- Godfrey Giffard
name =Godfrey Giffard
Diocese of Worcester
Bishop of Worcester
Period = 1268–1302
Nicholas of Ely
John St German
Archdeacon of York
date of birth = c. 1235
place of birth =
date of death =26 January 1302
place of death =
Godfrey Giffard, (c. 1235 – 1302) was
Chancellor of the Exchequerof England, Lord Chancellorof England and Bishop of Worcester.
Giffard was the son of Hugh Giffard of
Boytonin Wiltshire, [http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=34352 British History Online Archdeacons of Wells] accessed on 3 November 2007] a royal justice, and of his wife Sibyl, daughter and co- heiressof Walter de Cormeilles. He was born about 1235 and was the younger brother of Walter Giffardwho was to become Archbishop of Yorkand whose successful career ensured the preferment of Godfrey. His sister Mabel was the Abbess of Shaftesbury Abbey.
Giffard appears to have profited from his brother's position, and held the following positions:
*Rector of Mells.
*Rector of the greater moiety of
Archdeaconof Barnstaplebetween 1265 and 1267, and (after Walter later became archbishop of York) [http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=6444 British History Online Archdeacons of York] accessed on 3 November 2007]
Chancellor of the exchequerPowicke "Handbook of British Chronology" p. 83]
Chancellor of Englandand
Complaints were later made to the Pope at Rome about the way in which the Archbishop had given this and many other benefices to his brother - as Godfrey was it was claimed, "...only in minor orders and deficient in learning".
Bishop of Worcester
Giffard was still Chancellor when the monks of
Worcesterelected him as Bishop of Worcesterabout 13 June 1268,Powicke "Handbook of British Chronology" p. 261] on the translation of Bishop Nicholas of Elyto the See of Winchester. Henry III accepted his appointment, and he received the temporalitieson 13 June 1268. After some little resistance, Archbishop Boniface of Savoyconfirmed his election, but it was not until 23 September that he was consecrated by the archbishopat Canterburyand he was enthroned in Worcester Cathedralon Christmas Day1268. [http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=33881 British History Online Bishops of Worcester] accessed on 3 November 2007]
He retained the chancellorship until October of 1268, and in 1268 received a grant of five hundred marks a year for the support of himself and the clerks of the chancery.
In 1272 he acted with
Roger de Meyland Bishop of Lichfieldin treating with Llywelyn the Lastof Wales. In May of 1273 he was sent abroad with Nicholas of Ely, Bishop of Winchester, and Walter Bronescomb, Bishop of Exeter, to meet King Edward I on his return from the Holy Land. He was made a commissioner along with Roger Mortimerto investigate certain grievances of the Oxford scholars, and in 1278 acted as an itinerant justice in Hertfordshireand Kent.
In 1279 he succeeded to the very extensive property of his brother the Archbishop of York. He was also one of the four negotiators selected in 1289 by King
Edward I of Englandto treat at Salisburywith the Scottish and Norwegian envoys about sending Margaret of Norwayto Scotland.
Giffard ruled over the
See of Worcesterfor more than thirty-three years, and his activities were almost confined to his own diocese.
Activities as bishop
Giffard was engaged in many disputes with his monastic
cathedral chapter, long accounts of which, written from the monks' point of view, have survived in the "Annals of Worcester". One main area of disagreement was whether or not the Bishop should be allowed to annex some of the more valuable livings in his gift, to the prebends of the college at Westbury. This dispute led to some tedious litigation which was ultimately decided in favour of the monks. However, the claim of the Bishop that he was entitled to receive the monks' ‘profession’ produced still more law suits. In 1288, at an ordination at Westbury, an unseemly dispute arose between the precentor of Worcester and John of Evreux the then Archdeacon of Gloucester (he was a favourite nephew of the Bishop) as to who had the right to call over the names of the candidates and which led to the expulsion of the precentor from the chancel with the connivance of the Bishop.
Some time later a truce patched matters up, but at
Bromsgrovethe Bishop, "...would not permit the prior to exercise his office, regardless of the peace that had been made, which we believe to have been as vain as a peace with the Welsh." The monks also complained of his depriving them of the chapel at Graftonand of his constant efforts to visit and to exercise jurisdiction over them. In 1290 he held a visitation, and required the convent to support his 140 horses leaving the place in anger.
Giffard was also involved in another great dispute with the
Abbot of Westminsterafter he had deposed William of Ledbury, the Prior of Malvern, for "gross crimes". The monks of Westminster took up William's cause, as Malvern was a cell of their Abbey, and they also obtained the support of the King. In the end Giffard was glad to compromise the case, and received a grant of land at Knightwickand agreed not to visit Malvern as his predecessors had done and Ledbury was restored.
However, this settlement was attacked by Archbishop Peckham as being simoniacal. Giffard had already been involved, like the other suffragans to Canterbury, in the struggle against Peckham's excessive claims of metropolitical jurisdiction; he however later more friendly with him, and sent the Archbishop many expensive gifts.
Giffard's many favours to the
Franciscans, whose General had in both 1277 and 1282, admitted him as a brother of the order, must have procured him the friendship of the Franciscan primate. However his remissness in allowing the monks of the cathedral to steal the body of one Henry Poche from the Franciscans and bury it in their churchyard in 1290 was another new source of friction.
By the year 1300 Giffard had become sick and infirm; in March of that year he was visited by Archbishop Winchelsey at
Wyke. In 1301, William of Gloucester produced thirty-six articles against him before the Archbishop; although mostly small, technical and legal, they included:
*A charge of manumitting serfs without its consent,
*Another complaint of him unduly favouring his nephews. Both complaints were well investigated, and the Bishop's answers are recorded along with the charges in his register.
Death and legacy
Giffard died on Friday 26 January 1302, and was buried on 4 February by
John de Monmouth, Bishop of Llandaff, in Worcester Cathedral, on the south side of the altar of the lady chapel; his tomb remains there still.
Under the terms of Giffard's will, which was dated 13 September 1300, he left a large number of legacies to his kinsfolk, including his sister Mabel, Abbess of Shaftesbury, and to various churches.
His heir was his nephew John, who was the son of his brother William Giffard and who after fighting on the baronial side at
Boroughbridge, was hanged at Gloucester, thus forfeiting his estates to the Crown. However, these estates were later restored, and subsequently the Giffords of Weston-sub-Edgeassumed the arms of the See of Worcester in memory of their ancestor.
Despite his long running quarrels with the chapter at Worcester, Giffard was a benefactor of his Cathedral; during his reign he beautified the pillars of both the choir and lady chapel by interlacing them with smaller pillars and in 1280 he laid the first stone of the pavement of the cathedral.
He also sought leave to fortify and finish
Hartlebury Castlewhich Bishop Cantelupe had begun. He extracted from the Bishop's executors a legacy which had been left to the See, for supplying a stock of cattle on the lands of the Bishopric.
Giffard also obtained a "grant of fairs" to
Stratford-on-Avonand Blockleyand secured permission to fortify his palaces at Worcesterand Wydindonas he had done at Hartlebury.
List of Bishops of Worcester
List of Lord Chancellors and Lord Keepers
* [http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=34352 British History Online Archdeacons of Wells] accessed on 3 November 2007
* [http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=6444 British History Online Archdeacons of York] accessed on 3 November 2007
* [http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=33881 British History Online Bishops of Worcester] accessed on 3 November 2007
* Powicke, F. Maurice and E. B. Fryde "Handbook of British Chronology" 2nd. ed. London:Royal Historical Society 1961
* [http://www.medievalgenealogy.org.uk/families/giffard/godfrey.shtml Godfrey Giffard's Will]
SHORT DESCRIPTION=Chancellor of the Exchequer; Lord Chancellor of England; Bishop of Worcester
DATE OF BIRTH=c. 1235
PLACE OF BIRTH=
DATE OF DEATH=26 January 1302
PLACE OF DEATH=
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