Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Waldby, Robert

WALDBY, ROBERT (d. 1398), archbishop of York, was a Yorkshireman. The village of Waldby is near Hull, but Godwin says he was born at York. John Waldby (d. 1393?), who was English provincial of the Austin friars, and wrote a number of expository works still preserved in manuscript in the Bodleian and other libraries (Tanner, p. 746), is said to have been a brother of Robert Waldby (Lives of the Archbishops of York, ii. 428; cf. art. Nassyngton, William of). As they were both doctors of theology and Austin friars, some confusion has resulted. Robert seems to have become a friar in the Austin convent at Tickhill in South Yorkshire (ib.), unless his brother's retirement thither from the friary at York be the only basis of the statement (Tanner). The occurrence of his name (as archbishop) in one of the old windows of the chapel of University College, Oxford (Wood, p. 65), has been supposed to imply membership of that society, but he may only have been a benefactor. At any rate he received most of his education abroad, going out to Gascony in the train of the Black Prince, and pursuing his studies at the university of Toulouse, where he devoted himself first to natural and moral philosophy, and then to theology, in which he became a doctor. Dean Stanley inferred (Memorials of Westminster, p. 196) from a passage in his epitaph that he was ‘renowned at once as a physician and a divine:’

    Sacræ scripturæ doctor fuit, et genituræ
    Ingenuus, medicus, et plebis semper amicus.

If ‘medicus’ be not a misreading of ‘modicus,’ it must surely be used in a metaphorical sense. In an earlier line he is described as ‘expertus in quovis jure.’

Waldby took part in the ‘earthquake council’ which met at London in May 1382 to repress Wyclifitism, sitting as one of the four learned representatives of the Austin order, and described in the official record as ‘Tholosanus’ (Fasciculi Zizaniorum, p. 286). Richard II commissioned him on 1 April following, with the bishop of Dax and others, to negotiate with the kings of Castile, Aragon, and Navarre (Fœdera, vii. 386–90). In 1387 he was elected bishop of Aire in Gascony (Gams, p. 481). The English government was replacing Clementist prelates by supporters of Urban VI (Tauzin, p. 330). An ignorant emendation of ‘Sodorensis’ for ‘Adurensis’ in his epitaph has led many writers to make him bishop of Sodor and Man (Weever, p. 481). Boniface IX translated him to the archbishopric of Dublin on 14 Nov. 1390 or 1391 (Cotton, ii. 15; Gams, p. 218). As his predecessor, Robert de Wikeford [q. v.], died in August 1390, and a certain Guichard appears as bishop of Aire under 1390 (Mas-Latrie, p. 1364), the earlier date, which is confirmed by the contemporary Irish chronicler Marleburrough (p. 15), seems preferable. Waldby sat in the anti-Wyclifite council at Stamford in 1392. In the list of those present given in the ‘Fasciculi Zizaniorum’ (p. 356) he is called John, which misled Leland (p. 394), who concluded that his brother must have been archbishop of Dublin at that time, and attributed to him a book, ‘Contra Wiclevistas,’ which was, we cannot doubt, the work of Robert Waldby (Tanner, p. 746). He filled the onerous office of chancellor of Ireland, and exerted himself vigorously to protect the colonists against the septs of Leinster (Gilbert, p. 268; Roll of the King's Council, pp. 22, 256). In January 1393 he complained to the king that, being minded, by the advice of the Anglo-Irish lords, and others, to go to England to lay the evils of the country before the sovereign, the Earl of Kildare quartered a hundred ‘kernemen’ on the lands of his seigniory of Ballymore in county Dublin (ib. pp. 130–132). Kildare received a royal order to withdraw them. On the translation of Richard Mitford from Chichester to Salisbury in October 1395, Richard II, who had recently spent some months in Ireland, got Waldby translated to the former see, ‘quia major pontificatus in seculari substantia minor erat’ (Walsingham, ii. 218). He obtained the temporalities on 4 Feb. 1396, but a few months later (5 Oct.) the pope translated him to the archbishopric of York, the temporalities of which were handed over to him on 7 March 1397 (Le Neve, i. 243, iii. 108).

Waldby attended the parliaments which met in January and September in that year, but died on 6 Jan. 1398 (ib.; his epitaph, however, gives 29 Dec. 1397 as the date). Richard, who three years before had excited adverse criticism by burying Bishop John de Waltham [q. v.] in Westminster Abbey ‘inter reges,’ had Waldby interred in the middle of the chapel of St. Edmund: ‘the first representative of literature in the abbey as Waltham is of statesmanship,’ says Dean Stanley, if his treatise against the Lollards and two or three scholastic manuals attributed to him can be called literature. His grave was marked by a large marble tombstone bearing his effigy, and a eulogistic epitaph in halting Latin verse on a plate of brass. The inscription long since became illegible, but is preserved in the ‘Lives of the Archbishops of York’ (ii. 427) and by Weever (p. 481). His biographer gives also an unfriendly copy of verses in which he was accused of simony. He ascribes them to some monk's jealousy of the elevation of a friar to the archbishopric. There is a third set of verses in Weever.

[The short biography of Waldby in the Lives of the Archbishops of York, edited by Raine in the Rolls Series, was probably written about the beginning of the sixteenth century, and has very little value except as supplying the oldest text of his epitaph; other authorities referred to are Rymer's Fœdera, original edition; Fasciculi Zizaniorum and Walsingham's Historia Anglicana, in the Rolls Series; Leland's Comm. De Scriptt. Britan. Oxford, 1709; Bale, De Scriptt. Maj. Brit. ed. 1559; Tanner's Bibl. Scriptt. Brit.-Hib.; Wood's Colleges and Halls of Oxford, ed. Peshall; Henry de Marleburrough, ed. Dublin, 1809; D'Alton's Archbishops of Dublin; Tauzin's Les diocèses d'Aire et de Dax pendant le Schisme; Le Neve's Fasti Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ, ed. Hardy; Cotton's Fasti Ecclesiæ Hiberniæ, 1848; K. Eubel's Die Provisiones Prælatorum; Gams's Series Episcoporum Ecclesiæ Catholicæ, Ratisbon, 1873; Mas-Latrie's Trésor de Chronologie, Paris, 1889; J. T. Gilbert's Hist. of the Irish Viceroys; Stanley's Memorials of Westminster Abbey; Weever's Ancient Funeral Monuments, 1631.]

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