Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Nicholas le Blund

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NICHOLAS le Blund (d. 1304), bishop of Down, apparently of Norman birth, was, at the death of his predecessor, Thomas Lidell, treasurer of Ulster and prior of St. Patrick's, Down (Sweetman, Cal. Doc. 1252–1284, Nos. 1187, 1327, 1335). The king's license to elect a bishop was granted to the chapter of Down by Edward I on 20 Feb. 1276–1277, and the writ investing Nicholas with the temporalities of the see was issued 29 March 1277. In spite of his Norman birth, he administered his diocese in accordance with Irish customs, and in disregard of English interests. In 1284 he was excommunicated by the Archbishop of Armagh, amerced one hundred marks, and his temporalities were taken into the king's hands (ib. passim). In March 1288–9 he had a suit against the abbot of St. Mary of York concerning some land. In 1297 he was tried on a ‘quo warranto’ for the following offences. It was alleged that he had entered into a combination with Nicholas MacMelissa (d. 10 May 1303), archbishop of Armagh, and agreed on certain constitutions which excluded clergy born in England from the monasteries in their dioceses. This he denied. He was further charged with assuming the administration of justice on his church lands, and following Irish law, by taking ‘eiric,’ a ransom-fine, in commutation of the felony of killing an Englishman. He pleaded that such administration had from time immemorial been the privilege of his predecessors in the see, but the plea was disallowed. In the same year, 1297, the place of abbot of St. John's, Downpatrick, was voided by the cession of William Rede. The prior and convent obtained the king's license to elect a successor. Nicholas broke into the monastery, took forcible possession of the license, and himself appointed an abbot. He maintained his hold of his diocese till his death in March 1304–5 (Sweetman, Cal. Doc. 1302–1307, No. 387).

[Sweetman's Calendar of Documents, 1252–1307, passim; Ware's Works (Harris), 1764, i. 198; Richey's Short Hist. of the Irish People (Kane), 1887, pp. 178 seq.; Cotton's Fasti, iii. 199; Brady's Episcopal Succession; Gams's Series Episcoporum.]

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