Warton, Robert (DNB00)

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WARTON, ROBERT (d. 1557), bishop successively of St. Asaph and Hereford, was probably born in the late years of the fifteenth century. He is known by various names, or rather by varieties of two‒Parfew or Purefoy or Parfey, on the one hand; Warton, Wharton, or Warblington, on the other. In the records of his election assent, confirmation, and consecration at St. Asaph's, his name is given as Wartton. On the other hand, the arms the bishop used were those of the Parfews or Purefoys, and there were members of that family connected in various ways with the cathedral when Warton was bishop of St. Asaph. Archdeacon Thomas concludes that the family name was Parfey or Parfew, and that the local name of Warton in various forms was adopted. Robert Warton was a Cluniac monk, and became abbot of Bermondsey. In 1525 he is said to have proceeded B.D. at Cambridge. The list of supremacy acknowledgments in in the record office does not include that of Bermondsey, but it seems clear from his subsequent history that Warton signed. On 8 June 1536 he was elected bishop of St. Asaph, but retained his abbacy in commendam till 1538, when the abbey was suppressed, and Warton received what was for that time the very large pension of 333l. 6s. 8d.

Warton lived mostly at Denbigh. He took part in 1537 in the drawing up of 'the Institution of a Christian Man.' On 18 Aug. 1538 he received the surrender of the white friars at Denbigh, and in 1539 he cautiously commended confession as very requisite and expedient, though not enjoined by the word of God. He had a plan, the revival of a plan of 1282, for removing the seat of the cathedral and grammar school to Wrexham, and he wrote about it to Cromwell soon after his appointment. Afterwards he thought of Denbigh, where he was in 1538 made free of the borough. In 1537 he was present at the christening of Prince Edward and the funeral of Jane Seymour; in 1538 he was at the reception of Anne of Cleves, the declaration of whose nullity of marriage he afterwards signed. From a letter preserved to Cromwell, it would seem that he liked to live in his remote diocese; when in London, even after the dissolution, he seems to have stayed at Bermondsey. In 1548 he was one of those who in the drawing up of the Book of Common Prayer represented the Bangor use. In 1551 he was placed on the council for Wales.

At the beginning of Queen Mary's reign he was retained and was made a member of the commission which expelled most of the bishops (cf. Strype, Memorials, iii. i. 153). He himself was on 1 March 1554 translated to Hereford in place of John Harley, who had been deprived. He died on 22 Sept. 1557, and his will was proved on 21 Jan. 1557-8. The charge of wasting the revenues of the see by building new palaces seems to resolve itself into a charge of rebuilding or restoring these rather small houses. It has been pointed out that as late as 1604 the palace at St. Asaph had only one or two rooms which were floored.

[Information kindly given by the Ven. Archdeacon Thomas, F.S.A.; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabrigienses, i. 171, 550; Ellis's Orig. Letters, 3rd ser. iii. 96; Machyn's Diary (Camden Soc.), p. 58; Burnet's Hist. of the Reformation, ed. Pocock; Strype's Works (General Index); Dixon's Hist. of the Church of England, iv. 137, 141; Letters and Papers of Henry VIII, x. 1256, xi. 580, xii. ii. 202, &c., xiii. i. 821, xiv. i. 646, &c.]

W. A. J. A.