Charlton, Lewis (DNB00)

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CHARLTON or CHERLETON, LEWIS (d. 1369), bishop of Hereford, was a member of the family of the Charltons of Powys, as is proved by his early referments in family benefices and by his bearing the lion of Powys on the arms inscribed on his tomb. The exact relationshi which he bore to the known members of the family is not easy to determine. He was educated, it is said, at both Oxford and Cambridge, but was the more closely connected with Oxford, of which he became a doctor of civil law and a licentiate, if not also a doctor, in theology. In 1336 he became prebendary of Hereford, of which see his kinsman Thomas Charlton [q. v.] was then bishop. He next appears, with his brother Humphrey, as holding prebends in the collegiate church of Pontesbury, of which Lord Charlton was (patron. In 1340 Adam of Coverton petitione to the king against him on the ground of obstructing him in collecting tithes belonging to St. Michael’s, Shrewsbury. A royal commission was appointed to inquire into the case, which in 1345 was still pending (Eyton, Shropshire, vii. 142). Lewis had apparently succeeded Thomas the bishop to this prebend, and on his resignation in 1359 was succeeded by Humphrey, who held all three prebends in succession. In 1348 he appears as signing, as doctor of civil law, an indenture between the town and university of Oxford that the should have a common assize and assay ofy weights and measures (Anstey, Munimenta Academica, p. 167, Rolls Series). He was probably continuously resident as a teacher at Oxford; of which university his brother became chancellor some time before 1354. It is sometimes, but without authority, asserted that Lewis himself was chancellor. He constantly acted, however, in important business in conjunction with his brother. In 1354 a great feud broke out between town and university, and at the brothers’ petition the king conditionally liberated some townsmen from prison and granted his protection for a year to the scholars. For these and other services they were enrolled in the album of benefactors, and in 1356 an annual mass for the two was directed to be henceforth celebrated on St. Edmund’s day (ib. p. 187 ; Wood says erroneously on St. Edward’s day, Fasti Oxon. ed. Gutch, p. 25). William of Wykeham is said to have been among Charlton’s pupils in mathematics (Wood, Colleges and Hulk, p. 173). Charlton’s Inn took its name from one of the brothers or from some others of the name about the same time connected with) the university. At last Lewis was raised by revision of Innocent VI to the bishopric of Hereford (1361), having already been elected by a part of the chapter, although the preference of another part for John Barnet, arch-deacon of London, had probably necessitated the reference to Avignon. Charlton was consecrated at Avignon on 3 Oct. of the same year (Stubbs, Registrum Sacrum Anglicanum from Charlton’s Register). His presence there rather suggests some mission or office at the papal Curia. On 3 Nov. he made the profession of obedience and received his spiritualities of Archbishop Islip at Oxford, and on 14 Nov. his temporalitxes were restored. Little is recorded of his acts as bishop. His attention to his parliamentary duties is shown by his appearing as trier, of petitions in 1362, 1363, 1365, 1366, and 1368 (Rot. Parl. ii. 268 b, 275 b, 283 b, 289 b, 1294 b). He died on 23 May 1369, and was buried in the south-east transept of his cathedral, where his mutilated monument still remains. He left by his will his mitre and some vestments, together with 40l., to the cathedral (Willis, Cathedrals, ii. 517). He is traditionally said to have built the White Cross, about a mile out of Hereford, on the Welsh road, as a market-place when the city was unsafe from pestilence (Havergal, Fasti Herfordenses, pp. 22, 203). Similarity of name and pursuits, and the fact of both coming from the Welsh border, caused Charlton to be confused with an obscure fifteenth-century scholar, Lewis of Caerleon, who is said to have been a distinguished mathematician, theologian, medical writer, and teacher at Oxford. Bale (p. 475) gives a list of his works, of which nothing else seems to be known. They include four books: 1. ‘Super Magistrum Sententiarum’ (lectures on theology). 2. ‘De Eclipsi Solis et Lunæ.’ 3. ‘Tabulæ Eclipsium Richardi Wallingfordi.’ 4. ‘Canones Eclipsium.’ 5. ‘Tabulæ Umbrarum,’ and 6. ‘Fragmenta Astronomica.’ Leland (De Script. Brit. p. 471) calls him John of Caerleon, and specially emphasises his excellence as a physician. Leland also says that his ‘Tabulæ de Rebus Astronomicis’ were published in 1482 and in his time extant in the library of Clare College, Cambridge, but that college has since twice suffered from fire, and there is no trace or evidence to be found at present of their ever having been there (communication from the librarian). Wood, however, asserts that this Lewis or John of Caerleon flourished in 1482, was a different person from Lewis Charlton, and was despoiled and imprisoned by Richard III for his attachment to the Lancastrian cause.

[Hardy’s Le Neve, i. 462; Wood’s Annals of Oxford, i. 455 sq.; Wood’s Fasti. p. 25, ed. Gutch; Bale’s Scriptorum Illustrium Catalogue Cent.. Sex. xxxviii. 475, repeated in Pits, i. 503; Rolls of Parliament; Eyton's Shropshire; MS. Cole, x. 114 ; Havergal’s Fasti Herefordenses]

T. F. T.