Thomas de Buittle

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Thomas de Buittle
Bishop of Galloway
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Diocese of Galloway
In office 1415–1420; 1422
Predecessor Gilbert Cavan
Successor Alexander Vaus
Ordination on or before 1388
Consecration 14 June - 5 September 1415
Personal details
Born unknown
Probably Galloway
Died c. 1420–1422
Previous post Provost of Maybole
Archdeacon of Galloway

Thomas de Buittle [Butil, Butill, Butyll, Butyl, Bucyl] (died c. 1420–1422) was a Scottish prelate, clerk and papal auditor active in the late 14th and early 15th centuries. Probably originating in Galloway, Scotland, Thomas took a university career in canon law in England and France, before taking up service at the court of Avignon Pope Benedict XIII. He obtained a number of benefices in the meantime, including the position of Archdeacon of Galloway, and is the earliest known and probably first provost of the collegiate church of Maybole. The height of his career came however when the Pope provided him to the bishopric of Galloway, a position he held from 1415 until his death sometime between 1420 and 1422.

Kingdom of Scotland historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles from the 9th century and up to 1707

The Kingdom of Scotland was a sovereign state in northwest Europe traditionally said to have been founded in 843. Its territories expanded and shrank, but it came to occupy the northern third of the island of Great Britain, sharing a land border to the south with the Kingdom of England. It suffered many invasions by the English, but under Robert I it fought a successful war of independence and remained an independent state throughout the late Middle Ages. In 1603, James VI of Scotland became King of England, joining Scotland with England in a personal union. In 1707, the two kingdoms were united to form the Kingdom of Great Britain under the terms of the Acts of Union. Following the annexation of the Northern Isles from the Kingdom of Norway in 1472 and final capture of the Royal Burgh of Berwick by the Kingdom of England in 1482, the territory of the Kingdom of Scotland corresponded to that of modern-day Scotland, bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest.

Prelate high-ranking member of the clergy

A prelate is a high-ranking member of the clergy who is an ordinary or who ranks in precedence with ordinaries. The word derives from the Latin prælatus, the past participle of præferre, which means "carry before", "be set above or over" or "prefer"; hence, a prelate is one set over others.

An auditor is a person or a firm appointed by a company to execute an audit. To act as an auditor, a person should be certified by the regulatory authority of accounting and auditing or possess certain specified qualifications. Generally, to act as an external auditor of the company, a person should have a certificate of practice from the regulatory authority.


Background and education

Thomas' name suggests a strong likelihood that he came from Buittle in Kirkcudbrightshire, Galloway, lands in the control of the Douglas family. [1] In 1388, it was claimed that he had been a scholar of Decrees (i.e. Canon law) at the University of Oxford for five years, a claim to some extent confirmed by the grant of safe-conduct from the English crown on 18 February 1380, to travel and study at Oxford for a year. [2]

Buittle ecclesiastical and civil parish in Dumfries and Galloway, southwest Scotland

Buittle is an ecclesiastical and civil parish in Dumfries and Galloway, southwest Scotland, in the traditional county of Kirkcudbrightshire. It lies to the west of the Urr Water, between Dalbeattie and Castle Douglas, and extends from Haugh of Urr in the north to Almorness Point on the Solway Firth in the south. The main settlement is the small village of Palnackie.

Kirkcudbrightshire Historic county in Scotland

Kirkcudbrightshire, or the County of Kirkcudbright or the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, is a historic county, registration county and lieutenancy area in the informal Galloway area of south-western Scotland. For local government purposes, it forms part of the wider Dumfries and Galloway council area of which it forms a committee area under the name of the Stewartry.

Galloway area in southwestern Scotland

Galloway is a region in southwestern Scotland comprising the historic counties of Wigtownshire and Kirkcudbrightshire.

By 18 April 1390, he had obtained a Bachelor's degree (in Decrees) from the University of Avignon; he appears in the Avignon university student rolls on 9 August 1393 and again on 21 October 1394. [3] Thomas had obtained a doctorate (in Decrees) sometime between 15 July 1401 and 9 June 1410. [3] He witnessed Bishop Henry de Wardlaw's foundation charter of the University of St Andrews on 28 February 1412 and was named in the grant of privileges made to the new university by Pope Benedict XIII on 28 August 1413. [3]

Bachelors degree Undergraduate academic degree

A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to seven years. In some institutions and educational systems, some bachelor's degrees can only be taken as graduate or postgraduate degrees after a first degree has been completed. In countries with qualifications frameworks, bachelor's degrees are normally one of the major levels in the framework, although some qualifications titled bachelor's degrees may be at other levels and some qualifications with non-bachelor's titles may be classified as bachelor's degrees.

The Avignon University is a French university, based in Avignon. It is under the Academy of Aix and Marseille.

University of St Andrews university in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland

The University of St Andrews is a British public university in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland. It is the oldest of the four ancient universities of Scotland and the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. St Andrews was founded between 1410 and 1413, when the Avignon Antipope Benedict XIII issued a papal bull to a small founding group of Augustinian clergy.

First provost of Maybole

The ruins of collegiate church of Maybole (2005); it was dedicated to St Mary rather than St Cuthbert; St Cuthbert however was the dedication of the parish church. Maybolecollege.jpg
The ruins of collegiate church of Maybole (2005); it was dedicated to St Mary rather than St Cuthbert; St Cuthbert however was the dedication of the parish church.

On 1 February 1388, a letter from Avignon Pope Clement VII to the official of the diocese of Glasgow says that Thomas "holds the provostship of the chapel of St Mary de Mayboyl, Glasgow diocese, which is a simple benefice without cure". [4] The collegiate church of Maybole was founded under the patronage of John Kennedy, Lord of Dunure, a short time before 2 February 1382, when a mandate was issued by the papacy confirming its erection. [5] A year previously the Lord of Dunure had founded a chapel to St Mary beside the parish church of Maybole, and the erection established a provost, two chaplains and a clerk. [6] Thomas de Buittle held the vicarage there. [7] It is possible that Thomas was the senior priest there when it was erected into a collegiate church; Thomas is certainly the earliest known provost, and neither the appointment nor the death of any predecessor are noted anywhere. [8]

Collegiate church

In Christianity, a collegiate church is a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons: a non-monastic or "secular" community of clergy, organised as a self-governing corporate body, which may be presided over by a dean or provost. In its governance and religious observance a collegiate church is similar to a cathedral, although a collegiate church is not the seat of a bishop and has no diocesan responsibilities. Collegiate churches were often supported by extensive lands held by the church, or by tithe income from appropriated benefices. They commonly provide distinct spaces for congregational worship and for the choir offices of their clerical community.

Dunure village in United Kingdom

Dunure is a small village in the South Ayrshire area of Scotland about 5 miles (8.0 km) from Ayr, Scotland. It is located on the coast of the Firth of Clyde, and is near to Maybole, south of Ayr.

A provost is a senior official in a number of Christian churches.

He held the vicarage of Lochrutton in Kirkcudbrightshire in 1388, when a papal letter indicated that he was expected to resign Lochrutton after obtaining the benefice of Maybole in the gift of the Prioress of the nunnery of North Berwick. [9] He still held Lochrutton on 18 April 1390, when the letter was repeated. [10] Thomas remained provost of Maybole until at least 1401, and perhaps until his consecration as Bishop of Galloway in 1415. [11] No-one else is known to have held the position of provost there until 1439, although this proves nothing as the evidence for such things in the south-west of Scotland in this period is always scarce. [8]

The Bishop of Galloway, also called the Bishop of Whithorn, was the eccesiastical head of the Diocese of Galloway, said to have been founded by Saint Ninian in the mid-5th century. The subsequent Anglo-Saxon bishopric was founded in the late 7th century or early 8th century, and the first known bishop was one Pehthelm, "shield of the Picts". According to Anglo-Saxon ecclesiastical tradition, the bishopric was founded by Saint Ninian, a later corruption of the British name Uinniau or Irish Finian; although there is no contemporary evidence, it is quite likely that there had been a British or Hiberno-British bishopric before the Anglo-Saxon takeover. After Heathored, no bishop is known until the apparent resurrection of the diocese in the reign of King Fergus of Galloway. The bishops remained, uniquely for Scottish bishops, the suffragans of the Archbishop of York until 1359 when the pope released the bishopric from requiring metropolitan assent. James I formalised the admission of the diocese into the Scottish church on 26 August 1430 and just as all Scottish sees, Whithorn was to be accountable directly to the pope. The diocese was placed under the metropolitan jurisdiction of St Andrews on 17 August 1472 and then moved to the province of Glasgow on 9 January 1492. The diocese disappeared during the Scottish Reformation, but was recreated by the Catholic Church in 1878 with its cathedra at Dumfries, although it is now based at Ayr.

Scotland country in Northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, by the North Sea to the northeast and by the Irish Sea to the south. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Archdeacon of Galloway

Pope Benedict XIII [of Avignon], Thomas' master and patron. Pape avignon benoit13.jpg
Pope Benedict XIII [of Avignon], Thomas' master and patron.

On 2 March 1391, Thomas was provided by the papacy to be Archdeacon of Galloway. [12] On 23 May a mandate was sent to the senior clergy of the bishopric of Glasgow authorising them to collate Thomas to the archdeaconry of Galloway, at that point occupied "unlawfully" by Patrick Smerles; the mandate gave dispensation for Thomas to retain control of both the provostship of Maybole and the vicarage of Lochrutton. [13] He was still litigating with Smerles on 9 August 1393, by which point in time he had resigned Lochrutton; he was in firm possession of the archdeaconry by 21 October 1394. [14] During his time as Archdeacon of Galloway, the church of Penninghame was annexed as a prebend of the office. [3]

The Archdeacon of Galloway was the only archdeacon in the medieval Diocese of Galloway (Whithorn), acting as a deputy of the Bishop of Galloway. The following is a list of archdeacons:


Penninghame in Wigtownshire, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, is a civil parish area, 8 miles from Wigtown. The area is approx 16 miles in length, and from 5 to 6 miles' width, bounded on the north and east by the River Cree, and on the west by the Bladnoch; comprising nearly 38,000 acres, of which 12,000 were arable, 600 woodland and plantations, 1600 meadow, and the remainder hill pasture, moorland, moss, etc.

Papal career and other benefices

He resigned the vicarage of Maybole through a proxy (Patrick de Houston) at the papal court on 16 February 1398, in exchange with Gilbert Adounane for the church of Kirkcolm in Wigtownshire. [15] Sweetheart Abbey, overlords of Kirkholm parish, dispossessed him briefly of this benefice, but Thomas obtained papal restitution in a papal mandate dated 13 October 1410. [3] He got papal provision on 5 December 1412, to the politically important vicarage of Dundonald in Kyle, but this was unfruitful as the previous vicar turned out still to be alive. [3] Presumably in its place he obtained the vicarage of Abernyte in the diocese of Dunkeld on 30 January 1413, but despite promising annates, failed to obtain possession. [3]

He did however successfully obtain provision to the church of Kinkell in the diocese of Aberdeen, and the prebend of Inverkeithny in the diocese of Moray with its associated canonry in Elgin Cathedral. [3] As Thomas seems to have spent most of the early 15th century outside Scotland in the employment of the papacy, these positions were probably given to supplement Thomas' income. [16] When he was in Scotland in February 1412 witnessing the foundation charter of St Andrews University, he was said to hold to elevated post of "auditor of the sacred apostolic palace". [16] He had returned to Pope Benedict's court in Spain later in the same year, and can be found conducting various business there over the next few years, both for the papacy and as a proctor for people in Scotland. [16]

Bishop of Galloway

As a reward for his service to the "Avignon Pope", now only recognised in Scotland, Sicily, Aragon and Castile, Thomas was provided to the bishopric of Galloway following the death of Elisaeus Adougan, the previous bishop. This occurred on 14 June 1415. [17] Although the local chapter had elected one Gilbert Cavan, a clerk of the Earl of Douglas, to fill this position, Benedict overturned this election and put Thomas there instead. [18] This probably occurred against the will of the Douglas family, to whom Cavan was a senior clerk. [19] Thomas resigned the archdeaconry of Galloway, with Gilbert Cavan succeeding him there. Presumably in compensation, Gilbert also received Thomas' previous holdings in the dioceses of Moray and Aberdeen. [20] It had been supposed by some authorities that Thomas supported the capitulation of Narbonne, renounced his allegiance to Pope Benedict and supported the adherence to the Council of Constance in December 1415, but this is based on a misreading of the evidence. [16]

It is not clear that, with possible Douglas opposition, Thomas obtained possession of the bishopric smoothly. There is a mandate, dated 5 September 1415, to the subdean of Glasgow Cathedral, ordering the latter to protect "Thomas and his successors in possession of the lands and heredities of Innermasan, Dyrmor, Innysmocrinyl, Kykkenot, Mirtum and Nicoltum in Candida Casa [i.e. Whithorn] diocese ... which are being molested". [21] No more of such problems are heard. Thomas is next found testifying to an inspeximus at Perth on 17 March 1416. [22] This was made by Bishop Henry de Wardlaw of St Andrews on the request of the Council of Constance, a sign of the waning loyalty in Scotland and perhaps in Thomas to the Avignon papacy. [16] Bishop Thomas appears to have been suffering ailing health by 1420. In this year he failed to attend a provincial council of the Scottish church at Perth, although he did sent a proctor. [23] He died at some point between 16 July 1420 (date of the council) and 4 December 1422, when Alexander Vaus, Bishop of Caithness, was translated to be Thomas' successor as Bishop of Galloway. [24] Professor Donald Watt believes that his death probably occurred sometime in 1422. [16]


  1. Watt, Dictionary, p. 70.
  2. Burns (ed.), Papal Letters, p. 139; Watt, Dictionary, pp. 70–1.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Watt, Dictionary, p. 71.
  4. Burns (ed.), Papal Letters, p. 139.
  5. Burns (ed.), Papal Letters, p. 82; Cowan & Easson, Medieval Religious Houses, p. 224.
  6. Cowan & Easson, Medieval Religious Houses, p. 224.
  7. Burns (ed.), Papal Letters, pp. 139, 152, 163; Watt, Dictionary, p. 71; see below.
  8. 1 2 Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 366.
  9. Burns (ed.), Papal Letters, p. 139; Watt, Dictionary, p. 71; Maybole parish church had been given to North Berwick nunnery in the reign of Alexander II of Scotland by Donnchadh, Earl of Carrick.
  10. Burns (ed.), Papal Letters, p. 152.
  11. Watt, Dictionary, p. 71; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 366.
  12. Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 137.
  13. Burns (ed.), Papal Letters, p. 163.
  14. Watt, Dictionary, p. 71; see also McGurk (ed.), Papal Letters, p. 33;
  15. McGurk (ed.), Papal Letters, p. 82; Watt, Dictionary, p. 71.
  16. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Watt, Dictionary, p. 72.
  17. Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 131.
  18. Dowden, Bishops, p. 367; Watt, Dictionary, pp. 71, 72; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 131.
  19. Brown, Black Douglases, p. 195.
  20. McGurk (ed.), Papal Letters, p. 319; Watt, Dictionary, p. 94; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 137.
  21. McGurk (ed.), Papal Letters, p. 326.
  22. Dowden, Bishops, pp. 367-8.
  23. Dowden, Bishops, p. 368; Watt, Dictionary, p. 94.
  24. Dowden, Bishops, p. 368; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 131.

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Religious titles
Preceded by
New creation
Provost of Maybole
1384; 1388–1401; 1415
Succeeded by
Not known
Next known provost was:
John Kennedy
Preceded by
Robert Smerles
Archdeacon of Galloway
Succeeded by
Gilbert Cavan
Preceded by
Gilbert Cavan
Bishop of Galloway
1415–1420; 1422
Succeeded by
Alexander Vaus