Fitzsimons, Walter (DNB00)

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FITZSIMONS or FITZSYMOND, WALTER (d. 1511), archbishop of Dublin, was precentor of St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1476; he was the chapter's proxy in a parliament held in 1478 (King's Collections and Cod. Clar. p. 46); and was also official, or vicar-general, of the diocese. He has been described in old records as a learned divine and philosopher, a man of great gravity of character and of a commanding aspect. Having first sued out a charter of pardon from Henry VII, for accepting promotion by a papal provision, he was appointed by Pope Sixtus IV to the archbishopric of Dublin on 14 June 1484, and was the first archbishop consecrated in St. Patrick's (Monck Mason, History of St. Patrick's Cathedral, p. 139). Along with the Earl of Kildare, lord deputy of Ireland, he espoused, in 1487, the cause of Lambert Simnel, to whose coronation in Christ Church Cathedral he was accessory. The pope directed an inquiry to be held, and a full report of the matter having been made, the archbishop, with the bishops of Meath and Kildare, was found guilty. In the following year, however, he was permitted with others to renew his allegiance to the king, and received pardon through Sir Richard Edgecombe. The archbishop, ‘when the mass was ended in the choir of the said church [St. Mary's Abbey], began Te Deum, and the choir with the organs sung it up solemnly, and at that time all the bells in the church rang’ (Harris, Hibernica, pt. i. p. 33). He was subsequently taken into great favour by the king, who made him lord deputy of Ireland in 1492, lord chancellor in 1496 and 1501, and again, in 1503, lord deputy.

Fitzsimons strenuously exerted himself, while holding the office of lord deputy in 1492, to lessen the number of useless idlers in Ireland. He represented to the king the idleness of the younger brothers of the nobility, and the indolence of the common people ‘on account of the great plenty of all kinds of provisions.’ At his suggestion vagrancy was strictly forbidden, and workhouses were everywhere erected for the employment of able-bodied vagabonds, beadles being appointed by him ‘to look after the several cities, towns, and parishes, to keep beggars out, and to take up strangers’ (Council Books, temp. Henry VII).

In 1496, the king, having made his son Henry, duke of York, lord-lieutenant of Ireland, appointed Fitzsimons lord chancellor of Ireland (Rymer Fœdera, ed. 1727, vol. xii.). In the same year Fitzsimons held a provincial synod, on which occasion an annual contribution for seven years was settled by the clergy of the province, to provide salaries for lecturers of the university in St. Patrick's Cathedral (Allen, Registry, f. 105). In 1509 he was again lord chancellor, by appointment of Henry VIII, and held that office until his death, at Finglas, near Dublin, on 14 May 1511. He was buried in the nave of St. Patrick's, but no memorial of him remains.

[Sir James Ware's Works, ed. Harris, i. 343; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hibernicæ, ii. 17, 110, v. 79; D'Alton's Memoirs of the Archbishops of Dublin, p. 171; Monck Mason's Hist. of St. Patrick's Cathedral; Leeper's Hist. Handbook to St. Patrick's (2nd ed.), p. 89; Smyth's Law Officers of Ireland, pp. 15, 16.]

B. H. B.