Robert Passelewe

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Robert Passelewe
Bishop of Chichester-elect
Elected c. 18 April 1244
Quashed3 June 1244
Predecessor Ralph Neville
Successor Richard of Chichester
Other post(s) Archdeacon of Lewes
OrdinationDecember 1249
Personal details
Died6 June 1252

Robert Passelewe (or Robert Papelew; died 1252) was a medieval Bishop of Chichester elect as well as being a royal clerk and Archdeacon of Lewes. [1]



Passelewe was a clerk of Fawkes de Breauté, [2] before becoming a clerk in Peter des Roches, bishop of Winchester, household in 1218, and he also served the papal legate Cardinal Guala Bicchieri before that. After the cardinal left England in 1218, Robert often went to Rome to deliver the cardinal's pension payments. On one of these trips, after a request from des Roches, Robert obtained in 1222 a declaration from Pope Honorius III that King Henry III was of legal age. This service for the bishop of Winchester put Passelewe in the opposite party of Hubert de Burgh, who was des Roches' opponent in the minority government of Henry III, and who had not wished the king to be declared of age. [3]

Because of Passelewe's service for des Roches, in 1224 Robert was exiled from England and his property was seized. He managed to regain his property and return to England in 1226, partly through the efforts of the pope, but he remained out of favour at the royal court while Hubert de Burgh remained in power through 1232. By 1233 he was serving as Peter de Rivaux's deputy at the treasury, when he was threatened with excommunication by the bishops of England for his service to des Roches. [4] In 1234, when des Roches fell from power, Robert once more lost most of his property. His offices and lands were confiscated by the Council of Gloucester in May 1234. With the offer of 500 marks, Robert regained the king's favour in 1235, although he did not hold office again until 1242, when the king appointed him Sheriff of Hampshire and put him in charge of the building at Westminster Abbey. He also was instrumental in the forest eyre of 1244 and 1245 that was widely considered to be oppressive. [3]

Passelewe was appointed archdeacon of Lewes in 1244. [3] He was elected to the see of Chichester about 18 April 1244, but was never consecrated as his election was quashed on 3 June 1244. [5] Boniface of Savoy prevented his consecration because Passelewe was ignorant of theology. [6] Another reason was likely that he had served as a royal justice of the forest, which was a post that many bishops, including Robert Grosseteste, bishop of Lincoln, felt to be unsuited for the clergy. Robert himself was more royal servant than clerk, as he was not ordained until December 1249. He left royal service in 1250 after a quarrel over Robert's presentation to a benefice the king had desired to go to Henry's half brother Aymer de Lusignan. The king forgave Robert, however, by December 1250. [3]

Passelewe died at Waltham on 6 June 1252. He had two brothers, Hamo and Simon, and a sister. Hamo served as sheriff of Norfolk and of Suffolk, and Simon was a royal clerk. Their sister married William of Holwell, who was sheriff of Hertfordshire. [3]


  1. Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066–1300: Volume 5: Chichester: Bishops
  2. Pegues "Clericus in Legal Administration" English Historical Review p. 537
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Stacey "Passelewe, Robert" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  4. Powell and Wallis House of Lords p. 156
  5. Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 239
  6. Petit-Dutaillis Feudal Monarchy p. 365

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Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Chichester
election quashed

Succeeded by