Fauconbridge, Eustace de (DNB00)

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FAUCONBRIDGE, EUSTACE de (d. 1228), bishop of London, is described, on no definite evidence, as a native of Yorkshire, and as a member of the noble house of that name (Fuller, Worthies, ii. 250, ed. Nichols; Foss, Judges of England, ii. 324). He first appears in 1199 as a royal justice, and during the whole of John's reign and the early years of Henry III he is constantly mentioned in records as taking part in various judicial proceedings. In 1204 he served on an embassy to Flanders and France (Rot. Claus. i. 16, 32). In 1217 he was appointed treasurer, the first reference to his acting in that office being dated 4 Nov. (ib. i. 340). Of ecclesiastical preferment he had obtained the prebend of Holborn in St. Paul's Cathedral (Le Neve, Fasti Eccl. Angl. ii. 391, ed. Hardy). In January 1221 the resignation by Bishop William of S. Mère l'Eglise of the see of London led to long disputes in the chapter as to the choice of his successor, which finally terminated in the unanimous election of Fauconbridge on 25 Feb. (Ann. Londonienses in Stubbs, Chron. Ed. I and Ed. II, i. 23; Coggeshall, p. 188; Matt. Paris, Hist. Major, iii. 66; Walter of Coventry, ii. 249; Ann. Worcester, p. 414). The election was confirmed by the legate Pandulf, and on 25 April Fauconbridge was consecrated bishop in the chapel of St. Catharine at Westminster by the Bishop of Rochester, the Canterbury monks' objections to his consecration away from their city having been disposed of.

Fauconbridge was still occupied with state affairs. It is not certain how long he held the treasurership. Under 1222 Matthew Paris mentions the death of William of Ely, treasurer of England, which suggests that Eustace gave it up on becoming bishop, but no other treasurer is mentioned till 1231 (Dugdale, Chronica Series, pp. 9–10), and William had been Fauconbridge's predecessor. In 1223 and in 1225 he was sent on embassies to France (Rot. Claus. i. 556, ii. 41). On the former occasion he was commissioned to demand Normandy from Louis VIII on his accession. The bishop and his colleagues ultimately met the king at Compiègne, whence they brought back to Henry an unfavourable answer (Matt. Paris, iii. 77; Coggeshall, p. 197; Ann. Dunstable, p. 81). In 1224 Fauconbridge was appointed to keep Falkes de Breauté in custody after the surrender of Bedford Castle (Matt. Paris, iii. 87).

As soon as he became bishop Fauconbridge attempted to exercise jurisdiction over the abbot and monks of Westminster. The resistance of the latter led to an appeal to the pope, and ultimately to a reference of the dispute to arbitrators, of whom Archbishop Langton was the chief. The arbitrators decided that the abbey was entirely exempt from the bishop's jurisdiction. They assigned the manor of Sunbury, about which there had also been a dispute, to the bishop, and the church of Sunbury to the chapter of St. Paul's, who had joined their bishop in the suit (ib. iii. 67, 75). He also engaged in a quarrel with the monks of Coggeshall with regard to the advowson of Coggeshall Church (Newcourt, ii. 159). In 1225 Fauconbridge attested the confirmation of Magna Carta (Ann. Burton. p. 231). He died on 2 Nov. 1228 (Ann. London. p. 28), and was buried in his cathedral (Matt. Paris, iii. 164), to which he had been a liberal benefactor. His epitaph is given by Weever from a Cottonian manuscript (Ancient Funerall Monuments, p. 359). He is described as in every way commendable and discreet (Walter de Coventry, ii. 249).

[Matthew Paris, vol. iii.; R. Coggeshall; Annales Monastici; Chronicles of Edward I and Edward II (all in Rolls Ser.); Rot. Claus.; Excerpta e Rot. Finium (both published by Record Commission); Newcourt's Repertorium Ecclesiasticum Lond.; Foss's Judges of England, ii. 324–5.]

T. F. T.