Warham, William (DNB00)
|←Warford, William||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 59
WARHAM, WILLIAM (1450?–1532), archbishop of Canterbury, born about 1450, belonged to a good family in Hampshire settled at Malshanger in the parish of Church Oakley. His father's name, according to Wood, was Robert. He was educated at Wykeham's school, and passed from Winchester to New College, Oxford, where he became a fellow in 1475. He left New College in 1488 after taking at Oxford the degree of LL.D. (which in 1500 was conferred on him by Cambridge also), came to London, and became an advocate in the court of arches. Soon afterwards he was chosen principal or moderator of the civil law school at Oxford. In 1490 he probably visited Rome as one of the proctors of Alcock, bishop of Ely, under a commission dated 26 Feb. 1489–90. In April 1491 he was sent with others to a diet at Antwerp to settle disputes with the Hanse merchants. In July 1493 he was sent on embassy along with Sir Edward Poynings [q. v.] to Flanders to remonstrate with the young archduke's council on the support given to Perkin Warbeck [q. v.] by Margaret, duchess of Burgundy [q. v.] He is said to have done so in a remarkably telling speech, but the remonstrance was fruitless. Two months after this, on 21 Sept., he appears to have been ordained subdeacon by Bishop William Smith or Smyth [q. v.] at Lichfield, under letters dimissory from the bishop of Hereford (Churton, Life of Bishop Smyth, p. 217), and on 2 Nov. he was made precentor of Wells. On 13 Feb. 1494 he was appointed master of the rolls, and he was one of the officials who attended at Westminster on 1 Nov. following at the creation of Prince Henry as Duke of York. On 1 April 1495 he was instituted rector of Barley in Hertfordshire, a living generally in the gift of the abbess of Chatteris in the Isle of Ely, who also presented him in 1500 to the rectory of Cottenham, near Cambridge, which he held along with Barley, probably till he was made bishop of London. An inscription, now lost, which was placed, while he was rector, in a window of Barley church, seems to speak of him as canon of St. Paul's, master of the rolls, and chancellor at the same time (Weever, Funeral Monuments, ed. 1631, p. 547). But it has evidently been transcribed inaccurately, ‘Cancellarii’ is a misreading of ‘Cancellariæ’ following ‘Rotulorum,’ and Warham's name does not occur in any list of canons and prebendaries of St. Paul's.
On 5 March 1496 Warham was commissioned to treat with De Puebla, the Spanish ambassador, for the marriage of Prince Arthur with Catherine of Arragon. On 28 April he was appointed archdeacon of Huntingdon. On 4 July 1497 he was associated with Richard Foxe [q. v.], bishop of Durham, in an embassy to Scotland to demand of James IV the surrender of Perkin Warbeck and other terms (Rymer, 1st edit. xii. 677). But Warbeck must have quitted Scotland by about the time the commissioners arrived there, and peace between the two countries was ultimately made in September by other commissioners, of whom Warham still was one. From 1496 to 1499 he was on frequent commissions for making treaties or settling commercial disputes with Burgundy and with the town of Riga. In March 1499 he was engaged at Calais, along with Fitzjames, bishop of Rochester, and Richard Hatton, in negotiating with commissioners of the Archduke Philip a treaty for the export of wool to Flanders. In May he was again sent oversea with Dr. Middleton on a mission to Maximilian, king of the Romans. In September 1501 he was sent with Charles Somerset (afterwards Earl of Worcester) [q. v.] on another mission to Maximilian, who had intimated his willingness to renew a league with England, and his strong desire for fifty thousand crowns for a war against the Turks. This Henry was for his part inclined to grant if he could only bind Maximilian to give up English refugees, especially Edmund De la Pole [q. v.] The negotiations were prolonged into the following spring, and continued with Maximilian's commissioners in the Low Countries, but only led at last to a treaty on 20 June 1502. Warham meanwhile had been elected bishop of London in his absence (October 1501), but he was not consecrated till 25 Sept. 1502, and it was only on 1 Oct. following that the temporalities were formally restored to him, though virtually he enjoyed them by a special grant of 25 Dec. 1501. While bishop-elect he resigned the mastership of the rolls on 1 Feb., and was made on 11 Aug. keeper of the great seal, a title which he exchanged for that of lord chancellor on 21 Jan. 1504. By that date, again, he had become archbishop-elect of Canterbury, having been translated by a bull of Julius II on 29 Nov. 1503. He took his oath to the pope at St. Stephen's, Westminster, on 23 Jan. 1504, and received the pall at Lambeth on 2 Feb. following (Wharton, Anglia Sacra, i. 124). He was enthroned with great magnificence on 9 March.
In February 1506, when Philip, king of Castile, driven on the English coast by tempest, was entertained by Henry VII at Windsor, invested with the Garter, and compelled to make a treaty, the archbishop took part in the different functions. On 20 March he was principal negotiator in the treaty for Henry VII's marriage to Margaret of Savoy. On 28 May of the same year he was elected chancellor of Oxford University, an office which he held till his death. On 3 Feb. 1508 he promulgated a code of statutes for his court of audience, calculated to check abuses. In December following he had again ceremonial duties thrust upon him in receiving the great Flemish embassy for the marriage of the king's daughter Mary to Prince Charles of Castile (‘The Spouselles of the Lady Marye’ in Camden Miscellany, vol. ix., Camden Soc.). He was always a good orator on such occasions; and his speeches, or sermons, as chancellor, at the opening of the first three parliaments of Henry VIII (in 1510, 1512, and 1515) appear to have given very great satisfaction.
On 24 June 1509 he crowned Henry and Catherine of Arragon at Westminster. In 1510 he was appointed by Julius II to present the golden rose to the king, and in 1514, when Leo X sent Henry a cap and sword, the archbishop received the ambassador, and, after singing mass, put the cap on the king's head and girt the sword about him. Meanwhile, in 1512, he was involved in a controversy with his suffragans, who complained of new encroachments on their jurisdiction by the prerogative of Canterbury. In this the lead was taken by Richard Foxe [q. v.], bishop of Winchester. Warham was no doubt jealous of the rights of his see, and the controversy is said to have been a hot one. The case was referred to Rome, and afterwards, by agreement, to the king, who seems to have arranged a compromise. But whatever may have been Warham's conduct in this matter, there is no doubt of his private munificence, especially in the case of Erasmus, to whom in 1509 he sent 5l. (a large sum then) and the promise of a living to induce him to come and settle in England. He afterwards sent Erasmus repeated presents of 10l., 20l., and even 40l. at a time—the lowest of these sums being quite equal to 100l. now. On Sunday, 13 Aug. 1514, he preached a sermon at the proxy marriage of the king's sister Mary to Louis XII of France. It was from his hands that Wolsey in November 1515 received his cardinal's hat at Westminster Abbey; and when the new-made cardinal left the church with his cross borne before him the archbishop followed, no longer preceded, as usual, by the cross of Canterbury. Another change very shortly followed. On 22 Dec. he delivered up the great seal, and Wolsey was made lord chancellor in his place. For years he had been seeking to resign the burden, and both he and Foxe, who about the same time resigned the office of privy seal, disliked the king's policy in secretly aiding the emperor against France and Venice.
In 1518 Warham received Cardinal Campeggio at Canterbury on his first coming to England as legate. This mission was to obtain aid for a crusade against the Turks—a project for which the convocation of Canterbury had some years before refused to make any grant. And Campeggio was only allowed to enter the country after legatine authority had been conferred also upon Wolsey, who had long set his heart on it. The result was that for some time afterwards Warham's jurisdiction as archbishop was encroached upon by Wolsey as legate. In May 1520, when Charles V first landed in England, Warham received him and the king at Canterbury, where the hall of his palace was partitioned for the banquet. The archbishop immediately afterwards went over to Henry VIII, meeting Francis I at the Field of the Cloth of Gold, and was also present at the second meeting with the emperor at Gravelines, attended by ten horsemen and ten men on foot. Next year (1521) there was much outcry about Lutheranism in England, with which it was said that Oxford was infected; but Warham, as chancellor of the university, replying to Wolsey's letter on the subject, believed that the evil was limited to a few indiscreet persons. He witnessed, however, along with other bishops at St. Paul's the burning of some Lutheran volumes on 12 May before Wolsey and the pope's nuncio. In January 1522 he writes to thank Wolsey for getting Tunstall promoted to the see of London, rejoicing that the king gave great preferments to learned men.
In May 1522 Warham received notice at Oxford of the emperor's determination to land in England, but was unable from illness to be at Canterbury to meet him. Later in the year he had the duty imposed on him of setting watches on the Kentish coast, and preparing for defence against invasion. On 23 Jan. 1523 he made an agreement with Wolsey about testamentary jurisdiction. It does not appear to have turned out satisfactorily; for in this, as in other things, there was always a good deal of friction between the legatine authority and the ordinary jurisdiction of the southern archbishop. In 1518, indeed, at the very commencement of Wolsey's legateship, the cardinal wrote the archbishop a seemingly censorious rebuke for having dared to call a council of his suffragans about reforms in the church without reference to the legatine authority (Wilkins, iii. 660, cp. pp. 661, 681). But this was probably a mere official proceeding. The archbishop exercised his authority in the first place, and then the legate overruled the archbishop. Another instance of the same thing occurred in this year (1523), when Wolsey, as legate, cited to Westminster a convocation summoned by the archbishop to meet at St. Paul's. A satirical distich was written by Skelton on the occurrence, and doubtless the new jurisdiction was not very popular. But Warham's disputes with Wolsey, though sometimes referred to the king and sometimes to Rome, were never personal, as Polydore Vergil insinuates that they were. On the contrary, his letters repeatedly declare his sense of Wolsey's kindness; and just before this agreement about testamentary jurisdiction, he being too ill to wait upon the cardinal, Wolsey offered him quarters at Hampton Court, and urged him to be careful to live in a high and dry situation.
On 2 Nov. commissions were sent into the different counties to press the country gentlemen to anticipate their payment of the subsidy granted by parliament for the war, and Warham was chief commissioner in Kent. Next year a loan was demanded in addition to the subsidy, and the king asked the archbishop for a thousand marks by royal letter dated 6 Sept. 16 Hen. VIII (1524). Warham with some difficulty furnished this amount on 27 Oct., but meanwhile, although troubled with an ‘old disease in his head,’ was compelled to press similar demands from the king on the clergy and laity in Kent—the money to be gathered in at Michaelmas (in the Calendar of Henry VIII, vol. iv., No. 1662 seems to belong to the year 1524, and also No. 4631 which is placed in 1528). In the spring of 1525, after the news of Francis I's capture at Pavia, people were again pressed for further contributions in the shape of an amicable grant. Warham had to feel the pulse of both clergy and laity in this matter in Kent, and he reported their general inability to contribute. Some, indeed, were impatient with Wolsey, whom they supposed to be the author of this exaction, and called Warham behind his back an old fool for submitting to it. Shortly afterwards Warham congratulated Wolsey on the wisdom of his mediation with the king for a mitigation of the demand, which ultimately led to its withdrawal. He also in July protested against Wolsey's suspicion that he was in any way responsible for the opposition of the inhabitants of Tunbridge to the dissolution of the priory there for the benefit of Wolsey's college at Oxford.
In May 1527 Warham was Wolsey's assessor in the secret inquiry first instituted as to the validity of the king's marriage with Catherine of Arragon. He was simple enough to believe Wolsey's story that the doubt which had been raised proceeded, not from the king but from the bishop of Tarbes, and was pre- pared to have investigated the matter impartially according to the canon laws. In the beginning of July Wolsey, on his way to France, told him that the matter had come to the queen's ears, and that she took it very ill; on which he showed himself astonished that she should have heard anything about it, but said that, however she took it, truth and law must prevail.
In September the king was his guest for a few days at Otford. Next year, on Easter Tuesday, about a hundred Kentish yeomen came to wait on him at Knole, praying him to urge the king to repay the loan which he had undertaken should be refunded. Wolsey, however, intimated that the petition must be absolutely suppressed, as it would embolden others, and Warham felt himself compelled to send to his fellow commissioners, Lord Rochford and Sir Henry Guildford, a man who transcribed the petition and the man in whose hands the original was found.
In the following summer (1528) the archbishop's household was visited so severely by the sweating sickness that one day eighteen persons died of it in four hours. A little later, when the archbishop himself had gone to Canterbury, meaning to stay there over the winter, ill-health obliged him to remove again to Otford, whence he wrote on 21 Sept. to Wolsey, declaring his inability to receive Cardinal Campeggio, as he could not ride three miles on horseback. He feared, moreover, that a return of his old complaint in the head would be dangerous to him. Nevertheless he did go to Canterbury, where he attended the legate and censed him in the church.
Warham happily was not compelled to take any very prominent part in the unpleasant business for which Campeggio came. In the previous spring a bull had been despatched at Rome empowering Wolsey, with Campeggio for assessor, to take cognisance of the question of the king's divorce; but this was only one device out of several, and no use was made of it. When the legate came the king agreed to allow his queen the aid of counsel, of whom Warham was the chief. Of how little value he was in this capacity the queen herself declared some time later to a deputation of noblemen sent to remonstrate with her on having caused the king's citation to Rome. When she said she was friendless in England, the Duke of Norfolk reminded her that she had the very best counsel in the country; to which she replied that they were fine counsellors indeed, when the archbishop to whom she had appealed for advice had answered that he would not meddle in such matters, giving as his reason Ira principis mors est. It is clear that when Wolsey and Campeggio, the latter being baffled in a preliminary effort to avert proceedings by the queen's absolute refusal to enter a nunnery, called Warham and others to a consultation, Warham could have advised nothing counter to the king's wishes. Little else is recorded of him till, after Campeggio's departure, parliament assembled in November 1529. The imperial ambassador Chapuys makes the extraordinary statement that when ‘the estates’ met, they at first elected the archbishop of Canterbury as their speaker but, as he was a churchman, the king rejected him ‘on the plea that he was too old,’ and they chose another more to the king's satisfaction. That the commons should have thought of electing as speaker a member of the other house seems almost inconceivable; but it may be that they sought a powerful patron to set forth their grievances. In this session Warham's ill-working agreement with Wolsey about testamentary jurisdiction was the subject of new complaints, and the commons were encouraged to attack the spiritual courts generally, especially on the ground of excessive fees. Among other things it was alleged that the executors of Sir William Compton had paid a thousand marks to the cardinal of York and the archbishop of Canterbury for probate. Ultimately several enactments were passed to restrict the privileges of the clergy.
On 15 and 28 March 1530 Warham, as chancellor of the university, wrote two letters to the divines at Oxford rebuking them for their delay in answering the question propounded to them on the king's part as to the lawfulness of his marriage when the universities of Paris and Cambridge had already declared their minds. On 24 May he sat in council with the king in the parliament chamber on heretical books, a list of which and of the errors contained in them was published by authority. In June or July he affixed his signature after Wolsey's to the letters addressed by the lords of England to the pope to consent to the king's desire for a divorce without delay. That his signature, like most of the others which followed, was obtained by strong pressure brought to bear upon him personally, is certain. Even in the preceding January the queen was informed that the king had written to warn the archbishop that if the pope did not comply with his wishes, his authority and that of all churchmen in England would be destroyed. In August the archbishop was summoned to a council at Hampton Court which sat daily from the 11th to the 16th; undoubtedly to consider the king's relations with Rome after a brief had been sent by the pope to forbid universities, as such, giving any further opinions on the divorce question. In September the English ambassadors at Rome were soliciting a decretal commission to three bishops in England to judge the cause, or failing that, to the archbishop and clergy of Canterbury. But although their efforts were seconded (very insincerely) by the bishop of Tarbes in order to make it appear that France would join England in enmity to the Holy See if the pope did not yield, they led to no result.
On 25 Nov. 1530 Warham made his will. He felt, doubtless, that a time of still more acute trial was at hand. Wolsey had already been sent for from the north, and, but for his death, would no doubt have been committed to the Tower. Warham knew that he himself would be required still further to be an instrument of the king's designs. Sampson, dean of the chapel, presented him about this time with eight documents in favour of the divorce obtained from French and Italian universities, which More, as chancellor, had to lay before parliament on 30 March following. Warham's subservience was so far relied on that the pope was continually urged to commit the cause to him; but Clement very naturally replied that he was no fit judge, having actually made himself a party by signing the letter from the lords to urge him to give judgment according to the king's wishes. In December Warham went a step further to satisfy the king by calling before him Bishop Fisher and urging him to retract what he had written in the queen's favour; but though his exhortations were seconded by those of Stokesley, Lee, and Edward Foxe, they were unavailing. Indeed Warham's subservience caused him now to be censured in placards affixed to the door of St. Paul's, which, as they reflected on the king and his privy council as well, were immediately taken down and destroyed.
At the end of 1530 the whole clergy of England was subject to a præmunire in the king's bench for having acknowledged Wolsey's legatine authority. The convocation of Canterbury met at Westminster Abbey on 21 Jan. 1531, and endeavoured to buy off the royal displeasure by a heavy subsidy payable in five years. But on 7 Feb. a body of judges and privy councillors informed them that their grant would not be accepted without certain emendations in the preamble recognising the king's supremacy over the church. The claim was ambiguous and was resisted for three days, when the king intimated through Lord Rochford that he would be content if the words ‘post Deum’ were inserted after ‘supremum Caput.’ But even this did not give satisfaction, and Warham proposed an amendment recognising the king as protector and supreme lord of the church ‘et quantum per Christi legem licet, etiam supremum Caput.’ This no one either seconded or opposed, and the archbishop remarked ‘Qui tacet consentire videtur.’ ‘Then we are all silent,’ some one exclaimed, and the new title was voted in this form. On 22 March accordingly Warham notified to the king the grant of 100,000l. passed by convocation to purchase the pardon of the clergy. On 10 July the king instructed Benet at Rome once more to propose to the pope (on the plea that he was afraid of the emperor) that Warham should determine his divorce cause, speaking highly of his impartiality as one who was once of the queen's counsel, above eighty years of age, and who owed nothing to the king; for the king, in fact, had taken from him the chancellorship and in the last session of parliament the probate of testaments. Of course the policy was to magnify the archbishop's independence at Rome while securing the very contrary at home. But Warham's conscience at length rebelled at proceedings which had been systematically planned to destroy the independence of the clergy. On 24 Feb. 1532 he made a formal protest against all the acts of the parliament (now in its third session) which had begun in November 1529 that were derogatory to the pope's authority or to the ecclesiastical prerogatives of the province of Canterbury. But both he and the clergy were made to feel themselves quite at the king's mercy. The House of Commons was not only encouraged but prompted by the court to pass a bill complaining of innumerable abuses in ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the ‘uncharitable’ way in which prosecutions were conducted; also that the clergy in convocation made laws without the king's knowledge, inconsistent with the laws of the realm, and so forth. This petition was presented by the speaker to the king on 18 March 1532, with a request at the same time that his majesty would now release his faithful subjects from their long and costly attendance in parliament by a dissolution, and let them return home to the country. But the king very naturally replied that if they expected any result from their petition, they must wait for it. The petition was delivered to the archbishop on 12 April, when convocation resumed after the Easter holidays, and, after being referred to the lower house, an elaborate categorical answer was drawn up partly in the name of Warham himself, who replied that he had quite lately reformed some of the very things objected to in the working of his spiritual courts, and was anxious still to amend anything that was found amiss. In all the other articles it was shown that there was equally little cause of complaint. It was a most able answer; but when the king on 30 April presented it to the House of Commons, he told them he thought it would not give them satisfaction, but he left it to them, and promised for his own part to be an indifferent judge of the controversy. As a result, the clergy were compelled to make further answer, promising not to publish any new laws without the king's consent, and the famous ‘submission of the clergy’ was obtained on 15 May.
Warham's ineffectual protest against what was done in parliament seems only to have drawn down upon him attacks in the House of Lords. The draft of a speech has been preserved which he either delivered or intended to deliver in that assembly justifying his action in consecrating certain bishops without knowing whether they had presented their bulls to the king, and showing that without the least disloyalty he stood up once more for the constitutions of Clarendon, for which St. Thomas of Canterbury had died. But he was now worn out. He died on 22 Aug. 1532, when on a visit to his nephew, also named William Warham, whom he had made archdeacon of Canterbury at St. Stephen's (or Hackington) beside his own cathedral city. He was buried in the cathedral on 10 Sept. in the place called ‘the martyrdom.’ He left his theological books to All Souls' College, Oxford, his civil and canon law books with the prick-song books belonging to his chapel to New College, and his ‘ledgers,’ grayles, and antiphonals to Wykeham College, Winchester.
His portrait, a good specimen of Holbein's art, is preserved at Lambeth, and a replica of it is at the Louvre. The Lambeth picture has been finely engraved by Vertue (1737) and by Picart; that at the Louvre has been engraved by Conquy. The original drawing for it is also preserved among the Holbein drawings at Windsor. It represents an old man of grave and gentle aspect, with a fleshy but wrinkled face, grey eyes, and high cheek-bone (cf. Cat. Tudor Exhib. Nos. 107, 1092, 1093; Wornum, Life of Holbein, 1867, pp. 217–18).
Even more interesting is the literary portrait of him drawn by Erasmus in his ‘Ecclesiastes,’ from which we learn that, while giving sumptuous entertainments, often to as many as two hundred guests, he himself ate frugal meals and hardly tasted wine; that he never prolonged the dinner above an hour, but yet was a most genial host; and that he never hunted or played at dice, but his chief recreation was reading. He says in his will that he thinks his executors should be free from any charges for dilapidations, as he had spent 30,000l. in repairs and new building of houses belonging to his church. His munificence towards public objects as well as literary men was great; yet he died, as More wrote, incredibly poor, leaving not much more than sufficient to pay his debts and funeral expenses. Just before his death he is said to have called his steward and asked him how much ready money he had in hand, and, being answered 30l., he said ‘Sat est viatici’ (Erasmus's Preface to St. Jerome's Works, Paris, 1534).[Polydori Virgilii Anglica Historia; Epistolæ Erasmi; Memorials of Henry VII, and Letters and Papers of Richard III and Henry VII, both in Rolls Ser.; Wilkins's Concilia; State Papers of Henry VIII; Cal. Henry VIII, vols. i–v.; Cal. State Papers, Spanish, vols. i–iv. and Venetian, vols. i–iv.; Rymer's Fœdera; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 738–41; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr.; Parker, De Antiquitate Britannicæ Ecclesiæ; Pits, De Angliæ Scriptoribus; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.; Excerpta Historica; Archæologia Cantiana, vols. i. ii.; Dixon's Hist. of the Church of England, vols. i. ii.; Hook's Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, new ser. vol. i.; Campbell's Lord Chancellors; Foss's Judges; Wills from Doctors' Commons, Camden Soc.]