Cranley, Thomas (1337?-1417) (DNB00)

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CRANLEY, THOMAS (1337?–1417), archbishop of Dublin, was born about 1337, and became a student at Oxford, where in due course he proceeded to the degree of doctor in divinity. His name first appears in 1366, when he was a fellow of Merton College (G. C. Brodrick, Memorials of Merton College, p. 204, Oxford Historical Society, 1885). Sixteen years later, by the foundation charter of St. Mary College of Winchester, 20 Oct. 1382, he was nominated the first warden of the college (T. F. Kirby, Extended Transcript of the Charter of Foundation, &c., privately printed, 1882); but since only the initial steps were as yet taken for carrying the foundation into effect, it does not appear that Cranley was obliged to leave Oxford. At least in 1384 he is mentioned as holding the office of principal of Hart Hall (Anthony à Wood, History and Antiquities of Oxford, Colleges and Halls, p. 644, ed. Gutch); and in 1389, not 1393 (as Wood gives the date, l.c., p. 187), Bishop Wykeham transferred him to the wardenship of New College, Oxford, which had been founded by him some years previously (Lowth, Life of William of Wykeham, p. 175; 3rd ed. Oxford, 1777). It was through the same connection that Cranley received in 1390 or 1391 the valuable benefice of Havant in the diocese of Winchester (Tanner, Bibl. Brit. p. 206). In 1390 he was also chancellor of his university (Wood, Fasti Oxon. p. 33). On 3 July 1395 he was collated to the prebend of Knaresborough in the cathedral church of York (Tanner, l.c.); and shortly afterwards, 15 Feb. 1395–6, he resigned the wardenship of New College (Lowth, appendix xi. pp. xv, xvi). Then, on 10 Sept. 1396, he was presented to the church of Bishopsbourne, near Canterbury, and in the following year he was elevated to the archbishopric of Dublin. He reached his see on 7 Oct. 1398. Besides being archbishop, Cranley was chancellor of Ireland under Henry IV, and lord justice under Henry V (Ware, De Præsulibus Hiberniæ, pp. 114 et seq. Dublin, 1665). According to Leland (Comment. de Script. Brit. cclxxix., p. 296), he experienced considerable difficulties in performing his duties in consequence of the opposition of the natives. He expressed his complaints to the king in a poetical epistle consisting of 106 verses, which Leland saw. At length, on 30 April 1417, being now eighty years of age, the archbishop returned to England (Henry of Marlborough, Annales Hiberniæ, ad annum, in Camden's Britannia, p. 835, ed. 1607), and died at Faringdon in Berkshire on the 25th of the following month (Ware, l.c.) He was buried, not at Dublin, as Bale (Scriptt. Brit. Cat. xiii. 96, pt. ii. 158) and Pits (De Angliæ Scriptoribus, § 767, p. 597) say, but before the altar of New College chapel in Oxford, with a memorial brass, the inscription on which is given by Wood (Colleges and Halls, p. 201), and which fixes the date of the archbishop's death. The brass is now in the ante-chapel.

Cranley is described by Henry of Marlborough (ubi supra) as a man of commanding character and great learning, bountiful with his goods (he is known to have given books to New College in 1393—Wood, p. 197), a distinguished preacher, and suorum locorum ædificator. This last trait, it is not hard to presume, commended him to William of Wykeham, but we are not informed as to whether he took any part in his patron's works at Winchester or Oxford. Cranley's name is often mis-written Crawley (in Cotton), or Crawleigh (in Wood); but contemporary documents offer only the alternatives of Cranley, Cranle, Cranele, and Cranlegh.

[Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, ii. 16.]

R. L. P.