Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 15.djvu/18

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sophy. He was made vice-president and professor of theology in 1713–14.

He left Douay college to serve the English mission on 13 Aug. 1720, having been invited by Peter Giffard, esq., to take the ministerial charge at Chillington, Staffordshire. While there he was Bishop Stonor's principal adviser and grand vicar. Afterwards he was sent to Rome as agent extraordinary of the secular clergy of England. On the death of Bishop Thomas Williams he was nominated vicar apostolic of the northern district of England, by Benedict XIV, in September 1740, and he was consecrated on 19 March 1740–1 to the see of Malla in partibus infidelium by the bishop of Ghent. Proceeding to his vicariate he fixed his residence at a place belonging to his family near Wrightington, called Finch Mill. He died there on 24 April (5 May N.S.) 1752, and was buried in the private chapel attached to the parish church of Standish, near Wigan. Francis Petre was his successor in the northern vicariate.

He wrote: 1. A detailed account of his agency at Rome in four manuscript volumes, full of curious matter. 2. Reports and other documents relating to the state of his vicariate. Manuscripts preserved among the archives of the see of Liverpool. Six volumes of his papers were formerly in the possession of Dr. John Kirk of Lichfield. Dicconson copied for Dodd, the ecclesiastical historian, most of the records from Douay college, besides writing other parts of his work.

Dicconson's name was falsely affixed to a portrait of Bishop Bonaventure Giffard [q. v.], engraved by Burford from a painting by H. Hysing.

[Brady's Episcopal Succession, iii. 207, 250, 255–9; Gillow's Bibl. Dict.; Bromley's Cat. of Engraved Portraits, p. 271; Chambers's Biog. Illustr. of Worcestershire, p. 592; Catholic Miscellany, vi. 251–4, 260; Addit. MSS. 20310 ff. 188, 190, 208, 20312 ff. 139, 141, 20313 ff. 173, 175.]

T. C.

DICETO, RALPH de (d. 1202?), dean of St. Paul's, bears a surname otherwise entirely unknown. The presumption is that it is derived from the place of Ralph's birth. This place has often been identified with Diss in Norfolk, but the conjecture is not supported by any evidence either in the history of Diss or in the writings of Diceto, while it is contradicted by the mediæval forms of spelling the name of the town (Dize, Disze, Disce, Dysse, Dice, Dicia, Dyssia). After an exhaustive investigation of the subject Bishop Stubbs leans towards the conclusion that De Diceto ‘is an artificial name, adopted by its bearer as the Latin name of a place with which he was associated, but which had no proper Latin name of its own;’ and this, he suggests, may probably be one of three places in Maine, Dissai-sous-Courcillon, Dissé-sous-le-Lude, or Dissé-sous-Baillon. If this theory be correct, still Ralph de Diceto, who must have been born between 1120 and 1130, was probably brought at an early age into England, since, as Bishop Stubbs observes, ‘his notices of events touching the history of St. Paul's begin in 1136, and certainly have the appearance of personal recollections.’ His first known preferment was that of the archdeaconry of Middlesex, void by the election of Richard of Belmeis (the second of that name) as bishop of London. Richard's consecration took place on 28 Sept. 1152 (Stubbs, note to Gervase of Canterbury, Chron. a. 1151; Hist. Works, i. 148, Rolls Series, 1879), and the appointment of his successor in the archdeaconry was his first act as bishop, an act which the pope endeavoured to set aside in favour of a nominee of his own, and which he only sanctioned on the bishop's urgent petition, preferred through the mediation of Gilbert Foliot. From the fact of the appointment, and from the tenacity with which the bishop held to it, Dr. Stubbs conjectures that Diceto was a member of his family; for it was the prevailing practice to confer the confidential post of archdeacon upon a near kinsman; the family of Belmeis had long engrossed many of the most important offices in the chapter; and it was thus natural that this hereditary tendency should affect the archdeaconry. If this assumption be accepted, it is not hard to go a step further and suppose that Ralph was son or nephew of Ralph of Langford, the bishop's brother, who was dean of St. Paul's from about 1138 to 1160.

Diceto is described on his appointment as a ‘master,’ and he is known to have studied at Paris at two periods of his life (Arnulf. Lexov. ep. xvi.; Migne, Patrol. Lat. cci. 29, 30); the first time no doubt in his youth, the second some years after his preferment, probably between 1155 and 1160. Besides his archdeaconry, which was poorly endowed, he held two rectories in the country, Aynhoe in Northamptonshire, and Finchingfield in Essex, but at what date or whether at the same time is unknown. He performed his duties in them by means of a vicar. Apparently also he was once granted and then dispossessed of a prebend at St. Paul's, since Foliot, soon after he became bishop of London in 1162, exerted his influence with the king in vain to secure its restitution.

In the long conflict between Henry II and Thomas à Becket, Diceto's sympathies were