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This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Handbook to the Cathedrals of England

by Richard John King

published by John Murray, Albemarle Street,
Oxford, 1862

Text and engravings are in the public domain.

This text has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
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 p228  Ely Cathedral

Part II. History of the See,
with Short Notices of the principal Bishops.

A monastery for both men and women was founded at Ely by St. Etheldreda, in the year 673. It was destroyed during the great Danish invasion in 870; and in 970 was refounded by Ethelwold, Bishop of Winchester, for Benedictine monks. In 1109 this monastery was made the seat of a new bishopric, taken out of the great diocese of Lincoln, and embra­cing the whole of Cambridgeshire.

St. Etheldreda,​1 the foundress of the original monastery, and one of the most celebrated of English saints, was the daughter of Anna, King of the East Anglians, who fell in battle with Penda of Mercia in the year 654. After his death his wife Hereswytha took refuge in the convent of Chelle, near Paris: and his four daughters, Sexburga, Ethelburga, Etheldreda, and Withburga, all, at different periods, retired from the world, and became distinguished patronesses of the monastic life. Two years before her father's death Etheldreda had become the wife of Tondberct, "King" of the South Gyrvians, or "fenmen," (gyr, A.-S., 'a fen'), whose district lay in the border-land between Mercia and East Anglia. Etheldreda received from Tondberct  p229 the Isle of Ely as her dower; and on her husband's death, three years after her marriage, she retired there, induced as much by the solitude as by the protection afforded by the surrounding marshes. Her widowhood continued for five years, when she was again sought in marriage by Egfrid in Northumbria. Etheldreda is said to have made a vow of perpetual virginity, which was respected by both her husbands, and in the twelfth year of her marriage with Egfrid she obtained his leave to put into execution a long-formed project, and received the veil from the hands of Bishop Wilfrid, at Coldingham in Berwickshire, where St. Ebba, aunt of King Egfrid, had founded a monastery.​2 Egfrid, however, soon repented of his permission, and set out for Coldingham with a band of followers, intending to take his Queen from the monastery by violence. By the advice of the Abbess, Etheldreda fled, to take refuge in her old home at Ely; and immediately on leaving the monastery, with her two attendant nuns, Sevenna and Severa, she climbed a hill named Colbert's Head, on which she was seen by Egfrid and his followers. A miracle, however, was, according to the legend, wrought in her favour. The sea swept inland, and surrounded the hill, on which the three consecrated virgins remained in prayer for seven days, until Egfrid, who had tried in vain to approach them, retired in despair. A spring of fresh water broke forth from the rock at the prayer of Etheldreda; and the ascending  p230 and descending footprints of the three nuns, "impressed on the hill side as on melted wax," were long afterwards appealed to in proof of the miracle. Continuing her flight to Ely, Etheldreda halted for some days at Alfham, near Wintringham, where she founded a church; and near this place occurred the "miracle of her staff." Wearied with her journey, she one day slept by the wayside, having fixed her staff in the ground at her head. On waking she found the dry staff had burst into leaf; it became an ash tree, the "greatest tree in all that country;" and the place of her rest, where a church was afterwards built, became known as 'Etheldredestow.'

On her arrival at Ely, Etheldreda commenced (A.D. 673) the foundation of a monastery for both sexes, as was then not uncommon; the site of which she fixed at Cradendune, about a mile south of the existing cathedral, where, according to a later tradition, a church had been founded by St. Augustine. From this place, however, the building was almost at once removed to the high ground where the cathedral now stands — from which the original church of St. Etheldreda was placed a short distance westward. St. Wilfrid, the famous Bishop of Northumbria, installed Etheldreda as abbess of the new community, which, with the exception of Peterborough, and perhaps of Thorney, was the earliest of the great monasteries of the fens.​3 Etheldreda ruled it until 679, when her deathbed was attended by her "priest," Huna, who buried her in the churchyard of her monastery, and himself spent the rest of his life as a hermit, on one of the islands of the marshes.4  p231 A remarkable miracle is recorded by Bede as having occurred in the year of her death. A youth named Ymma, who had been one of Etheldreda's house-thegns, was desperately wounded in a battle on the Trent, between Egfrid of Northumbria and Ethelred of Mercia. He lay senseless for a day and a night, and then, recovering, managed to drag himself from the battle-field, when he was taken prisoner by the Mercians. But no chains could bind him. They fell off perpetually at the "third hour of the day," when his brother Tunna, the abbot of a monastery, who thought him dead, used to say a mass for his soul. He was at least set free, and the merits of his former mistress, who had married Erconbert of Kent, and on his death had founded a monastery in the Isle of Sheppey, had withdrawn to Ely during Etheldreda's lifetime, and became abbess on her death. Sixteen years later she determined to translate the body of her sister into the church, and for this purpose sent out certain of the brethren to seek a block of stone from which a shrine might be made. They found a coffin of white marble among the ruins of Roman Grantchester (close to Cambridge), and in this the body of the Saint, which was found entire and incorrupt, was duly laid, and removed into the church.​5 Sexburga was afterwards herself interred near it, as was her daughter Ermenilda, the third abbess. The bodies of Sexburg and Ermenilda, both of whom were reverenced as saints, were afterwards enshrined, and were removed, together with that of St. Etheldreda, into the existing cathedral. The three abbesses,  p232 together with St. Withburga, another sister of St. Etheldreda, who founded a monastery at Dereham in Norfolk, but whose relics were afterwards removed to Ely, were regarded as the especial patronesses of the Isle of Ely; and such was the sanctity conferred upon the soil by the holiness of their lives, and by the possession of their relics, that Thomas of Ely, who wrote the history of his monastery in the twelfth century, suggests, as a more fitting etymology than "eel's island," the Hebrew words El, 'God,' and ge, 'earth,' as though the island had been marked out from the beginning for God's especial service.​6 The translation of St. Etheldreda, or St. Awdrey, as she was generally called, was celebrated on the 17th of October, when pilgrims flocked to her shrine from all quarters. A great fair was then held adjoining the monastery, at which silken chains or laces, called 'Etheldred's chains,' were sold, and displayed as 'signs' of pilgrimage. The word 'tawdry' (St. Awdrey) is said to be derived from these chains, and from similar 'flimsy and trivial' objects, sold at this fair.

St. Werburga, the fourth abbess, daughter of St. Ermenilda by King Wulfere of Mercia, was buried at Hanbury in Staffordshire, and was afterwards translated to Chester, of which church and monastery she became the great patroness. (See Chester Cathedral.) She is the last abbess whose name is recorded. The monastery was destroyed during the Danish invasion of the year 870, when Crowland and Peterborough also perished; and although a body of secular clergy was soon afterwards established on its site, Ely had entirely lost its ancient importance, when the monastery was refounded in 970, by Athelwold, Bishop of Winchester, who was also the restorer of Peterborough. Athelwold purchased the whole district of the Isle of Ely from King Eadgar, and settled it on his monastery, which he  p233 filled with Benedictines, over whom he placed Brythnoth, Prior of Winchester, as abbot. Among the king's gifts to the monastery were a golden cross filled with relics, which had been part of the Bishop's "purchase money," and his own royal mantle, of purple embroidered with gold.7

From the year of this second foundation until the Conquest, Ely continued to increase in wealth and importance, and its abbots were among the most power­ful Churchmen of their time. From the reign of Ethelred to the Conquest they were Chancellors of the King's Court alternately with the abbots of Glastonbury, and of St. Augustine's, Canterbury, each holding the office for four months. It was when approaching Ely at the Feast of the Purification, when the abbot entered on his office, that Knut is said to have composed the famous verse — which, however, in its present form is at least two centuries later:—

"Merie sungen the Muneches binnen Ely
Tha Cnut ching rew ther by.
Rowe ye cnites noer the lant,
And here we thes Muneches sæng."

The Atheling Alfred, son of Ethelred, after his seizure at Guildford in the year 1036, was conveyed to Ely, where his eyes were put out, and where he died. Some of the earlier years of the Confessor's life were spent in the Saxon monastery, on the altar of which he had been solemnly presented when an infant.

The history of the monastery, at the time of the Conquest, belongs to that of England. Thurstan, the abbot, was born at Wichford, near Ely, and had been brought up in the monastery from a child. He espoused the cause of Edgar Atheling; and from 1066, the year of the Conquest, to 1071, the island formed a Saxon stronghold, which was only taken at last with considerable difficulty. Hereward, the English champion, escaped at this time; but nearly  p234 all those who had taken refuge in the island fell into the hands of the Norman king. The Abbot had already become weary of the long resistance, and had visited William secretly at Warwick, in the hope of making his peace with him. He was condemned, however, to pay a fine of a thousand marks, and hardly escaped deposition at the council of Winchester. He died in 1072, the last Saxon abbot of Ely. Theodwin, a monk of Jumièges, and Godfrey, who had come to England with Theodwin, ruled the monastery in succession from 1072 to 1081 (the first alone with the title of abbot), but without receiving the benediction and investiture. During Godfrey's government of the monastery, its ancient rights and privileges were judicially examined by a court held at Kentford on the Suffolk border, and all were restored to it entire, as in the year of King Edward's death. In 1081 Godfrey became Abbot of Malmesbury; and

A.D. 1081‑1093. Simeon, brother of Walkelin, Bishop of Winchester, and a relative of the Conqueror, was appointed Abbot of Ely. Abbot Simeon recovered for his monastery the lands which had been allotted to the Normans during the siege of the island, and, like his brother Walkelin at Winchester, he laid the foundations of a new church (Pt. I § I). He died at the age of one hundred. On his death the temporalities of the monastery were seized by Ralph Flambard, the minister of Rufus, and no abbot was appointed until the accession of Henry I in 1100; when

A.D. 1100‑1107. Richard, son of Richard Earl of Clare, succeeded. He completed the eastern portion of the new church (Pt. I § I), and removed into it (Oct. 17, 1106) the bodies of the sainted Abbesses, St. Etheldreda, Sexburga, Ermenilda, and Withburga. According to Thomas of Ely, Abbot Richard's church was one of the noblest in the kingdom. "Ut ad perficiendum idem opus (Ric. Abbas) studiosius insisteret, et huic operi solum vacaret, totum studium specialiter admovit; tamque decenti forma  p235 et quantitate quantum potuit, quoad vixit, ecclesiam a predecessore suo inceptam edificavit; ut si fama non invideat, et merito et veritatis titulo (utpote mendax veritatem non detrahat) in eodem Regno cunctis ecclesiis vel antiquitus constructis, vel nostro tempore renovatis, jure quodam compositionis et subtilis artificii privilegio et gratia ab intuentibus merito videatur preferenda." — (Lib. Eliensis, II cap. 143). The conversion of the abbey into an episcopal see was first suggested by Abbot Richard, and was only prevented by his death. He was, however, the last abbot. Hervéº le Breton, Bishop of Bangor, who had fled from the dangers of Wales to the court of Henry, was appointed "Administrator" of the abbey, until the election of a new abbot. He found the monks not unfavourable to the proposed change, which the King also approved. The consent of the Bishop of Lincoln was procured by the grant to his see of the manor of Spaldwick, belonging to the abbey; and in 1108, the Council of London, presided over by Archbishop Anselm, consented to the creation of the new bishopric. Hervé himself proceeded to Rome for the Papal confirmation of the see, with which he returned in 1109; and on June 27, in that year, he was himself translated from Bangor, as the first Bishop of Ely. Constant disputes with the Bishop of Lincoln, concerning his rights over the monastery, were perhaps the earliest inducements to the creation of the new see; but the great size of the diocese of Lincoln is expressly mentioned in the letters of the King and of Anselm to the Pope, Paschal II; and it is also said that the King (Henry I), aware how strongly the Isle of Ely was fortified by nature, was anxious to divide the great revenues of the abbey, and thereby to render it less power­ful in case of insurrection, by pla­cing a bishop at its head.

The constitution of Ely, after its erection into a bishopric, resembled that of the other conventual cathedrals of England — Canterbury, Winchester, Worcester, Bath,  p236 Rochester, Norwich, and Durham; in all which sees the bishops were also regarded as, in effect, abbots of the conventual establishments attached to them.​8 The immediate government of the monks, however, devolved on the prior, whose place in the choir was the first stall on the left hand. The bishop retained that on the right hand, which he had already occupied as abbot. The full number of monks in the abbey was seventy, but this was rarely complete. The election of the bishop lay, nominally, with the prior and the monks, but was in fact constantly interfered with by king and pope, as elsewhere.9

A.D. 1109‑1131. Herve le Breton, the first Bishop of Ely, was greatly occupied in arranging the government of the see, which he left "possessed of much greater privileges, rights, and immunities than most others in the kingdom."​10 He divided the lands and revenues of the monastery between himself and the monks, — not altogether to the satisfaction of the latter; and "discharged himself and his successors from any obligation to support, build, or repair the fabric of the church, or any part thereof, leaving it entirely to the care of the monks."​11 Succeeding bishops, however, as we have seen (Pt. I), notwithstanding this "discharge," contributed largely toward the repair and rebuilding of their cathedral.

A.D. 1133‑1169. Nigel, Treasurer of Henry I, and nephew of the power­ful Bishop Roger of Salisbury (see that Cathedral,  p237  Pt. II), was consecrated to the see of Ely after it had been vacant for nearly two years. Like Bishop Roger, Nigel was immersed in the troubles and intrigues of the reign of Stephen, whom he at first supported. At the council of Oxford in 1139, however, when Stephen, who seems to have feared their joining the side of Matilda, seized the bishops of Sarum and Lincoln, he would also have seized Bishop Nigel of Ely, had he not managed to escape to the castle of Devizes, then belonging to the Bishop of Sarum. Stephen laid siege to the castle, and threatened Nigel with the deaths of Bishop Roger and his son, if it were not at once surrendered. Nigel consented to the surrender on condition of his own liberty, and he withdrew to Ely, where he was joined by some of Matilda's adherents, and prepared to defend the place. But Stephen followed so rapidly that the Isle was surprised before Nigel could make any resistance. He himself escaped and joined the Empress Matilda at Gloucester. On Stephen's capture at Lincoln, Nigel recovered his see, and contrived to retain it until the King's death, in 1154. Henry II made him one of his Barons of the Exchequer, "as he was judged to have the most exact knowledge and skill in the forms and proceedings of that court," which he restored from the confusion into which it had fallen during the previous reign. At Ely Bishop Nigel built a castle, of which no traces remain; and at Cambridge he founded a hospital in honour of St. John the Evangelist, which continued under the care of his successors until 1510, when the lands and site of it were surrendered to the executors of Margaret, Countess of Richmond, who established on this foundation the present College of St. John.

A.D. 1174‑1189. Geoffry Riddell, Archdeacon of Canterbury, succeeded after a vacancy of four years. His adherence to the King's side during the struggle with Becket, and his excommunication by the Archbishop, who writes of him as "archidiabolus noster, haud archidiaconus,"  p238 rendered it necessary for him, on his election, to take an oath that he had "in no way contributed to the death of the Archbishop." Bishop Geoffry continued in high favour with the King, Henry II, after his elevation to the see of Ely. In 1179 he was made Chief of the King's Itinerant Justices in Cambridgeshire and seven adjoining counties. He was one of the executors of King Henry's will; and died at Winchester, whilst waiting there to receive the new King, Richard Coeur de Lion, on his arrival in England. At Ely, Bishop Geoffry carried on the "new work," and the western tower (Pt. I, § 4).

A.D. 1189‑1197. William Longchamp, the Chancellor and Grand Justiciary of Richard I, who procured from the Pope Bishop William's nomination as Papal Legate, but not before he had paid a thousand marks for the dignity. On Richard's departure for the East, the Bishops of Ely and Durham were entrusted with the government of the kingdom south and north of the Trent. Longchamp, however, soon after the King's departure, arrested his colleague; and "assuming the utmost pomp and state, treated the kingdom as if it were his own, bestowing all places in Church and State on his relations and dependents." After a struggle with Prince John, the Bishop shut himself up in the Tower of London (which he had surrounded with a deep foss, to be flooded from the Thames), but was compelled to fly thence to Dover, where, as he was waiting on the beach, disguised as a woman, for the ship in which he was to cross the channel, he was discovered, and imprisoned in the castle. On the intercession of other English bishops, however, he was released, and passed to Normandy, where he remained until Richard's return. In spite of the character given by most of the chroniclers to William Longchamp, he found able defenders in his own time, amongst whom were Peter of Blois, and Nigel Wireker, the monk of Canterbury, both of whom praise his justice and his gentleness. It is, moreover, not a little in his  p239 favour that Richard at once restored him to his confidence, and re‑appointed him Chancellor, which office he held until his death at Poictiers in 1197, whilst proceeding on an embassy to the Pope. He was buried in a Cistercian abbey named Pinu (?);a but his heart was brought to Ely, and entombed before the altar of St. Martin.

A.D. 1198‑1215. Eustace, Treasurer of York, and Dean of Salisbury, an especial favourite of King Richard, who made him his Chancellor on the death of William Longchamp, was elected Bishop of Ely, at Walderoil, in Normandy, by the Prior and Convent, summoned thither for this purpose by the King. He was one of the three bishops who (March 24, 1208) published the famous Interdict of Pope Innocent III. With the Bishops of London and Worcester, Eustace at once fled the kingdom, but returned with Stephen Langdon in the following year, at John's request, in order to attempt an arrangement, which failed, and the Bishop of Ely again left England. He returned with the other bishops, after John's submission, on St. Margaret's Day (July 20, 1212). Two years afterwards (Feb. 1215) Bishop Eustace died at Reading, and was interred in his own cathedral. The Galilee, or western porch, at Ely, was his work (Pt. I § III).

On the death of Eustace, the monks elected Geoffry de Burgh, Archdeacon of Norwich, but revoked his election before it was published, and chose Robert of York, whom the King (John) refused to confirm. Robert, however, held the see, without consecration, for nearly five years, assuming to himself all the rights which belonged to it. He was a partizan of Lewis of France, and on the death of John crossed the channel, and "published false rumours of the King's death, to raise disturbances in this kingdom, and promote an invasion." A letter was accordingly despatched in the name of the young King, to the Pope, entreating him to annul Robert's election, and to provide a proper person for the see, since the Isle of Ely  p240 was the strongest place in the kingdom, and there was danger that Robert would give it into the hands of Lewis.​12 Accordingly,

A.D. 1223‑1225. John Pherd, (John de Fontibus), Abbot of Fountains, was preferred to the see by Papal authority.

A.D. 1225‑1228. Geoffry de Burgh, who had been elected five years before, succeeded. He was brother of the famous Hubert de Burgh, Earl of Kent, and is said to have been a man of considerable learning.

A.D. 1229‑1254. Hugh Norwold, Abbot of St. Edmundsbury, had been one of the King's Itinerant Justices for Norfolk, in 1227; and in 1235, after he became bishop of Ely, was sent ambassador, with others, to Raymond of Provence, to conclude a were of marriage between his daughter Eleanor, and the young King, Henry III. Matthew Paris, his contemporary, especially praises the piety, hospitality, and liberality to the poor, of Bishop Hugh, who did much for his see, and for the convent. The presbytery or eastern portion of the cathedral was his work (Pt. I § XVI). At the dedication feast (Sept. 1252) he entertained magnificently the King, Prince Edward his son, and a great company of nobles and prelates. The shrines and relics of the sainted abbesses were solemnly translated into Bishop Hugh's new building, and he was himself buried behind the high altar, at the feet of St. Etheldreda. His remarkable monument has been already described (Pt. I § XX).

A.D. 1255‑1256. William de Kilkenny, Archdeacon of Coventry and Chancellor, was consecrated at Belley, in Savoy, by Boniface Archbishop of Canterbury. He resigned the office of Chancellor on becoming Bishop of Ely. Bishop William was highly distinguished as a canonist and  p241 civilian; and in 1256 was sent to negociate a treaty between Henry III and Alfonso of Castile, which he lived just long enough to complete. He died on the 22nd of September in that year, at Segovia, where he was buried. His heart was brought to Ely, and deposited on the north side of the presbytery, where his cenotaph, with effigy, remains (Pt. I § 20).

A.D. 1257‑1286. Hugh de Balsham, sub‑prior of Ely, was chosen by the monks in opposition to the wishes of the King, who had recommended Henry de Wingham, his Chancellor. The King accordingly refused to confirm the election, although the Chancellor consented to withdraw his pretensions. The King than endeavoured to get Adam de Marisco elected, a Franciscan whose learning had brought him into great repute at Oxford. Hugh, however, appealed to Rome, and obtained the confirmation of his election from the Pope, Alexander IV, by whom he was consecrated.

Hugh de Balsham is best remembered for his foundation of the first endowed college in Cambridge; in direct imitation of that which his contemporary, Walter de Merton, Bishop of Rochester, had just founded at Oxford. (See Rochester Cathedral, Pt. II; Walter de Merton.) The statutes of Merton College, Oxford, were ratified by the founder and the King in 1274. In 1280 Bishop Hugh obtained a licence from Edward I, for founding a college of students in Cambridge, "secundum regulam scholarium Oxon. qui de Merton cognominantur." He at first intended to have converted the hospital of St. John, founded by his predecessor, Bishop Nigel, into a college; but changing his plan, he placed his scholars in "hostels," near St. Peter's Church, which he assigned to their use. The college subsequently became known as St. Peter's College, or "Peter House." The University celebrated annually a solemn commemoration of Bishop Hugh's death which occurred in 1286. He was buried in his own cathedral, before the high altar.

 p242  A.D. 1286‑1290. John de Kirkby, Treasurer of Edward I, was only in deacon's orders when elected. He was ordained priest by Archbishop Peckham at Faversham (Sept. 21), and consecrated the day after at Canterbury. As Treasurer, John de Kirkby was arbitrary and exacting, and in 1289, when the Parliament refused to grant an aid in discharge of the King's expenses in France, until Edward himself returned, the Treasurer levied heavy contributions throughout the kingdom, on his own authority. Such exactions were afterward rendered unlawful by the statute 25 Edw. I (1297), which renounced as precedents the "aids, tasks, and prises" before taken, and decreed that they should be no more taken "but by the common consent of the realm."​13 Bishop John died at Ely, and was interred in his own cathedral.

A.D. 1290‑1308. William de Luda (of Louth); although Archdeacon of Durham, was not in deacon's orders when elected. After his ordination as deacon and priest, by Archbishop Peckham, he was consecrated bishop in St. Mary's Church in Ely, where a provincial council was being held, concerning a subsidy to be granted to the King by the clergy. Bishop William was Treasurer of the King's Wardrobe, and is called by T. Wikes, a contemporary historian, "vir magnificus et eminentis scientiae." In 1296 the Bishop of Ely was one of the commissioners appointed to settle the conditions of a truce between France and England; and in 1297, after the King (Edw. I) had ordered the temporalities of the clergy to be seized (see Canterbury Cathedral, Pt. II, Archbishop Winchelsea), Bishop William was one of the chief mediators between the clergy and the King (who was himself at Ely in that year), and is said to have arranged the payment of the fifths by the former. The Bishop died March 27, 1298. His beautiful tomb remains in the cathedral (Pt. I § XIX).

 p243  A.D. 1299‑1302. Ralph Walpole was translated to Ely from Norwich, by the authority of the Pope, after the convent had been unable to agree in their election. As Bishop of Norwich, Bishop Ralph had enjoyed a high reputation for learning and piety, and at Ely he revised the statutes of the convent, making some additions of his own. He was buried in the cathedral.

A.D. 1302‑1310. Robert de Orford, Prior of the Convent, was consecrated at Rome, where he had gone to procure the confirmation of his election from the Pope. He was buried in his cathedral.

A.D. 1310‑1316. John de Ketene (Keeton), had been Almoner of Ely. During his episcopate the Bishop of Glasgow, who had been sent to Rome to answer for his disloyalty to Edward II, was sent back to England by the Pope to be "kept in safe custody" until peace should be restored between England and Scotland. He was retained for some time at Ely. Bishop John was interred in the cathedral.

A.D. 1316‑1337. John Hotham, Chancellor of the Exchequer at the time of his election, and one of the most distinguished benefactors of the church of Ely, had been much employed in public business, and on foreign embassies, before he became Bishop of Ely. In 1317, the year after his consecration, he was made Treasurer of the Exchequer, and in the following year Lord Chancellor. At the fight of Myton-upon‑Swale (Oct. 1319), when the English were routed by the Scots, under Robert Bruce, the Bishop narrowly escaped being taken prisoner. He was afterwards appointed one of the commissioners who arranged a truce with the Scots for two years; and in 1323 received the King's commission for settling the affairs of Gascony, then in great disorder. Bishop Hotham joined Queen Isabella on her landing (Sept. 1326) at Orwell in Suffolk; and in January 1337, after the abdication of Edward II, the Great Seal was again delivered  p244 to the Bishop of Ely, who "caused to be engraven, on the lower part of it, two flowers of the arms of France."14

During his first chancellor­ship, Bishop Hotham obtained from Edward II a confirmation of all the former rights and liberties of the church of Ely; and in 1329 he procured a grant from the Crown to the prior and convent, entitling them to the custody of the see on every vacancy, during which time they were to receive the profits. He bought for the see much land adjoining the manor of Holborn, which had been given to the see by Bishop John de Kirkeby, and which from this time became one of the chief palaces of the bishop of Ely. During his episcopate the beautiful Lady-chapel was begun (1321) at Ely (Pt. I § XXVII); and the lower part of the octagon was completed, together with much of the woodwork of the lantern (Pt. I § XI). The cost of these great works was chiefly defrayed by the convent; but Bishop Hotham, at his death, left money for the rebuilding of the first three bays of the choir, which had been ruined by the fall of the tower (Pt. I, § XV).

Bishop Hotham died at Somersham, January 14, 1337, and was interred in his cathedral, behind the altar of the choir, ("ad partem orientalem altaris in choro, versus magnum altare"). The shrines of St. Etheldreda and the three Abbesses were placed between two altars — the high altar at the extreme east end of the cathedral, and the "altar of the choir," which stood nearly at the junction of Bishop Hugh's work and Bishop Hotham's. It has already (Pt. I § XX) been suggested that the upper part of Bishop Hotham's monument may have served as a watching-chamber for the shrines. It has been stripped of its ornaments and figures, which are thus described: — "Ipse autem sepultus est . . . . sub quadam pulchra structura lapidea, cum imagine Episcopi de alabastro, super tumulum ipsius erecta, cum 7 candelabris ex uno stipide decentissime procedentibus;  p245 et circa siquidem imagines de creatione hominis et ejectione ejusdem de Paradiso; quatuor etiam imagines regum armatorum, et 4 dracones [banners] ad 4 partes ejusdem structurae."15

A.D. 1337‑1345. Simon de Montacute was translated from Worcester. The convent had elected their prior, John de Craudene, a man of great worth, — whose brass has already been noticed (Pt. I § XVII); but their proceedings were set aside by the bull of Pope Benedict XII, which directed the translation to Ely of the bishop of Worcester. Bishop Simon was a younger brother of William Lord Montacute, the first Earl of Salisbury of that creation, who was advanced to his new dignity in the same year (1337) in which his brother was translated to Ely. During this Bishop's episcopate the lantern of the octagon and the new portion of the choir were completed, and the Lady-chapel was in progress. This, however, was not completed until 1349. Toward this work the Bishop gave large sums, and was buried before the altar of the new chapel.

A.D. 1345‑1361. Thomas de Lisle, intruded by the Pope, Clement VI, in place of Alan de Walsingham, Prior of the Convent, and architect of the octagon, whom the monks had elected. He had been Prior of the Dominicans at Winchester, and was at Avignon on a mission to the Pope from Edward III, when the vacancy of the see of Ely was announced. In accordance with the policy of Edward III (see Canterbury, Pt. II, Archbishop Stratford), Bishop de Lisle was compelled, on his return to England, to "make a formal renunciation of all words contained in the Pope's bull of provision that were prejudicial to the King and the rights of his crown, and to declare that the holding the temporalities of the see proceeded of the King's grace and favour, and not by any authority from the Pope."​16 Bishop de Lisle was a haughty and magnificent  p246 prelate, little in favour either with his convent or with the King. He is said, however, to have been an able preacher, and to have been zealous in discharging this duty of his office throughout his diocese:— "Egregius namque praedicator extitit; et per varia loca suae dioeceseos discurrens, velut fidelis dispensator et prudens, familiae Dominicae mensuram tritici distribuendo, verbum Dei in populo sibi commisso ferventi animo disseminavit."​17 At Bishop de Lisle's consecration a glass vessel full of wine which stood on the altar broke suddenly, — "sine tangentis manu;" an omen, according to the chronicler, of the troubles he was to endure as bishop. For the greater part of his episcopate he was engaged in constant disputes with Blanche Lady Wake, a daughter of Henry Earl of Lancaster, and a power­ful adversary. Her estates in Huntingdonshire adjoined the Bishop's manors; and questions of "limits and boundaries" led at last to manslaughter, to the loss of the King's favour, and to the Bishop's summons to the bar of the King's Bench. Bishop de Lisle, dreading imprisonment, fled to the Pope at Avignon, where, whilst the questions were still in debate, he died (June 1361), and was buried in a house of Dominican nuns there.

On his death the Pope appointed Reginald Brian, Bishop of Worcester, to the see of Ely, who died of the plague before his translation. The convent then elected, by royal licence, John Bockingham, Keeper of the Privy Seal; but the Pope by another provision appointed

A.D. 1362, translated to Canterbury 1366, Simon Langham, Abbot of Westminster, and Treasurer of England. It was on his translation to Canterbury, in 1366, that the monastic rhymes appeared:

"Exultant coeli quia Simon venit ab Ely

Cujus in adventum flent in Kent milia centum."

(See Canterbury Cathedral, Pt. II.)

 p247  A.D. 1366‑1373. John Barnet, Bishop of Worcester in 1362, and translated to Bath in the following year, was, when very old and infirm, translated to Ely, by papal provision. During his episcopate the King replaced the stock and "implementa episcopatus," on the ten chief manors or palaces belonging to the see of Ely,​18 which had been made away with in the last five years of Bishop de Lisle's life, whilst he was at Avignon and the temporalities were in the King's hands. The bishops were, thenceforth, compelled to take an oath, at the west door of the cathedral, on the day of enthronization, to leave this stock entire, or its value, to their successors.

Bishop Barnet died at Hatfield in 1373, and was buried at Ely, where his monument remains (Pt. I § XIX).

A.D. 1374, translated to York 1388. Thomas Fitz‑Alan of Arundel. In 1386, whilst still Bishop of Ely, Arundel was made Lord Chancellor. During his holding of the see, he nearly rebuilt the palace in Holborn. In 1388 he was translated to York, and thence, in 1396, to Canterbury (See that Cathedral, Pt. II). As archbishop, Arundel is chiefly memorable for his persecution of the Lollards. He died Feb. 1414.

A.D. 1388‑1425. John Fordham was translated by Urban VI to Ely, from Durham, to which he had been appointed by the Pope in 1381. The translation was not to the Bishop's advantage, since Durham was a see of far more wealth and importance than Ely. Little is recorded of this Bishop during his long episcopate of thirty-seven years.

A.D. 1426‑1425. Philip Morgan was translated by papal provision from Worcester. He was an eminent civilian, and had been chaplain to Henry V, who had employed  p248 him on many embassies. During his episcopate the University of Cambridge claimed entire freedom from the bishop's jurisdiction, on the authority of two bulls, of Honorius I (A.D. 624) and of Sergius I (A.D. 689); of which they judiciously professed to have only copies. The University appealed to Pope Martin V, who appointed the Prior of Barnwell, and John Deping, Canon of Lincoln, to determine the matter. Their sentence, afterwards confirmed by Pope Eugenius IV, was in favour of the University.

A.D. 1438‑1443. Louis de Luxemburg, Archbishop of Rouen, who had long supported the English interests in France, was, at the recommendation of Henry VI, appointed by the Pope "perpetual administrator" of the see of Ely, after the convent had elected Thomas Bourchier, Bishop of Worcester; whose election (although the Pope had at first confirmed it) was annulled. Louis de Luxemburg was the brother of the Count of St. Paul; and had been Chancellor of France and of Normandy, for Henry VI, under the Regent Bedford. The Regent, on the death of his first wife, married Jaquette, daughter of the Count of St. Paul, and niece of the Bishop,​19 who in 1436 was elected Archbishop of Rouen. From this see, however, he probably had little benefit; since, on the decline of the English influence in France, he withdrew from the latter country, and established himself in England; where in 1438 he was placed in full possession of the "temporalities and spiritualities" belonging to the see of Ely. In 1439 he was created cardinal-priest by the Pope, Eugenius IV; and in 1442 cardinal-bishop. He was hardly ever resident in his diocese, the affairs of which he regulated by his vicars-general.

Cardinal Luxemburg died at Hatfield Sept. 1443. His bowels were interred in the church there; his heart  p249 was deposited in his metropolitan church at Rouen; and his body at Ely, on the south side of the presbytery, "near the altar of relics," where his monument remains (Pt. I, § XXIII).

A.D. 1443, translated to Canterbury 1454. Thomas Bourchier, whom the monks had before elected, was now translated to Ely from Worcester. The convent, however, seems to have repented of its choice. "We only gathered from him flowers instead of fruit," says the monk who writes his life, "as from a useless tree. Except on the day of his installation he would never celebrate mass or solemn service in his cathedral."​20 For his life as Archbishop, see Canterbury Cathedral, Pt. II. His death occurred in 1486. His episcopate of fifty‑one years, as Bishop of Worcester and Ely, and as Archbishop, was one of the longest on record in the English Church.21

A.D. 1454‑1478. William Gray, the King's Procurator at Rome, was appointed by Pope Nicholas V, on the recommendation of Henry VI. Bishop Gray was educated at Balliol College, Oxford, to which he was afterwards a considerable benefactor (the library was partly built by him, and furnished with books); and in 1440 he was Chancellor of that University. On his return from Rome he was made Treasurer of England. In 1467 he was Edward the Fourth's commissioner for arranging a peace between that  p250 king and Henry of Castile; and in 1471, 1472, and 1473 he was the chief English commissioner for treating of peace with James III of Scotland. Bishop Gray died at Downham in 1478, and was interred in his cathedral, where his monument, stripped of its effigy and brasses, remains (Pt. I § XXII).

The strengthening of the western tower (Pt. I §§ IV, XXX) was effected during the episcopate of this Bishop, who gave largely toward the work.

A.D. 1479, translated to Canterbury 1486. John Morton; who was made in the same year (1479) Lord Chancellor. His learning as a civilian early brought him into notice; and he was especially patronized by Archbishop Bourchier, whom he succeeded. It was this bishop who was sent to the Tower by Richard III when Protector; and his subsequent services to Henry VII, when still Earl of Richmond, procured his nomination to the primacy. A longer notice of Archbishop Morton will be found in Canterbury Cathedral (Pt. II).

As Bishop of Ely, Morton attempted one of the first works on a large scale with a view to a thorough drainage of that part of the fens called the North Level. The canal or cut which he caused to be dug, for a distance of forty miles, from near Peterborough to the sea, by Guyhirne and Wisbeach, is still called by his name, "Morton's Seam." "He had a lofty brick tower built at Guyhirne, where the waters met, and 'up into that tower he would often go to oversee and set out the works.' This Bishop was the first to introduce into the district the practice of making straight cuts and artificial rivers for the purpose of more rapidly voiding the waters of the fens — a practice which has been extensively adopted by the engineers of the present day."22

A curious account of Morton's installation as Bishop of Ely, when he walked barefoot for two miles from his palace  p251 at Downham to his cathedral, "in rochetto, cum bediis in manu sua, dicendo orationes Dominicas per viam," and of the subsequent feast at the palace, will be found in Bentham's History of Ely (Appendix, XXIX, XXX).

A.D. 1486‑1500. John Alcock, one of the best architects of his time, and Controller of the royal works and buildings under Henry VII, was translated to Ely from Worcester. He was born at Beverley in Yorkshire, and educated at Cambridge. In 1462 he was appointed Master of the Rolls; and after serving on different embassies, was created Bishop of Rochester in 1472. Thence in 1476 he was translated to Worcester; and in 1486 became Bishop of Ely. By Edward IV he had been appointed "praeceptor" to the young prince, afterwards Edward V; but was removed from his office by the Protector Richard.

At Cambridge, Bishop Alcock procured the suppression of the nunnery of St. Radegund, which had become conspicuous for its irregularities; and founded in its stead the college now known as Jesus College. He built much at all his manors; and constructed a great hall and gallery (now destroyed) in his palace at Ely. His beautiful chapel has been described (Pt. I § XXIII).

Bishop Alcock died at Wisbeach Castle, Oct. 1, 1500.

A.D. 1501‑1505. Richard Redman had been Abbot of Shap, in Westmoreland, and in 1471 was made Bishop of St. Asaph, where he rebuilt the cathedral, which had been burnt by Owen Glendower about 1404 (see St. Asaph). Bishop Redman became entangled in the affairs of Lambert Simnell in 1487; but seems to have acquitted himself to the satisfaction of Henry VII, who made him one of the commissioners for the peace with Scotland in 1492, and in 1495 translated him to Exeter; thence in 1501 he passed to Ely.

Through whatever towns Bishop Redman passed on his journeys, if he remained so long as one hour, he caused a bell to be rung that the poor might come and partake of  p252 his charity, which he distributed largely. His monument remains in the cathedral (Pt. I § XX).

A.D. 1506‑1515. James Stanley was the third son of Thomas Stanley, created Earl of Derby in 1455. He died, accord Godwin, "without performing any one thing deserving to be remembered;" and it is true that his moral conduct, in Bentham's word, "will by no means bear the strictest scrutiny." He built a manor-house at Somersham, however, for the see, and did much for the collegiate church at Manchester (see Manchester Cathedral), where he died (March, 1515), and was buried. A MS. history of the house of Derby, quoted by Bentham, thus concludes the life of Bishop Stanley:—

"Hee did end his life at merrie Manchester,

And right honourable lies buried there,

In his chapell, which he began of free stone.

Sir John Staudeley made it out, when he was gone.

God send his soul to the heavenlie companie!

Farewell, godlie James, Bisshoppe of Elie!"

A.D. 1515‑1533. Nicholas West, son of a baker at Putney, early became distinguished for his knowledge of civil and canon law, and was patronized by Bishop Fisher and Sir Thomas More. He was throughout his life much employed in public affairs and on embassies, under Henry VII Henry VIII; the latter of whom he attended at the "Camp Drap d'Or." In 1515 he was made Bishop of Ely, and is said to have lived in greater splendour than any other prelate of his time, having more than one hundred servants. Two hundred poor were daily relieved at his gate. His learning and acquirements were very considerable, and are especially praised by Bishop Fisher. He was a zealous advocate on the side of Queen Catherine; and the loss of the King's favour on that account is said to have hastened his death, which occurred April 28, 1533.

At Putney, his native place, he built a chantry adjoining  p253 the parish church, which still remains. His superb chancel in the cathedral has been noticed (Pt. I, § XXIV).

A.D. 1534‑1554 Thomas Goodrich, son of Edward Goodrich, of East Kirby in Lincolnshire, was educated at Cambridge, where he soon became eminent as a canonist and civilian. In 1529 he was appointed one of the University syndics, to report concerning the lawfulness of the King's divorce, which he supported; and after more than one lesser preferment, was by the King's favour (whose chaplain he had become) advanced to the see of Ely.

Bishop Goodrich was a zealous supporter of the Reformation; and the general injunctions (1541) for the removal of images, relics, and shrines, were executed with great speed and decision in his cathedral and throughout his diocese. The great shrines of St. Etheldreda, and of the three other sainted abbesses, were at this time removed and destroyed. In 1540 the Bishop of Ely was appointed by Convocation one of the revisers of the New Testament; and the Gospel of St. John fell to his share. In 1548 he was one of the "notable learned men" associated with Cranmer about the "Order of Communion" — the first form of the English Office in the Book of Common Prayer.​23 He was a member of the Privy Council under Henry VIII and Edward VI, and was employed on several embassies, and on much state business. In 1551 he was made Lord Chancellor; an office which he held until the accession of Mary in 1553, when the seals were taken from him, although he was allowed to retain his bishopric. His arms remain in the oriel of the gallery in the palace, which he largely repaired and adorned. His brass — a very interesting example of the episcopal vestments of this period — remains in the cathedral (Pt. I § XXVI).

A.D. 1554‑1570 Thomas Thirlby had been appointed by  p254 Henry VIII to the bishopric of Westminster, when, in 1540, on the dissolution of the abbey, it had been erected into an episcopal see. On the accession of Edward VI, in 1550, the new bishopric was dissolved, and Thirlby was translated to Norwich; thence he was removed to Ely, by Queen Mary, on the death of Goodrich, and was soon afterwards sent ambassador to Rome, to represent the state of the kingdom, and promise obedience to the Apostolic See. The ceremony of degrading Archbishop Cranmer was performed by Thirlby, who was observed to weep during it. "He cannot be followed," says Fuller, "as some other of his order, by the light of the faggots kindled by him to burn poor martyrs, seeing he was given rather to prodigality than cruelty."​24 But although he is said to have alienated much of the land which had been assigned to the Westminster bishopric, he did much for the see of Ely, since he procured from the Crown the advowson of eight prebends attached to it. Bishop Thirlby continued in favour for a short time after the accession of Elizabeth, but on refusing the oath of supremacy he was committed to the Tower, whence he was removed to Lambeth, where he lived for ten years under the guardian­ship of Archbishop Parker. He died at Lambeth in 1570, and was buried in the parish church there.

A.D. 1559‑1581. Richard Cox, born at Whaddon, Bucks, was educated at Eton, and at Cambridge; in which University he was, according to Fuller, one of the "most hopefull plants." Wolsey removed him to his new college at Oxford; and he afterward became Master of Eton, chaplain to the King, and tutor to the Prince, afterward Edward VI. He received various preferments from the Crown, and was the first dean of the cathedral church of Oxford — first at Osney, and then at Christ Church; with which deanery he held that of Westminster in commendam. Throughout the  p255 reign of Edward, Cox was an ardent reformer, and found it necessary to take refuge at Frankfort during the Marian persecution. He returned on the accession of Elizabeth, and took an active part in settlement of religion during the first years of her reign. In 1559, on the deprivation of Bishop Thirlby, he was consecrated to the see of Ely, from which, under the pressure of the Queen and courtiers, he was compelled to alienate many of the best manors. As bishop-elect, Cox, in conjunction with Parker, then archbishop-elect of Canterbury, and some other bishops, petitioned the Queen that she would forbear exchanging lands for tenths and impropriate rectories, on the vacancy of different sees, which by an act passed in her first parliament she was entitled to do. The petition was without effect, and fourteen manors belonging to the see of Ely were at this time exchanged for tenths and impropriations of much less value. The Lord Keeper Hatton subsequently procured the alienation of a portion of the Bishop's property at Holborn; and it was on making resistance to this spoliation that Cox received the celebrated letter from the Queen:

"Proud Prelate, — You know what you were before I made you what you are; if you do not immediately comply with my request, by God I will unfrock you. — Elizabeth."

"The names of Hatton Garden and Ely Place ('Mantua vae miserae nimium vicina Cremonae') still bear witness to the encroaching Lord Keeper and the elbowed Bishop."​25 In consequence of this and many similar vexations, the Bishop, now of great age, was desirous of resigning his see, and in February, 1580, he seems to have obtained the Queen's consent to his doing so. He died, however, July, 1581, still Bishop of Ely, and was interred in his cathedral, near the tomb of Bishop Goodrich. His monument, a brass, no longer exists.

 p256  The see continued vacant for more than eighteen years after the death of Bishop cox, during which time the Queen received the whole profits. The administration "in spirituals" was under commissioners appointed by the Archbishop. At last

A.D. 1600‑1609. Martin Heaton, Dean of Winchester, was appointed. Like his predecessor, he was compelled to alienate much of the property of the see. His tomb, with effigy, remains in the cathedral (Pt. I, § XXVI).

A.D. 1609, translated to Winchester 1619. Lancelot Andrewes. (For the life of this bishop, who whilst at Ely spent large sums in repairing the residences attached to the see, see Winchester Cathedral, Pt. II).

A.D. 1619‑1626. Nicholas Felton, translated from Bristol. He was one of those employed by James I on the translation of the Bible.

A.D. 1628‑1631. John Buckeridge was appointed, after a vacancy of a year and a‑half. His reputation for learning and as a preacher was considerable.

A.D. 1631‑1638. Francis White, translated from Norwich.

A.D. 1638‑1667 Matthew Wren, eldest son of Francis Wren, citizen and mercer of London, had been chaplain to Lancelot Andrewes when Bishop of Ely, and was afterwards made chaplain to James I, by whose appointment he was sent, with Dr. Maw, to attend Prince Charles during his expedition to Spain, "with all the requirements for a comely celebration of the worship of the Church of England." He subsequently accompanied King Charles to Scotland, in 1633. Wren was an excellent hater of Puritans, an unflinching adherent of Laud, a strong supporter of the royal authority, and so highly in favour with the King, that Laud was said to be jealous of him. After many lesser preferments, he was made Bishop of Hereford in 1635; in the same year he was translated to Norwich, and in 1638 to Ely.

 p257  As Bishop of Norwich, Wren, "a man of sour, severe nature," according to Lord Clarendon, — a "wren mounted on the wings of an eagle," in Bishop Williams' words, — carried out the Laudian discipline with a high hand. The Puritans declared it was the greatest persecution on record. "In all Queen Mary's time," said Burton, "there was not so great a havoc made, in so short a time, of the faithful ministers of God." Eight hundred and ninety-seven questions were distributed throughout the diocese for the unfortunate churchwardens to answer; prayers before sermons were silenced; and at least Bishop Wren was able to report something like uniformity in his diocese, although in the midst of deep-seated discontent. In the diocese of Ely the Bishop found less occupation: but he had discovered sundry abuses in Cambridge and the adjoining district, before, in 1641, after protesting with other bishops against their exclusion from the House of Lords, he was sent with them to the Tower. He was set at liberty for a short time in 1642, but was against arrested before the close of the year, and remained in confinement for eighteen years, — "displaying great patience, resolution, and firmness of mind." He outlived the Rebellion, was set free in March, 1660, and after the King's return, in May of the same year, was replaced in the see of Ely. As a thank-offering he built the chapel at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, where he had been educated, and was interred therein in 1667. His diary, and other notices of this Bishop, — whom Hallam contemptuously dismisses as "one Wren, the worst on the bench," — will be found in Wren's Parentalia.

Ely Cathedral continued unprofaned, and the service was duly performed in it, until January, 164¾; when Cromwell, as Governor of Ely, made, says Carlyle, "a transient appearance in the cathedral one day, memorable to the Reverend Mr. Hitch and us." He had already written to Mr. Hitch, requiring him "to forbear altogether the choir  p258 service, so unedifying and offensive, lest the soldiers should in any tumultuary or disorderly way attempt the reformation of the cathedral church." Mr. Hitch paid no attention, and Cromwell accordingly appeared in time of service, "with a rabble at his heels, and with his hat on," and ordered the "assembly" to leave the cathedral. Mr. Hitch paused for a moment, but soon recommenced: when " 'Leave off your fooling, and come down, Sir,' said Oliver, in a voice still audible to this editor; which Mr. Hitch did now instantaneously give ear to."26

A.D. 1667‑1675. Benjamin Laney, one of Charles the First's chaplains, who had attended him at the Treaty of Uxbridge, and afterwards had shared the exile of Charles II, was on the restoration made Bishop of Peterborough: thence translated to Lincoln in 1663, and thence to Ely in 1667. He rebuilt part of the episcopal palace, and was interred in the cathedral (Pt. I § XXI).

A.D. 1675‑1684. Peter Gunning, a preacher of considerable celebrity, and a vigorous defender of the principles of the Church of England during Cromwell's Protectorate, was born at Hoo in Kent, and educated at the King's School, Canterbury. In 1670 he became Bishop of Chichester, and was thence translated to Ely. His monument, with effigy, has been noticed (Pt. I § XXVI).

A.D. 1684, deprived 1691. Francis Turner, son of the Dean of Canterbury, was educated at Winchester (where his name remains on the wall of the cloisters, near that of his friend Ken), and at New College, Oxford. In 1670 he became Master of St. John's College, Cambridge; in 1683, Dean of Windsor; in the same year Bishop of Rochester; and in 1684 was translated to Ely. He was one of the seven bishops who were sent to the Tower, and was deprived, as a Nonjuror, in 1691. The rest of his life was passed in complete retirement. He died in 1700, at Therfield,  p259 in Hertfordshire, where he had been Rector, and was buried in the chancel there, which he had "decorated," repaved, and wainscoted, at his own expense. His only memorial is word Expergiscar on the stone which covers his vault. He had erected a monument to his wife in the same church.

Bishop Turner is best remembered for his intimate friendship with the excellent Bishop Ken, who was associated with him in the principal events of his life. Both bishops were present at the death‑bed of Charles II.

A.D. 1691‑1707. Simon Patrick was perhaps the most distinguished bishop who has filled the sea of Ely since the Reformation. He was born at Gainsborough, in Lincolnshire, in 1626, and was educated at Cambridge. In 1662 he became Rector of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, "where by his excellent instructions and example he gained the entire love and esteem of his parishioners, and more especially by continuing with them all the time of the great plague in 1665." Charles II, to whom he was chaplain, made him Dean of Peterborough in 1672. Under James II he was an active defender of the Church of England, and in 1686 Patrick and Dr. Jane had a conference with two Roman priests, in the presence of the King and of the Earl of Rochester, whom James was desirous of converting to Romanism. On this occasion the King declared that "he never heard a bad cause so well, or a good one so ill, maintained." Soon after the Revolution (Oct. 1689), Patrick, who had been much employed in settling the affairs of the Church, was promoted to the see of Chichester, vacant by the death of Bishop Lake; and in July, 1691, on Bishop Turner's refusing to take the oaths of allegiance to William and Mary, he was translated to Ely. Bishop Patrick died in the palace there in May, 1707, and was interred in the cathedral, where his monument remains (Pt. I § XXI).

Simon Patrick is highly praised by Bishop Burnet, and  p260 his learning and unblemished character have been duly appreciated by writers of all parties. His "Paraphrases and Commentaries on the Scriptures" are of great value, and his sermons and lesser tracts, many of which have lately been reprinted, take good rank among the works of English Churchmen of that period. Whilst Dean of Peterborough he completed and published a History of that Church, which had been compiled by Simon Gunton, a prebendary of Peterborough.

A.D. 1707‑1714. John Moore, who became Bishop of Norwich in 1691, on the deprivation of Bishop Lloyd, was on the death of Patrick translated to Ely. An important collection of books and MSS., made by him, was after his death bought by George I, and given to the University of Cambridge.

A.D. 1714‑1723. William Fleetwood, was translated from St. Asaph, to which see he was consecrated in 1703. In 1712 Bishop Fleetwood published four sermons, with a preface, in which he strongly defended the principles of the Revolution, endangered, as was then generally believed, by the Jacobite intrigues of the Ministers. The book was ordered to be burnt by a ministerial majority of the Commons, but its author was rewarded on the accession of George I by his translation to Ely.

A.D. 1723‑1738 Thomas Greene was translated to Ely from Norwich.

A.D. 1738‑1748. Robert Butts, also translated from Norwich, was a descendant of Sir William Butts, physician to Henry VIII.

A.D. 1748‑1754. Sir Thomas Gooch, Bart., became Bishop of Bristol in 1737, whence he was translated to Norwich in 1738, and thence to Ely in 1748.

A.D. 1754‑1770. Matthias Mawson, Bishop successively of Llandaff and Chichester, whence he was translated to Ely.

A.D. 1771‑1781. Edmund Keene, translated from Chester.

 p261  A.D. 1781‑1808. James Yorke, Bishop successively of St. David's and Gloucester.

A.D. 1808‑1812. Thomas Dampier, translated from Rochester.

A.D. 1812‑1836. Bowyer Edward Sparke, translated from Chester.

A.D. 1836‑1845. Joseph Allen, translated from Bristol.

A.D. 1845. Thomas Turton.

For later bishops up to our own time, see Peter Owen's site.

The Author's Notes:

1 The best and earliest authority for the life of St. Etheldreda is Beda, Hist. Eccles., IV ch. XIX. A life compiled in the twelfth century by Thomas of Ely is printed in the second volume of Mabillon's Acta Sanct. Ord. Bened., and (partly) in Wharton's Anglia Sacra, vol. I.

2 Dr. Hook's judgment of St. Etheldreda, although without doubt true in itself, seems hardly to make sufficient allowance for the difference between the seventh century and the nineteenth. "Her fanaticism had in it a tinge of insanity. In defiance of Scripture, of decency, and of common sense, she repudiated her marriage vow, and encouraged in her folly by the less excusable folly, if not worse, of Wilfrid, she determined to separate from her husband and become a nun. Egfrid, with whom the Archbishop of Canterbury (Theodorus) agreed, regarded the separation in the light of a divorce, and married again." — Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, vol. I p150.

3 The dates of the foundations of the principal fen‑land monasteries are as follows:— Peterborough (Medeshamstede), A.D. 664; Thorney (Ancarig?) circa 665 (?) if the charter inserted in the Bodleian MS. of the Saxon Chron. is to be trusted; Ely, 673; Crowland, 719; Ramsey, 974.

4 Now known as "Honey" (Huna's) Island, not far from Manea.

5 "Invenerunt juxta muros civitatis locellum de marmore albo pulcherrime factum, operculo quoque similis lapidis aptissime tectum. . . . . Mirum vero in modum ita aptum corpori virginis sarcophagum inventum est, ac si ei specialiter praeparatum fuisset; et locus quoque capitis seorsum fabrefactus ad mensuram capitis illius aptissimo figuratus apparuit." — Beda, H. E., lib. IV ch. XIX.

6 "Digne quidem Insula tali onomate signatur; quae ab initio Christianitatis et fidei in Anglia Dominum Jesum Christum mox credere caepit et colere." — Thomas Eliensis, I.33.

7 "De quâ Infula [a mitre] facta est."

8 "In Anglia sunt hodie XVII Episcopatus: in octo eorum sunt Monachi in sedibus Episcopalibus. Hoc in aliis provinciis aut nusquam aut raro invenies; sed ideo in Anglia hoc reperitur, quia primi praedicatores Anglorum S. Augustinus, Mellitus, Justus, Laurentius Monachi fuerant. In aliis novem Episcopalibus sedibus, Canonici seculares." — Annal. Waverleinenses, ad ann. 1152.

9 "The custom of this convent was for the whole body to elect seven as their proctors; after which these seven proceeded to the election of the bishop." — Bentham's Ely, p149.

10 Bentham's Ely.

11 Id.

12 "Certum est enim, quod civitas Elyensis est optima munitio regni nostri; et quod dictus Robertus ibi extitit preintrusus, ut, sicut res se habuit, reciperetur ibi Dominus Ludovicus." — Rymer, Foedera, I p229.

13 Hallam, Middle Ages, III p3 (ed. 1855).

14 Bentham, from Rymer, Foed., IV p243.

15 Hist. Eliensis, ap. Angl. Sacr., I.648.

16 Bentham, p160.

17 Hist. Eliensis, ap. Angl. Sacr., I.655.

18 These were — the palace at Ely; Ely‑house, Holborn; Bishop's Hatfield and Hadham, in Hertfordshire; Somersham, in Huntingdonshire; Balsham and Ditton, in Cambridgeshire; Downham, Wisbeach Castle, and Doddington, in the Isle of Ely.

19 After the death of the Regent Bedford, his widow married Sir Richard Wodevile (Earl of Rivers), by whom she was the mother of Elizabeth, Queen of Edward IV.

20 Ang. Sac., I.671.

21 In the notice of Archbishop Bourchier (Canterbury Cathedral, Pt. II) his episcopate is said to have been the longest on record in the English Church. This is an error. It was the longest up to that time: but has since been exceeded in length by those of John Hough (1690‑1743), Bishop successively of Oxford, Lichfield, and Worcester — 53 years; of Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man (Jan. 1698-March 1755), — 57 years; of Shute Barrington, Bishop of Llandaff, Salisbury, and Durham (Oct. 1769-March 1826), — 56 years and 6 months; and of E. V. Vernon Harcourt, Bishop of Carlisle and Archbishop of York (November 1791-November 1847), 56 years. Bishop Wilson's is therefore the longest English episcopate.

22 Smiles' Lives of the Engineers, I.29.

23 Proctor on the Book of Common Prayer, pp20‑23. "This was not a full Communion Office, but an addition of an English form of communion for the people to the Latin Mass."

24 Worthies — Cambridgeshire.

25 Hallam, Const. Hist., vol. I p224 (ed. 1855).

26 Carlyle's Cromwell, vol. I pp145, 146 (ed. 1857).

Thayer's Note:

a The abbey is that of Notre-Dame du Pin, near Béruges (Vienne); expropriated in the French Revolution, its buildings have largely collapsed, and what remains is now private property, with a (rudimentary) website here.

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