Wickwane, William de (DNB00)

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WICKWANE or WYCHEHAM, WILLIAM de (d. 1285), archbishop of York, was canon and chancellor of York when on 4 Feb. 1262 he was instituted to the rectory of Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire (Raine). Walter Giffard [q. v.], archbishop of York, having died in April 1279, Wickwane was elected by the chapter to succeed him on 22 June; he received the king's assent on 4 July, and went to the pope for his pall. Nicolas III set aside the election by the chapter, but as of his own will consecrated him to York at Viterbo on 26 Aug. On landing in England about 29 Sept. he caused his cross to be borne before him in the province of Canterbury. John Peckham [q. v.], the archbishop, ordered that no food should be sold to him on pain of excommunication, and his official and his men had a struggle with Wickwane's party and broke the cross (Wykes). He was enthroned at York at Christmas. In 1280 he began a visitation of his province, and was specially careful in visiting its monasteries. On coming to Durham he was refused admission into the cathedral priory, the gate being forcibly kept against him. Standing in the road, he pronounced excommunication against the monks; appeals were made to Rome, and the dispute lasted during the remainder of his life. He again visited Durham in person in 1283, and was about to excommunicate the prior in the church of St. Nicolas, when some of the younger citizens raised a tumult; he was forced to flee, one of his palfrey's ears was cut off, and he is said to have been in danger of his life. On 8 Jan. 1284 he translated the body of St. William [see Fitzherbert, William], archbishop of York, in the presence of Edward I, and with much state, and on the next day consecrated Antony Bek (d. 1310) [q. v.] to the see of Durham, an act which he is said to have regretted to the day of his death. Having obtained the king's leave, he set out to lay his complaints against the convent of Durham before the pope. On his way he fell sick of a fever at Pontigny, assumed the Cistercian habit, and died there on 26 Aug. 1285. The statement that he resigned his see appears merely to refer to his assumption of the monastic habit during his last illness. He was buried in the abbey church of Pontigny.

Emaciated in person, austere in life and manners, and sparing in expenditure, William had a high reputation for sanctity, took as little part as possible in civil affairs, and was industrious and strict in his administration of his province and of his diocese, in which he consecrated many new churches. Miracles, and specially cures of fever, are said to have been wrought at his tomb. He made a beneficial rule, confirmed by the king in 1283, that each archbishop of York should leave a certain amount of stock on the estates of the see. He is said to have been learned, and to have written a book called ‘Memoriale,’ apparently a kind of learned commonplace book (Bale). His register (1279–85), extant at York, was published by the Surtees Society in 1907.

[Raine's Fasti Ebor. pp. 317–27; Tres Scriptt. Hist. Dunelm. (Surtees Soc.), pp. 58–69; Prynne's Records, iii. 235 sqq.; Chron. de Lanercost, pp. 121–2 (Maitland Club); Stubbs's Historians of York, ii. 407–8, Wykes's Chron. apud Ann. Monast. iv. 281, Matt. Westminster, iii. 53 (all Rolls Ser.); Bale's Scriptt. Cat. cent. x. 72.]

W. H.