Walden, Roger (DNB00)
|←Waldegrave, William (1753-1825)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 59
WALDEN, ROGER (d. 1406), archbishop of Canterbury, is said to have been of humble birth, the son of a butcher at Saffron Walden in Essex (Annales, p. 417; Usk, p. 37). But the statement comes from sources not free from prejudice, and cannot perhaps be entirely trusted. He had a brother John described as an esquire ‘of St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield,’ who, when he made his will in 1417, was possessed of considerable property in Essex (Wylie, iii. 127). Roger Walden's belle-mère (i.e. stepmother) was apparently living with John Walden at St. Bartholomew's in 1400 (Chronique de la Traïson, p. 75). There was a contemporary, Sir Alexander Walden in Essex, but there is no evidence that they were in any way connected with him. Nothing is known of Walden's education and first advance in life. Two not very friendly chroniclers give somewhat contradictory accounts of his acquirements when made archbishop—one describing him as a lettered layman, the other as almost illiterate (Eulogium, iii. 377; Annales, p. 213). His earliest recorded promotion, the first of an unusually numerous series of ecclesiastical appointments, was to the benefice of St. Heliers in Jersey on 6 Sept. 1371 (Fœdera, vi. 692; Le Neve, iii. 123). The Percy family presented him to the church of Kirkby Overblow in Yorkshire in 1374; but he was living in Jersey in 1378–9, and four years later received custody of the estates of Reginald de Carteret in that island (Hook, iv. 529; Fœdera, vii. 349; Cal. Rot. Pat. i. 269). He was ‘locum tenens seu deputatus’ of the Channel Islands, but between what dates is uncertain (Fœdera, viii. 64). He held the living of Fenny Drayton, Leicestershire, which he exchanged for that of Burton in Kendale in 1385, when he is described as king's clerk (ib. ii. 564; Fœdera, vii. 349). His rapid advancement from 1387 onwards shows that he had secured strong court favour. In the July of that critical year he was made archdeacon of Winchester, a position which he held until 1395, but he was ‘better versed in things of the camp and the world than of the church and the study’ (Usk, p. 37; Le Neve, iii. 26), and plenty of secular employment was found for him. Appointed captain of Mark, near Calais, in October 1387, which he vacated for the high-bailiffship of Guisnes in 1391, he held also from December 1387 (if not earlier) to 1392 the important position of treasurer of Calais, in which capacity he acted in various negotiations with the French and Flemings, and joined the captain of Calais on a cattle raid into French territory in 1388 (Froissart, xxv. 72, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove; Fœdera, vii. 565, 607, 669; Wylie, iii. 125).
From these employments Walden was recalled to become secretary to Richard II, and ultimately succeeded John de Waltham [q. v.], bishop of Salisbury, as treasurer of England in 1395 (Usk, p. 37; Walsingham, ii. 218). Meanwhile the stream of ecclesiastical promotion had not ceased to flow in his direction. At Lincoln, after a brief tenure of one prebend in the last months of 1389, he held another from October 1393 to January 1398 (Le Neve, ii. 126, 220; Fœdera, viii. 23); at Salisbury he was given two prebends in 1391 and 1392 (Jones, Fasti Ecclesiæ Sarisberiensis, pp. 364, 394); he had others at Exeter (till 1396) and at Lichfield (May 1394–May 1398; Stafford's Register, p. 168; Le Neve, i. 618). The rectory of Fordham, near Colchester, conferred upon him early in 1391, he at once exchanged for that of St. Andrew's, Holborn (Newcourt, i. 274, ii. 270). With the treasurership of England he received the deanery of York, and in February 1397 the prebend of Willesden in St. Paul's (Le Neve, ii. 451, iii. 124).
On the banishment and translation of Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, in the autumn of 1397, Richard got Walden provided to that see by papal bull, and invested him with the temporalities in January 1398 (Annales, p. 213; Le Neve, i. 21). John of Gaunt appointed him one of the surveyors of his will (Nichols, p. 165). He was present at the Coventry tournament, and took out a general pardon on 21 Nov. 1398 for all debts incurred or offences committed (including ‘insanum consilium’) in his secular offices (Traïson, p. 19; Fœdera, viii. 63).
When Arundel returned with Henry of Lancaster the pope quashed the bull he had executed in Walden's favour, on the ground that he had been deceived (Annales, p. 321). Walden's jewels, which he had removed from the palace at Canterbury, and six cart- loads of goods, which he sent to Saltwood Castle, near Hythe, had been seized and were restored to Arundel (Eulogium, iii. 382; Usk, p. 37). His arms—gules, a bend azure, and a martlet d'or—for which Arundel's had been erased on the hangings at Lambeth, were torn down and thrown out of window (ib.) His register was destroyed, and the records of his consecration and acts are lost (but cf. Wilkins, iii. 326). Before the pope restored Arundel, Walden, still de facto archbishop, appeared before the Duke of Lancaster and the archbishop de jure at the bishop of London's palace and besought their pardon; his life was spared at Arundel's instance (Usk, p. 37; Eulogium, iii. 385). Adam of Usk, who witnessed the scene, compares the two archbishops to two heads on one body.
Walden was taken from the liberties of Westminster and committed to the Tower on 10 Jan. 1400 on suspicion of complicity in the Epiphany plot against Henry IV, but was acquitted (4 Feb.) and set at liberty (Fœdera, viii. 121; Annales, p. 330; Traïson, pp. 100–1). But according to the French authority (ib. p. 77) last mentioned, he had been a party to the conspiracy. This testimony, however, carries no decisive weight.
Walden was not allowed to want, receiving, for instance, in 1403 two barrels of wine from the king; but he felt himself ‘in the dust and under foot of man’ (Wylie, iii. 125; Wilkins, iii. 378, 380; Gough, iii. 19). On the death of Robert Braybrooke, bishop of London, in August 1404, the forgiving Arundel used his influence in Walden's behalf, and induced Innocent VII to issue a bull providing him to that see on 10 Dec. 1404. But the king, who had a candidate of his own, refused at first to give his consent to the appointment; and it was only as a kind of consolation to Arundel for the failure of his attempt to save Archbishop Scrope in the early summer of 1405 that Henry at last gave way and allowed Walden, on making a declaration to safeguard the rights of the crown, to be consecrated on 29 June at Lambeth (Wylie, iii. 126; Le Neve, ii. 293; Wharton, pp. 149–50). He was installed in St. Paul's on 30 June, the festival of the saint; the canons in the procession wearing garlands of red roses (ib.) But Walden did not live to enjoy his new dignity long. Before the end of the year he fell ill, made his will at his episcopal residence at Much Hadham in Hertfordshire on 31 Dec. and died there on 6 Jan. 1406 (Gough, iii. 19). An interesting account of his funeral by an eye-witness, John Prophete, the clerk of the privy seal, has been preserved (Harl. MS. 431108, f. 97 b, quoted by Wylie, iii. 127). The body, after lying in state for a few days in the new chapel Walden had built in the priory church of St. Bartholomew's, with which his brother and executor was connected, was conveyed to St. Paul's and laid to rest in the chapel of All Saints in the presence of Clifford, bishop of Worcester, and many others. Before this was done, however, Prophete uncovered the face of the dead prelate, which seemed to them to look fairer than in life and like that of one sleeping. His epitaph is given by Weever (p. 434). It says much for Walden's character and amiable qualities that, in spite of his usurpation, every one spoke well of him. Prophete praises his moderation in prosperity and patience in adversity. Arundel, whose see he had usurped, adds his testimony to his honest life and devotion to the priestly office; even Adam of Usk, who reproaches him with the secular employments of his early life, bears witness to his amiability and popularity (ib.; Wilkins, iii. 282; Usk, p. 37).
John Drayton, citizen and goldsmith of London, by his will, made in 1456, founded chantries in St. Paul's and in the church of Tottenham for the souls of Walden and his brother and his wife Idonea, as well as those of John de Waltham, bishop of Salisbury, his predecessor as treasurer, and of Richard II and his queen (Newcourt, i. 754). It is not known what connection had existed between Drayton and the two prelates. By a curious coincidence, however, both Waltham and Walden had been rectors of Fenny Drayton.
A manuscript collection of chronological tables of patriarchs, popes, kings, and emperors, misleadingly entitled ‘Historia Mundi’ (Cotton. MS. Julius B. xiii), has been attributed to Walden (Wylie, iii. 125) on the strength of a note at the beginning of the manuscript. But this ascription is in a later hand, not earlier than the sixteenth century. The manuscript itself probably dates from the early part of the thirteenth century, which disposes of the alleged authorship of Walden, and is equally fatal to the attribution to Roger de Waltham (d. 1336) [q. v.] found in another copy of the ‘Historia’ (Harl. MS. 1312).[Rymer's Fœdera, original ed.; Cal. Patent Rolls of Richard II, vols. i. and ii.; Wilkins's Concilia Magnæ Britanniæ; Annales Ricardi II et Henrici IV (with Trokelowe), Walsingham's Historia Anglicana, and the Continuation of the Eulogium Historiarum (vol. iii.), all in Rolls Ser.; Adam of Usk, ed. Maunde Thompson; Froissart, ed. Kervyn de Lettenhove; Chronique de la Traïson et Mort de Richart deux, ed. Engl. Hist. Soc.; Nichols's Royal Wills; Godwin, De Præsulibus Angliæ, 1742; Wharton, De Episcopis Londoniensibus et Assavensibus; Newcourt's Repertorium Parochiale Londoniense; Hennessy's Novum Rep. Eccl. 1898; Le Neve's Fasti Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ, ed. Hardy; Jones's Fasti Ecclesiæ Sarisberiensis; Register of Bishop Stafford, ed. Hingeston-Randolph; Weever's Ancient Funerall Monuments; Wylie's Hist. of Henry IV (where most of the facts of Walden's biography are brought together); Hook's Archbishops of Canterbury; Milman's Hist. of St. Paul's.]