Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Blundeville, Thomas de (d.1236)

BLUNDEVILLE or BLUNVILLE, THOMAS de (d. 1236), bishop of Norwich. Among the various spellings of this bishop's name, the form used in the Dunstable Annals (Ann. Monast. iii. 100), Thomas de Flamvilla, is the strangest. Bishop Thomas was sprung from a family of Nortblk gentry who appear to have held estates in the county as early as the close of the twelfth century, and who continued to be considerable landowners for at least three hundred years. He was the son of Robert de Blunville of Newton; Flotman, Norfolk, and younger brother of William de Blunville, constable of Corfe Castle during the reign of King John. He is described as the nepnew of Hubert de Burgh great justiciary. He commenced his career as a clerk in the exchequer, and gradually became a personage of some influence. In the Excerpta from the Fine Rolls of the reign of Henry III there are two or three notices of him, all showing that he made use of his opportunities to enrich himself. When Pandulf died in 1226, Blunville succeeded him in the bishopric of Norwich, helped thereto, says Matthew Parus by the influence of Hubert de Burgh (Chron. Majora, iii. 121). He was consecrated at Westminster on 20 Dec. 1226. In that same year St. Francis of Assisi had died, and the Franciscans had settled in Lynn, Yarmouth, and Norwich. They had been leceived with great enthusiasm, and when the bishop came to his diocese he found the friars already established there, and seems to have befriended them. Little is known of his episcopate. He is mentioned as dedicating an altar at Dunstable in 1231. He robbed two or three benefices in his diocese of their tithes to enrich the priory at Norwich; he bestowed certain liberties upon his town of Lynn, whereby he gained popularity at no great sacrifice; he had a long-standing quarrel with the priories of Binham and Wymondham — two cells of the great abbey of St. Albans — and compelled the priors of both houses to go in person to Rome and prosecute their appeal. When, in 1232, Hubert de Burgh was fleeing from the pursuit of Henry III and his emissaries, he took refuge with his nephew, Bishop Thomas, at his manor of Terling, in Essex, and it was from the chapel of that manor that he was compelled to deliver himself up to his pursuers at last. All records of the diocese of Norwich during his episcopate have perished. He died on 16 Aug. 1236.

[Annales Monastici (Rolls Ser.), iv. 419, iii. 127, 100; Matthew Paris' Chronica Majora. iii. 121. 226, 872, 378, vi. 87; Rymer's Fœdera, i. 103, 208; Blomefield's Norf. 8vo. v. 84, ii. 491.]

A. J.

BLUNT. [See also Blount.]