Polton, Thomas (DNB00)

POLTON, THOMAS (d. 1433), bishop successively of Hereford, Chichester, and Worcester, may be the Thomas Polton who was temporarily archdeacon of Taunton in 1395, and again about 1403, and held a prebend at Hereford between 1410 and 1412 (Le Neve, i. 167, 516). From 1408 he was prebendary of York, of which cathedral he was elected dean on 23 July 1416, being then described as bachelor of laws, but of what university does not appear (ib. iii. 124, 196, 215; cf. Fœdera, ix. 370). Meanwhile he had acted, from 8 June 1414, as the king's proctor at the papal court, and simultaneously with his promotion to the deanery of York was appointed one of the English ambassadors to the council of Constance (ib.) As papal prothonotary and head of the English ‘nation,’ he took a very prominent part in the proceedings of the council (Von der Hardt, vols. iv–v.; St.-Denys, v. 467, 620). After the council broke up, Polton continued to reside at Rome as papal notary and proctor for Henry V, and even when Pope Martin provided him by bull, dated 15 July 1420, to the bishopric of Hereford, and consecrated him at Florence six days later, he did not at once return to England (Le Neve, i. 464). On the death of Richard Clifford, bishop of London, in August 1421, the chapter, on 22 Dec., elected Polton in his place, but the pope had already (17 Nov.) translated John Kemp [q. v.] from Chichester to London, and Polton from Hereford to Chichester (ib. i. 245, 294). In January 1426, as part of a compromise with the pope with regard to the filling up of several sees then vacant, the privy council agreed that Polton, who was then in England, should be translated from Chichester to Worcester, and this was done by papal bull dated 27 Feb. 1426 (Ord. Privy Council, iii. 180, 190).

In November 1432 he was appointed to go to the council of Basle, with license to visit the ‘limina apostolorum’ for a year after the dissolution of the council (Fœdera, x. 527–9). He does not seem to have set out until the following spring, and shortly after his arrival at Basle he died (23 Aug. 1433), and was buried there. His will, dated 6 Dec. 1432, was proved on 18 Oct. 1433 (Ord. Privy Council, iv. 156; Le Neve, iii. 60). In the Cottonian Collection (Nero E. V.) there is a fine manuscript entitled ‘Origo et Processus Gentis Scotorum ac de Superioritate Regum Angliæ super regnum illud’ which belonged to Polton, and was bought from his executors by Humphrey, duke of Gloucester.

[Rymer's Fœdera, orig. ed.; Proceedings … of Privy Council, ed. Nicolas; Von der Hardt's Concilium Constantiense, 1697, &c.; Lenfant's Concile de Basle, 1731; Godwin, De Præsulibus Angliæ, ed. Richardson, 1743, pp. 466, 491, 509; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Anglic. ed. Hardy; Stubbs's Reg. Sacrum.]

J. T-t.