Lancaster, Thomas (d.1583) (DNB00)

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LANCASTER, THOMAS (d. 1583), archbishop of Armagh, perhaps a native of Cumberland, was probably educated at Oxford. In July 1549 he was consecrated bishop of Kildare by George Browne, archbishop of Dublin. An enthusiastic protestant, he in June 1551 attended the conference which the lord deputy, Sir James Croft, held at Dublin with George Dowdall [q. v.], the primate, whose Roman catholic leanings were well known. In 1552 Lancaster was installed in the deanery of Ossory, which he held in commendam with his bishopric. On 2 Feb. 1553 he assisted in the consecration of John Bale [q. v.] as bishop of Ossory, and about the same time published an important statement of his doctrinal position in 'The Ryght and Trew Understandynge of the Supper of the Lord and the use thereof faythfully gathered out of ye Holy Scriptures,' London, by Johan Turke, n.d. 8vo. It is dedicated to Edward VI. A copy is in the British Museum. Lancaster's style of argument resembles Bale's.

Lancaster was married, and on that ground he was deprived of both his preferments by Queen Mary in 1554, and spent the remainder of Queen Mary's reign in retirement. In 1559 he was presented by the crown to the treasurership of Salisbury Cathedral, in succession to Thomas Harding (1516-1572) [q. v.], Bishop Jewel's antagonist; and he also became one of the royal chaplains. He was a member of the lower house of convocation, and on 5 Feb. 1562-3 was in the minority of fifty-eight who approved of the proposed six formulas committing the English church to ultra-protestant doctrine and practices, as against fifty-nine who opposed the change. In the same year he signed the petition of the lower house of convocation for reform of church discipline. He acted as suffragan bishop of Marlborough under Bishop Jewel, but the date is not known. In that capacity he held ordinations at Salisbury on 13 April 1560 and 26 April 1568. Writing to Archbishop Parker (8 May 1568) Jewel complained of Lancaster's want of discretion. When Sir Henry Sydney went to Ireland as lord deputy in October 1565, Lancaster had a royal license to attend upon him and absent himself from his spiritual offices (cf. license, 25 Oct. 1565, in Record Office, London). He accompanied Sydney in his progress through various parts of Ireland. Sir William Cecil was friendly with him, and wrote to the lord deputy on 22 July 1567 (Cal. State Papers, Ireland, No. 70, p. 343, 22 July 1567) of his delight 'that the lusty good priest, Lancaster,' was to be made archbishop of Armagh, in succession to Adam Loftus [q. v.], who had been translated to Dublin. Some months passed before the choice was officially announced, but on 28 March 1567-8 Elizabeth informed the Irish lords justices (ib. Eliz. vol. xxiii. I No. 86) that she had 'made choice of Mr. Thomas Lancaster, one of our ordinary chapleyns, heretofore bishop of Kildare in our said realme, and therein for his tyme served very laudably, and since that tyme hath been very well acquainted in the said part of Ulster, having been also lately in company with our said deputy in all his journeys within our said realm, and has preached ryght faithfully.' The queen, besides directing (12 March 1568) his 'nomination, election, and consecration,' granted him 200l. (ib. p. 368, Nos. 72-6, 19 March 1568). His consecration took place, at the hands of Archbishop Loftus of Dublin, Bishop Brady of Meath, and Bishop Daly of Kildare, on 13 June 1568, in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, in accordance with the Irish act of parliament, 2 Eliz. chap. 3. This act, 'for conferring and consecrating of archbishops and bishops within this realme,' aimed at planting the church of Ireland on a strong legal basis. It makes no mention of translation, but enjoins 'that the Person collated to any Archbishoprick or Bishoprick should be invested and consecrated thereto with all speed.' No reference was therefore made to Lancaster's previous tenure of the see of Kildare. He preached his own consecration sermon on the subject of 'Regeneration.' The archbishop had license to hold sundry preferments, both in England and in Ireland, on account of the poverty of his see, which had been wasted by rebellion. He died in Drogheda in December 1583, and was buried in St. Peter's Church in that town, in the vault of one of his predecessors, Octavian de Palatio (d. 1513). He left a son and two daughters.

His will, which is in the Public Record Office at Dublin, gave rise to protracted litigation (Cal. of Fiants, Eliz., P. R. O., 1883, 4452). According to the evidence in the lawsuit, which is preserved in the library of Trinity College, Dublin (MS. E. 4. 4. Lib. T. C. D.), Lancaster dictated the will when 'crazed and sycke after his truble,' and surfeited 'with red herring and drinking of mutch sack' on the evening which preceded his death. He designed without result the foundation of a public grammar school at Drogheda, to be endowed at his cost; eight scholarships tenable at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, were to be attached to it.

[Cotton's Fasti Eccl. Hib. i. ii. passim, iii. 19, Ware's Bishops, ed. Harris; Monck Mason's Hist. St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, pp. 170 sq.; Bagwell's Ireland under the Tudors; Mant's Church in Ireland; i. 262; Jewel's MS. Reg. at Salisbury, ff. 4852.]

W. R-l.