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WILLIAM WAYNFLETE (1395-1486)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 435 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WILLIAM WAYNFLETE (1395-1486), English lord chancellor and bishop of Winchester, was the son of Richard Pattene or Patyn, alias Barbour, of Wainfleet, Lincolnshire (Magd. Coll. Oxon. Reg, f. 84b), whose monumental effigy, formerly in the church of Wainfleet, now in Magdalen College Chapel at Oxford, seems to be in the dress of a merchant. His mother was Margery, daughter of SirWilliam Brereton of that ilk in Cheshire(Ormerod's Cheshire, iii. 81). Of Waynflete's education it is only possible to assert that he was at Oxford University. It has been alleged that he was a Wykehamist, a scholar at Winchester College and New College, Oxford. But unless he was, as is improbable, the " Willelmus Pattney, de eadem, Sar. Dioc.," admitted in 1403, he was not a scholar of Winchester, and in any case was not a scholar of New College. Nor was he a commoner in college at Winchester or at New College, as his name does not appear in the Hall books, or lists of those dining in hall, at either college. That he was a day-boy commoner at Winchester is possible, but seems unlikely. He was never claimed in his lifetime by either college as one of its alumni. That he was at Oxford, and probably a scholar at one of the grammar schools there, before passing on to the higher faculties, is shown by a letter of the chancellor addressed to him when provost of Eton (Ep. Acad. Oxf. Hist. Soc. i. 158) which speaks of the university as his " mother who brought him forth into the light of knowledge and nourished him with the alimony of all the sciences." He is probably the William Barbour who was ordained acolyte by Bishop Fleming of Lincoln on the 21st of April 1420 and sub-deacon on the 21St of January 1421; and as " William Barbour," otherwise Waynflete of Spalding, was ordained deacon on the 18th of March 1421, and priest on the 21St of January 1426, with title from Spalding Priory. Ile may have been the William Waynflete who was admitted a scholar of the King's Hall, Cambridge, on the 6th of March 1428 (Exch. Q. R. Bdle. 346, no. 31), and was described as LL.B. when receiving letters of protection on the 15th of July 1429 (Prot. P.C. iii. 347) to enable him to accompany Robert FitzHugh, D.D., warden of the hall, on an embassy to Rome. For the scholars of the King's Hall were what we should call fellows, as may be seen by the appointment to the hall on the 3rd of April 136o of Nicholas of Drayton, B.C.L.,and John Kent,B.A., instead of two scholars who had gone off to the French wars without the warden's leave (Cal. Close Rolls). William Waynflete, presented to the vicarage of Skendleby, Lints, by the Priory of Bardney (Lincoln, Ep. Reg. f. 34, Chandler, 16), on the 14th of June 1430, may also have been our Waynflete. There was, however, ar.other William Waynflete, who was instituted rector of Wroxhall, Somerset, on the 17th of May 1433 (Wells, Ep. Reg. Stafford), and was dead when his successor was appointed on the 18th of November 1436 (Wells, Ep. Reg. Stillington). A successor to the William Waynflete at the King's Hall was admitted on the 3rd of April 1434. Meanwhile, our Waynflete had become headmaster of Winchester; Mr William Wanneflete being paid 50S. as Irformator scolarium, teacher of the scholars of the college, for the quarter beginning on the 24th of June 1430 (Win. Coll. Bursars' Roll 8-9 Hen. VI.) and so continuously, under many variants of spelling, at the rate of £10 a year until Michaelmas 1441 (V.C.H., Bucks, ii. 154). He was collated by Bishop Beaufort at some date unascertainable (through the loss of the and volume of Beaufort's Episcopal Register) to the mastership of St Mary Magdalen's Hospital, a leper hospital on St Giles' Hill, just outside the city of Winchester (Vet. Mon. iii. 5). The first recorded headmaster after the foundation of the college, John Melton, had been presented by Wykeham to the mastership of this hospital in 1393 shortly before his retirement. Its emoluments, amounting to £9, 12s. a year, nearly doubled the headmaster's income. Under the influence of Archbishop Chicheley, who had himself founded two colleges in imitation of Wykeham, and Thomas Bekynton, king's secretary and privy seal, and other Wykehamists, Henry VI., on the 11th of October 1440, founded, in imitation of Winchester College, " a college in the parish church of Eton by Windsor not far from our birthplace," called the King's College of the Blessed Mary of Eton by Windsor, as " a sort of first-fruits of his taking the government on himself." The college was to consist of a provost, 10 priests, 6 choristers, 25 poor and needy schoiars, 25 almsmen and a magister informator " to teach gratis the scholars and all others corning from any part of England to learn grammar." Only two fellows, 4 choristers, 2 scholars and 2 almsmen were named in the charter and probably were only colourably members. Waynflete was not, as alleged (Diet. Nat. Biog.), named a fellow. On the 5th of March 1440-1441, the king endowed the college out of alien priories with some £500 a year, almost exactly the amount of the original endowment of Winchester. On the 31st of July 1441 Henry VI. went for a week-end visit to Winchester College to see the school for himself. Here he seems tq have been so much impressed with Waynflete, that at Michaelmas, 1441, Waynflete ceased to be headmaster of Winchester. In October he appears dining in the hall there as a guest, and at Christmas 1442 he received a royal livery, five yards of violet cloth, as provost of Eton. Though reckoned first headmaster of Eton, there is no definite evidence that he was. The school building was not begun till May 1442 (V.C.H., Bucks, ii. 154). William Westbury, who left New College, " transferring himself to the king's service," in May 1442, and appears in the first extant Eton Audit Roll 1444-1445 as headmaster, was probably such from May 1442. If Waynflete was headmaster from October 1441 to May 1442, his duties must have been little more than nominal. As provost, Waynflete procured the exemption of the college from archidiaconal authority on the 2nd of May, and made the contract for completion of the carpenter's work of the eastern side of the quadrangle on the 3oth of November 1443. On the 21st of December 1443 he was sworn to the statutes by Bishop Bekynton and the earl of Suffolk, the king's commissioners, and himself administered the oath to the other members of the foundation, then only five fellows and eleven scholars over fifteen years of age. He is credited with having taken half the scholars and fellows of Winchester to Eton to start the school there. In fact, five scholars and perhaps one commoner left Winchester for Eton in 1443, probably in July, just before the election. For three of them were admitted scholars of King's College, Cambridge, on the 19th of July, that college, by its second charter of the loth of July 1443 having been placed in the same relation to Eton that New College bore to Winchester; i.e. it was to be recruited entirely from Eton. The chief part of Waynflete's duties as provost was the financing and completion of the buildings and establishment. The number of scholars was largely increased by an election of 25 new ones on the 26th of September 1444, the income being, then £946, of which the king contributed £120 and Waynflete £18, or more than half his stipend of £30 a year. The full number of 70 scholars was not filled up till Waynflete's last year as provost, 1446-1447 (Eton Audit Roll). So greatly did Waynflete ingratiate himself with Henry that when Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, Henry's uncle, died on the 11th of April 1447, the same day Henry wrote to the chapter of Winchester, the prior and monks of St Swithin's cathedral, to elect Waynflete as his successor. On the 12th of April he was given the custody of the temporalities, on the x5th of April he was elected, and on the loth of May provided to the see by a papal bull. On the 13th of July 1447 he was consecrated in Eton church, when the warden and fellows and others of his old college gave him a horse at a cost of £6, 13s. 4d., and 13s. 4d. to the boys. Subsequent visits to Winchester inspired Henry with the idea of rebuilding Eton church on cathedral dimensions. Waynflete was assigned as the principal executor of his " will " for that purpose, and if there was any variance between the executors, he was to determine it. From 1448 to 1450 £3336 or some £1oo,000 of our money was spent on the church, of which Waynflete with the marquis of Suffolk and the bishop of Salisbury contributed £700 or £21,000. The troubles which began in 1450 put a stop to the work. Waynflete, as bishop, lost no time in following the example of Wykeham and his royal patron in becoming a college founder. On the 6th of May 1448 he obtained licence in mortmain and on the loth of August founded at Oxford " for the extirpation of heresies and errors, the increase of the clerical order and the adornment of holy mother church, a perpetual hall, called Seint Marie Maudeleyn Halle, for study in the sciences of sacred theology and philosophy," to consist of a president and 50 scholars. Its site was not that of the present college, but of two earlier halls called Boston and Hare, where the new schools now are. Thirteen M.A.'s and seven bachelors, besides the president, John Hornley, B.D., were named in the charter. The dedication to Mary Magdalen was no doubt derived from the hospital at Winchester of which the founder had been master. On St Wolstan's Day, the loth of January 1448–1449, Waynflete was enthroned in Winchester cathedral in the presence of the king; and, probably partly for his sake, parliament was held there in June and July 1449, when the king frequently attended the college chapel, Waynflete officiating (Win. Coll. Reg. Vet.). When Jack Cade's rebellion occurred in 1450 Waynflete was employed with Archbishop Stafford, the chancellor, to negotiate with the rebels at St Margaret's church, Southwark, close to Winchester House. A full pardon was promised, but on the 1st of August Waynflete was one of the special commissioners to try the rebels. On the 7th of May 1451 Waynflete, from " le peynted chambre " in his manor house at Southwark, asserting that his bishopric was canonically obtained and that he laboured under no disqualification, but feared some grievous attempt against himself and his see, appealed to the protection of the pope. It is suggested (Dict. Nat. Biog.) that this was due to some disturbances at Winchester (Prot. P.C. vi. ,o8), where one of Cade's quarters was sent after his execution. But it is more likely, as suggested by Richard Chandler (Life of Waynflete, 1811), that it was some Yorkist attack on him in progress in the papal court, to meet which he appointed next day 19 proctors to act for him. In the result nothing disturbed his peaceable possession of the see. With the archbishop of Canterbury he received Henry VI. on a pilgrimage to St Thomas a Becket on the 2nd of August 1451. When in November the duke of York encamped near Dartford, Waynflete with three others was sent from the king's camp at Blackheath to propose terms, which were accepted. Edward, prince of Wales, was born on the 13th of October 1453 and baptized by Waynflete the next day. This year Waynflete acquired the reversion of the manor of Stanswick, Berks, from Lady Danvers (Chandler, p. 87) for Magdalen Hall. The king became insane in 1454. On the death of the chancellor, John Kemp, archbishop of Canterbury, during the sitting of parliament, presided over by the duke of York, commissioners, headed by Waynflete, were sent to Henry, to ask him to name a new chancellor, apparently intending that Waynflete should be named. But no answer could be extracted from the king, and after some delay Lord Salisbury took the seals. During York's regency, both before and after the battle of St Albans, Waynflete took an active part in the proceedings of the privycouncil. With a view to an ampler site for his college, Waynflete obtained on the 5th of July 1456 a grant of the Hospital of St John the Baptist outside the east gate at Oxford and on the 15th of July licence to found a college there. Having obtained a papal bull, he founded it by deed of the 12th of June 1458, converting the hospital into a college with a president and six fellows, to which college two days later Magdalen Hall surrendered itself and its possessions, its members being incorporated into " the New College of St Mary Magdalen." Meanwhile Waynflete himself had been advanced to the highest office in the state, the chancellorship, the seals being delivered to him by the king in the priory of Coventry. in the presence of the duke of York, apparently as a person acceptable to both parties. On the 27th of October 1457 he took part in the trial and condemnation for heresy of Reginald Pecock, bishop of Chichester, who had been ordained subdeacon and deacon on the same day and by the same bishop as Waynflete,himself. Only Pecock's books and not the heretic were burnt. As the heresy consisted chiefly in defending the clergy on grounds of reason instead of authority, the proceeding does not show any great enlightenment on Waynflete's part. It must have been at this time that an addition was made by Waynflete to the Eton college statutes, compelling the fellows to forswear the heresies of John Wycliffe and Pecock. Waynflete presided as chancellor at the parliament at Coventry in November 1459, which, after the Yorkist catastrophe at Ludlow, attainted the Yorkist leaders. It was no doubt because of this that, three days before the Yorkist attack at Northampton, he delivered the great seal to the king in his tent near Delapre abbey, a nunnery by Northampton, on the 7th of July 146o (Rot. Claus. 38 Hen. VI. m. 5 d). It was taken with Henry and handed to the Yorkist, George Neville, bishop of Exeter, brother of the kingmaker, earl of Warwick, in London on 25th July following. Whether, as alleged 'by some, Waynflete fled and hid himself during the period covered by the battle of Wakefield and Edward's first parliament in 1461, is very doubtful. A testimonial to his fidelity written by Henry to the pope on the 8th of November 146o (Chandler, 346) was written while Henry was in Yorkist hands. The fact too that complaints laid before Edward IV. himself in August 1461 of wrongful exaction of manorial rights from the tenants of the episcopal manor of East Meon, Hants, were decided in the bishop's favour in parliament in the December following (Rot. Parl. v. 475) also suggests that he was not regarded as an enemy to the Yorkists, though a personal favourite of Henry's. A general charter of confirmation to him and his successors of the property and rights of the bishopric of Winchester on the 1st of July 1462 (Pat. 2 Ed. IV.) points in the same direction. It is certain that he took an active part in the restoration of Eton College," which Edward annexed to St George's, Windsor, in 1463, depriving it of a large part of its possessions. In the earliest Audit Rolls after the restoration of the college in 1467 there are many entries of visits of Provost Westbury to " the lord of Winchester," which in January 1468–1469 were for " beginning the work of the church " " and providing money for them." Why a pardon was granted to Waynflete on the 1st of February 1469 (Pat. 8 Ed. IV. pt. iii. m. 16) does not appear. On the restoration of Henry VI. on the 28th of September 1470 Waynflete welcomed him on his release from the Tower, which necessitated a new pardon, granted a month after Edward's reinstatement on the 3oth of May 1471 (Pat. 11. Ed. IV. pat. i. m. 24), and a loan to the king of 2000 marks (£I333, 6s. 8d.), or some £40,000 of our money. In the years 1471–1472 to 1474 Waynflete was largely engaged in completing the church, now called chapel, at Eton, his glazier supplying the windows, and he contracted on the 15th of August 1475 for the rood-loft to be made on one side "like to the rode lofte in Bishop Wykeham's college at Winchester," and on the other like that " of the college of St Thomas of Acres in London." In 1479 he built. the ante-chapel at the west-end, as it now stands, of stone from Headington, Oxford. In 1474 Waynflete, being the principal executor of Sir John Fastolf, who died in 1459, leaving a much-contested will, pro-cured the conversion of his bequest for a collegiate church of seven priests and seven almsmen at Caistor, Norfolk, into one for seven fellows and seven poor scholars at Magdalen. In the same year that college took possession of the alien priory of Sele, Sussex, the proceedings for the suppression of which had been going on since 1469. The new, now the old, buildings at Magdalen were begun the same year, the foundation-stone being laid in the middle of the high altar on the 5th of May 1474 (Wood, 207). Licences on the 1st of July, the 22nd of July 1477 and the 12th of February 1479, authorized additions to the endowment. On the 23rd of August 1480, the college being completed, the great west window being contracted to be made after the fashion of that at All Souls' College, a new president, Richard Mayhew, fellow of New College, was installed on the 23rd of August 148o, and statutes were promulgated. The foundation is commonly dated from this year and not from 1448, when Magdalen Hall was founded, though if not dated from 1448 it surely dates from 1458, when that hall and St John's Hospital were converted into Magdalen College. The statutes were for the most part a replica of those of New College, members of which were, equally with members of Magdalen, declared to be eligible for the presidency. They provided for a head and 70 scholars, but the latter were divided into 40 fellows and 30 scholars called demies, because their commons were half those of the fellows. Magdalen College School was established at the gates and as a part of the college, to be, like Eton, a free grammar school, free of tuition fees for all corners, under a master and usher, the first master being John Ankywyll, a married man, with a salary of £10 a year, the same as at Winchester and Eton. The renewal of interest in classical literature was shown in the prohibition of the study of sophistry by any scholar under the age of eighteen, unless he had been pronounced proficient in grammaticals. On the 22nd of September 1481 Waynflete received Edward IV. in state at the college, where he passed the night, and in July 1483 he received Richard III. there in even greater state, when Master William Grocyn, " the Grecian," a fellow of New College, " responded," in divinity. In 1484 Waynflete gave the college the endowment for a free grammar school at his name-place, Wainfleet, sufficient to produce for the chantry-priest-schoolmaster 10 a year, the same salary as the headmaster of Magdalen School, and built the school which still exists almost untouched, a fine brick building with two towers, 76 ft. long by 26 ft. broad. The next year saw the appropriation to the college of the Augustinian Priory of Selborne, Hants. On the 27th of April 1486, Waynflete, like Wykeham, made his will at their favourite manor, South or Bishop's Waltham. It is remarkable that he gives the same pecuniary bequests to Winchester and New Colleges as to his own college of Magdalen, but the latter he made residuary devisee of all his lands. He died on the iith of May 1486, and was buried in the chantry chapel of St Mary Magdalen behind the high altar in Winchester cathedral, which he had erected in his lifetime. The effigy on it may be taken to be an authentic portrait. (A. F. L.)
End of Article: WILLIAM WAYNFLETE (1395-1486)
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