William of York (DNB00)

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WILLIAM of York (d. 1256), bishop of Salisbury, was in 1226 granted 10l. for his expenses on an iter into Lincolnshire (Close Rolls, ii. 119). On 10 Sept. 1227 he was associated as justice with the justices itinerant of Kent and Huntingdon; he was acting in this capacity in the liberties of the bishopric of Durham (ib. p. 213) in the same year. In 1234 Robert de Lexinton and William of York were apparently the two senior judges, and presided in the two branches of the court of common pleas (Foss). In 1235 he was justice itinerant at Worcester, Lewes, Gloucester, and Launceston (Annales de Theokesberia, i. 97); and in 1240 at Bedford and St. Albans (Annales de Dunstaplia, iii. 155; Matt. Paris, Chron. Maj. iv. 51). In this latter year he was at the head of the section of the justices which made an iter in the southern part of England, under the pretext of redressing grievances, but really to collect money (Matt. Paris, iv. 34). The chronicler gives him the title of provost of Beverley. Fines were levied before him from 1231 to 1239 (Dugdale, Origines Juridiciales, p. 43). He was again on iter in 1241 at Bermondsey (Ann. de Waverleia, ii. 328), and Oxford (Ann. de Theokesberia, i. 118). In 1242 he was one of the king's two representatives sent to the parliament of 29 Jan. to ask for money and counsel for the French war (Matt. Paris, iv. 185), and when the king departed for Gascony he, the archbishop of York, and William de Cantelupe were entrusted with the custody of the realm (Ann. de Dunstaplia, iii. 159). When on 2 Nov. 1246 Robert de Bingham, bishop of Salisbury, died, the canons of Salisbury, anxious to propitiate the king, elected William his successor (8 Dec.) (Matt. Paris, iv. 587; Ann. de Dunstaplia, iii. 170). His election was confirmed by the king the day after, and his consecration by Fulk, bishop of London, took place, the Dunstable annalist says, on the 7th (iii. 170), the Winchester annalist the 14th (ii. 91) of the July following. He still seems to have retained his judicial office, for in 1248 he gave judgment against the priory of Dunstable in the question of the seisin of the pastures in Kensworth and Caddington (Ann. de Dunstaplia, iii. 178).

William was present at the meeting of bishops at Dunstable on 24 Feb. 1251 to protest against Archbishop Boniface's right of visitation (Matt. Paris, v. 225), but wavered on the question of refusing the king's demand for a tenth in 1252 (ib. p. 326), though he took part in the excommunication of infractors of Magna Charta by the bishops in the same year (Burton, i. 305). He was one of a deputation of four sent during the parliament of April 1253 to the king from the bishops in parliament to ask him to allow liberty of ecclesiastical elections (Matt. Paris, v. 373). Henry replied by proposing that those bishops of his own appointment should resign—a hit at William himself—and reminded William that he had ‘exalted him from the lowest place.’ He died on 31 Jan. 1256 (ib. v. 545). Matthew Paris relates that he incurred great unpopularity by introducing the custom of forcing every under-tenant to attend at the court of his overlord, ‘to the great loss and damage of the subjects and the little or no gain of the overlords.’ He is a typical court and secular bishop of the period, beginning life and nearly ending it in the king's service, though he seems to have shown enough independence, on one occasion at least, to draw down on him the king's reproaches.

[Authorities cited in the text; Godwin, De Præsulibus Angliæ, 1616, p. 399; Le Neve's Fasti, ed. Hardy; Foss's Judges of England.]

W. E. R.