Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Wolman, Richard

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WOLMAN or WOLEMAN, RICHARD (d. 1537), dean of Wells, is surmised by Cooper (Athenæ Cantabr. i. 63) to have been the son of Richard Wolman, cater to John Howard, duke of Norfolk. There was a family of the name at Alderford, Norfolk (Blomefield, Norfolk, viii. 184; Index of Wills, ii. 589). In 1478 Richard Wolman was a member of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He also studied abroad, being entered in the Oxford register as doctor of the civil law ‘of an university beyond the seas’ (Wood, Fasti, i. 89). He was principal of St. Paul's Inn, in the university of Cambridge, in 1510, and commenced doctor of canon law in 1512. On 31 Oct. 1514 he was admitted an advocate, and on 9 April 1522 collated to the archdeaconry of Sudbury. In 1524 he became vicar of Walden, Essex, and on 26 July of the same year canon of St. Stephen's, Westminster. He appears to have been resident at court in 1525, and to have been an intermediary with the king, during the absence of Wolsey, in the matter of ecclesiastical preferments. He was made chaplain to the king in 1526, and a master of requests in attendance at the court, an office involving membership of the king's council. On 4 July 1526 he was presented to the living of Amersham, but he continued to reside at court.

On 17 May 1527 Wolsey sat at his house at Westminster to hear the pleadings in the divorce suit. On this occasion Wolman was nominated by the king promoter of the suit. On 5 and 6 April 1527 he took the evidence of Bishop Foxe [see Foxe, Richard] as to Henry's protest against the marriage with Catherine. On 31 May he brought forward this evidence and adduced arguments against the dispensing power of the pope. During the proceedings Wolman acted as a secret negotiator between the king and Wolsey. His reward was a prebend in St. Paul's Cathedral (25 June) and a third share of the advowson of the first canonry and prebend void in St. Stephen's, Westminster. He is frequently referred to as a canonist of authority by the correspondents of the king and of Wolsey during the divorce proceedings. He was one of twenty-one commissioners to whom Wolsey, on 11 June 1529, delegated the hearing of causes in chancery (Letters and Papers, iv. 5666; Rymer, Fœdera, xiv. 299). It was presumably in his capacity of member of the king's council that he was one of the signatories of the address to Clement VII in favour of the divorce by ‘the spiritual and temporal lords’ (13 July 1530; ib. xiv. 405; Letters and Papers, iv. 6513). His name appears here under the heading of ‘milites et doctores in parlamento.’

Some time after 29 Aug. 1529 and before 8 Nov. following, when he was elected prolocutor of convocation, Wolman was appointed dean of Wells. In October 1531 he was incorporated at Oxford (Wood, Fasti, i. 89), having supplicated as long before as 1523 (ib. p. 64). He sat upon the committee of convocation which on 10 April 1532 received the subscription of Latimer (Hugh Latimer) to articles propounded to him. On the following 30 June he was presented by the crown to the rectory of High Hunger (Ongar), Essex. When, in October 1532, Henry VIII had left England for an interview with Francis I at Boulogne, Wolman was acting as one of the council exercising the royal power in London. On 19 March 1533 he was made canon of Windsor (Le Neve, iii. 392). As dean of Wells he signed the acknowledgment of the royal supremacy on 6 July 1534 (Rymer, Fœdera, xiv. 496; Letters and Papers, vii. 1024). He evidently cultivated Cromwell's favour and supported the new queen (Anne Boleyn). He signed a declaration, as a doctor of canon law, on the subject of holy orders in 1536. This was put forward in support of the recent religious changes, and bore the signature of Cromwell, as the king's vicegerent, at its head. When the Lincolnshire rebellion broke out, in the autumn of 1536, Wolman was appointed to act upon the queen's council (Jane Seymour) during the contemplated absence of the king. As a ‘fat priest,’ Henry suggested that he should be ‘tasted’ by Cromwell, i.e. that a levy in the nature of a benevolence should be made upon him for the expenses of suppressing the insurrection. That he was a man of means appears from the fact that in 1532 he had given 11l. 5s. as a new year's gift to the king (Strype, Eccl. Mem. i. i. 211). Henry's hint was probably taken; for Wolman appears as a creditor of the king, who is contented ‘to forbear unto a longer day,’ and who, the manuscript note—‘ex dono’—shows, altogether surrendered his claim for the 200l. borrowed (MS. Record Office). As archdeacon of Sudbury he signed, in 1537, the address of convocation to the king desiring his sanction to the ‘Institution of a Christian Man.’

Wolman died in the summer of 1537, and was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey (Le Neve, Fasti, i. 153). He left a sum of money for the construction of a market cross and shelter at Wells, which was not erected till 1542 (Reynolds, Hist. of Wells, p. lix). His will was executed at Clavering, Essex, to which place he bequeathed money. His connection with it probably was due to its being a royal manor, where he frequently resided in attendance upon the court. He also left 43l. 6s. 8d. to found an exhibition at Cambridge.

[Brewer and Gairdner's Cal. Letters and Papers, For. and Dom., Hen. VIII, vols. i–xiii.; MS. Record Office; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl. 3 vols. 1854; Strype's Ecclesiastical Memorials (Oxford, 1822); Strype's Memorials of Cranmer (Oxford, 1840); Blomefield's Hist. of Norfolk, vol. viii.; Masters's Hist. of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, ed. Lamb (Cambridge, 1831); Reynolds's Hist. of Wells Cathedral, 1881; Newcourt's Repertorium, 1710; Wood's Fasti Oxonienses (in Athenæ Oxon.), 1815; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. 1858, i. 63, 531; Rymer's Fœdera, vol. xiv.; Fiddes's Life of Wolsey, 1726; Lord Herbert of Cherbury's Hist. of Henry VIII, ed. Kennet, 1719; Leadam's Select Cases in the Court of Requests (Selden Soc. 1898); Coote's Civilians, 1804; Challoner Smith's Index of Wills, 1893–5.]

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