throne of Canterbury. An attempt was made by Queen Isabella and Mortimer to procure the appointment of their faithful partisan, Henry Burghersh [q. v.], bishop of Lincoln, and it was at least suggested to the pope that he should be chosen by papal provision. But the more moderate section of the government, Henry of Lancaster and his friends, were strong enough to prevent this, and seem to have hurried on a canonical election with the view of anticipating papal interference. The monks of Christ Church, Canterbury, received a permission to elect, dated 30 Nov., and accompanied by royal letters recommending Meopham to their choice. On 11 Dec. the election was effected, a committee of seven monks acting for the whole body, in accordance with the method ‘per viam compromissi’ (Ann. Paul. p. 338). On 21 Dec. Meopham, who was then in residence at Chichester, accepted the proffered dignity. On 2 Jan. 1328 Edward III gave his consent at Lichfield. On 6 Jan. the archbishop-elect received from Nottingham a safe-conduct for one year on his going to Rome, and on the same day he nominated his brother Edmund and one William of Fishbourne to act as his attorneys during the same period (Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1327–30, p. 199). On 18 Jan. he took ship for France at Dover (Ann. Paul. p. 338). Some delay now ensued. The English government urged on pope and cardinals the speedy acceptance of Simon as archbishop; but the pope was significantly reminded that if he found difficulties in accepting the chapter's nominee the king would willingly accept his former candidate, the Bishop of Lincoln (Wilkins, ii. 542). John XXII was in no position to offend any one. On 25 May he confirmed the election of Meopham. On 5 June Peter, cardinal-bishop of Palestrina, consecrated Simon bishop in the church of the Dominicans at Avignon. On 9 June the pallium was conferred. Meopham did not hurry home. At last he landed at Dover on 5 Sept., and on 19 Sept. received the temporalities of his see from the king at Lynn.
Meopham seems to have been a weak man, of no great ability, and with but a scanty knowledge of ecclesiastical tradition and propriety. His helplessness is well seen in the curious correspondence between him and the experienced prior of Christ Church, Canterbury, Henry of Eastry [q. v.], who gave him the most elementary advice, in a tone of patronising superiority, especially during the first year of his archbishopric (Literæ Cantuarienses, vol. i. passim). But Meopham took a serious view of his office, and strove to do what he could to promote peace and religion, though his minute and litigious care for the rights of his see soon involved him in disputes on every side. He wished to be surrounded by a reputable household, and was laughed at because of the scrupulousness shown by his brothers Edmund and Thomas in gathering together a suitable household of clerks and servants for him. They found, says William Dene, hardly any persons fit for this office in England. They sought for angels rather than men (W. Dene in Anglia Sacra, i. 368). But Edmund was soon seized with a mortal illness, and the archbishop, immediately after his interview with the king at Lynn, hurried to London to pay his brother a final visit. On 25 Sept. 1328 Simon took advantage of this to preach a short sermon to the Londoners at St. Paul's, and implore the prayers of the people (Ann. Paulini, p. 342). In October Simon attended the Salisbury parliament, where great confusion was produced by the refusal of Earl Henry of Lancaster to attend its deliberations. Civil war seemed threatened between Lancaster and Mortimer. The archbishop with some of his suffragans sought to bring about peace; but Mortimer peremptorily ordered them to cease all negotiations with the recalcitrant earl. The parliament broke up in confusion. Meopham returned to London, where he remained until January 1329, preaching to the people at St. Paul's, and frightening the king by his presence at a meeting of the discontented barons on 18 Dec. The meeting seems to have been but scantily attended, and even the Bishop of Rochester, Haymo Heath, an immediate dependent of the archbishop, incurred Meopham's wrath by refusing to attend. Moreover, Lancaster held aloof until 2 Jan. 1329, when he came sulkily from Waltham and attended another great meeting at St. Paul's, at which he patched up an agreement with the magnates who acted with the archbishop. But the king's uncles deserted Lancaster, and Simon urged strongly on him the need of submission to the king. At last Earl Henry humbled himself, whereupon Simon went with him, the Bishop of London, and the king's brothers to meet the young king at Bedford, where a general reconciliation was effected. Meopham was thus set free to complete the ceremonies incident to his appointment. On 22 Jan. 1329 he was enthroned at Canterbury (ib. pp. 343–4). On 4 Feb. he crowned Queen Philippa at London (Gesta Edwardi, Auctore Bridlingtoniensi, p. 100). Frightened perhaps by the troubles that followed on his attempt to play the part of mediator, Meopham seems to have carefully abstained from all politics for the rest of his life. His