Giffard, Walter (DNB00)

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GIFFARD, WALTER (d. 1279), archbishop of York, son of Hugh Giffard, of Boyton in Wiltshire, by Sibyl, daughter and coheiress of Walter de Cormeilles, was probably his parents' eldest son, and was brother of Godfrey, bishop of Worcester (1235?–1302) [q. v.] In 1256 he and his mother received the king's license to dwell in the castle, and Adam de Marisco [q. v.], the Franciscan, wrote a letter to the chancellor of the university, recommending Giffard in terms which perhaps imply that he was a scholar of some repute (Monumenta Franciscana, p. 257). He became a canon and archdeacon of Wells, and one of the pope's chaplains. On 22 May 1264 he was elected to the see of Bath and Wells, and received the temporalities on 1 Sept. As the primate Boniface was in France, he went over to Paris for consecration, which he received at Notre-Dame on 4 Jan. following from Peter d'Acquablanca, bishop of Hereford, having first sworn that he would not take part against Henry III. The barons, in anger at his having gone abroad against their will, ravaged nearly all his manors. By the primate's order he excommunicated the Earl of Leicester and his party on his return to England (Wykes, p. 164). Giffard was a handsome, gay, and genial man. He was fond of luxury, and in later life grew fat, which injured his health and temper. At the same time he was a man of high character, and was able and industrious (Chronicle of Lanercost, pp. 71, 103; Wykes, p. 194; Raine, p. 303). On 10 Aug. 1265, immediately after the battle of Evesham, the king made him chancellor, with a stipend of five hundred marks a year (Foss, Judges, ii. 353). In the August of the following year he was appointed one of the arbitrators for drawing up the award of Kenilworth, the agreement by which the disinherited lords were allowed to recover their estates. On 15 Oct. he was appointed by Clement IV to the archbishopric of York by provision, resigned the chancellorship, was enthroned on 1 Nov., and received the temporalities on 26 Dec. He at once entered on a dispute with Archbishop Boniface of Canterbury about the right to carry his cross erect in the southern province, and made an appeal to Rome. Although he was rich both by inheritance and in virtue of his office, he could not keep clear of debt, incurred partly on account of the expenses of his translation, partly also by this suit in the papal court, and also probably by his liberality and his magnificent manner of living. He maintained a kinsman named William Greenfield while studying at Oxford. This was probably the William of Greenfield [q. v.] who afterwards became archbishop of York (Raine). The year after his translation Giffard paid sixteen hundred marks to Italian money-lenders, and five hundred and fifty marks to certain merchants of Paris, and in 1270 sent two hundred marks to his agents at Rome to expedite his affairs, hoping ‘for the present to keep out of the whirlpool of usury’ (ib. from Register). He appears to have been kind to his relatives, and gave his brother Godfrey the archdeaconry of York. This was made a cause of complaint against him at Rome, for it was alleged that Godfrey was only in minor orders, and was not learned (ib.). Giffard was active in discharging the duties of his office, and was a ‘strict and fearless reformer of abuses’ (ib.) He made a visitation of his province, and came to Durham during a vacancy in the see; the prior of St. Cuthbert's endeavoured to distract him by a rich entertainment. The archbishop, however, insisted on making a visitation, was shut out from the cathedral church, and excommunicated the prior and his monks (Scriptores Tres, p. 56; Chronicle of Lanercost, p. 103). On 13 Oct. 1269 he officiated at the translation of St. Edward the Confessor. When leaving England, Edward, the heir to the throne, appointed him by will in 1270 one of the tutors of his sons, and he assisted him in bringing Earl Warenne to justice for the murder of Alan la Zouche at Westminster (Wykes, p. 234). On the death of Henry III on 20 Nov. 1272 the great seal was delivered to the archbishop as first lord of the council, in virtue of an arrangement made in the preceding year, the see of Canterbury being vacant, and he, in conjunction with Roger Mortimer and Robert Burnell, was appointed to govern the kingdom until the new king's return, and to acquaint him with the death of his father. The regents were confirmed by a great council which met at Westminster after St. Hilary's day the following year, received the oaths of the baronage and certain representatives of the commons, swore fealty themselves, and governed the kingdom discreetly until the king came back on 2 Aug. 1274 (Stubbs, Constitutional History, i. 104, where references are given). It is said that the king would not allow Giffard to be present at his coronation on 19 Aug., on account of the quarrel between him and Archbishop Kilwarby of Canterbury with respect to the right of carrying the cross (Wykes, p. 260); he seems to have come to the ceremony, but not to have been allowed to take part in it (Annals of Dunstable, p. 263). He was one of the guardians of the kingdom during Edward's absence in 1275. He died at York on 22 April, or a few days later, in 1279, and was buried in his cathedral church, probably in the choir. His body was afterwards removed by Archbishop Thoresby to a tomb which he had erected in the presbytery (Raine).

[Life by Canon Raine in Fasti Eboracenses, pp. 302–17, with extracts from Giffard's Register; Wykes, and the Waverley, Dunstable, and other annals in Annales Monastici (Rolls Ser.); Chron. of Lanercost (Bannatyne Club), pp. 7, 103; Historiæ Dunelm. Scriptt. Tres, p. 56 (Surtees Soc.); Foss's Judges, ii. 353; Rymer's Fœdera, i. 497.]

W. H.