Putta (DNB00)

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PUTTA (d. 688), first bishop of Hereford, was skilled in the Roman system of church music, having been instructed in it by the disciples of Pope Gregory; he was ordained priest of Rochester by Wilfred during the vacancy of the see after the death of Bishop Damian (d. 664) between the death of archbishop Deusdedit [q. v.] on 14 July 664 and the landing in England of archbishop Theodore [q. v.] in 669, who on his arrival consecrated him to the see of Rochester (Bede, Historia Ecclesiastica, iv. 2). He attended the council of Hertford convened by Theodore in 673 (ib. c. 5). When Rochester was wasted by the Mercian king Æthelred during his invasion of Kent in 676, Putta was absent from the city; he was sheltered by Sexulf, the bishop of the Mercians, who gave him a church and a small estate, where he dwelt until his death, making no effort to regain his bishopric, to which Theodore consecrated Cuichelm in 676, and on his resignation Gebmund in 678. Putta meanwhile performed service in his church, and went wheresoever he was asked to give instruction in church music (ib. c. 12). It is said, though perhaps this is a mere inference, that he had often thought of resigning his bishopric before he was compelled to leave it (Gesta Pontificum, p. 135). His place of retreat is said to have been in the district of the Hecanas or Herefordshire, and he there perhaps acted as Sexulf's deputy, and has therefore been reckoned as the first bishop of Hereford (ib. p. 298; Flor. Wig. i. 238; Ecclesiastical Documents, iii. 130). His name occurs as a witness to a charter of Wulfhere of Mercia to an abbess of Bath, marked spurious by Kemble (Codex Diplomaticus, No. 13). In this charter, as given in the ‘Bath Chartulary’ (C. C. C. Cambr. MS. cxi. 59) he is described as ‘archiepiscopus,’ evidently by a mistake of the scribe (Two Bath Chartularies, Introd. vol. xxxiii. pt. i. pp. 6, 76). He also appears as a witness to another charter to the same abbess, marked spurious (Codex Dipl. No. 21; Two Bath Chartularies, pt. i. pp. 8, 77), and in a spurious document relating to the monastery of Peterborough (Ecclesiastical Documents, iii. 136, 160). He died in 688 (Flor. Wig. i. 41). Bede describes him as well-informed as to church discipline, content with a simple life, and more eager about ecclesiastical than worldly matters.

[Bede's Hist. Eccl. iv. cc. 2, 5, 12, Flor. Wig. i. 41, 238 (both Engl. Hist. Soc.); Will. of Malmesbury's Gesta Pontiff. pp. 135, 298 (Rolls Ser.); Haddan and Stubbs's Councils and Eccl. Doc. iii. 130, 136, 160; Kemble's Codex Dipl. Nos. 6, 21; Two Bath Chartularies, pt. i. pp. 6, 8, 76, 77 (Somerset Record Soc.); Dict. Christian Biography, art. ‘Putta,’ by Bishop Stubbs.]

W. H.