Open main menu

Darlington, John of (DNB00)


DARLINGTON, JOHN of (d. 1284), archbishop of Dublin and theologian, was an Englishman, whose name suggests that either he or his family came from Darlington. He became a Dominican friar, and it is probable that he studied at Paris at the Dominican priory of St. James. The Jacobins of Paris were afterwards famous for the ‘Concordances to the Scriptures,’ the first imperfect edition of which was issued by their thirteenth-century prior, Hugh of Saint-Cher, afterwards a cardinal. A second and fuller edition of Hugh's ‘Concordances,’ called the ‘Concordantiæ Magnæ,’ was, about 1250, drawn up by the prior's disciples, among whom a large number of Englishmen, including John of Darlington, Richard of Stavensby, and Hugh of Croydon, are specially mentioned, and from whom the fuller edition derived its alternative name of ‘Anglicanæ Concordantiæ.’ We have the express testimony of Rishanger (p. 89, Rolls ed.) that Darlington was prominently connected with this work. Hence the conjecture of his residence in Paris, though the fullest list of foreign students does not include his name (Budzinsky, Die Universität Paris und die Fremden an derselben). These ‘Concordances’ were the basis of all later works on the same subject, and Darlington must have already become famous for his share in them and for other works such as sermons and disputations (Leland, Comm. de Scriptt. Brit. p. 302), when in 1256 he was made a member of Henry III's council, and taken largely into that king's confidence (Matt. Paris, Chronica Majora, ed. Luard, v. 547). He also became Henry's confessor, though whether this was earlier, as the probabilities of the case suggest, or later, as the statement that he acted in this capacity during Henry's old age shows, can hardly be determined. In 1256 he persuaded the king to release a converted Jew of Lincoln, imprisoned on suspicion of complicity in the murder of a christian child (Fœdera, i. 335). In 1258 his partisanship of the royal cause is proved by his becoming one of the twelve, or rather eleven, elected on the king's part to draw up, in conjunction with twelve baronial representatives, the provisions of Oxford (Annals of Burton, in Ann. Monastici, i. 447). In 1263 he was present at the drawing up of the instrument by which Henry III agreed to submit the questions arising from the provisions of Oxford to the arbitration of St. Louis (Fœdera, i. 434; Shirley, Royal Letters, ii. 252).

In August 1278 Darlington was at Rome with Master Henry and Master William, as representatives of Edward I on various business. They urged Nicholas III to allow that the ‘tribute’ of a thousand marks claimed by the Roman see should be paid by certain abbots from whose land the king was prepared to assign a sufficient sum. But this the pope entirely refused to agree to (Fœdera, i. 560). They next required him to grant the king the tenth of ecclesiastical revenue assigned by the council of Lyons for crusading purposes (ib. i. 560). This Nicholas consented to do at some future time, provided that Edward would publicly take the cross, and honestly propose to go on crusade. The pope appointed Darlington, with Master Ardicio, his chaplain and ‘primicerius’ of the church of Milan, as chief collectors within Edward's island dominions (ib. i. 561; Rishanger, p. 89, and Trivet, p. 296, date Darlington's appointment so early as 1276, but if this were the right date it is hard to see why he should be in Rome two years later). The appointment of a Dominican to this office was strongly criticised (‘Salva papali reverentia contra sui ordinis professionem tali officio deputatus,’ Rishanger). Its probable ground was that Darlington was on excellent terms both with the pope and king.

It was a work of many years before the tenth was all collected, but operations had hardly begun when Darlington was raised to the see of Dublin, which had been vacant since the death of Archbishop Fulk of Sandford in 1271. The rival chapters of St. Patrick's and Holy Trinity had been unable to agree on the election of Fulk's successor, and instead of co-operating together they made separate elections. The former chose William de la Cornere, their fellow canon, and one of the pope's chaplains, while the latter selected Fromund le Brun, the chancellor of Ireland, who was also a chaplain to the pope (Cal. Doc. relating to Ireland, 1252–84, No. 913). The double election involved a tedious litigation and a reference to the pope, who ultimately annulled both nominations, and appointed Darlington archbishop, apparently very soon after his return from the curia. His elevation, and the almost simultaneous papal appointment of the Franciscan Peckham to Canterbury, testified to the popularity of the mendicants at Rome. Edward at once accepted him as archbishop; received his homage and fealty on 27 April 1279, and next day restored him to his temporalities. It was not, however, until 26 Aug., the Sunday after St. Bartholomew's day, that he was consecrated, at Waltham Abbey, by Peckham, with the assistance of Nicholas of Ely, bishop of Winchester, Burnell, bishop of Bath, the chancellor, and William, bishop of Norwich (Peckham, Register, i. 37; Cont. Flor. Wig. ii. 222, gives 27 Aug.; adopted by Stubbs in Registrum Sacrum Anglicanum; the Osney Annals, Ann. Mon. iv. 282, place the consecration at St. Albans; the Worcester Annals, ib. iv. 476, date it on 6 Ides Sept.; and Oxenedes, p. 255, on 6 Ides Dec.).

The collection of the tenth, a long and difficult business, kept Darlington from his see, and the king allowed him to be represented by attorney in Ireland, and gave him special license to remain in England (Cal. Doc. relating to Ireland, 1252–84, Nos. 1552 and 1831). The wealthiest churches were unwilling to pay. The monks complained bitterly of the exactions of the friar. Before he was made archbishop he had to coerce the rich abbey of St. Albans into regularity of payment by excommunicating the abbot and some of the monks, and prohibiting the performance of divine service within its walls (Walsingham, Gesta Abbatum S. Albani, i. 468, Rolls Ser.). The prior and chief monks of Christ Church, Canterbury, incurred the same sentence, and one of Peckham's first acts as archbishop was to persuade the collectors to allow him to reconcile his chapter with them on a private confession of contrition (Peckham, Register, i. 10, 28, 60). The bishop of Chichester and some of his household suffered the same fate (ib. i. 32). Darlington had still other difficulties. The sub-collectors in the diocese of Salisbury produced forged letters purporting to come from Martin IV, ordering the chief collectors to pay them large sums for their expenses; but the latter denied the claim, and the letters were forwarded to Rome to complete the detection (ib. i. 293–7, 307–8). This was so late as February 1282. Other troubles also detained Darlington in England. Peckham had made a visitation of certain royal chapels in the diocese of Lichfield, which claimed exemption from his jurisdiction. The king supported his chaplains and canons. Among them was the collegiate church of Penkridge, near Stafford, of which the Archbishop of Dublin was ex-officio dean. Darlington espoused the cause of his brother canons, who soon incurred Peckham's excommunication. Some unpleasantness arose, which, however, was ended by Peckham's declaration that the Archbishop of Dublin was not included in the condemnation of the clerks of Penkridge (Peckham, Register, i. lxx, 112, 179, iii. 1068; Plot, Staffordshire, p. 445). In 1283 Edward I seized the collected tenth for the crusade, but was compelled to disgorge it. Darlington's name is not connected expressly with this transaction (Reg. Peck. ii. 635, 639; Fœdera, i. 631). At last all business was over, and Darlington proceeded to take up his residence in Ireland. He had not gone far, however, from London, when he was suddenly seized with a mortal sickness. He died on 28 March 1284, not having had time, as was reported, to arrange his affairs (Dunstable Annals in Ann. Mon. iii. 313; Wykes, ib. iv. 297; Rishanger, p. 108; Cont. Flor. Wig. ii. 231). He was buried in the choir of the church of the Blackfriars in London.

[Matthew Paris's Chronica Majora, ed. Luard; Calendar of Documents relating to Ireland, 1252–1284; Rymer's Fœdera, vol. i., Record edition; Annales Monastici, ed. Luard; Oxenedes; Rishanger; Walsingham's Gesta Abbatum S. Albani; Registrum Epistolarum J. Peckham; all in Rolls Series; Trivet and Continuation of Florence of Worcester (Eng. Hist. Soc.); Ware's Works concerning Ireland (Harris), i. 324. For his literary career, besides Leland's Comm. de Scriptt. Brit. p. 302, followed by Bale's Scriptt. Brit. Cat., cent. quarta, lvi., and Tanner's Bibl. Brit. p. 255, see especially Quétif and Echard's Scriptores Ordinis Prædicatorum, i. 395–6, and 203–9 for his share in the Concordances; and Histoire Littéraire de la France, xix. 45.]

T. F. T.