Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Charlton, Thomas

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CHARLTON or CHERLETON, THOMAS (d. 1344), bishop of Hereford, was the son of Robert Charlton of Charlton, Shropshire, and the younger brother of John, first lord Charlton [q. v.] Having become a doctor of civil law, he devoted himself, like his brother John, to the service of the court, and was soon rewarded with various ecclesiastical preferments. He became prebendary of St. Paul's, archdeacon of Northumberland, archdeacon of Wells (1304, Le Neve, i. 159), and, in his own neighbourhood, dean of the collegiate church of St. Mary's, Stafford, and prebendary of the college of Pontesbury on is brother’s estates. When he received the latter appointment in 1316, he was still only in deacon’s orders (Eyton, Shropshire, vii. 142). Like his brother, Thomas closely attached himself to Edward II, whose clerk he had become, and ultimately received the appointment of privy seal. In 1316 the death of Bishop Richard of Kellaw left the valuable see of Durham vacant. Edward at once sought to elevate his privy seal to this bishopric, but the powerful) Earl Thomas of Lancaster urged on the chapter the election of one of his clerks; the monks tried to secure the office for one of themselves; and the stronger will of the queen had selected the illiterate Louis de Beaumont [q. v.] for the rich preferment (Anglia Sacra, 1. 15). Edward gave way to his wife's pertinacity, and contented himself by writing to the pope, who had appointed Ereaumont by rovision, in favour of Charlton, urging that his blameless life, his industry, his learning, his noble birth, and his devotion to the royal interests gave him strong claims for a dispensation for holding pluralities and for still further advancement (Rymer, Record edition, ii. 310). Two months later Edward put in a plea for Charlton’s appointment as bishop of Hereford. The disturbed state of the Welsh border made it very important that strong men should hold the reat offices on the marches, and Charlton, by personal gifts, no less than by his important liical connections —his brother was now lord of Powys—was pre-eminently qualified for the position. But again Charlton was unsuccessful, and Adam of Orleton man ed to secure the preferment. Thomas even failiiled to obtain the prebend of Church Withington to which he had been collated. Next year (1318) he accompanied Orleton, his successful rival, on a mission to the Igapal court to obtain the see of Lincoln for enry Burghersh [q. v.] For the next few years Charlton is but little mentioned in the records. It is most probable that he followed his brother in deserting Edward for the party of Mortimer, his powerful neighbour and connection. He was also engaged for eight years in a tiresome lawsuit with another royal officer, Henry de Cliff; which was ultimately decided against him in the pa al court, though he held out as long as he could’ and disregarded two decisions in Henry’s favour on the ground that Henry had incurred excommunication during the last reign. He was at Avignon—probably on some business connected with his suit—when the astute Adam of Orleton secured his transference to the richer see of Worcester, and John XXII at once atoned for past neglect by appointing him by provision bishop of Hereford (Murimuth, p. 58, Eng. Hist. Soc.; Wilkins, Concila, ii. 546). He was consecrated at Avignon on 18 Oct. 1327 by the cardinal bishop of Palestrina, and received the temporalities on 21 Dec. He was soon after (20 May 1328) appointed treasurer, and, abandoning his suit against Henry de Cliii, was appointed in 1329 on a commission with him to open parliament. In April of the same year he was one of three ambassadors sent to the king of France to negotiate about the performance of the homage due for Guienne. About 1331 he was engaged in visiting his diocese (Eyton, passim). In 1335 he was specially appointed to look after the precarious peace of the southern marches, and ordered to repress the wild disorders of the Welsh, both by spiritual and, if need be, by other weapons. 'lhe experience thus gained' in the government of a border district may well have led to his selection as chancellor of Ireland under his brother John, a pointed governor in 1337, though it is remarliable that he should have accepted the post. Next year, however, he obtained his brother’s dismissal on a charge of incompetence, and became himself ‘custos Hiberniæ’ (15 May 1338) as well as chancellor, with a salary of 500l. a year. For nearly three years he administered the affairs of Ireland with a vigour that extorted warm praises from Edward III. He organised and himself commanded the army; repaired, garrisoned, and victualled the royal castles; arrested dangerous nobles, and led expeditions in person against the natives. He captured near Carlow the largest booty of cattle that had ever been known to have been secured from the Irish of that neighbourhood. He lavished his private means on these objects until Edward in gratitude ordered the Irish treasury to pay him his salary before satisfying any other c aims. He received specially full powers of pardoning offenders, and the right of appointing and removing officers, sheriffs, and justices in his government. One of his last acts was to publish in Ireland impressions of the new seal which was issued in 1340 with the title of king of France added to those of the English king.

In 1340 Charlton returned to England. During his absence his see had been governed by a vicar-general. In 1341 he was one of the auditors of petitions from Ireland. Wales, Gascony, and other foreign parts. He died on 11 Jan. 1344, and was buried in the northern part of the transept of his cathedral.

[Rymer's Fœdera; Anglia Sacra; Adam Murimuth; Handy's Le Neve; Godwin, De Præsulibus; Eyton's Shropshire; Gilbert's History of the Viceroys of Ireland.]

T. F. T.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.62
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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128 ii 13 f.e. Charlton, Thomas: after preferments insert He was made archdeacon of Totnes in 1302 and prebendary of Hereford in 1317