Warkworth, John (DNB00)

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WARKWORTH, JOHN (d. 1500), reputed author of a chronicle of Edward IV's time, was a man of unknown origin. He has been supposed to be a native of the diocese of Durham, and one John Warkworth, who was ordained acolyte by Bishop Grey of Ely in 1468, is certainly so described. But this was not the chronicler, although he was afterwards a fellow of the college of which the chronicler became master. The chronicler studied at Oxford, was elected a fellow of Merton in 1446, and gave books to that college. He was auditor in 1449 of the accounts of the university library, and in 1453 of the expenditure of a legacy of Cardinal Beaufort's. In 1451 he was principal of ‘Bull Hall,’ and in 1453 of ‘Nevill's Inn,’ where apparently he continued to 1457. Both Bull Hall and Nevill's Inn belonged to Merton College. At Oxford he must have been intimate with William Grey (d. 1478) [q. v.], who, having become bishop of Ely in 1454, made him his domestic chaplain. He no doubt followed the bishop into Cambridgeshire, where he received from him various livings: first, Cottenham (24 Sept. 1458), then Wisbech St. Peter (25 Sept. 1472), and finally Leverington (31 July 1473). The bishop, moreover, on 31 March 1465 granted him a license to let his rectory of Cottenham to farm. At Cambridge he received in 1462–3 a grace to incept in divinity cum formâ habitâ Oxoniæ, under some conditions. He was a bachelor of divinity when presented to Wisbech, and was still so when on 5 Nov. 1473 he and John Roocliff, doctor of decrees, were nominated by the fellows of Peterhouse for succession to the mastership in the room of Dr. Lane, deceased. The bishop appointed Warkworth master of Peterhouse on the following day. The episcopal register strangely makes the date 6 Nov. 1474, but the year is corrected in the college register. In 1474 Warkworth was proctor of the clergy in convocation. On 15 Sept. 1475 he, as master of Peterhouse, received the submission of his namesake, the fellow, who confessed to acts of insubordination during the mastership of Dr. Lane. About 1485 a grace was granted to him by the university that he should not be compelled to attend the funeral rites of graduates, or meetings of congregation or convocation, unless he was specially named. He made a will on the vigil of the Circumcision, 1485, but it was not his last will. He remained head of the college till his death, which must have occurred in October or November 1500. On 13 Oct. 1487 Bishop Alcock consecrated a chapel for him in the south side of the nave of St. Mary's-without-Trumpington Gates, and there, in his last will, dated 28 May 1498, he desired to be buried, with bequests to provide masses for the souls of Bishop Grey, himself, and his parents. He also left bequests to his churches of Leverington and Cottenham and the monasteries of Ely, Croyland, and Barnwell, making his own college, to which he had been a large benefactor otherwise, his residuary legatee.

Among the many manuscripts which he gave to it was the ‘Chronicle’ commonly called by his name, with an inscription in his own hand upon the cover of the volume. The bulk of it is only a copy of Caxton's edition of the ‘Brute’ chronicle, but the contemporary additions made to this, not in Warkworth's hand, but apparently transcribed for his use from a manuscript no longer extant, are an important source of information for the reign of Edward IV. These additions, covering the first thirteen years of Edward IV, were edited for the Camden Society by J. O. Halliwell in 1839, and published as ‘Warkworth's Chronicle.’ The original manuscript may perhaps have been composed by himself. He was certainly a great lover of learning and literature. An original portrait of him is preserved at St. Peter's College, on which the date ‘1498’ has been painted in figures by no means contemporary.

[College Register, Peterhouse; Episcopal Register, Ely; Boase's Register of the University of Oxford; Grace-Book A of Cambridge, ed. S. Leather. For much valuable aid at Cambridge the writer has to thank Dr. Porter, the present master of Peterhouse, and he is also indebted to the bishop of Ely for facilities in inspecting the episcopal register. Transcripts from the College and Episcopal Registers are accessible in Cole's MS. xxv. 65, 100, 199, 201, and Harl. MS. 7031, ff. 163–4. Anstey's Munimenta Academica (Rolls Ser.); Brodrick's Memorials of Merton College; Wood's Antiquities of the City of Oxford (Clark's ed. 1889), p. 597; Parker's Skeletos in Leland's Collectanea, v. 195, is by no means trustworthy.]

J. G.