Northburgh, Roger de (DNB00)

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NORTHBURGH, ROGER de (d. 1359?), bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, was perhaps a native of Norbury, Staffordshire, and educated at Cambridge. He must have entered the king's service at an early age. The first mention of him as a royal clerk is on 27 Oct. 1310 (Cal. Close Rolls, Edw. II, 1307–13, p. 337). He received from the king the livings of ‘Botelbrigge,’ Lincoln, on 16 Sept. 1311, Sprotton, Lincoln, on 17 April 1312, and ‘Harwe’ on 16 May 1313 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edw. II, pp. 392, 454, 473). On 18 Jan. 1312 he received a pension of five marks from the Bishop of Durham, and in the following March he is mentioned as a royal messenger (Reg. Pal. Dunelm. i. 278, iv. 103). On 5 Oct. the abbey of Cerne was ordered to provide him with a fitting pension. In December he was one of the witnesses to the pacification between the king and the earls (Fœdera, ii. 192). In May 1313 he went abroad with the king for two months (ib. ii. 212). Godwin says that he was taken prisoner by the Scots in this year; if so his captivity was of short duration. On 16 June 1314 he had custody of the church of Ford, Durham, and on 26 Nov. received it to hold in commendam for six months, being then styled ‘priest and rector of Bannes, Carlisle’ (Reg. Pal. Dunelm. i. 564, 646). In 1315 he was made custos or comptroller of the wardrobe, in succession to William de Melton (d. 1340) [q. v.] (Rot. Parl. i. 344). On 11 June he received the prebend of Wistow, York; this preferment was followed by the prebends of Farendon cum Balderton, Lincoln, in 1316, of Newington, London, 1 Jan. 1317, and of Piona Parva and Wellington, Hereford, in the same year, and by the archdeaconry of Richmond on 29 May 1317. On 8 June 1317 he was accepted for a vacant canonry at Wells, which he received the same year. Afterwards, in 1322, he received the prebend of Stoke, Lincoln (Le Neve, Fasti Eccl. Angl. i. 521, 530, ii. 149, 217, 417, iii. 137, 225; Fœdera, ii. 492; Report on MSS. of Wells Cathedral, pp. 80, 300). In March 1318 he was one of the commissioners sent to treat with the Scots (Fœdera, ii. 358).

On 5 Oct. 1318, and again on 1 April 1319 and 9 Aug. 1320, Edward II addressed letters on Northburgh's behalf to the pope. The purport of the recommendation is revealed by later letters in August 1320 and July 1321, begging the pope to make Northburgh a cardinal, and asking for the good services of certain cardinals (ib. ii. 374, 390, 431, 433, 452–3). In one of these letters, dated 9 July 1320, he is described as the king's clerk and secretary. In September and October 1320 Northburgh was employed in negotiations with the Scots at Carlisle. On 16 April 1321 he had temporary charge of the great seal during the chancellor's illness, but his position does not entitle him to be regarded as regular keeper of the seal. About the end of this year Northburgh was papally provided to the bishopric of Lichfield and Coventry (Murimuth, p. 37). Edward wrote to the pope on 4 Jan. 1322, thanking him, and begging that, as Northburgh was to continue comptroller of the wardrobe and was much wanted in England, sanction might be given to his consecration without a journey to Rome (Fœdera, ii. 469). Edward again appealed to the pope with the same purpose on 4 April 1322, and eventually Northburgh was consecrated by Thomas Cobham, bishop of Worcester, at Hales Abbey on 27 June (Stubbs, Reg. Sacr. Angl. p. 54). There is no mention of Northburgh in the later years of Edward II's reign, and he would seem to have abandoned the court party. He was, however, summoned to various parliaments and councils between 1322 and 1325, and in February 1326 was ordered to assist the commissioners of array in his diocese (Parl. Writs, iv. 731–2).

On 13 Jan. 1327 he was one of those who swore in the Guildhall at London to support Isabella (Chron. Edw. I and Edw. II, i. 321), and he soon appears in the service of the new government. On 15 Feb. he was joined with William Le Zouche in charge of the castle of Caerphilly, and in April was a commissioner to treat with the Scots (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edw. III, pp. 12, 95). On 8 Oct. he had power to treat for the king's marriage with Philippa of Hainault, and on 2 March 1328 he was made treasurer, though he only held the office till 20 May (ib. pp. 177, 249, 303). During the next twelve years Northburgh was still occasionally employed in public business, but without occupying a position of much importance. On 16 May 1328 he had power, with Adam de Orlton [see Adam], to claim the king's rights as heir of France, and on 8 July 1330 was again employed in negotiations with the French king (Fœdera, ii. 743, 794). He was a trier of petitions for England in the parliament of January 1332, and was present in various parliaments until June 1344. On 20 Sept. 1332 he was one of the commissioners to settle the disputes which had arisen in the university at Oxford (ib. ii. 892), and in 1339 was a commissioner of array for Staffordshire (ib. ii. 1070). In November 1337 Northburgh was one of the bishops deputed to meet the cardinal legates (Murimuth, p. 81), and on 12 July 1338 was present at the consecration of Richard Bintworth as bishop of London. Northburgh was appointed treasurer for the second time in 1340, but on 1 Dec. was summarily removed from the office by the king, when Robert Stratford, bishop of Chichester, was deprived of the chancery. Edward intended to send them over to Flanders and impledge them there, or, in case of refusal, to imprison them in the Tower; but after a remonstrance from Stratford they were allowed to go free (Murimuth, p. 117).

In October 1341 Northburgh was present at a council held by the archbishop at St. Paul's, London (ib. p. 122). He must by this time have been an elderly man, and of his later years there is nothing to record. His last appearance in parliament was in June 1344. The year of his death was either 1358 or 1359; the more probable date is 22 Nov. 1359 (cf. Anglia Sacra, i. 43). He was buried in Lichfield Cathedral, close to the tomb which he had built for Walter de Langton. Edward II, in recommending him to the pope, described him as a learned man, of proved loyalty. In the ‘Flores Historiarum’ (Rolls Ser. iii. 200) he is distinctly stated to have obtained his bishopric through the king's favour and his own importunity. He was probably an industrious official whose ambition was greater than his ability. From 1320 to 1326 he was chancellor of the university of Cambridge; on 5 July 1321 he obtained from the king a charter to provide for the sustenance of students in theology (Fœdera, ii. 452). Of his family we have no certain knowledge; but he was probably a relative, perhaps an uncle or much older brother, of Michael de Northburgh [q. v.], bishop of London, who held several prebends at Lichfield between 1330 and 1352. Other members of the Northburgh family, called Peter, Richard, Roger, and William, also occur among the prebendaries of Lichfield during Bishop Roger's tenure of the see (Le Neve, Fasti, i. 591–628). The wardrobe accounts for the tenth and eleventh years of Edward II are now in the library of the Royal Society of Antiquaries; a summary of these accounts and of those for the fourteenth year of Edward II is given in the ‘Archæologia’ (xxvi. 318–23). An abstract of the contents of Northburgh's ‘Register’ is given in the ‘Collections for a History of Staffordshire’ of the William Salt Archæological Society (i. 241–88).

[Chron. Edw. I. and Edw. II, Reg. Pal. Dunelm., Murimuth's Chronicle (all in the Rolls Ser.); Rymer's Fœdera, Record edit.; Rolls of Parliament; Cal. of Close Rolls of Edw. II, 1307–18; Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edw. III, 1327–34, 2 vols.; Rot. Origin. Abb.; Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. 20, 442–3; Archæologia, x. 251, xxvi. 318–23, xxviii. 307; Godwin, De Præsulibus, ed. Richardson, p. 320; Foss's Judges of England, iii. 281; Drake's Eboracum, p. 104.]

C. L. K.