Bek, Thomas I (DNB00)


BEK, THOMAS I (d. 1293), bishop of St. David's, was the second son of Walter Bek, baron of Eresby, Lincolnshire, and the elder brother of Antony Bek I [q. v.], the bishop of Durham and patriarch of Jerusalem. Thomas Bek, like his brothers, rose high in the royal favour, and filled several important offices of state. In 1269 he became chancellor of the university of Oxford (Le Neve, Fasti (ed. Hardy), iii. 464; Smith, Annals of University College, p. 12); in 1274 he was keeper of the wardrobe to Edward I (Rymer, Fœd. i. 519); on 29 Sept. 1278 he was one of the lords of parliament present at Westminster when Alexander III of Scotland did homage (ib. p. 563); in 1279 he became lord treasurer (Pat. 1 Edw. I, m. 7); and in the same year was entrusted with the keeping of the great seal during Edward's absence in France (Rymer, Fœd. i. 575). His ecclesiastical preferments were also many and lucrative. He held the rectories of Silkstone, Yorkshire, and Wainfleet All Saints, Lincolnshire. In 1275 he was archdeacon of Dorset (Pat. 3 Edw. I), and attended on Edward I and Queen Eleanor, 19 April 1278, on their visit to Glastonbury to inspect the relics of King Arthur (Yardley, Menev. Sacr.) He was archdeacon of Berkshire in 1280 (Prynne, Collect, tom. iii. p. 108). On 20 Jan. 1280 he was presented by the king to the prebend of Castor in the cathedral of Lincoln (Le Neve, Fasti, ii. 125; Pat. 8 Edw. I, m. 23). The next year, Sunday, 6 Oct. 1280, Bek was consecrated bishop of St. David's in Lincoln Minster, by Archbishop Peckham, assisted by six other bishops, including the Archbishop of Rages, or Edessa. The same day the body of St. Hugh of Avalon was translated to the new shrine prepared for it in the recently erected 'Angel Choir' in the presence of Edward I and his queen and their children, his brother Edmund of Lancaster and his wife the queen of Navarre, Archbishop Peckham and other prelates, and 230 knights, with other nobles. The whole cost of this magnificent ceremonial and the accompanying festivities was defrayed by the newly consecrated bishop (Girald. Camb. vii. 219, 220, Rolls Series). He sang his first mass in the diocese at Strata Florida, on 1 or 2 Feb. 1281, and was enthroned at St. David's (on St. David's day) 1 March of that year (Haddan and Stubbs, i. 528). In 1282, when Edward was marching against Llewellyn and his brother David, the bishop of St. David's was one of the bishops and abbots ordered on 20 May to have his contingent ready to join the king's forces (Rymer, Fœd. i. 607). In 1283 he certified his having received letters from Pope Martin IV allowing the marriage of Rhys ap Mereduc and Auda of Hastings, though within the prohibited degrees (ib. p. 635). When in 1284 Archbishop Peckham made a metropolitical visitation of the Welsh diocese, Bek, as a last expiring protest on behalf of the ancient independence of the Welsh church, made an ineffectual remonstrance against the jurisdiction of Canterbury. The protest was completely disregarded, excommunication being threatened if the opposition were persevered in. The visitation was held, and injunctions for the diocese were drawn up by the archbishop (Haddan and Stubbs, i. 571-9; Wharton, Angl. Sacr. ii. 651; Wilkins, Concilia, ii. 106). The same year, on Sunday, 26 Nov., Eaward I and his queen visited St. David's 'peregrinationis causa,' and we may safely conclude were the guests of the bishop (Angl. Sacr. ii. 651). When at the close of the same year his brother Antony was appointed to the see of Durham, a dispute occurring between the prior and the offcial of York as to the right of instalment, that 'masterful prelate ' settled the matter by calling in his brother of St. David's to perform the office (ib. i. 747). In 1287 Bek completed the imperfect capitular body of St. David's, which had consisted only of a bishop and dean in one person and a precentor, by the addition of a chancellor and treasurer, together with a sub-dean and a sub-chanter (Jones and Freeman, pp. 301, 322). To extend the advantages of a resident body of clergy to the more neglected parts of his wide-spread diocese, he in 1283 founded the collegiate church of Llangadoc (Angl. Sacr. ii. 651), which was very speedily removed to Abergwili, and in 1287 another at Llandewi-Brefi (Leland, Collectan. i. 323), and a hospital at Llawhaden, and obtained two weekly markets from the king for his cathedral city (Jones and Freeman, pp. 300-2). We learn from a survey of Sherwood Forest that Bek had a hermitage at Eastwait on Mansfield Moor, Nottinghamshire, to which he was in the habit of retiring for meditation. According to Bartholomew Cotton (de Rege Edwardo I, p. 177, Rolls Series), Bek was one of the many men of high rank who in 1290 were induced by the impassioned preaching of Archbishop Peckham to take the cross and set out for the Holy Land 'sine spe remeandi' (Annanl. Monast. (Osney), iv. 336). If he actually left England, which is not quite certain, he returned in safety and died on 12 May 1293, and was succeeded by Bishop David Martyn.

[Harl. MS. 3720; Jones and Freeman's History of St. David's, pp. 298-302; Le Neve's Fasti (ed. Hardy); Jones's Fasti Eccl. Sarisb. pp. 138, 147; Haddan and Stubbs's Councils and Eccl. Doc. i. 528, 552-7; Wharton's Angl. Sacra; Annal. Menev. ii, 651; Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i. pt. ii.; Wilkins's Concilia, ii. 106.]

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