Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/299

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
 

GIFFARD, GODFREY (1235?–1302), chancellor of England and bishop of Worcester, was the son of Hugh Giffard of Boyton in Wiltshire, a royal justice, and of his wife Sibyl, daughter and coheiress of Walter de Cormeilles. He was born about 1235 (Calendarium Genealogicum, p. 281). He was the younger brother of Walter Giffard [q. v.], ultimately archbishop of York, whose successful career insured the preferment of Godfrey. When his brother was bishop of Bath and Wells, he became canon of Wells (Newcourt, Repert. Eccl. Lond. i. 59) and rector of Mells. He was also rector of the greater mediety of Attleburgh in Norfolk (Blomefield, Norfolk, i. 523), archdeacon of Barnstaple from 1265 to 1267, and, after Walter became archbishop of York, archdeacon of York and rector of Adlingfleet in 1267 (Raine, Fasti Eboracenses, p. 315 from Reg. W. Giffard). Complaints were afterwards made at Rome of the way in which the archbishop gave this and many other benefices to his brother, though Godfrey was only in minor orders and deficient in learning. After Walter became chancellor of England in 1265, Godfrey in 1266 was made chancellor of the exchequer (Madox, Hist. of Exchequer, i. 476), and next year was allowed to appoint a fit person to act for him when his own affairs gave him occasion to withdraw from the exchequer (ib. ii. 52). When in 1266 Walter was translated to York, he resigned the chancellorship, and Godfrey was appointed his successor. He was still chancellor when the monks of Worcester elected him as their bishop on the translation of Bishop Nicholas of Ely [q. v.] to the see of Winchester. Henry III accepted his appointment, and he received the temporalities on 13 June 1268. After some little resistance, Archbishop Boniface confirmed his election, but it was not until 23 Sept. that he was consecrated by the archbishop at Canterbury (‘Ann. London.’ in Stubbs, Chronicles of Edward I and II, i. 79). He was enthroned in his cathedral on Christmas day (Wykes in Annales Monastici, iv. 220). He still retained the chancellorship, and in 1268 received a grant of five hundred marks a year for the support of himself and the clerks of the chancery (Madox, i. 76), but before 1270 he had resigned the office.

In 1272 he acted with the Bishop of Lichfield in treating with Llewelyn of Wales (Shirley, Royal Letters, ii. 343). In May 1273 he was sent abroad with Nicholas of Ely, bishop of Winchester, and Walter Bronescomb, bishop of Exeter, to meet Edward I on his return from the Holy Land. He was made a commissioner along with Roger Mortimer to investigate certain grievances of the Oxford scholars, and in 1278 acted as an itinerant justice in Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, and Kent (Foss, Judges of England, ii. 94). In 1279 he succeeded to the very extensive property, inherited and acquired, of his brother the archbishop. He was one of the four negotiators selected in 1289 by Edward I to treat at Salisbury with the Scottish and Norwegian envoys about sending Margaret of Norway to Scotland (Fœdera, i. 720).

Giffard ruled over the see of Worcester for more than thirty-three years, and his activity was almost confined to his own diocese. He was engaged in constant disputes with his monastic chapter, long accounts of which, written from the monks' point of view, have come down to us in the ‘Annals of Worcester’ (Annales Monastici, vol. iv.) The great subject of contention was whether the bishop should be allowed to annex some of the more valuable livings in his gift to the prebends of the college at Westbury, which led to tedious litigation, ultimately decided in favour of the monks. But the claim of the bishop to receive the monks' ‘profession’ produced other suits. In 1288, at an ordination at Westbury, an unseemly dispute between the precentor of Worcester and John of Evreux, archdeacon of Gloucester, a favourite nephew of the bishop, as to who had the right to call over the names of the candidates, led to the expulsion of the former from the chancel with the connivance of the bishop (Ann. Wigorn. p. 496). A little later a truce was patched up, but at Bromsgrove the bishop ‘would not permit the prior to exercise his office, regardless of the peace that had been made, which we believe to have been as vain as a peace with the Welsh.’ The monks also complained of his taking away the chapel at Grafton from them, and of the constant efforts of the bishop to visit and to exercise jurisdiction over them. In 1290 he held a visitation, and required the convent to support his 140 horses, and went away in anger. Though in 1290 he, at Bishop Burnell's mediation, revoked the statutes of the priory and agreed to postpone the lawsuits, he soon after procured from Rome a ‘very bad bull’ against them.

Giffard was involved in another great dispute with the Abbot of Westminster. He had deposed William of Ledbury, prior of Malvern, for gross crimes. The monks of Westminster took up William's cause, as Malvern was a cell of their abbey, and obtained the king's support. In the end Giffard was glad to compromise the case, and received a grant of land at Knightwick not to visit Malvern as his predecessors had done (1283), and Ledbury was restored. This settlement Arch-