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HOTHAM or HOTHUN, JOHN (d. 1337), bishop of Ely and chancellor, a younger son of a good Yorkshire family, was a clerk in the service of Edward II, and was when rector of Cottingham in Yorkshire appointed chancellor of the Irish exchequer in 1309, and the next year received from the king a prebend at York, and held the office of escheator beyond the Trent. He was one of Gaveston's stewards [see Gaveston, Piers], and was regarded as one of the bad advisers of the king; for in 1311 the lords' ordainers decreed that he was to be dismissed from the king's service and was not to enter it again (Bridlington, p. 40). Edward, when applying to the pope for some dispensation for him in October, spoke highly of his abilities and trustworthiness. In December 1312 he was made chancellor of the English exchequer, and in the following spring accompanied the king to France, and was one of the commissioners appointed to treat with Philip IV. Affairs in Ireland being of special importance after the battle of Bannockburn, the king sent Hotham over in August 1314 on a special mission, apparently to endeavour to unite the barons; his success cannot have been great. He was elected to the see of Ely on 20 July 1316, and was consecrated on 3 Oct. Godwin's assertion that at the time of his consecration he was provost of Queen's College, Oxford, and chancellor of the university, is erroneous (WOOD, Fasti, p. 26). Early in 1317 he went to the papal court, partly on the king's business. From 13 May in that year to 10 June 1318 he was treasurer of the exchequer, and on the day after his resignation of that office received the great seal. While chancellor he obtained a confirmation of the liberties of his church. He was in the north with the king in 1319 marched with William Melton, archbishop of York, to check a raid of the Scots, and was present at the defeat of the English force at Myton on 13 Sept. [see under Edward II]. On 26 Oct. he received an order from the king that he was not to put in force any mandate under the great seal without personal instructions either by word of mouth or by letter under the privy seal, which looks as if Edward relied on him to help him to evade the control of the permanent council appointed the year before. Towards the end of the year he was commissioned with others to conclude a two years' truce with the Scots at Berwick. He resigned the chancellorship on 23 Jan. 1320. By the end of the year he fell into some disgrace with the king, and was arrested and fined, but was present at the convocation held in December. In January 1323 he was sent to settle the affairs of Gascony, then in a disturbed state, and the next year was appointed to treat with the Scots. While he was absent on the king's business he became involved in a quarrel with the Archdeacon of Ely, who was a cardinal, and the king wrote to the pope on the subject (Fœdera, ii. 539, 540). When Queen Isabella landed in September 1326, Hotham joined her, and helped to gather her army (Murimuth, p. 46); he marched with her to Bristol, took part in the election of the young Edward as guardian of the kingdom, and on 13 Jan. 1327, in common with other bishops, swore in the Guildhall of London to uphold the queen and her son. On the 28th he received the great seal from Edward III, and at once had two lilies of France engraved on the lower part of it. He entertained Philippa of Hainault at his house at Holborn on her arrival in London in December. On 1 March 1328 he resigned the great seal, and from that time appears to have taken little part in public affairs. After suffering for two years from paralysis, he died at his house at Somersham in Huntingdonshire on 15 Jan. 1337, and was buried in his cathedral, where his tomb, though mutilated, still remains. He was a liberal benefactor to his church. In his time the convent built the chapel of St. Mary, afterwards Trinity Church, at Ely, and, the central tower of the cathedral church having fallen in 1322, raised the present octagon, with its dome and lantern, while the bishop at his own expense rebuilt three bays of the presbytery, joining it on to the work of Bishop Hugh Northwold (d. 1254), at a cost of 2,034l. 12s. 8d. He gave various rich ornaments to the church, left his house and lands at Holborn to the see, and was also a benefactor to Welbeck Abbey, Nottinghamshire.

[Foss's Judges, iii. 187, 444–7; Campbell's Chancellors, i. 195; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 334, iii. 212, ed. Hardy; Bentham's Church of Ely, i. 156–8, with plate of Hotham's tomb, ii. 86; Willis's Survey of Cathedrals, iii. 333; Journal of Archæol. Assoc. xiv. 248; Anglia Sacra, i. 643; Rymer's Fœdera, vol. ii. passim, Record ed.; Murimuth's Chron. pp. 26, 46 (Rolls Ser.); Chron. of Edward II, vol. i., Ann. Londin. p. 238, Ann. Paulini, pp. 287, 290, 295, 322, 338, 340, vol. ii., Bridlington, pp. 50, 60, 73, Malmesbur. p. 243 (Rolls Ser.); Godwin, De Præsulibus, p. 260, ed. 1743; Wood's Fasti, p. 26, ed. Gutch; Dugdale's Monasticon, i. 464, vi. 874.]

W. H.