SAMSON (d. 1112), bishop of Worcester, born at Douvres near Caen, was the son of Osbert and Muriel, who were of noble lineage. Thomas (d. 1100) [q. v.], archbishop of York, was his brother. Samson was sent to study philosophy at Liège by Odo (d. 1097) [q. v.], bishop of Bayeux, and at Angers he was a pupil of Marbod, afterwards bishop of Rennes. From childhood he was befriended by William I, in whose chapel he was clerk. In 1073 William offered him the bishopric of Le Mans, but he refused it on the ground that his character was not irreproachable (Ord. Vit. iv. 11). In 1082 he was treasurer of the church of Bayeux (Beziers, p. 217), of which he was also a canon (Gesta Pontiff. p. 289; some manuscripts say he was dean). On 8 June 1096 he was consecrated bishop of Worcester at St. Paul's, London, Anselm and his brother Thomas officiating. He was admitted to priest's orders at Lambeth on the preceding day. On 15 July 1100 he assisted at the dedication of Gloucester abbey-church, and in 1102 was present at a council held by Anselm at Westminster. Samson was married before he took orders, and in 1109 he was required to take part against his son Thomas (d. 1114) [q. v.], archbishop of York, who refused obedience to Anselm. He made rich grants to the prior and monks of Worcester, and brought ornaments for the church from London; but he offended the whole monastic order by removing the monks from Westbury, putting secular canons in their place.
Samson corresponded with Anselm, Ivo of Chartres, and Marbod of Rennes. His son Richard became bishop of Bayeux (1108–1133), and his daughter, Isabella de Douvre, is said to have been mistress of Robert, earl of Gloucester (d. 1147) [q. v.] He died at Westbury on 5 May 1112, and was buried in Worcester Cathedral, at the bottom of the steps going up into the choir. William of Malmesbury describes him as gluttonous but charitable.
[Ordericus Vitalis, ed. Le Prévost, ii. 249, iii. 266; William of Malmesbury's Gesta Pontificum, ed. Hamilton; Eadmer, ed. Stubbs, pp. 74, 174; Liber Vitæ Dunelm. (Surtees Soc.), pp. 139, 140; Beziers' Hist. de Bayeux, p. 217, quoting the Journ. de Verdun, October 1760, p. 276; Wharton's Anglia Sacra, i. 474; Symeonis Monachi Opera, ii. 227, 230, 235, 247; Hist. et Cart. Mon. S. Petri Gloucest. passim; Heming's Cartulary, pp. 426, 575; Flor. Wig.; Letters to and from Samson in Migne's Patrologia, clxv. col. 162, clix. col. 248, clxxi. col. 1658; Freeman's Norman Conquest and William Rufus.]
SAMSON (1135–1211), abbot of St. Edmund's, was born in 1135 (Jocelin, p. 243) at Tottington (Chron. Bur. p. 7), near Thetford in Norfolk. When nine years old he was taken by his mother on a pilgrimage to St. Edmund's. ‘As a poor clerk,’ he received gratuitous instruction from a schoolmaster named William of Diss. Having attained the degree of master of arts in Paris (ib.), he became a schoolmaster in Norfolk. By 1160 he was at St. Edmund's, employed by the monks to carry to Rome their appeal against an arrangement made between the abbot and the king respecting the living of Woolpit (Suffolk). For this the abbot sent him to prison at Castle Acre. Samson made his monastic profession early in 1166 (Ann. S. Edm. p. 5; cf. Jocelin, pp. 243–4). During the next fourteen years he was successively subsacrist, guest-master, pittancer, third prior, prisoner at Acre again, and master of the novices. He was a second time subsacrist, and also master of the workmen, in 1180, when he was sent to convey to the king the news of Abbot Hugh's death (15 Nov.). Samson was elected abbot on 21 Feb. 1182, and blessed at Marwell (Isle of Wight) on 28 Feb. (Ann. S. Edm. p. 5; Chron. Bur. p. 7) by the bishop of Winchester, who gave him a mitre, saying he knew the abbots of St. Edmund's were entitled to this dignity. Samson is accordingly represented on his seal with a mitre. On 29 March Samson regained for abbey and town the right of jointly electing the town-bailiffs, which the king's officers had usurped. He demanded the homage of all his free tenants on 1 April, and after this an aid from his knights. Within a year he visited all his manors, put them under new management, ascertained the amount of his predecessor's debts, and made terms with his creditors. Two years later he had cleared off all arrears of debt; and a book, which he called his kalendar, containing a list of the services and revenues due from every estate belonging to the abbey, was completed in 1186.
Before the end of 1182 Pope Lucius III made Samson a judge delegate in ecclesiastical causes. On 17 Jan. 1186 or 1187 (Registr. Nigr. ff. 73b, 74) Urban III authorised him and his successors to give the benediction as bishops in all churches on their own estates. In 1187 he was successful in a contest with Baldwin (d. 1190) [q. v.], archbishop of Canterbury, for jurisdiction in a case of homicide at Eleigh (Suffolk), a manor belonging to the see of Canterbury, but within the liberties of St. Edmund's; and also in establishing against the justices in eyre the exemption of his abbey from all ‘gelds’ and