Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Richard of Ilchester

RICHARD of Ilchester (d. 1188), bishop of Winchester, was born in the diocese of Bath (R. Diceto, i. 319), at Sock (Cassan, i. 158, from Bishop Drokensford's Register), i.e. probably Sock Dennis, near Ilchester. The 'Annals of Tewkesbury' call him 'Richard Hokelin' (Ann. Monast. i. 54). Later writers give him the surnames of Toclyve or Tocliffe, and More; for the former there seems to be no authority but the inscription on his tomb:

 Præsulis egregii pausant hic membra Ricardi;
   Toclyve, cui summi gaudia sunto poli;

and for the latter none at all. Gilbert Foliot [q. v.] called him kinsman (G. Foliot, Ep. cxcix). He spent his youth in his native diocese, and early obtained some ecclesiastical preferment there (R. Diceto, i. 319). From 1156 to 1162 he figures in the 'Pipe Rolls' as 'Richard, scribe of the court' (scriptor curiæ); Henry II at the outset of his reign had granted him a mill at Ilchester worth 40s. a year (cf. Pipe Rolls, 2 Hen. II, p. 30, 9 Hen. II, p. 26, 10 Hen. II, p. 10); and his contemporaries uniformly designate him `Richard of Ilchester.' He is said to have been a clerk of Thomas Becket (i.e. probably he worked under Thomas in the chancery) and to have owed to Thomas's influence his appointment to the archdeaconry of Poitiers (Materials iii. 120), which took place between September 1162 and March 1163 (cf. Pipe Roll, 8 Hen. II, p. 21; Gesta Abb. i. 157). This office he held for ten years, although he seems to have set foot in the diocese only once, and then for a purpose quite out of harmony with his ecclesiastical duties.

He was one of the counsellors specially consulted by Henry at the trial of a suit between the abbot of St. Albans and the bishop of Lincoln in March 1163 (Gesta Abb. i. 151, 154, 157). The abbot also applied to him, as 'one who had the king's ear,' for help in recovering for the abbey a benefice which the king had seized as crown property. Richard exacted two-thirds of the value of the benefice as the price of his intercession (ib. p. 124). After the first dispute between Henry and Thomas over the royal 'customs,' Oct. 1163, Henry sent Richard of Ilchester, with Bishop Arnulf of Lisieux, to beg for a confirmation of them from the pope; the two envoys 'experienced the fury of the waves six times within three months,' but could not gain their end (R. Diceto, i. 312; cf. Materials, v. 85). When the 'customs' were finally drawn up at Clarendon in January 1164, Richard, according to one account, was appointed to share with the chief justiciar the duty of publishing them throughout the realm (Thomas Saga, i. 333). Possibly his special task may have been to publish them in his own archdeaconry. In June the bishop of Poitiers [see Belmeis, John] was visited by two commissioners from the king, of whom one, described by him as 'our friend Luscus, the eye of whose mind God has blinded,' was apparently Archdeacon Richard. Luscus, after vainly endeavouring to win the bishop's assent to the customs, called out the forces of Aquitaine in Henry's name against the king of France, and then published the customs at Poitiers in defiance of the bishop (Materials, v. 38-40, 115). Canon Robertson (ib. pp. 38, 115) suggested less probably that 'Luscus' was Richard de Lucy [q. v.]

Richard of Ilchester was a member of the embassy sent by Henry to the pope after the flight of Archbishop Thomas (November 1164) (Materials, iv. 61; R. Diceto, i. 315). The archbishop's party, however, did not regard him as an enemy; John of Salisbury [q. v.] addressed him as a friend, trusted much to his influence with the king in behalf of himself and others of Thomas's exiled clerks (Materials, v. 153, 347-52, 544), and had a personal interview with him at Angers at Easter 1165 (cf. ib. p. 348, iii. 98). Richard was no doubt then on his way to Germany, whither Henry had despatched him and John of Oxford [q. v.] on a mission to the Emperor Frederick. The upshot, according to general belief, was that the two English envoys, in their sovereign's name, abjured Alexander IIIand promised adherence to Frederick's ally, the anti-pope Paschal, at Würzburg on Whit-Sunday, 23 May (ib. i. 53, v. 182-3; Thomas Saga, i. 331). They were, in consequence, excommunicated by Thomas on 12 June 1166 (Materials, v. 383, 388, 390, 395). Richard's excommunication had been staved off for a year apparently by the intercession of John of Salisbury, who, however, had got no thanks for his good offices, and was therefore not eager to renew them when urged to do so by one of Richard's friends after the sentence was passed (ib, vi. 4). Richard, who was now on the continent with the king, was much distressed at a punishment which he declared he had done nothing to deserve, and wrote to Ralph de Diceto [q. v.] for advice. Ralph recommended his `very dear friend' to take the matter quietly and patiently (R. Diceto, i. 319-20); and the king, though he warned some templars against saluting the excommunicate archdeacon (Materials, vi. 72), had no scruples ahout keeping him at his court and making large use of his services.

The former scribe was now a judge. At Michaelmas 1165 Richard was sitting as a baron of the exchequer at Westminster (Madox, Form. p. xix); he was justice itinerant in eleven counties in 1168, and in thirteen counties in 1169 (Pipe Rolls, 14 and 15 Hen. II, passim). He held, indeed, a position of peculiar importance above, or at least apart from, his brethren of the bench. Richard FitzNeale [q.v.] tells us that the archdeacon of Poitiers `was necessary to the king by reason of his trustworthiness and industry, and very apt and ready at making reckonings, and in the writing of rolls and writs; wherefore a special place was assigned to him at the exchequer, between the presiding justiciar and the treasurer, that he might watch over the writing of the roll and all suchlike matters' (Dial de Scace. p. 184, cf. p. 178). We hear, moreover, in 1165, of a `rotulus archidiaconi' (Pipe Roll, 11 Hen. II, p. 4), and in 1167 of a `rotulus archidiaconi et justiciariorum' (Pipe Roll, 13 Hen. II, p. 34). These may have been rolls of the proceedings before the justices in eyre; although, as no such rolls are extant of earlier date than the reign of Richard I, this point cannot be authoritatively determined. From the above-quoted passages, however, it appears highly probable, not only that the compilation of justices' rolls may have begun while Richard of Ilchester was in the curia regis and exchequer, but that he may have been charged with the superintendence or custody of them, at any rate of those relating to the circuits on which he was himself engaged, and even that the practice of enrolling the proceedings before the itinerant judges may have owed its origin to him. He was also one of the justices employed in the assessment and collection in 1168 and 1169 of the aid for the marriage of the king's daughter Matilda (Pipe Rolls, 14 Hen. II pp. 76, 181, 15 Hen. II p. 63). Thomas excommunicated him again on Ascension Day, 29 May 1169 (Materials, vi. 572, 594). Richard had just been present at a meeting of bishops and clergy at Westminster (ib, p. 606). He was at the Michaelmas session of the exchequer at Westminster (Madox, Form. p. 179; for date see Eyton, p. 130), and he was one of the three justiciars to whom Henry specially addressed the ten ordinances which he sent to England somewhat later in the year, to prevent the introduction of papal letters into the realm (Materials, vii. 147). Next year, 1170, Richard again acted as justice itinerant in the eastern and southern counties (Pipe Roll, 16 Hen. II). He was back in Normandy by the beginning of June, when he expressed in strong terms his resolve to use all his influence to prevent the archbishop's restoration, and escorted the king's eldest son from Caen to the coast, `to hasten his voyage' to England for his coronation (Materials, vii. 310). Richard probably recrossed the Channel with young Henry; he was with him on 5 Oct. at Westminster (ib. p. 389), and again at the beginning of December, but left him to carry to the elder king beyond sea the news of Thomas's quarrel with the bishops who had crowned the boy (ib. iii. 120, 127). He seems to have been with the court in Normandy in July 1171 (Eyton, pp. 159-60), but was certainly in England part of that year, again acting as justice in eyre (Pipe Roll, 17 Hen. II).

All this labour was not unrewarded. Already in 1164 Richard was regarded as a great pluralist (Materials, v. 150); before his first excommunication the treasurership of Poitiers was added to the archdeaconry (R. Diceto,i. 319); at Christmas 1166 he was appointed one of the two custodians of the vacant see of Lincoln (Pipe Roll, 13 Hen. II, pp. 57-8); in April 1167 he received the charge of the honour of Montacute (ib. p. 149); and he was made custos of the see of Winchester and the abbey of (Glastonbury in the summer of 1171 (Madox, Exch. i.366, 630, 631). Of his release from excommunication there seems to be no notice; but by the opening of 1173 he was again in the highest favour with the church party, no less than with that of the king. On 2 March, when a new archbishop was elected [see Richard,d.1184], and a dispute arose between the bishops and the Canterbury monks for the right of proclaiming the election, the matter was compromised by both parties deputing the archdeacon of Poitiers to make the proclamation in their stead (R. Diceto, i. 354). When, on 1 May, Richard was chosen bishop of Winchester (Ann. Mon. ii. 61), John of Salisbury pleaded warmly for the pope's confirmation of the appointment, praising the bishop-elect as a devout lover and imitator of St. Thomas, and a model of all virtues, public and private, secular and ecclesiastical (John of Salisbury, Epp. cccxiii-cccxv); Bartholomew [q.v.], bishop of Exeter, wrote in a similar strain (ib. Ep. cccxvi); and the chapter of Christ Church, Canterbury, added their testimony to Richard's merits as a father of the poor and comforter of the afflicted, and a friend and protector of the convent in its troubles (G. Foliot, Ep. ccccxx, cf. Ep. ccccxxii). He seems to have been enthroned, though unconsecrated, on Ascension Day, 17 May (R. Diceto, i. 368). At midsummer 1174 the justiciars, having struggled for twelve months to put down the revolt stirred up by the young king, and having vainly sent messenger after messenger to call Henry II to their aid, 'unanimously agreed to send over the elect of Winchester, knowing that he would speak to the king much more familiarly, warmly, and urgently than any one else, and lay before him more fully the distressed state of the nation.' On his arrival the Normans said they supposed the next messenger sent from England would be the Tower of London (R. Diceto, i. 381-2). Richard probably returned with the king in July; on 6 Oct. he was consecrated at Canterbury by Archbishop Richard (ib. p. 392; Gerv. Cant. i. 251), and he is said to have been again enthroned at Winchester on 13 Oct. (R. Diceto, i. 395). In May 1175 he attended a council held by the archbishop at Westminster; in July he was at a royal council at Woodstock; on 6 Oct. he witnessed Henry's treaty with Roderic of Counaught at Windsor (Gesta Hen. i. 92-3, 103). At the end of July 1176 Henry sent him, with the bishop of Ely [see Ridel, Geoffrey], to Northampton to meet a papal legate, Vivian, on his way to Scotland, and make him swear to do nothing prejudicial to English interests (ib. i. 118). Next month, when the king's daughter, Joanna, set out for her new home in Sicily, all the arrangements for her household and for her provisions and expenditure on the journey were undertaken by the bishop of Winchester (R. Diceto, i. 414). At Michaelmas Henry sent him to Normandy. The seneschal of the duchy was dead; Henry appointed Richard not merely seneschal, but justiciar (Gesta Hen. i. 1 24); i.e. he entrusted him with the supreme control of the Norman administration and government, and he seems also to have given him a special charge to examine into and amend the Norman system of taxation and finance (R. Diceto, i. 415, 424). Richard was one of the commissioners appointed in June 1177 to urge upon Louis of France the fulfilment of his treaties with Henry (Gesta. Hen. i. 168). He witnessed a XXXXX aty between the two kings on 25 Sept. XXXXXX icourt (ib. p. 194;Gerv. Cant. i. XXXXXX R. Diceto, i. 422). On 21 March 1174 he returned to England (R. Diceto, i. 424). and was at once reinstated in his old place of special honour at the exchequer table (Dial. de Scace. p. 781). Of his eighteen months' work in Normandy no certain record remains: the earliest extant roll of the Norman exchequer dates only from 1180, and there is nothing to show how much or how little of the close resemblance between the system therein revealed and that of the English exchequer may be due to the visit of the English justiciar.

In 1179, when a papal legate was importuning the reluctant English bishops to attend a council at Rome, 'the bishop of Winchester alone was left in honoured repose at the request of the French king' (R. Diceto, i. 430). Richard's `repose' was not idleness: the chief-justiciarship was this year put into commission among three prelates, of whom he was one (Ib. p. 435), and he was also head of the southern circuit of the itinerant judges (Gesta Hen. i. 238). Early next spring (1180), however, Ranulf de Glanville [q. v.], was made sole chief justiciar, and on 5 March the bishop of Winchester, in company with the vice-chancellor, Walter de Coutances [q.v.], started on an embassy to France (R. Diceto, ii. 4). He returned before Michaelmas (Mag. Rot. Scace. Norm. i. 38), and on 23 Oct. was sitting as a baron of the exchequer at Westminster (Dugdale, Baronage, i. 700). He appears in the same capacity in April 1182 (Feet of Fines, p. 2), and again in May 1183 (Eyton, p. 251). On 21 Feb. 1182 he was entertaining King Henry at his manor-house of Waltham in Hampshire (Mem. of St. Edmunds, i. 227): he witnessed Henry's will made there during his visit, and was trustee for some of the bequests therein contained (Gerv. Cant. i. 298-9). On 28 Feb., at Merewell (Isle of Wight), he gave the benediction to the newly elected abbot, Sampson of St. Edmund's (Mem. of St. Edmund's,ii. 5). He was at the council at Westminster in which Baldwin was elected primate [see Baldwin, d. 1190], 2 Dec. 1184 (Gesta Hen. i. 319). On 10 April 1185 he was at Dover with the king (Coll. Topogr. et Geneal. iii. 176-7). At the end of April 1186 he received the king at Merewell (R. Diceto, ii. 41 ). He died on 21 or 22 Dec. 1188 (Gesta Hen. ii. 58; Gerv. Cant. i. 438; R. Diceto, ii. 58), and was buried on the north side of the presbytery of his cathedral church. The monks of that church once sent a deputation to Henry II to complain that their bishop, Richard, had cut down the number of dishes at their dinner from thirteen to ten. `Woe betide him,' answered the king. `if he does not cut them down to three, which is all I have at my own table' (Gir. Cambr. i. 52). Probably Richard did not carry his reforms so far as this, for when he died the monks set down in their annals that `Bishop Richard, of good memory, departed hence unto the Lord' (Ann. Mon. ii. 63). Giraldus Cambrensis describes him `a man of more natural sense than scholarship, and more clever in worldly business than versed in the liberal arts' (Gir. Cambr. vii. 70). John of Salisbury, Bartholomew of Exeter, Ralph de Diceto, the Canterbury monks, and the Waverley annalist (Ann. Mon. ii. 245-246) praise his liberality in almsgiving, and the last-named writer adds that he `erected in his bishopric some admirable buildings, which recall his name from generation to generation.' Bishop Milner's conjecture (Hist. Winchester, ii. 202-3) that one of these was the hospital of St. Mary Magdalene, near Winchester, is ingenious, but rests on no positive evidence. Richard was a benefactor to his predecessor's foundation of St. Cross. By an exchange with the knights of St. John, who had charge of this hospital, he took upon himself the responsibility for its maintenance and administration, and doubled the number of poor men who were daily fed there. The deed of exchange (Harl. Chart. 43, I. 38) is interesting as being witnessed (at Dover on 10 April 1185) by King Henry and by the Patriarch Heraclius of Jerusalem, and as having the autograph signature of Bishop Richard and A fine impression of his seal.

[Gesta Abbatum S. Allani, Materials for History of Becket, Thomas Saga, Ralph de Diceto, Gervase of Canterbury, Gesta Henrici, Annales Monastici, Giraldus Cambrensis, Memorials of St. Edmunds (all in Rolls Ser.); Letters of John of Salisbuiy and Gilbert Foliot, ed. Giles (Patres Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ); Pipe Rolls, 2-4 Hen. II, Record Commission, 5-17 Hen. II, and Feet of Fines (Pipe Roll Soc.); Madox's History of Exchequer and Formulare Anglicanum; Dialogus de Scaccario in Stubbs's Select Charters; Eyton's Itinerary of Henry II; Cassan's Lives of Bishops of Winchester; Magnum Rotulum Scaccarii Normanniæ (Soc. Antiq.) The Harleian Charter 43 I. 38 is exhibited in the British Museum, and printed in Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica, iii. 176-7.]

K. N.