Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pherd, John
PHERD, JOHN (d. 1225), bishop of Ely, properly called John of Fountains, was a Cistercian monk of Fountains, and was chosen ninth abbot of his house in December 1211. He received the benediction from Ralph, bishop of Down, at Melrose (Chron. de Mailros, p. 111, Bannatyne Club). In July-September 1213 he was employed on official business by the king, perhaps in connection with the taxation of, the Cistercians (Rot. Litt. Claus, i. 132, 143). At a chapter-general of the Cistercians in 1218 he was one of the abbots appointed to deal with difficult cases concerning the order in England (Martene, iv. 1323). On 26 April 1219 he was one of three ordered by the pope to inquire into the proposed canonisation of St. Hugh of Lincoln (Cal. Papal Registers, i. 59, 66; Matt. Paris, iii. 58). The election of Robert of York to the bishopric of Ely having been quashed by the pope, Pherd was appointed to that see by Pandulf, the legate, and Stephen Langton, acting under authority from Honorius (Ann. Mon. iii. 56, iv. 412). He was accordingly elected 24 Dec. 1219, and received the royal assent on the same day. He was consecrated by Langton at Westminster on 8 March 1220, and was enthroned at Ely on 25 March (Matt. Paris, iii. 58; Le Neve, Fasti, i. 328). On 2 June he was appointed with Richard Poore [q. v.], bishop of Salisbury, to inquire into the charges against Richard de Marisco [q. v.], bishop of Durham. With this purpose he went to Durham, and paid a visit to Fountains on his way. On 6 Feb. 1221 proceedings were stayed, pending an appeal by Richard de Marisco, but were again resumed on 1 July.; the matter was unsettled at Pherd's death; he was engaged with it in 1224 and 1225 (Ann. Mon. iii. 62, 67; Matt. Paris, iii. 62-4; Cal. Papal Registers, i. 72, 78, 82, 93, 97, 101, 104). He was employed on various matters by Pope Honorius (ib. i. 89, 90, 95-6), and was one of the bishops who witnessed the confirmation of the Great Charter on 11 Feb. 1225 (Ann. Mon. i. 231). He died at Downham on 6 May 1225, and was buried in the cathedral, towards the altar of St. Andrew (Anglia Sacra, i. 635). His tomb was opened 'when the choir was moved into the presbytery' (Bentham, Ely, p. 76). He gave a cope and other vestments and a pastoral staff to the cathedral, and bequeathed the tithes of Hadham for his commemoration. In the 'Flores Historiarum' (ii. 172, Rolls Ser.) he is described as 'a just and simple man who abhorred evil.' The Bollandists include him in their catalogue of 'prætermissi' under 9 June (Acta Sanctorum, June, ii. 147). In contemporary chronicles he is always described simply as Johannes de Fontibus, or Johannes Eliensis. The name Pherd appears to be due to an error of Burton, who misread Elien' in the manuscript (Monasticon Eboracense, p. 210; cf. Memorials of Fountains, i. 134).
[Matthew Paris, Annales Monastici, Cartularium de Rameseia (all three in Rolls Ser.); Memorials of Fountains, i. 134-6 (Surtees Soc.); Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. 634-5; Bliss's Calendar of Papal Registers.]