Baltroddi, Walter de (DNB00)

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BALTRODDI, WALTER de (d. 1270), bishop of Caithness, succeeded Bishop William in 1261. He was doctor of the canon law, and his diocese included Caithness and Sutherland, the chapter consisting of ten canons, comprehending dean, precentor, chancellor, and treasurer. By the constitution created by one of his predecessors, the eminent prelate Gilbert Murray, he as bishop held the foremost position in chapter as well as in diocese. Thurso was the seat of the bishopric of Caithness in Bishop Walter's time, although it had been temporarily removed to Dornoch between 1222 and 1245. An historic ruin in the neighbourhood of Thurso still preserves its name of the 'bishop's palace;' the ruined church of St. Peter's, within the town, is on the site of the ancient cathedral, part of which is incorporated in the existing building of five centuries old or more.

Bishop Walter's surname is suggestive of an Italian origin. He is characterised as 'a man discreet in counsel and commendable for the sanctity of his life' in the seventeenth century Latin MSS. of Father Hay, the historian and relative of the Roslin family, preserved in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. According to the collections of Sir James Dalrymple, an earlier antiquarian, he is one of three Caithness bishops described as 'of good memory' in a writ dated the 10th of the calends of October, 1275. The document is a decreet-arbitral between Walter's successor, Archibald, bishop of Caithness, and William, earl of Sutherland, as to a dispute that had been open during the prelacies of Archibald and his predecessors, Walter de Baltroddi, William, and Gilbert Murray, concerning the rights of the see to certain lands, ferry tolls, and salmon fishings.

[Alex. Nisbet, in his famous work on 'Heraldry,' published in 1722, declared that he saw and examined the writ referred to above. In Sir Robert Grordon's 'Genealogical History of the House of Sutherland,' written in the reign of James I, its contents are summarised; and part of its text, which was in Latin, is quoted in Bishop Keith's 'Catalogue of Scottish Bishops.' A passing notice in Grub's 'Ecclesiastical History of Scotland,' which probably came from one of the sources already referred to, mentions Bishop Walter.]

T. S.