Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Stichil, Robert de

STICHIL, ROBERT de (d. 1274), bishop of Durham, whose name is probably derived from a village in Roxburghshire, was the son of a cleric, possibly William Scot or de Stichil, archdeacon of Worcester, whose election to the bishopric of Durham in 1226, two years after the death of Richard de Marisco [q. v.], was quashed by the pope as uncanonical, because it was not made ‘per viam inspirationis,’ but ‘singulariter a singulis’ (Graystanes, pp. 36–7). Robert was a monk of Durham, and originally of insubordinate character. He was actually about to apostatise, when he was turned back by a voice in the minster. He then reformed, studied the scriptures ‘ad miraculum,’ and became prior of Finchale. He is described by the Lanercost chronicler as ‘vir prudentiæ secularis et scientiæ admodum tenuis, genere nullus, sed pietatis operibus refertus’ (Chron. Lanerc. p. 70); and in ‘Flores Historiarum’ (p. 455) as ‘elegans, discretus, et commendabilis.’ On the death of Walter de Kirkham, Robert, for whom his friend the sacrist, Henry de Horncaster, afterwards prior of Coldingham, had secretly procured a papal dispensation, was elected bishop of Durham on 30 Sept. 1260, being the first member of the convent to attain that dignity. He received the temporalities on 5 (or 28) Dec., and was consecrated at Southwell on 13 Feb. 1261 by Godfrey de Ludham, archbishop of York. He gave the monks thirteen hundred acres of woodland, and assisted them in making the church of Howden collegiate; but in December 1272 he quarrelled with them as to the provision to be made for his friend Hugh de Darlington, on resigning the priorate, and he specially complained that they did not ‘profess’ in his presence, as in other cathedral monasteries. During the vacancy in January 1273 the bishop appointed a layman, William Whitby, constable of Durham, to be custodian of the convent; but he eventually yielded to the monks' protests on this point. In 1274 he attended the council of Lyons, received leave from Gregory X to retire (or, possibly, to resign his see), and died two days after leaving Lyons (4 Aug.) at ‘Arbipeyllis,’ i.e. l'Arbresle (department of Rhône), and was buried in the neighbouring Benedictine monastery of Savigny (reading Savinyacense, for Wharton's Sayacense, and Raine's Saninyacense), his heart being conveyed to Durham. His seal is engraved by Surtees (vol. i. pl. ii. 2).

In January 1272–3 Bishop Stichil founded a hospital at Greatham, near Stockton, out of the manor of that place, which had been forfeited by Peter de Montfort the younger after the battle of Lewes, and, having been at first granted to Thomas de Clare, was successfully claimed by the bishop in right of his palatinate. The forfeiture, however, is not mentioned in his charter, nor in that which he appears to have obtained from Peter to guard against any possible defect. This hospital, originally for forty poor brethren, survived the Reformation, but the number was reduced to thirteen in 1610. The buildings were entirely renovated by John William Egerton, earl of Bridgewater, who held the mastership 1785–1823. The charters, statutes, &c., are printed by Surtees, Hutchinson, and Dugdale (Monast. ed. Ellis, vi. 689–90). The seal, which really belongs to Stephen Payn, dean of Exeter 1415–1419, is figured by Hutchinson.

[All the facts, unless otherwise stated, are given by Graystanes, Hist. Dun. Scriptt. Tres, ed. Raine, pp. 45–56. See also Surtees's Durham, I. xxix, xxx, III. 134–8, and 389; Hutchinson's Durham, i. 214–23, and iii. 91–103; Ann. Monast. ii. 117, iii. 383, iv. 465; Chron. de Lanercost. p. 96.]

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