Ruthall, Thomas (DNB00)

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RUTHALL or ROWTHALL, THOMAS (d. 1523), bishop of Durham, was a native of Cirencester. His mother's name seems to have been Avenyng. He was educated at Oxford, and incorporated D.D. at Cambridge in 1500; but before this date he had entered the service of Henry VII. In June 1499, being then described as prothonotary, he went on an embassy to Louis XII of France, and he, on his return, occupied the position of king's secretary (cf. Gairdner, Letters and Papers of Richard III and Henry VII, Rolls Ser. i. 405, &c.; Cal. State Papers, Venetian, i. 795, 799). Ruthall had a long series of ecclesiastical preferments. In 1495 he had the rectory of Bocking, Essex, in 1502 he became a prebendary of Wells, and in 1503 archdeacon of Gloucester and chancellor of Cambridge University. In 1505 he was made prebendary of Lincoln, and was appointed dean there (not, as Wood says, at Salisbury). Henry VII, who had already made him a privy councillor, appointed him bishop of Durham in 1509, but died before he was consecrated. Henry VIII confirmed his appointment, and continued him in the office of secretary. He went to France with the king in 1513 with a hundred men, but was sent back to England when James IV threatened war. He took a great part in the preparations for defence, and wrote to Wolsey after Flodden. He was present at the marriage of Louis XII and the Princess Mary in 1514, and in 1516 was made keeper of the privy seal. In 1518 he was present when Wolsey was made legate, and was one of the commissioners when the Princess Mary was betrothed to the Dauphin. He was at the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520, and was again at Calais with Wolsey in 1521. When Buckingham was examined by the king, Ruthall was present as secretary. A story is told that being asked to make up an account of the kingdom, he did so, but accidentally gave in to the king another account treating of his own property, which was very large, and that he became ill with chagrin. He was a hardworking official who did a great deal of the interviewing necessary in diplomatic negotiations. Brewer represents him as Wolsey's drudge, and Giustinian speaks of his 'singing treble to the cardinal's bass.' He died on 4 Feb. 1522-3 at Durham Place, London, and was buried in St. John's Chapel, Westminster Abbey.

Ruthall was interested in architecture. He repaired the bridge at Newcastle, and built a great chamber at Bishop Auckland. He also increased the endowment of the grammar school at Cirencester which had been established by John Chedworth, bishop of Lincoln, in 1460. It afterwards fell into difficulties when the chantry commissioners of Edward VI's day attacked its endowments, which were not fully restored till 1573.

[Cooper's Athenae Cantabr. i. 27; Wood's Athenae Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 722; Wriothesley's Chron. (Camd. Soc.) i. 12; Chron. of Calais (Camd. Soc.) pp. 12, 19, 30; Letters and Papers of Richard III and Henry VII, ed. Gairdner (Rolls Ser.), i. 132, 405, 412, 414, ii. 338; Friedmann's Anne Boleyn, ii. 322; Leland's Itinerary, ii. 50, 51; Brewer's Henry VIII, i. 27 n.; Giustinian's Four Years at the Court of Henry VIII (ed. Rawdon Brown), i. 73 n., ii. 25 n.; Chesham's Cirencester, p. 213; Cal. State Papers, Venetian, 1509-19 passim, 1520-6 passim; in the index to Vol. i. of the Spanish Series he is confused with Fox, cf. p. 158; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, vols. i. and ii.]

W. A. J. A.