Stratford, Ralph de (DNB00)

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STRATFORD, RALPH de (d. 1354), bishop of London, was probably the son of a sister of John de Stratford [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, and of Robert de Stratford [q. v.], bishop of Chichester (cf. Anglia Sacra, i. 374; but elsewhere he is called simply a ‘kinsman’ of the archbishop, Annales Paulini, i. 360). His father's name was perhaps Hatton, for he is sometimes called Ralph Hatton de Stratford. He was perhaps educated, like his uncles, at Oxford, and had graduated as M.A. and B.C.L. (Bliss, Cal. Pap. Reg. ii. 534). Under his uncles' influence he entered the royal service, and as one of the king's clerks received the prebend of Banbury, Lincoln, on 2 April 1332 (Cal. Pat. Rolls, Edward III, ii. 275). On 15 Dec. 1333 he received the prebend of Erchesfont, Winchester, which on 25 Sept. 1335 he exchanged for the prebend of Blibury at Salisbury (Wharton). On 11 April 1336 he also received the treasurership of Salisbury (Bliss, Cal. Pap. Reg. ii. 534). Stratford held a canonry at St. Paul's previously to 26 Jan. 1340, when he was elected bishop of London. The royal assent was given three days later, and he was consecrated by the archbishop at Canterbury on 12 March (Le Neve, ii. 291). He was present in the parliament held in April 1341, when he supported John Stratford in his assertion of his rights, and on 3 May was one of the twelve lords appointed to advise the king whether the peers were liable to be tried out of parliament (Anglia Sacra, i. 38–40; Rot. Parl. ii. 127). Stratford was one of the two candidates whom the king recommended to the pope for promotion to the cardinalate in 1350 (Geoffrey le Baker, p. 112, ed. Thompson).

Stratford died at Stepney on 7 April 1354. During the prevalence of the plague in 1348 he purchased a piece of ground called No Man's Land for a cemetery, which was afterwards known as Pardon churchyard, and adjoined the ground purchased by Sir Walter Manny [q. v.] at the same time (ib. pp. 99, 270–1). He also joined with his uncles in their benefactions to their native town of Stratford-on-Avon, and built a residence for the priests of John Stratford's chantry. Ralph Stratford himself had a house in Bridge Street, Stratford (Lee, Stratford-on-Avon, pp. 34, 41).

[Authorities quoted; Wharton's De Episcopis Londonensibus, pp. 129–30; Murimuth's Chronicle, pp. 103, 122.]

C. L. K.