Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bicknor, Alexander

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BICKNOR or BYKENORE, ALEXANDER (d. 1349), archbishop of Dublin, was prebendary of Maynooth and treasurer of Ireland, when in 1310 he was elected to the archbishopric by the two cathedral chapters of Dublin on the resignation of Ferings. His election, however, was set aside by Edward II in favour of Lech. On the death of Lech in 1313 Walter Thornbury was elected, but died before consecration; and on 29 Jan. 1314 Bicknor received a letter from the king to Clement V asking that his election might be confirmed, and stating that he was well spoken of by Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, and other nobles of Ireland (Fœdera, ii. 408). Being employed on the king's business, he was for some time unable to go to Rome; nor was it until 22 July 1317 that he was consecrated by Nicolas of Prato, cardinal of Ostium. The next year he was made lord justice of Ireland, and, after receiving this appointment, visited Dublin and was enthroned. He received a summons to the English parliament, though by what right does not appear (First Report on the Peerage, 276); and on 24 Sept. of the same year joined the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Winchester in publishing the excommunication of Robert Bruce in a consistorial court held at St. Paul's (Ann. Paul. 283). That he had some care for the welfare of his province is evident from his foundation of a college in St. Patrick's church in 1320. This foundation was confirmed by John XXII, but the scheme fell through for lack of students (Ware; D'Alton) About the same time he made the church of Inisboyne a prebend of St. Patrick's. In 1323 he was sent on an embassy to France, in company with Edmund, earl of Kent, the kings brother. Their mission was unsuccessful (Ypodigma Neustriæ, 258). Again the next year he went with the earl to negotiate peace with France, and to treat for the marriage of the Prince of Wales with a daughter of the King of Aragon (Fœdera, iii. 45; Ann. Paul. 307). On his return the king accused him of causing the surrender of La Rozelle in Aquitaine. It was probably during his stay in France that he was persuaded to join the plan that was formed there for the overthrow of the Despensers, for in May 1325 the king wrote to Pope John setting forth his causes of complaint against him, declaring that he was an enemy of his minister, the younger Despenser, and that he had wasted the revenues of Ireland, and praying the pope to remove him (by translation) from the kingdom ('Fœdera, iii. 152) When Queen Isabella returned to England in 1320, Bicknor joined her party, and united with other prelates and barons in declaring the Prince of Wales guardian of the kingdom in an assembly held at Bristol in October. In January he took the oath administered in the Guildhall to maintain the cause of the queen. The next year the see of Dublin was in the king's hands, the revenues being seized probably in order to insure a settlement of the accounts of Bicknor's financial administration. In 1330 the archbishop was appointed papal collector, About this time he sheltered certain persons who were prosecuted as heretics by Richard, bishop of Ossory. The bishop complained to the king; but Edward, instead of taking his part, kept him in exile for nine years. During his absence, the archbishop, in l335, held a visitation in Ossory, and seized the revenues of the see, until the pope suspended his metropolitical power over the diocese. On 13 July 1338 he was present at the consecration of Richard Brintworth to the see of London. He is said to have preached a sermon in Christ Church, Dublin, against the swarms of beggars who infested the city, which stirred up the mayor to take measures to put down the evil. He built the bishop's house at Taulaght. In 1348 he presided at a synod held at Dublin, in which several important decrees were made concerning ecclesiastical discipline and government. During the last years of his life he was engaged in a dispute with Ralph, archbishop of Armagh, concerning the right to the primacy of Ireland. He died in 1349.

[D'Alton's Archbishops of Dublin; Sir James Ware's Antiquities of Ireland; Rymer's Fœdera, ed. 1704; Annales Paulini ap. Materials for the Hist. of Edw. I and Edw. II, ed. Stubbs (Rolls Ser.); Stubbs's Constitutional History, ii. 360.]

W. H.