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Bokyngham, John (DNB00)

BOKYNGHAM or BUCKINGHAM, JOHN (d. 1398), bishop of Lincoln, was rector of Olney, prebendary of Lichfield, and dean in 1349: he was appointed to the archdeaconry of Northampton in 1361, and in 1352 received from the king the prebend of Gretton in the church of Lincoln. He was keeper of the privy seal to Edward III. He has been identified by Godwin with a scholastic theologian of the same name, who, according to Bale (Scriptores, ii. 72), wrote 'Quuæstiones Sententiarum' and 'Ordinariæ deceptationes.' Of these the 'Quæstiones' has been printed with the title 'Joannis Bokingham Angli opus acutissimum in quatuor libros Sententiarum, Parisiis, p. Joann. Barbier, MDV,' 4to (Panzer, vii.), and is in the Bodleian Library. The identity, however, of the bishop with the scholastic doctor is purely conjectural; and may be safely rejected, as Bokyngham does not seem to have been a man of learning. On the sudden death of Reginald Brian, bishop of Worcester, postulated to the see of Ely, in 1361 the monks of Ely elected John Bokyngham, but the election was quashed by the pope. In 1362 Urban, at the request of the king, made Bokyngham bishop of Lincoln by provision. Having been examined at St. Omer by two abbots appointed by the pope, and pronounced fit for the episcopate, he was consecrated on 25 June in the following year. On entering on his bishopric he took 8d. in the mark from his clergy. His diocese, which included Oxford and Lutterworth, was the headquarters of the Lollard movement. Swynderby, one of the most violent of the Wycliffite preachers, was exceedingly popular at Leicester. The bishop attempted to stop his preaching, and managed to turn him out of the chapel of St. John the Baptist. Swynderby was, however, upheld by the people. He used two great stones which lay outside the chapel as a pulpit, and declared that as long as he had the good will of the people he would 'preach in the king's highway in spite of the bishop's teeth.' In May 1382 Bokyngham attended the synod called the council of 'the earthquake,' held in London by Archbishop Courtenay, in which the propositions ascribed to the Wycliffite preachers were pronounced heretical, and, in common with other bishops, published in his diocese the archbishop's mandate on the subject. In the summer of that year Bokyngham, in virtue of letters obtained by Courtenay from the king, caused Swynderby to be arrested, and, in spite of the opposition of the people of Leicester, convicted him of heresy. Swynderby appealed to the king and the Duke of Lancaster. The case was brought before parliament, but he was handed over to the bishop, and recanted his errors. Although Bokyngham upheld the policy of the archbishop against the Lollards, he was not blind to the abuses prevailing in the church, and in 1394 held a visitation of Lincoln cathedral, which brought to light many delinquencies among the members of the chapter. He does not seem to have approved the policy which turned the liberation of the church from papal power into her subjection to the crown; for when, acting in virtue of a statute of 1389, 13 Ric. II (Rolls of Parl. iii . 273), the king forbade an appointment to the archdeaconry of Buckinghamshire until his right to present had been settled in his court, he allowed the office to be filled by an exchange. The king next claimed to appoint to the archdeaconry of Leicester, then held by an alien absentee, the Cardinal Orsini ('de Urcinis'). A long suit followed, in which the bishop unsuccessfully defended the claim of the incumbent. In the course of the suit he summoned the cardinal to defend his own right, and on his neglect delivered the office to the king's nominee, whom he finally instituted, when the suit was decided against himself. At the same time some of Bokyngham's appointments were made in accordance with the King's will. Thus, in 1393, he gave a prebend to Roger Walden, Richard's secretary, afterwards made treasurer and archbishop; and the gift of another prebend in 1395 to Thomas Haxey, agent of the Earl of Nottingham, must also be considered as due to court influence in spite of the part afterwards taken by Haxey in the parliament of 1397. Bokyngham, however, had shown some independence of action, enough probably to rouse the king's dislike. Richard may also have desired the rich see of Lincoln for his cousin, Henry Beaufort, as a means of binding that branch of the house of Lancaster closely to himself, so as to counterbalance the influence of the Earl of Derby. Boniface IX was in such need of English help that he willingly lent himself to do the king's pleasure, and in 1397 translated Bokyngham to the see of Lichfield. Indignant at being thus removed to a far less wealthy and important bishopric than that he had held so long, Bokyngham refused to be translated. He retired to the monastery of Christ Church at Canterbury, where he died 10 March 1398. He was a benefactor to his cathedral church and to New College, Oxford, and also took part in building Rochester bridge.

[Anglia Sacra, i. 49, 449, 663; Le Neve's Fasti; Knighton's Twysden, 2627-2668; Walsingham, 1. 298, ii. 66, 228; Fasciculi Zizaniorum. 286, 334; Foxe's Acts and Monuments, i. 607; Bokyngham's Register, Hutton extr., Harleian MS 952.]

W. H.