Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fontibus, John de

FONTIBUS (Fountains), JOHN de (d. 1225), ninth abbat of Fountains, sixth bishop of Ely, was elected abbat of Fountains in 1211, and blessed on 13 Dec. at Melrose Abbey by Ralph, bishop of Down. All that is known of his rule at Fountains is that he prosecuted the work of his predecessor vigorously, continuing the erection of the choir and lady chapel. He made himself useful to King John, from whom there are several letters extant to him, one showing that the king had entrusted many of his valuables to the care of the abbey. On 24 Dec. 1219 he was elected bishop of Ely, after the two elections of Geoffrey de Burgh and Robert of York had been quashed by the pope. This was chiefly through Pandulf's influence (Annal. Monast. iv. 412), whose letter to the king in his favour is given by Prynne (Walbran, Memorials of Fountains Abbey, i. 171). He was consecrated at Westminster by Archbishop Langton on 8 March 1219–20, and enthroned on 25 March. In 1221, in conjunction with the Bishop of Salisbury, Richard le Poore, he was appointed by Honorius III to investigate the complaints of the monks of Durham against their bishop, Richard de Marisco. He went to Durham, summoned the bishop to appear before him, and seems to have found the accusations true (Dunstable Annals, iii. 62, 67). The bishop appealed to the pope, but the pope referred the matter back to the two bishops (R. Wendover in Matt. Paris, iii. 62, 63). While still abbat of Fountains he had been appointed by the pope one of a commission to inquire into the merits of Hugh, bishop of Lincoln, before his canonisation. In 1223, in conjunction with his successor at Fountains and the abbat of Rievaulx, he received a similar injunction with respect to William, archbishop of York. In 1225 he witnessed Magna Charta (Burton Annals, i. 231). He died at his palace at Downham on 6 May 1225, and was buried in Ely Cathedral. He gave the tithes of Hadham to the Ely monks to provide for his anniversary, and endowed them with the churches of Witchford and Meldreth, with a view to their hospitality. His skeleton was found entire in 1770, when the choir was repaired and altered (Stevenson's supplement to James Bentham's Ely, Notes, p. 76).

[Annales Monastici, i. 231, iii. 62, 67, iv. 412; Roger of Wendover and Matt. Paris, iii. 58, 62, 63, 93; Chron. de Mailros (Fulman), p. 184; Historia Eliensis, in Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. 634–5; Hardy's Le Neve, i. 328; Walbran's Memorials of Fountains Abbey, i. pp. lxiv, lxv, 134–6, 164–5, 171.]

H. R. L.