Giffard, Godfrey (DNB00)
|←Giffard, George Markham||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 21
|Giffard, Henry Wells→|
GIFFARD, GODFREY (1235?–1302), chancellor of England and bishop of Worcester, was the son of Hugh Giffard of Boyton in Wiltshire, a royal justice, and of his wife Sibyl, daughter and coheiress of Walter de Cormeilles. He was born about 1235 (Calendarium Genealogicum, p. 281). He was the younger brother of Walter Giffard [q. v.], ultimately archbishop of York, whose successful career insured the preferment of Godfrey. When his brother was bishop of Bath and Wells, he became canon of Wells (Newcourt, Repert. Eccl. Lond. i. 59) and rector of Mells. He was also rector of the greater mediety of Attleburgh in Norfolk (Blomefield, Norfolk, i. 523), archdeacon of Barnstaple from 1265 to 1267, and, after Walter became archbishop of York, archdeacon of York and rector of Adlingfleet in 1267 (Raine, Fasti Eboracenses, p. 315 from Reg. W. Giffard). Complaints were afterwards made at Rome of the way in which the archbishop gave this and many other benefices to his brother, though Godfrey was only in minor orders and deficient in learning. After Walter became chancellor of England in 1265, Godfrey in 1266 was made chancellor of the exchequer (Madox, Hist. of Exchequer, i. 476), and next year was allowed to appoint a fit person to act for him when his own affairs gave him occasion to withdraw from the exchequer (ib. ii. 52). When in 1266 Walter was translated to York, he resigned the chancellorship, and Godfrey was appointed his successor. He was still chancellor when the monks of Worcester elected him as their bishop on the translation of Bishop Nicholas of Ely [q. v.] to the see of Winchester. Henry III accepted his appointment, and he received the temporalities on 13 June 1268. After some little resistance, Archbishop Boniface confirmed his election, but it was not until 23 Sept. that he was consecrated by the archbishop at Canterbury (‘Ann. London.’ in Stubbs, Chronicles of Edward I and II, i. 79). He was enthroned in his cathedral on Christmas day (Wykes in Annales Monastici, iv. 220). He still retained the chancellorship, and in 1268 received a grant of five hundred marks a year for the support of himself and the clerks of the chancery (Madox, i. 76), but before 1270 he had resigned the office.
In 1272 he acted with the Bishop of Lichfield in treating with Llewelyn of Wales (Shirley, Royal Letters, ii. 343). In May 1273 he was sent abroad with Nicholas of Ely, bishop of Winchester, and Walter Bronescomb, bishop of Exeter, to meet Edward I on his return from the Holy Land. He was made a commissioner along with Roger Mortimer to investigate certain grievances of the Oxford scholars, and in 1278 acted as an itinerant justice in Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, and Kent (Foss, Judges of England, ii. 94). In 1279 he succeeded to the very extensive property, inherited and acquired, of his brother the archbishop. He was one of the four negotiators selected in 1289 by Edward I to treat at Salisbury with the Scottish and Norwegian envoys about sending Margaret of Norway to Scotland (Fœdera, i. 720).
Giffard ruled over the see of Worcester for more than thirty-three years, and his activity was almost confined to his own diocese. He was engaged in constant disputes with his monastic chapter, long accounts of which, written from the monks' point of view, have come down to us in the ‘Annals of Worcester’ (Annales Monastici, vol. iv.) The great subject of contention was whether the bishop should be allowed to annex some of the more valuable livings in his gift to the prebends of the college at Westbury, which led to tedious litigation, ultimately decided in favour of the monks. But the claim of the bishop to receive the monks' ‘profession’ produced other suits. In 1288, at an ordination at Westbury, an unseemly dispute between the precentor of Worcester and John of Evreux, archdeacon of Gloucester, a favourite nephew of the bishop, as to who had the right to call over the names of the candidates, led to the expulsion of the former from the chancel with the connivance of the bishop (Ann. Wigorn. p. 496). A little later a truce was patched up, but at Bromsgrove the bishop ‘would not permit the prior to exercise his office, regardless of the peace that had been made, which we believe to have been as vain as a peace with the Welsh.’ The monks also complained of his taking away the chapel at Grafton from them, and of the constant efforts of the bishop to visit and to exercise jurisdiction over them. In 1290 he held a visitation, and required the convent to support his 140 horses, and went away in anger. Though in 1290 he, at Bishop Burnell's mediation, revoked the statutes of the priory and agreed to postpone the lawsuits, he soon after procured from Rome a ‘very bad bull’ against them.
Giffard was involved in another great dispute with the Abbot of Westminster. He had deposed William of Ledbury, prior of Malvern, for gross crimes. The monks of Westminster took up William's cause, as Malvern was a cell of their abbey, and obtained the king's support. In the end Giffard was glad to compromise the case, and received a grant of land at Knightwick not to visit Malvern as his predecessors had done (1283), and Ledbury was restored. This settlement Arch- bishop Peckham denounced as simoniacal. Giffard had already been involved, like the other suffragans to Canterbury, in the struggle against Peckham's excessive claims of metropolitical jurisdiction. He afterwards, however, became friendly with him, and sent the archbishop many costly presents (Reg. Peckham, No. dli.). Giffard's many favours to the Franciscans, whose general in 1277, and again in 1282, admitted him as a brother of the order, must have procured him the friendship of the Franciscan primate. His remissness in allowing the monks of the cathedral to steal the body of one Henry Poche from the Franciscans and bury it in their churchyard was in 1290 a new source of difference.
In 1300 Giffard had become sick and infirm. He was in March visited by Archbishop Winchelsey at Wyke. Next year William of Gloucester produced thirty-six articles against him before the archbishop, when visiting the diocese. They were mostly small, technical and legal, and included, besides the old complaints of the chapter, a charge of manumitting serfs without its consent, and unduly favouring his nephews. They were, however, elaborately investigated, and the bishop's answers, which seem fairly satisfactory, are recorded with the charges in his register. Giffard died on Friday, 26 Jan. 1302, and was buried on 4 Feb. by John, bishop of Llandaff, in Worcester Cathedral, on the south side of the altar of the lady chapel, where his tomb is still to be seen. (There is an engraving of it in Thomas's ‘Survey of Worcester Cathedral,’ p. 44.)
Giffard's will, dated 13 Sept. 1300, left a large number of legacies to kinsfolk, including his sister Mabel, abbess of Shaftesbury, and to various churches. His heir was John, son of his younger brother, William Giffard (Calendarium Genealogicum, p. 625) who, fighting on the baronial side at Boroughbridge, was hanged at Gloucester, and forfeited his estates to the crown. They were soon, however, restored, and in later times the Giffords of Weston-sub-Edge assumed the arms of the see of Worcester in memory of an ancestor who had done so much for the family (Hoare, Wiltshire, i. 204).
Despite his quarrels with the chapter, Giffard was a benefactor of his cathedral, and beautified the pillars of the choir and lady chapel by interlacing them with little pillars. In 1280 he laid the first stone of the pavement of the cathedral (Ann. Wigorn. p. 479). One of his first acts was to obtain leave to fortify and finish Hartlebury Castle which Bishop Cantelupe [q. v.] had begun. He extorted from Bishop Cantelupe's executors a legacy left to the see, for supplying a stock of cattle on the lands of the bishopric. He obtained a grant of fairs to Stratford-on-Avon and Blockley. He also secured permission to fortify his palace at Worcester and Wydindon like that at Hartlebury.[The fullest account of Giffard is in Thomas's Survey of Worcester Cathedral, pp. 135–54, largely derived from his still surviving Register, large extracts of which, including his will and the ‘Articuli contra Godfridum episcopum Wygornensem et responsiones ejusdem,’ are printed in the ‘Appendix chartarum originalium.’ His relations with Malvern Priory are fully told in Thomas's Antiquitates prioratus majoris Melverniæ, which prints from the Register all his acts relating to that convent; Martin's Registrum Epistolarum Johannis Peckham (Rolls Ser.) gives several of his letters and a large number of Peckham's to him, and in the introduction to vol. ii. Mr. Martin summarises the Malvern question; Raine's Fasti Eboracenses, in the notice of Walter Giffard, gives what is known of his early history; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 424, or, still better, Hoare's Wiltshire, i. 196–204, for an account of his family; Annals of Winchester, Wykes, and more particularly the Annals of Worcester in Annales Monastici, vols. ii. and iv.; Foss's Judges of England, iii. 93–4; Roberts's Calendarium Genealogicum.]