Thomas Cranley

Last updated

Thomas Cranley, Archbishop of Dublin, 1397-1417: from his brass at New College, Oxford. Showing the archiepiscopal mass-vestments and the cross and pall. Date, about 1400 Thomas Cranley.jpg
Thomas Cranley, Archbishop of Dublin, 1397-1417: from his brass at New College, Oxford. Showing the archiepiscopal mass-vestments and the cross and pall. Date, about 1400

Thomas Cranley DD a.k.a. Thomas Craule ( c.1340–1417) was a leading statesman, judge and cleric in early fifteenth-century Ireland, who held the offices of Chancellor of Oxford University, [1] Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.


Early career

He was born in England about 1340; little seems to be known about his family. He entered the Carmelite order. He is recorded as a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in 1366. He became Warden of New College in 1389 [2] and Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1390. [3] He was a Doctor of Divinity and a judge. [4]

Irish career

In 1397, on the death of Richard Northalis, he was made Archbishop of Dublin and arrived in Ireland the following year. After the accession of King Henry IV, Cranley undertook a diplomatic mission to Rome, and was made Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1401. When Henry's son Thomas, Duke of Clarence, was made Lord Deputy of Ireland, Cranley was appointed to his council. A letter which he sent to the King around the end of 1402 painted a grim picture of the state of English rule in Ireland. Cranley assured the King of his absolute loyalty to both the King and his son, but implored the King to send over money and men since "your son is so destitute of money that he has not a penny in the world ... and his soldiers have departed from him, and the people of his household are on the point of leaving." [5] The King, who was generally short of money, is not known to have responded to this plea. Cranley himself could probably have contributed something to the Deputy's expenses: certainly, he was sufficiently well off to lend the Mayor of Dublin 40 marks in 1402. [6]

The pressure of official business, combined with the effects of ill health and old age, made Cranley increasingly unfit to perform his duties, and in his later years the functions of the Chancellor were usually carried out by his deputies, first Thomas de Everdon, then Laurence Merbury. Cranley resigned as Chancellor in 1410, but in 1413 the new King Henry V reappointed him to that office. This is a tribute to the high regard in which the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Shrewsbury, held him. He also acted as Justiciar of Ireland, following the sudden death of Sir John Stanley, although in view of his age and ill health it was understood that this was only a temporary appointment. As Justiciar he was assisted by a military council, made up of such noted soldiers as the Gascony-born knight Sir Jenico d'Artois. [7]

He became prebendary of Clonmethan in north County Dublin in 1410: in 1414 he was sued by the Crown for recovery of the profits of the prebend for the previous two years, on the grounds that he had been an absentee prebend, but the lawsuit was dismissed when Cranley produced the King's letters patent authorising his absence. [8]


In 1417 he was asked to present a memorial on the state of Ireland, which was highly critical of Lord Shrewsbury's record as Lord Lieutenant, to the English Crown. He reached England, but he was an old man even by modern standards, and in frail health. The journey proved to be too much for his constitution, and he died at Faringdon in Oxfordshire on 25 May. He was buried in New College, Oxford: his memorial brass survives, and the inscription on his tomb hails him as "the flower of prelates". [3]

Appearance and character

Early historians praised Cranley for both his mental and physical qualities: "thou art fair beyond the children of men, grace is diffused through thy lips because of thine eloquence" wrote one particularly eloquent admirer. He was described as tall and commanding in appearance, with fair hair and a ruddy complexion; his personality was witty, eloquent and learned. As a cleric, he was described as charitable to the poor, a notable preacher and a great builder of churches. [5] The Parliament of Ireland in 1421 praised him as the model of what a good chief governor should be. [9]

Related Research Articles

Adam Loftus, 1st Viscount Loftus was Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1619 and from 1622 raised to the peerage of Ireland as Viscount Loftus of Ely, King's County. His uncle, another Adam Loftus, was both Lord Chancellor of Ireland and Church of Ireland primate.

The Lord High Chancellor of Ireland was the highest judicial office in Ireland until the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. From 1721 to 1801, it was also the highest political office of the Irish Parliament: the Chancellor was Speaker of the Irish House of Lords. The Lord Chancellor was also Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of Ireland. In all three respects, the office mirrored the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain.

Thomas Chaucer was an English courtier and politician. The son of the poet Geoffrey Chaucer and his wife Philippa Roet, Thomas was linked socially and by family to senior members of the English nobility, though he was himself a commoner. Elected fifteen times to the Parliament of England, he was Speaker of the House of Commons for five parliaments in the early 15th century.

Lewis de Charleton was a medieval Bishop of Hereford in England.

Events from the year 1341 in Ireland.

Stephen de Fulbourn English archbishop and official in Ireland

Stephen de Fulbourn was an English-born cleric and politician in thirteenth-century Ireland: he was Justiciar of Ireland, and Archbishop of Tuam 1286–88. He was a member of the Order of Knights Hospitallers.

Fromund le Brun was a cleric and judge in thirteenth-century Ireland who became Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He lost a long battle to become Archbishop of Dublin, due to his notorious pluralism. He also clashed bitterly with the Archbishop of Cashel, David Mac Cerbaill.

Thomas Cantock English-born Irish bishop and judge

Thomas Cantock, Quantock or Cantok was an English-born cleric and judge in medieval Ireland, who held the offices of Bishop of Emly and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Sir Laurence Merbury was an English-born statesman in Ireland who held the office of Treasurer of Ireland and was also Deputy to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland.

Richard Wogan Irish cleric and judge, Lord Chancellor of Ireland

Richard Wogan was an Irish judge and cleric who held the office of Lord Chancellor of Ireland, and also served as a soldier.

Robert Wikeford or de Wikeford was an English-born diplomat, lawyer and judge, who became Lord Chancellor of Ireland and Archbishop of Dublin.

John Colton (bishop)

John Colton was a leading English-born academic, statesman and cleric of the fourteenth century. He was the first Master of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. He spent much of his career in Ireland, where he held the offices of Treasurer of Ireland, Lord Chancellor of Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh. He is chiefly remembered today for his book The Visitation of Derry (1397), which he either wrote or commissioned.

Thomas Le Boteller, or Thomas Butler, nicknamed Thomas Bacach or Thomas the Lame, was the illegitimate son of the 3rd Earl of Ormond, and a leading political figure in early fifteenth century Ireland. He held the offices of Lord Chancellor of Ireland, Lord Deputy of Ireland and Prior of Kilmainham. In his own lifetime, he was a highly unpopular statesman, who was accused of treason. He is now chiefly remembered as a professional soldier, who was present at the Siege of Rouen in 1418–19. He had previously fought in the sanguinary conflict known as the Battle of Bloody Bank near Dublin in 1402.

John L'Archers, Larger or L'Archer was an English-born cleric and judge who had a distinguished career in Ireland, holding the offices of Lord Chancellor of Ireland and Deputy Justiciar. He died during the first outbreak of the Black Death in Europe and was probably a victim of it.

Richard Plunkett (c.1340-1393) was an eminent Irish judge and statesman of the fourteenth century, who held the offices of Lord Chief Justice of Ireland and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. His descendants held the titles Baron Dunsany, Baron Killeen and Earl of Fingall.

Richard Talbot was an English-born statesman and cleric in fifteenth-century Ireland. He was a younger brother of John Talbot, 1st Earl of Shrewsbury. He held the offices of Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was one of the leading political figures in Ireland for more than thirty years, but his career was marked by controversy and frequent conflicts with other statesmen. In particular, the Talbot brothers' quarrel with the powerful Earl of Ormonde was the main cause of the Butler–Talbot feud, which dominated Irish politics for decades, and seriously weakened the authority of the English Crown in Ireland.

Thomas de Everdon English-born Irish cleric and judge

Thomas de Everdon (c.1320–1413) was an English-born cleric and judge, who was a trusted Crown official in Ireland for several decades.

Clonmethan is a townland and a civil parish in the ancient barony of Balrothery West, Fingal in Ireland. It is bordered by the parishes of Palmerstown to the west, Grallagh to the north, Hollywood to the northeast, Westpalstown to the east, Killossery to the southeast, Killsallaghan to the south, and Greenoge, County Meath to the southwest.

Thomas Bache (judge) Anglo-Italian cleric and judge in Ireland

Thomas Bache was an Anglo-Italian cleric and judge who held high office in Ireland in the later fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries. He served one term as Lord High Treasurer of Ireland and three terms as Chief Baron of the Irish Exchequer.

Robert Dyke or Dyche was an English-born cleric and judge who held high office in fifteenth-century Ireland. He was appointed to the offices of Archdeacon of Dublin, Chancellor of the Exchequer of Ireland, Lord High Treasurer of Ireland, and Master of the Rolls in Ireland.


  1. Hibbert, Christopher, ed. (1988). "Appendix 5: Chancellors of the University". The Encyclopaedia of Oxford . Macmillan. pp. 521–522. ISBN   0-333-39917-X.
  2. Salter, H. E.; Lobel, Mary D., eds. (1954). "New College". A History of the County of Oxford. Vol. 3: The University of Oxford. Victoria County History. pp. 144–162.
  3. 1 2 Ball, F. Elrington (1926). The Judges in Ireland 1221–1921. London: John Murray.
  4. Wood, Anthony (1790). "Fasti Oxonienses". The History and Antiquities of the Colleges and Halls in the University of Oxford. p.  33 via Internet Archive.
  5. 1 2 O'Flanagan, J. Roderick (1870). Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal in Ireland. Vol. Two volumes. London.
  6. Calendar of Irish Chancery letters c.1244-1509 20 November 1402
  7. Otway-Ruthve, A.J. History of Medieval Ireland Barnes and Noble reissue 1993 p.348
  8. John D'Alton History of the County of Dublin 1838 Hodges and Smith
  9. Beresford, David "Cranley, Thomas" Dictionary of Irish Biography Cambridge University Press
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Archbishop of Dublin
Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by Wardens of New College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by