Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gunthorpe, John
GUNTHORPE or GUNDORP, JOHN (d. 1498), dean of Wells and keeper of the privy seal, is said to have been educated at Balliol College, and afterwards to have accompanied John Free to Italy, where he studied at Ferrara under Guarino of Verona (d. 1460), and became one of his most learned pupils. On returning to England Gunthorpe was made one of the king's chaplains, and is first mentioned in this capacity on 6 Aug. 1466, when he was appointed to deliver the king's patent of the treaty with Henry of Castile, and to receive the Spanish king's patent in return (Fœdera, xi. 572). On 30 Sept. 1468 he was appointed warden of the king's hall at Cambridge, being described as 'secretarius reginae;' this post he apparently held till 1477. On 9 Dec. 1468 he received a grant of the goods of felons and suicides, and was made chief almoner (ib. xi. 637). On 7 March 1470 he was commissioned with others to treat with Henry of Castile (ib. xi. 652). On 18 Dec. 1472 he was elected dean of Wells, and his appointment was confirmed 19 Jan. 1473. On 6 July 1483 he was appointed keeper of the privy seal, with a salary of 20s. a day (ib. xii. 194). On 20 Feb. 1484 he was one of the ambassadors appointed to treat with the Duke of Brittany for a prolongation of the truce (ib. xii. 260). On the accession of Henry VII Gunthorpe received the royal pardon, and on 15 Dec. 1486 was one of the ambassadors to treat with Maximilian, and on 10 March 1488 one of those to treat with Ferdinand and Isabella (ib. xii. 319, 336). He died at Wells on 25 June 1498, and was buried in the cathedral.
Besides his deanery, Gunthorpe held numerous other ecclesiastical appointments; he was prebendary of Hoxton, London, 30 Dec. 1468, rector of St. Mary, Whitechapel, 8 Aug. 1471 (both of these were resigned next year), and prebendary of Banbury, Lincoln, 15 Aug. 1471, which he held till his death. On 22 Feb. 1472 he received the prebend of Wenlakesbarn, London, which he resigned on 3 Oct. following, when he was made archdeacon of Essex, and on 15 May 1478 exchanged his archdeaconry for the prebend of Laughton in York Cathedral (resigned in 1485); he also in 1472 received the prebend of Alton South, and in 1492 the prebend of Bitton, both at Salisbury. On 25 March 1473 he resigned the rectory of Cley-next-the-Sea, Norfolk, and was admitted to the church of Dychesgate; on 20 May 1497 he received the vicarage of Compton Bishop, Somersetshire (Tanner). Gunthorpe is described as A.M. in his appointment to the archdeaconry of Essex, and as S.T.B. in that to his deanery.
The following works are ascribed to Gunthorpe: 1. 'Orationes Elegantes.' In MS. Bodley 587 there are five 'Orationes legatinæ' of his; the first two belong to his mission to Castile, the others relate to Charles, duke of Burgundy; the fourth was delivered at Dam, near Bruges, 8 July 1469, on the occasion of the duke's marriage to Margaret, sister of Edward IV. 2. 'Rhetorica,' imperfect. 3. 'Dialectics,' according to Tanner a part of No. 2. Both of these are in MS. Bodl. 587, which also contains 4. 'Annotationes quædam criticæ in verba quædam apud poetas citata,' assigned to Gunthorpe in the catalogue. This manuscript also contains some letters of John Free. Leland mentions 5. 'Carmina,' which Bale states were once extant at Wells, and 6. 'Epistolæ.' Leland says that Gunthorpe collected numerous books in Italy, some of which were in libraries at Oxford (Collectanea, iii. 16); and that he gave a number of manuscripts to Jesus College, Cambridge, where, according to Bale, Gunthorpe at one time resided. He was the builder of the deanery of Wells, 'which still retains much of its dignity of design' (Freeman, Hist. Cathedral of Wells, p. 142). He would also seem to have made a bequest of some kind to the church of Wells, to which in 1488 he presented an image of the Virgin made of silver and gilded.[Rymer's Fœdera, original edition; Bale, viii. 42; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 366; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 152, ii. 105, 335, 398, 405, iii. 201, 698; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 71; Hist. MSS. Comm. Report on the Manuscripts of Wells Cathedral, pp 142, 148, 150, 209, 280, 309-10.]