Raleigh, William de (DNB00)

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RALEIGH, WILLIAM de (d. 1250), bishop of Winchester, was a native of Devonshire, but it is doubtful to which of the four branches of the Devonshire Raleighs he belonged. Prince (Worthies of Devon, p. 516) inclines to the family settled near Barnstaple. In 1212 he was presented by King John to the church of Bratton, and was employed in judicial business in Lincolnshire and Cumberland in 1226–7. In 1228 he was appointed one of the justices of the bench and one of the justices itinerant. He was at some period in the earlier part of his career a canon of St. Paul's, holding the prebend of Kentish Town (Matt. Paris, Hist. Minor, ii. 400; Le Neve, Fasti, ii. 403), and in 1237 he was treasurer of Exeter Cathedral (Grosseteste, Letters, ed. Luard; Le Neve, Fasti, i. 414). He is said by Matthew Paris to have been skilled in the laws of the realm, and to have been a particularly intimate counsellor of the king. Probably this position, rather than any reputation for sanctity, caused the monks of several vacant cathedral churches to elect him to their sees. In 1239 he was elected, first to Coventry or Lichfield, and afterwards to Norwich, but he chose Norwich, and was consecrated by Archbishop Edmund Rich at St. Paul's on 25 Sept. of that year, in succession to Thomas Blunville. During his episcopate he took an active part in punishing Jews who were accused of conspiring to crucify a Christian boy.

Already, after the death of Peter des Roches in 1238, and before he became bishop of Norwich, Raleigh was elected by the monks to the vacant see of Winchester, but he did not get possession until 1244. When the king's candidate, William of Valence [q. v.], the queen's uncle, was objected to by the monks as a man of blood, Henry retorted that Raleigh had slain many more with his tongue than his rival with his sword. Henry resorted in vain to various oppressive measures, and would not yield, even when William de Valence died. But by a lavish expenditure, which impoverished his rich new diocese for the rest of his life, Raleigh in 1243 procured papal confirmation, and Henry's gold failed to obtain a reversal of the bull. As the king, with the help of the mayor of Winchester, now kept the bishop elect out of the city by force, he retaliated by excommunication and interdict, and retired to France, where he obtained favour with Louis IX. At last, in 1244, under protest and threat of interdict from three English bishops, the English king yielded, and allowed Raleigh to enjoy his see.

At the great council of 1244 Raleigh was one of the joint committee of prelates, earls, and barons chosen to consider the king's demand for a subsidy, and he was present at the parliament of 1248. In 1245 he attended the council of Lyons, and early in 1249 he went again to France. He died at Tours on 1 Sept. 1250, after spending eleven months there for the sake of economy.

[Matt. Paris; Ann. Waverley; Ann. Winton.; Bartholom. Cotton.; Grosseteste's Letters, 1235, 1236, 1245; Stubbs's Registrum Sacrum Angl.; Dugdale's Monast. Angl. and Chronica Series, pp. 9, 11; Fuller's Worthies of England in Devonshire, i. 252, 277; Godwin, De Præsulibus Angliæ Commentarius; Stubbs's Const. Hist. 1878, iii. 308 n.]

E. G. P.