 1160. 1-2 Archiep. Ebor. no. 9, in the

2Nos. 1088, 1135. Treasury at Durham. Two other

3No. 1172. examples will be found under 2-3

*From an example attached to ibid., no. 4 ; and 4-2 ibid., no. 3



Henry of Newark, who succeeded Romeyn as thirty-ninth
archbishop of York, is a much less interesting person than
his predecessor. His episcopate was very brief and
comparatively httle is recorded about him. From his name
we may infer he came from Newark, but of his parentage
nothing is known. Two of his name are mentioned in the
York Registers. Wilham of Newark, possibly a brother,
archdeacon of Huntingdon, and prebendary of Farndon in
Lincoln cathedral, died heavily in debt in 1286.1 In the
York diocese he had held the rectory of Mexborough and a
portion in Kirkburton church.2 Another Wilham of
Newark, belonging to a later generation, was collated by
archbishop Newark to the prebend of North Muskham in the
church of Southwell on June 18, 1298. ^

In early life Newark was closely connected with the order
of Sempringham, often termed Gilbertines, so much so that he
calls himself a pupil of that order.* The association arose
from the priory of St. Katherine's, Lincoln, a Gilbertine
house, being the appropriators of the parish church at

He must have been at an university, as he was a Master
of Arts, but which one is unknown.^

^Reg. Romeyn, nos. 186, 763. soul and those of hisl ancestors.

^Ibid.. nos. 138, 763w. He was On 6 kal. Marcii (Feb. 24), 1312-3,

presented to Mexborough by R. archbishop Greenfield gave leave for

prior and the convent of Monk the removal of this chapel as it was

Bretton, on May 16, 1267 {Reg. without endowment and had be-

Giffard, p. 155). come derelict, so as to give more

^ Reg. Newark, no. 26. On May 31, space for burials, which was much

1300, archbishop Corbridge gave an needed. The materials were to be

undertaking to Sir William de used "in ejusdem (ecclesie) utiiita-

Neuwerk, canon of Southwell, to tem et fabricam quandam in qua-

restore a missal of the York use he dam ala ipsius noviter construenda

had lent him (Reg. Corbridge, fo. (Reg. Greenfield, ii, 186d)."

189). ^The Gilbertine connexion would

*Reg. Newark, no. 294. When indicate Cambridge rather than

Newark was dean of York (the Oxford. There was a Gilbertine

licence in mortmain is dated Nov. priory at Cambridge, where students

12, 1293 (C. P. i?., 1292-1301, p. 43) ; were received; and this may be

see also Cal. Genealogtcum, p. 468), what he means when he calls himself

he granted 2 acres of land in Nor- a pupil of the order. It is very

thorpe, CO. Lincoln, with the advow- likely that the Gilbertines would

son of the church, to the prior and have taken up a promising boy from

convent of St. Katherine's, Lincoln, Newark : he may have been one of

a Gilbertine house, to find two the ' children of the almery ' at St.

chaplains to celebrate divine service Katherine's priory, and have been

in the chapel of St. Katherine and sent on to Cambridge from there.

St. Martha, recently built by him in There was no Gilbertine house at

the churchyard of the church of St. Oxford. — A. H. T.
Mary Magdalen, Newark, for his


Newark rose to eminence through his state services and
his connection with the court. Canon Rainei gives a hst of
the commissions on which he sat, commencing with his
appointment, on Dec. 12, 1276, in which he is termed one of
the king's household, to bind the king or his brother, Edmund
earl of Lancaster, to go on the next passage to the Holy
Land. 2 His earliest ecclesiastical preferment seems to have
been the stall of Browneswood in St. Paul's Cathedral,
which he held between 1271 and 1275. ^ He was prebendary
of Colwall in Hereford by 1278.* As such, on Feb. 5, 1278-9,
he had a grant of freewarren in the demesne lands of his
prebend of La Berton in Colewell and Hope, co. Hereford. ^
In January, 1293, he occurs as a canon of the church of Wells.^
He held two churches in the diocese of Lincoln, Bassingham
and Pytchley, both of which he voided when he became
archbishop ; Bassingham was in dispute by Sir Thomas of
Moulton and others, who presented Hugh de Menithorp, and
William of Middleton, who presented John of Husthwaite.
Hugh was instituted, Oct. i, 1298.^ Both Hugh and John
appear among the canons of York of the late years of Edward
i. In his other living, Pytchley (Pictesle), Northants, he
was succeeded by Master Henry of Nassington, instituted,
Feb. 27, 1296-7.® Most of his preferment, however, was in
the diocese of York. He seems to have held no parish, as
he never obtained possession of Bamby-le-Willows, to which
he was presented in 1270. ^ The following is a list of the
preferments he held in this diocese. The archdeaconry of
Richmond by royal grant, April 28, 1279 5^^ ^he prebends of
Holme and Strensall in York, of which he successively
received collation on Dec. 20, 1281, and Nov. 9, 1283,11 and
that of Weighton, by grant from the crown, Feb. 28, 1285-6.12
In Southwell Minster he received collation of the prebend of
North Muskham, on June 2, 1287.12 He had commendation
of the deanery of York on Feb. 27, 1289-90.1* At the time
of his election as archbishop, besides the deanery of York and
the two churches of Bassingham and of Pytchley, he held the

^ Fasti Ebor., 1, 350. 7Reg. Sutton. Inst, fo 29d, 30.

2C. P. R.. 1272-1281, p. 186. ^Sutton, Northants Roll, a" vii.

SHennessy's Novum Repertorium, ^Reg. Giffard, nos. 220, 234.

P- 15. IOC. P. R., 1272-1281, p. 312.

*Le Neve's Fasti, 1, 498. ^'^Reg. Wickwane, nos. 31, 905.

6C. P. R., 1272-1281, pp. 302, 303. 12^. p. /?., 1281-1292, p. 225.

'^ Fasti Ebor. (i, 351), quoting ^^Reg Romeyn, no. 1042.

Prynne's Records, iii, 577. ^*Ibid., no. 1089.


prebends of Weighton and North Muskham. He had
resigned the archdeaconry when he became dean of York.

Before he was archbishop he was much concerned with the
temporal affairs of the diocese. On the death of archbishop
Giffard he was appointed one of the guardians of the
temporahties of the see.i His advice was much sought by
his two immediate predecessors. Archbishop Wickwane
availed himself of his counsel in the quarrel with Durham, 2
and found him useful as an intermediary with the king in
expediting the levy of a subsidy. ^ The archbishop had so
much confidence in Newark's discretion that he entrusted
him with the large sum of 300 marks to be expended at the
Curia,* where most things could be bought. Archbishop
Romeyn had equal reliance on his abilities and discretion.
When he was abroad in 1288, he appointed Newark his vicar
general.^ In the quarrels with Durham and Canterbury,
Newark exerted a powerful influence over the archbishop^
and it was under his advice that Rome3m appointed John de
Lythegreynes his seneschal.'^ His opinion was no doubt
the more followed as he had lent money both to Wickwane
and his successor.^ When in Italy he even pledged his own
credit for one hundred marks on the archbishop's behalf, but
took care to get security when the archbishop was pa5ang
him a visit at Bassingham, his Lincolnshire living.^

The news of archbishop Romeyn's death on March 17,
1295-6, was at once carried by Master John de Craucumbe,
archdeacon of the East Riding, and Robert of Pickering,
canon of York, to the king, then at Wark-on-Tyne, in
Northumberland, who on March 26 granted licence to the
dean and chapter to elect a new archbishop. 10 His election
took place on May 7,11 and on June 5 the king signified his
assent to the election to the pope. 12 In the ordinary course
of events Newark should have proceeded to Rome for
consecration immediately after his election, but the wars in
France as well as Wales and Scotland, and his attendance on

iC. P. R., 1272-1281, p. 310. "Hz5<. of the church of Ynrk.ii, 410.

^Reg. Wickwane, no. 477. ^^C. P. R.. 1292-1301, p. 190. On

^Ibid., no. 616. June 24, 1297, the king ordered the

*Ibid., no. 840. archbishop elect to grant a suitable

'^Reg. Romeyn, no. 970. pension to his clerk, William de

^Ibid., ii, 94n, 146. Melton, the future archbishop,

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