Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Dumbleton, John of

DUMBLETON, JOHN of (fl. 1340), schoolman, was doubtless a native of the village of Dumbleton in Gloucestershire. Another John of Dumbleton was a monk at Worcester shortly before, and in 1299 was appointed prior of Little Malvern (Annales Monastici, iv. 542, 548, ed. H. R. Luard, Rolls Series, 1869); but the subject of this notice, though the church of Dumbleton was closely connected with the abbey of Abingdon (see the Annales Monasterii de Abingdon, passim, ed. J. Stevenson, Rolls Ser.), did not enter the monastic life, but became a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, the statutes of which excluded all but seculars. At what date he went to Oxford is unknown. The biographers say that he flourished in 1320, but such dates are notoriously in most cases conjectural. The college accounts testify to the existence of a Thomas of Dumbleton in 1324, but do not mention John until 1331. It is possible that ‘Thomas’ is a mistake for ‘John.’ On 27 Sept. 1332 he was presented to the living of Rotherfield Peppard, near Henley, in the archdeaconry of Oxford, which, however, he resigned in 1334. In 1338–9 we find him attending college meetings at Merton (Thorold Rogers, History of Agriculture and Prices, ii. 670–4, 1866). In February 1340–1 he was named one of the first fellows of Queen's College in the original statutes (p. 7, ed. 1853); but in 1344 and 1349 his name reappears in the books of Merton College. Whether at Queen's or at Merton, he may be presumed to have remained at Oxford for the rest of his life, and there to have written the works which won him a distinguished scholastic reputation, evidence of which may be found in the number of copies of his writings still preserved in the college libraries, as well as in the curious fact that the fame of John Chilmark [q. v.], which was not inconsiderable in the latter part of the fourteenth century, rested to a great extent upon a treatise, ‘De Actione Elementorum,’ which is in fact, according to the statement of its very title (Bodleian Library, Digby MS. lxxvii. f. 153 b), nothing but a ‘compendium’ derived from the fourth book of Dumbleton's ‘Summa Logicæ.’

Dumbleton wrote: 1. ‘Summa Logicæ et Naturalis Philosophiæ’ (Merton College, cod. cccvi. f. 9; Coxe, Catalogue, p. 121 b) in ten books; in another manuscript (Magdalen College, cod. xxxii.; Coxe, Catalogue, p. 20) it is comprised in nine books; while a third (Merton College, cod. cclxxix.; Coxe, Catalogue, p. 110 b), entitled ‘ Summa de Logicis et Naturalibus,’ is described as consisting of eight. Not less confusing is the title of the work. In a second manuscript at Magdalen College (cod. cxcv.; Coxe, Catalogue, p. 89) it is even styled ‘Summa de Theologia major,’ a work which Bale not unnaturally distinguished from what he called the ‘De Philosophia Naturali’ (i.e. the ‘Summa Logicæ’). To the former he assigned the ‘incipit’ of the prologue, and to the latter that of the first book of what is actually one and the same work. 2. A small treatise called by Bale ‘De Logica Intellectuali,’ but entitled in the Merton College MS. cccvi. f. 3, ‘Liber de Insolubilibus, de significatione et suppositione Terminorum, de Arte Obligatoria,’ &c. 3. Besides these books Bale enumerates a ‘Summa Theologiæminor,’ ‘Summa Artium,’ ‘In Philosophiam Moralem libri x.’ (apparently the same with the ‘Summa Logicæ’), and a commentary on the Canticles. As Bale does not mention the opening words of these writings, it is not possible to identify them; but there can be hardly a doubt that the commentary on Canticles is included in the list from a misreading of Leland, who ascribes the work to ‘Dumbelegus quidam,’ or Dumbley. 4. Wood refers to some verses by Dumbleton at Merton, beginning, ‘O rex Anglorum,’ which are to be found in the College MS. cccvi. f. 8, between the short logical treatise and the ‘Summa’ above mentioned; but beyond this juxtaposition there is no evidence to connect them with the name of Dumbleton.

[Leland's Comm. de Scriptt. Brit. cccxxvii. p. 325; Bale's Scriptt. Brit. Cat. v. 14, p. 394; Tanner's Bibl. Brit. 237; G. C. Brodrick's Memorials of Merton College, p. 190 (1885).]

R. L. P.