Wakeman, John (DNB00)

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WAKEMAN alias WICHE, JOHN (d. 1549), first bishop of Gloucester, was, according to a pedigree in the British Museum (Harl. MS. 6185), the second son of William Wakeman of Drayton, Worcestershire. Anthony Wood, in whose first edition he is confounded with Robert Wakeman, fellow of All Souls' in 1516, says that he was ‘a Worcestershire man born,’ without citing any authority. It is certain that he became a Benedictine, and it is possibly from this datum that Anthony Wood infers that he was educated at Gloucester Hall, the Benedictine foundation at Oxford. If the identification made in the entry, ‘abbot of Tewkesbury,’ be correct, he supplicated in the name of John Wyche, Benedictine, for the degree of B.D. on 3 Feb. 1511 (Boase, Reg. Univ. Oxon. i. 174), and this is confirmed by Wood's guarded statement, based upon a manuscript in the College of Arms, that when consecrated bishop he was of that degree. It is not improbable that he is the John Wiche of the Benedictine house of Evesham, who on 22 Dec. 1513 was a petitioner for a congé d'élire on the death of Thomas Newbold, abbot of Evesham (Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, i. 4614). On this occasion Clement Lichfield, alias Wych, prior of Evesham, became abbot, being elected on 28 Dec. 1513 (Dugdale, Monast. ii. 8). The name not only suggests relationship, probably on the maternal side, but strengthens the presumption of a Worcestershire origin. Nothing further is known of Wiche for an interval of thirty-two years. On 19 March 1534 a congé d'élire issued for the election of an abbot of the Benedictine monastery of Tewkesbury in the room of Henry Beeley, deceased (Letters and Papers, vii. 419). On 27 April 1534 the royal assent was given to the election of John Wiche, late prior, as abbot (ib. 761). The temporalities were restored on 10 June (ib. 922). Wiche had secured his own appointment by obtaining the interest of Sir William Kingston [q. v.] and of Cromwell, and by then persuading his brethren to refer the election to the king's pleasure. At the end of July 1535 both Cromwell and the king were staying at the monastery, and in October Wiche sent Cromwell a gelding and 5l. to buy him a saddle, conveying a hint of future gratifications. He himself supplied information to the government of the disaffection of one of his priors (ib. XIV. i. 942), and it is not surprising that on 9 Jan. 1539 he surrendered his monastery, receiving an annuity of four hundred marks, or 266l. 13s. 4d. (Dugdale, Monast. ii. 57). He then seems to have taken the name Wakeman, by which he was afterwards known. Upon his nomination to the newly erected see of Gloucester in September 1541 this pension was vacated. The date of the letters patent for the erection of the bishopric is 3 Sept. 1541. Wakeman was consecrated by Cranmer, Bonner, and Thirlby at Croydon on 20 or 25 Sept. 1541. In 1547 he attended the funeral of Henry VIII (Strype, Eccl. Mem. II. ii. 291), and on 19 Feb. of the same year assisted at the consecration of Arthur Bulkeley as bishop of Bangor (Strype, Cranmer, p. 136). Wakeman must have had some pretensions to scholarship and theology. It is true that it was in his capacity of abbot of Tewkesbury that he signed the articles drawn up by convocation in 1536; but in 1542, when Cranmer was projecting a revision of the translation of the New Testament, he assigned the Revelation to Wakeman, with Dr. John Chambers, bishop of Peterborough, as his colleague. Wakeman died early in December 1549, the spiritualities being taken into the hands of the archbishop on the sixth of that month. His place of burial is uncertain. While abbot of Tewkesbury, Wakeman constructed a splendid tomb for himself on the north-east side of the high altar, which is still to be seen. He does not appear to be entitled to any further epitaph than that of an intriguing and servile ecclesiastic.

In Bedford's ‘Blazon of Episcopacy’ (2nd edit. 1897) two coats-of-arms are assigned him, the first on the authority of a British Museum manuscript (Addit. MS. 12443), being party per fess indented sable and argent three doves rising countercharged. This was presumably the coat granted to the bishop, for a reference to the College of Arms shows that the second coat, Vert a saltier, wavy ermine, was granted in 1586 to his nephew Richard, great-grandfather of Sir George Wakeman [q. v.]

[Cal. State Papers, Dom. Hen. VIII; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ii. 756; Hearne's Robert of Gloucester's Chronicle, pp. xx–xxi; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 436; Bennett's Hist. of Tewkesbury, 1830; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation; Lansd. MS. 980, f. 73; Harl. MS. 6185.]

I. S. L.