Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ayreminne, William de
AYREMINNE, or AYERMIN, WILLIAM de (d. 1336), bishop of Norwich, was descended from an ancient family settled at Osgodby, Lincolnshire. He was the eldest of three brothers, of whom Richard obtained many ecclesiastical offices [see Ayreminne, Richard de], and Adam became archdeacon of Norfolk. In early life William was probably a clerk of the exchequer. He sat in the parliament of Carlisle in 1306-7 as proxy for St. Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury. In 1316 he was deputed to record the proceedings of the parliament of Lincoln. In August of this year he became master of the rolls and he temporarily performed for many years before and after this date the duties of both the keeper of the great seal and of the chancellor. In 1317 he was made guardian of the Jewish converts' house for life, although previously the office had only been held during the king's pleasure (Tovey's Anglia Judaica, 222). In 1319 he joined the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Ely, and other ecclesiastics, who with a force of eight thousand men attempted to resist an invasion of the Scots in the North. The army was defeated near the river Swale with great slaughter. William was taken prisoner, and was not released for several months. In 1324 he resigned the mastership of the rolls to his brother Richard, and became keeper of the king's privy seal. In the church he meanwhile secured much preferment, although he was always manoeuvring to obtain more. He was rector of Wearmouth and canon of St. Paul's, Lincoln, York, Salisbury, and Dublin. In July 1325 he is said by some authorities to have been staying at Rome, to have there received the news of the death of Salmon, bishop of Norwich, and to have straightway obtained the pope's nomination to the vacant see, regardless of the known intention of Edward II to bestow the bishopric on his chancellor, Baldock. But there seems little doubt that William was living in France at the time, engaged in settling a dispute between the kings of England and France as to the possession of land in Aquitaine. His conduct of this business appears to have displeased Edward II, who had instructed him to offer certain concessions to France, which he failed to do. He had, however, friends at Rome, who undoubtedly obtained for him the papal nomination in 1325 to the see of Norwich, and he was consecrated bishop in France, 15 Sept. 1325, by the pope's agents against Edward's wish. In the course of the following year he returned to England, after frequent refusals to answer the king's summons to explain his recent conduct, and appears to have been reconciled to Edward II, in spite of the suspicions with which the Despencers and Baldock viewed him. He vigorously supported Edward III on the abdication of Edward II, and in 1331 held the office of treasurer. He died 27 March 1336, at his house at Charing, near London, and was buried in Norwich Cathedral. The old verdict on his career, which stigmatised him as 'crafty covetous, and treasonable,' seems substantially just.