Kite, John (DNB00)

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KITE, JOHN (d. 1537), successively archbishop of Armagh and bishop of Carlisle, was a native of London, and, according to Wood, received his education in the university of Oxford, ‘but in what house, or what degrees he took, it appears not’ (Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, ii. 747). It is much more probable, however, that he is the John Kite who was educated at Eton, and thence elected to King's College, Cambridge, in 1480 (Cole, Hist. of King's Coll. i. 93). After taking holy orders he became rector of Harlington, Middlesex, and on resigning that benefice in 1510 was admitted to the prebend of Stratton in the church of Salisbury, which he held till 1517. On 1 March 1510 he was presented to the church of Weye at Weyhill, in the diocese of Winchester (Letters, &c. of Henry VIII, i. 928). He was also a prebendary of Exeter and sub-dean of the king's chapel at Westminster (Leland, Collectanea, i. 472).

By provision of Pope Leo X in the consistory of 24 Oct. 1513 he was appointed archbishop of Armagh. On 15 Nov. 1515 he took part in the ceremony of receiving the cardinal's hat sent to Wolsey (Letters, &c. Henry VIII, vol. ii. pt. i. p. 1153). In 1516 he came to England by the king's special command, attended the Princess Mary's christening, 21 Feb. 1516 (ib. p. 1573), and was granted 20 Sept. following a writ of protection for himself and his see during his absence (ib. p. 2375). In February 1518 he was sent with John Bourchier, lord Berners [q. v.], on a special embassy to Charles V to secure peace between Spain and England, and their interesting adventures in Spain are recorded in their letters to Wolsey, which are calendared in the ‘Letters, &c. of Henry VIII’ (cf. vol. ii. pt. ii. Nos. 4135–6–7, 4160–1, 4245, 4436). He left Saragossa in January 1519, and after visiting San Sebastian arrived in London on 10 March of that year (ib. vol. iii. pt. i. Nos. 10–11). In 1520 he was one of the deputy-commissioners of the jewel office, and he was one of the prelates who, in the same year, accompanied Henry VIII and Queen Catherine to the ‘Field of the Cloth of Gold’ (Rutland Papers, ed. Jerdan, p. 30). Attended by six horsemen, he was also present at the meeting between Henry and Charles V at Gravelines in July (Letters, &c., vol. iii. pt. i. No. 906).

On 12 July 1521 he was translated by papal provision from Armagh to the bishopric of Carlisle. He was permitted to retain in the diocese of Armagh two canonries and one parochial church of the value of 60l., and was allowed to assume the title of an archiepiscopal see. He accordingly took the title of archbishop of Thebes in partibus (Brady, Episcopal Succession, i. 104, 216). Kite paid the pope for his translation 1,790 ducats, which the impoverished state of the papal exchequer rendered very welcome (Letters, &c., vol. iii. pt. ii. Nos. 1430, 1477). The royal mandate for the restitution to Kite of the temporalities of the see of Carlisle is dated 11 Nov. 1521 (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, iii. 240). He also held the living of St. Stephen, Walbrook, London, which he resigned in 1534. For these preferments he was largely indebted to the influence of Wolsey, ‘who conversed freely with him in his prosperity, and applied to him for necessaries as a faithful friend in his adversity’ (Cavendish, Life of Wolsey, pp. 119, 146). In 1522 he was actively repressing disorders on the Scottish border, and proved very useful to the warden, Thomas Fiennes, eighth lord Dacre. His correspondence with Wolsey vividly illustrates the disturbed state of the border country. Writing on 25 June 1524, he pointed out that he had to make a circuit of sixty miles out of the direct route in order to avoid thieves and reach Carlisle in safety. In 1524, and again in 1526, he was one of the royal commissioners to treat for peace with the king of Scotland. In 1529 he signed an instrument approving the reasonableness of the king's scruples concerning his marriage with Catherine of Arragon, and advising recourse to the pope for a speedy decision of the cause (Rymer, Fœdera, xiv. 301, 405, 406). On 13 July 1530 he was one of the four bishops who, with Cardinal Wolsey, Archbishop Warham, and the whole peerage of England, signed the bold letter to Pope Clement VII demanding the king's divorce. He signed the renunciation of the pope's supremacy on 15 Feb. 1534, but was one of the prelates who, adhering to Lee, archbishop of York, in 1536, opposed the advanced proposals made by Cranmer and his party in convocation (Fuller, Church Hist. bk. v. p. 212). During his occupancy of the see of Carlisle he made large additions to Rose Castle, the episcopal residence, one of the towers of which is still called by his name. After ruling pastorally, and ‘kepyng nobyl Houshold wyth grete Hospitality,’ but suffering in later years much ill-health, he died in London on 19 June 1537, and was buried in Stepney Church, where a marble slab, still extant, covers his remains, and bears a quaint English epitaph (cf. Weever, Funerall Monuments, pp. 539–40). By his will, dated the day before his death, he gave directions, which were disregarded, that his body should be buried near that of his father in St. Margaret's Church, Westminster.

[Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, passim; Nicolson and Burn's Westmorland and Cumberland, ii. 277; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 62, 531; Cotton's Fasti Eccl. Hibernicæ; Fiddes's Life of Wolsey, p. 491; Froude's Divorce of Catherine of Aragon, p. 443; Fuller's Worthies; Giustinian's Four Years at the Court of Henry VIII, ii. 162, 164, 165, 253–5; Godwin's Cat. of Bishops, 1615, p. 682; Godwin, De Præsulibus (Richardson); Leland's Collectanea, 1770, ii. 347; Lysons's Environs, ii. 688; Maitland's London, ii. 786; Newcourt's Repertorium, i. 632; Percy's Household Book of the Earl of Northumberland, p. 430; Rymer's Fœdera, xiii. 759, xiv. 21, 29, 119, 301, 400, 406, 465; Ware's Bishops (Harris).]

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