Baldock, Ralph de (DNB00)

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BALDOCK, RALPH de (d. 1313), bishop of London and lord chancellor, whose early history is unknown, first appears in 1271 as holding the prebendal stall of Holborn, in which Robert Burnel, Edward I's great chancellor, had preceded him. This disposes of Godwin's assertion that he was educated at Merton College, Oxford, which was not founded till 1274. His influence and ability must have been considerable, for he obtained the highest preferment in his diocese. In 1276 he was collated to the archdeaconry of Middlesex; became dean of St. Paul's in 1294; and was elected bishop of London in 1304. Three canons, who had been deprived by the archbishop during the vacancy of the see, appealed to the pope to declare the election void owing to their exclusion, but the bishop-elect won his cause at Rome, and was consecrated at Lyons in 1306. Though he does not appear to have spent his life at court or in the ministerial offices, he attracted the attention of Edward I, who nominated him lord chancellor in April 1307. The king's death followed in July, and Baldock was at once removed by Edward II at the instigation of the favourite Gaveston. His position and character marked him out as one of the ordainers forced by the parliament of 1310 on the king for the better regulation of his household. But he took little part in public affairs, preferring the duties and pastimes of a churchman. He wrote a history of England, and collected the statutes and customs of St. Paul's, works which existed in the sixteenth century, but are now lost. St. Paul's Cathedral was at this time being rebuilt and enlarged, and its new lady chapel was built by Baldock. He began it while he was yet dean, continued it as bishop, bequeathed money for its completion, and in it he was buried, after his death in 1313, 'under a goodly marble, wherein his portraiture in brass was curiously represented.'

[Wharton's Hist, de Episc. Lond. pp. 108-12; Godwin de Præsul.; Newcotrt's Repertorium; Rot. Pat. et Fin. temp. Ed. I; Foss's Judges of England, iii. 220-3.]

H. A. T.