Lavenham, Richard (DNB00)

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LAVENHAM or LAVYNGHAM, RICHARD (fl. 1380), Carmelite, was born at Lavenham, Suffolk, and, after becoming a Carmelite friar at Ipswich, studied at Oxford, where he is said to have graduated D.D.; but in the colophon to his tract against John Purvey [q.v.] he is called simply 'magister' (Fasciculi Zizaniorum, p. 399, Rolls Ser.). Lavenham was afterwards prior of the Carmelite house at Bristol. He was confessor to Richard II, and a friend of Simon Sudbury, archbishop of Canterbury. De Villiers, on the authority of a reference in Polydore Vergil (p. 403, ed. 1557) to a Carmelite called Richard, says that Lavenham was one of those who were killed with the archbishop in 1381; but Bale states that he died at Bristol, and Leland at Winchester, both giving the date as 1383. Lavenham must, however, have long survived that date, if Dr. Shirley is correct in his opinion that Purvey's 'Ecclesiæ Regimen,' from which Lavenham extracted certain heresies, was written as late as 1410 (Fasc. Ziz. p. lxviii). The reason given for this date does not, however, seem conclusive. The 'Ecclesiæ Regimen' would appear to be the basis of the charges against Purvey at his trial in 1401 (cf. the articles of accusation given in Wilkins, Concilia, iii. 260–2), and we know that Purvey taught very similar doctrine at Bristol in the reign of Richard II (Knighton, cols. 2660–1, apud Twysden, Scriptores Decem). Purvey was a prominent Wiclifite before Wiclif's death in 1384, and his preaching at Bristol and controversy with Lavenham may quite possibly have been anterior to 1383.

Lavenham enjoyed a great reputation as a theologian and schoolman. Bale gives a list of sixty-one treatises ascribed to him (Catalogus, vii. 1), De Villiers names sixty-two, and Davy sixty-three. In Sloane MS. 3899 (fourteenth century) in the British Museum there are twenty-four short treatises by Lavenham on logical subjects ('De Propositionibus,' 'De Terminis,' &c.); the majority of these are included in the lists given by Bale and De Villiers. One of these tracts, 'De Causis Naturalibus,' is also contained in MS. Hh. iv. 13, ff. 55–8, in the Cambridge University Library. Other extant works ascribed to Lavenham are: 1. 'In Revelationes S. Brigittæ Lib. vii.' in MS. Reg. 7, C. ix, in the British Museum, a folio volume of the fifteenth century; the fourth book is also in Bodl. MS. 169 (No. 2030 in Bernard, Cat. MSS. Angliæ) in the Bodleian Library. De Villiers describes this work as 'Determinationes notabiles Oxonii et Londini lectæ' 2. 'Contra Johannem Purveium,' heresies extracted from Purvey's 'Ecclesiæ Regimen,' printed in 'Fasciculi Zizaniorum,' pp. 383–99. 3. 'Super Prædicamentis,' in Digby MS. 77, f. 191 b, mutilated at the end, inc. 'Tractaturus de Decem Generibus.' 4. 'Speculum Naturale sive super viii. lib. Physicorum;' a copy, which was formerly in the Carmelite Library at Oxford, is now at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (Smith, Cat. MSS. p. 224), where it is styled 'Commentarius super viii. libros Aristotelis Physicorum, qui dicitur supplementum Lavenham.' Tanner ascribes this work both to Richard and to a Thomas Lavenham, who was in 1447 one of the first fellows of All Souls' College. 5. 'De Septem Peccatis Mortalibus,' an English treatise beginning 'Crist yt deyde upon ye crosse.' In Harleian MS. 211, ff. 35 a–46 b, an early fifteenth-century manuscript, with a contemporary ascription to Lavenham. 6. 'De Gestis et Translationibus sanctorum trium regum de Colonia,' ascribed to Lavenham by a late hand in Laud. MS. Misc. 525 in the Bodleian. This is, however, a once famous work by John of Hildesheim (fl. 1370), a German Carmelite; but there were several English translations, and Lavenham may have been the author of one of these. The Latin and two English versions were edited by C. Horstmann for the Early English Text Society in 1886. Among the other treatises given by De Villiers are 'Abbreviationes Bedæ' (it has been suggested that this is the abbreviation printed by Wheloc in his edition of Bede), 'Compendium Gualteri Reclusi' (perhaps Hilton), 'De Fundatione sui Ordinis,' a treatise called 'Clypeus Paupertatis' (this looks as if Lavenham had taken part in the controversy concerning evangelical poverty), a commentary on Aristotle's 'Ethics,' tracts on physics and astronomy ('De Cœlo et Mundo,' 'De Proprietatibus Elementorum'), together with 'Quæstiones,' sermons, and similar works.

[Bale's Heliades in Harl. MS. 3838, ff. 68–9; Leland's Comment. de Scriptt. Brit. pp. 37–8; Tanner's Bibl. Brit.-Hib. pp. 470–1; C. de Villiers's Bibl. Carmel. ii. 678–82; Davy's Athenæ Suffolcienses in Addit. MS. 19165; Catalogues of MSS. in Brit. Mus. and Bodleian.]

C. L. K.