Gravesend, Stephen de (DNB00)

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GRAVESEND, STEPHEN de (d. 1338), bishop of London, was probably a son of Sir Stephen de Gravesend, and was nephew of Richard de Gravesend, bishop of London [q. v.], who appointed him one of his executors and left him a copy of the Bible in thirteen volumes, and a copy of the decretals (Philobiblon Society, Miscellanies, ii. 10). He can hardly be the Stephen de Gravesend who held the prebend of Chamberlainwood from 1271 to 1275, but was rector of Stepney in 1303 (his uncle's will), canon of St. Paul's in 1313, and a little later held the prebend of Wenlakesbarn. He was elected bishop of London on 11 Sept. 1318 (Annales Paulini, i. 283), was confirmed at Peterborough on 3 Nov., consecrated at Canterbury by Walter Reynolds on 14 Jan. 1319, and enthroned on 30 Sept. following (ib. i. 284). Next year he resisted the archbishop's visitation and appealed to the pope, but he was at last obliged to submit. In October 1320 he was sent to negotiate with Thomas of Lancaster, but was detained by illness at Northampton, and did not return till 6 Feb. 1321 (ib. i. 290–1). He was one of the envoys sent next October by the barons to the king, who was then besieging Lord Badlesmere's castle of Leeds in Kent (Walsingham, Hist. Angl. i. 160; Murinmuth, p. 34), but was present in the convocation held at London in December, when the decree against the Despensers was annulled (Ann. Paul. i. 300). So far he would seem to have been opposed to the court, for in June 1323 he was censured by the king for allowing people to believe that miracles were wrought by a picture of Thomas of Lancaster in St. Paul's Cathedral (Fœdera, iii. 1033). But henceforward he appears as a consistent supporter of Edward II, and in October 1326 was one of the bishops who joined in an endeavour to mediate between the king and queen (Dene's ‘Historia Roffensis,’ in Anglia Sacra, i. 366). The Londoners plotted to kill him, along with Bishop Stapledon of Exeter, but he escaped and joined the Archbishop of York and Bishop of Carlisle in resisting them (ib.) For a time Gravesend refused to take the oaths of fealty to Edward III, but assisted at his coronation (Ann. Paul. i. 324). His sympathies were shown by his taking part with the Earls of Lancaster and Kent in 1328, when he was one of the envoys sent to the king to treat for peace (ib. i. 344), and by his joining in the Earl of Kent's plot in 1330, when he was for a time imprisoned (Murimuth, p. 60, and appendix, p. 255, where the text of Kent's confession implicating Gravesend is given). After this he had little to do with politics, although in August 1335, and again in December 1336, he was appointed one of the deputies to represent the king in councils to be held in London (Fœdera, iv. 658, 721). On Reynolds's death in 1327 Gravesend was involved in a dispute with the monks of Canterbury, who claimed to appoint the official who was to exercise jurisdiction during the vacancy, without reference to him as dean of the province, but they eventually had to submit. In July 1329 Gravesend summoned a meeting at St. Paul's and excommunicated Lewis of Bavaria and his antipope Nicholas (Ann. Paul. i. 345). About the same time he extended his protection to Hamo of Chigwell, formerly mayor of London, who was excused of extortion but claimed to be a clerk (ib. i. 346; Ann. Lond. i. 245–6). There are three letters in the ‘Litteræ Cantuarienses’ which refer to Gravesend: two relate to the church of St. Dunstan (i. 77, 78), and the third to a falcon of his which had been captured by a tenant of Canterbury (i. 472). A letter written by him in 1330 on behalf of Simon Mepeham, archbishop of Canterbury, is preserved by Thorn (Twysden, Scriptores Decem, 2045). Gravesend died at Stortford in the rector's house on 8 April 1338 (Ann. Paul. i. 367; Murimuth, p. 86), and was buried at St. Paul's, 27 May (Chron. S. Paul, p. 55, Camd. Soc.), near his uncle's tomb, according to the directions in his will, dated 29 Feb. 1338.

[Annales Paulini and Annales Londonienses in Chronicles of Edw. I and II, Adam Murimuth, Litteræ Cantuarienses, all in Rolls Series; Rymer's Fœdera, original ed.; Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. 366–7; Newcourt's Repert., i. 17, 133; Milman's St. Paul's, pp. 70–2.]

C. L. K.