Open main menu


BLYTHE, GEOFFREY, LL.D. (d. 1530), bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, was a son of William Blythe of Norton, Derbyshire, but originally of Leeds, Yorkshire, by a sister of Thomas Rotheram, archbishop of York. He was brother to John Blythe, bishop of Salisbury, and master of King's Hall, Cambridge. Geoffrey Blythe was educated at Eton, and thence elected to King's College, Cambridge, in 1483 ({sc|Harwood}}, Alumni Eton. 119) He proceeded to the degree of LL.D. On 4 April 1493 he became prebendary of Strensall in the church of York, and on 9 May following was collated to the archdeaconry of Cleveland in the same church. In 1494 he became treasurer of the church of Sarum; was rector of Corfe, Dorsetshire, 5 March 1494–5; and about 1496 had the prebend of Sneating in the church of St. Paul. On 4 April 1496 he was ordained priest, in March 1496–7 admitted dean of York, and on 9 Feb. 1497–8 collated to the archdeaconry of Gloucester. He was appointed master of King's Hall, Cambridge, on 11 Feb. 1498–9, and was collated to the archdeaconry of Sarum on 21 Aug. 1499, in which year he had the prebend of Stratton in that church. King Henry VII entertained a high opinion of his abilities, and often employed him in foreign embassies. He was special ambassador on 27 May 1502 to Ladislaus II, king of Hungary and Bohemia, and on his return was rewarded with the bishopric of Lichfield and Coventry. Blythe was consecrated to that see by Richard Fox, bishop of Winchester, on 27 Sept. 1503. During the first years of his government of the diocese he was accused of treason, but of this charge he most honourably acquitted himself, and accordingly letters patent for his pardon were issued on 18 Feb. 1508–9 (Rymer, Fœdera, ed. 1712, xiii. 246). In 1512 he was appointed lord-president of Wales, continuing in that office till 1524 (Clive, Hist. of Ludlow and the Lords Marchers, 155, 283, 292). By an inquisition taken on 15 June 1513, after the death of Sir Ralph Langeford, knight, it was found that the deceased, by his deed, 14 Jan. 1510–11, by covin and deceit between him and Blythe, in order to defraud the king of the custody, conveyed certain manors and lands in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, and Lincolnshire to Anthony Fitzherbert (Thoroton, Nottinghamshire, 344). Blythe resigned the mastership of King's Hall, Cambridge, in 1528. He is said to have died in London, and he was buried in Lichfield Cathedral before the image of St. Chad, one of his predecessors in the see. A noble monument which was erected to his memory has been long destroyed. Accounts differ as to the date of his death, but his will, dated 28 April 1530, was proved on 1 March 1530–1. Rowland Lee, his successor, was not elected till 10 Jan. 1533–4.

Blythe bequeathed legacies to his cathedrals of Lichfield and Coventry, the churches of St. Chad in Shrewsbury and Norton, Eton College, King's College, and King's Hall. Among his bequests to King's College was a great standing cup gilt with a cover, which had been presented to him by Ladislaus, king of Hungary. He also gave a similar cup to Eton College. Blythe in his lifetime built fair houses for the choristers of Lichfield Cathedral; also a chapel at Norton, in which he erected an alabaster tomb for his parents, and established a chantry. He gave to King's College a gilt mitre for the barne-bishop in 1510, a pair of great organs value 40l. in 1512, a rochet of the best cloth for the barne-bishop in 1518, and a fair banner of the assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary in 1519. He, with his dean and chapter, collected all the statutes of the cathedral of Lichfield, and got the same confirmed by Cardinal Wolsey as legate in 1526.

[Cole's Hist. of King's Coll. Camb. i. 107; Addit. MSS. 5802, ff. 150, 151, 5827, f. 86, 5831, f. 21; Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. 455; Godwin, De Præsulibus (Richardson), 323; Foxe's Acts and Monuments (Townsend), iv. 557, vii. 451; Dodd's Church Hist. i. 181; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. (Bliss), ii. 702; Cooper's Athenæ Cantab. i. 40, 528; Cranmer's Works, ed. Cox (Parker Soc.), ii. 259.]

T. C.