Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Cromer, George

CROMER, GEORGE (d. 1543), archbishop of Armagh, was an Englishman by birth. He succeeded Kite at Armagh in 1522. (The writ to restore the temporalities was of June 1522, and was retrospective to the time of Kite's resignation; Ware, Works on Ireland, Harris's transl.) He was attached to the faction of Gerald, earl of Kildare, through whom he was made lord chancellor of Ireland in 1532, after the removal of Kildare's enemy, Archbishop Allen of Dublin. He exercised this high office for two years, down to the rising of Kildare and the murder of Allen. Cromer is best known for the opposition that he attempted to the introduction of the English reformation into Ireland, into which course he was led partly by his friendship with the Geraldines, and his resentment at the severities used towards them at the end of their revolt. In 1536 Henry VIII imposed all the reformatory measures, that had been passed at Westminster, upon the parliament of Dublin: such as the act of supreme head, the act for first-fruits to go to the crown, the act for suppressing certain monasteries, and others (Irish State Papers, p. 526; Cox, Hibern. Anglicana, p. 248; Dixon, Ch. of Engl. ii. 181). At the same time a number of commissioners appeared, and the English reformation was actively enforced, especially by Browne, the new archbishop of Dublin. Cromer, as primate of Ireland, did what he could to oppose these proceedings. Summoning a meeting of some of his suffragans and clergy, he represented the impiety of acknowledging the king as supreme head of the church; exhorted them to adhere to the apostolic chair; and convinced them that Ireland was the peculiar property of the holy see, from which alone the English kings held their dominion or lordship over it, by the argument that it was anciently called the Holy Island (Leland, ii. 161). Soon afterwards Archbishop Browne informed the powerful minister Cromwell that Cromer was intriguing with the Duke of Norfolk, one of the heads of the old learning in England, to prevent the reformation in Ireland. ‘George, my brother of Armagh, doth underhand occasion quarrels, and is not active to execute his highness's orders in his diocese. The Duke of Norfolk is by Armagh, and the clergy desired to assist them, nor to suffer his highness to alter church rules here in Ireland’ (Cox, p. 257). He also warned him that Cromer had entered into communication with Rome. The latter had indeed despatched emissaries thither, to advertise the pope of the king's recent proceedings; and had received from the holy father a private commission, prohibiting the people from owning the king for supreme head, and pronouncing a curse on those who should not confess to their confessors within forty days that they had done amiss in so doing (Cox, ib., Browne to Crumwel, May 1538). Little came of this, and Cromer seems to have ceased to attract attention. He died in March 1542–3.

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