Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bermingham, William

BERMINGHAM, WILLIAM (d. 1311), archbishop of Tuam, son of Meiler Bermingham, second lord of Athenry, and uncle of Sir John Bermingham, earl of Louth [q.v.]. was consecrated in 1289. In 1297 began the celebrated quarrel between him and the Dominican friars of Athenry. The archbishop, by his archdeacon Philip le Brand, held a visitation at Athenry, at which the friars were, in the usual course, summoned to appear. The friars, it seems, claimed exemption from the visitatorial powers of the archbishop; only three of them attended the the chapter, and thy delivered a protest so loudly and violently, and abused the archdeacon so grossly, that he excommunicated them. Immediately after the archbishop issued a proclamation forbidding the people to give them food of alms, or sell them anything, or enter the church. In this strait the friars applied to the lord chancellor, who issued a mandamus directing the archbishop to withdraw his proclamation forthwith . The archbishop's reply not being satisfactory, they proceeded against him through the attorney-general for his proclamation, and compelled him to give heavy security that he would cause the archdeacon to revoke all he had unduly done. They next took legal proceedings against the archdeacon, laying damages at 1 ,000l.; but the defendant, though pleading justification, did not appear on the day of trial, on which the sheriff issued a distraint against him. Here we lose sight of the case, and how it ended we cannot tell; at any rate it is clear that the friars had the best of the whole quarrel.

About this time the see of Annadown, not far from Tuam, happened to become vacant, and Archbishop Bermingham attempted to unite it with the see of Tuam. But the dean and chapter of Annadown resisted the attempt, and in 1306 elected a Franciscan friar named Gilbert to the vacant bishopric. The archbishop used every effort to carry his point. and even went to Avignon to lay his complaint before the pope. But here also he was defeated, for on his return he found that Gilbert had been confirmed in his bishopric by a decree from the primatial court of Armagh. The archbishop died in 1311, and was buried in the abbey of Athenry, near his father Meiler.

In the 'Annals of Lough Key' this prelate is called William MacFeorais; for which change of name see Bermingham, John, earl of Louth.

[Harris's Ware, Bishops, 608; Burke's Catholic Archbishops of Tuam, 30; Annals of Lough Key, A.D. 1288, 1290, 1307, 1312 ]

P. W. J.