Chedworth, John (DNB00)
CHEDWORTH, JOHN (d. 1471), bishop of Lincoln, by birth a Gloucestershire man, was educatetli at Merton College, Oxford. The time of the completion of Chedworth’s education was coincident with the establishment of Henry VI’s grand foundations of Eton and King’s College, Cambridge. Of this latter society Chedworth became a fellow at the second election of fellows. Here he gained the goodwill of his brethren and of the royal patron of the society so far, that when the rst rovost, William Millington, was deposed for refusing to abide by the statutes of the college, which had been settled by the king ange Bishop Alnwick, with the approval of the pope, Chedworth was selected to succeed him as the second provost of the society (1446). He is said by Godwin to have exercised his office as head of the new college ‘strenuously.’ In addition to his Cambridge appointment, Chedworth held the office of archdeacon of Wiltshire (1449), having previously held in succession the stalls of Yatesbury (1440), Stratford (1443), Netherbury (1445), and Hurstborn (1447), all in Salisbury Cathedral. He also had a rebend at Lincoln, and was incumbent of the living of Stoke Hammond in Buckinghamshire. As provost of King's, Chedworth was no doubt under the special attention and regard of the king, and that Henry's judgment of him continued to be favourable was shown by his recommending him to the Lincoln chaptter for election as bishop on the death of Marmaduke Lumley (1451). The chapter at once elected him, and this was signified to the pope by a letter from the king (11 Feb. 1452), in which he prays the pope for the confirmation of the election. Henry usually prayed the pope in the first instance to ‘provide’ the bishop, mentioning the name of the man whom he desired, and then the election by the chapter would follow. William Gray, archdeacon of Northampton, and nephew of a former bishop of Lincoln, had been already ‘provided.' Some report of this probably induced Henry to apply first to the chapter; but the pope (Nicholas V) was of a conciliatory spirit, and cancelled his appointment of Gray, and by letters dated 5 May 1452 confirmed Chedworth as bishop of Lincoln. Gray was soon afterwards appointed bishop of Ely. One of the earliest acts which Chedworth was called to perform was, in company with William Waynflete, bishop of Winchester and formerly provost of Eton, to revise the statutes of Eton and King’s Colleges, and to make such alterations as the experience which had been gained in the working of the institutions suggested. The record of the visitation is in the bishop's register. Chedworth was one of the three assessors appointed by the convocation to conduct the trial of Reginald Pecock, bishop of Chichester, for heresy in 1457. The attack on Pecock was mainly due to the Yorkist lords, who feared his exposing their machinations; but he had also angered the clergy, principally, it seems, by publishing books in English, and by advocating the meeting of the Lollards in argument rather than by the stake. Pecock was condemned and publicly recanted (4 Dec. 1457), but was afterwards imprisoned at Thorney Abbey. Chedworth was much engaged throughout his episcopate in combating the Lollard opinions, and his register is full of records of the proceedings against them which are not mentioned by Foxe. For the most part the accused persons abjure, and have a pointed to them a penance, including a public recantation at the market-place and in church. In one instance the offender is given over to the secular arm to be burned. Among the offences charged we find the possession of English books, and the being acquainted with St. Paul's Epistles in English. The great strongholds of the Lollards appear to have been Henley, Great Marlow, and especially Wycombe, and many curious details as to their opinions are noted. In the year 1467 Chedworth represented the crown at the opening of parliament in the absence of the chancellor, George, archbishop of York. It was usual on these occasions fiir the chancellor to deliver a sort. of sermon to parliament,but there is no record of this being done by Chedworth; he merely performed the formal acts necessary (Rot. Parl. v. 571). It would appear from the selection of the bishop for this office that he was now a partisan of the Yorkist dynasty, and had forgotten his old obligations to the Lancastrian king. Chedworth died on 23 Nov. 1471, and was buried in Lincoln Cathedral, near to the tombs of Bishops Sutton and Fleming. He appears to have resided principally at Woburn Manor in Buckinghamshire.
[Registrum Joannis Chedworth, MS. Lincoln; Annales Willelmi Wyrcest er (Stepbenson`s Wars in France, vol. ii. Rolls Ser.); Loci e Libro veritatum (ed. Rogers); Godwin, De Præsulibus; Rotuli Parliamenti, vol. v.]