Thomas de Dundee

Last updated

Thomas de Dundee
Bishop of Ross
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Diocese of Ross
In office 1293 × 12951325
Predecessor Robert de Fyvie /
Adam de Darlington
Successor Roger
Consecration 18 November 1295 × 2 January 1296
Personal details
Born unknown
Died 5 January × 17 April 1325
Previous post Subdean of Glasgow (1273 × 12931293 × 1295)
Dean of Brechin (1293 × 12951295)

Thomas de Dundee, [1] also called Thomas Nicholay, was a Scottish prelate who held the bishopric of Ross during the First War of Scottish Independence. Coming from a family of Dundee burghesses, he was educated as the University of Bologna, before entering into career in the church.

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.

Bishop of Ross (Scotland) Wikimedia list article

The Bishop of Ross was the ecclesiastical head of the Diocese of Ross, one of Scotland's 13 medieval bishoprics. The first recorded bishop appears in the late 7th century as a witness to Adomnán of Iona's Cáin Adomnáin. The bishopric was based at the settlement of Rosemarkie until the mid-13th century, afterwards being moved to nearby Fortrose and Fortrose Cathedral. As far as the evidence goes, this bishopric was the oldest of all bishoprics north of the Forth, and was perhaps the only Pictish bishopric until the 9th century. Indeed, the Cáin Adomnáin indicates that in the reign of Bruide mac Der Ilei, king of the Picts, the bishop of Rosemarkie was the only significant figure in Pictland other than the king. The bishopric is located conveniently close to the heartland of Fortriu, being just across the water from Moray.


He obtained benefices in the diocese of Glasgow and the diocese of Brechin, as well as in Ross, and served as the chaplain to a cardinal before being appointed Bishop of Ross by papal provision in 1295. After some delay, he was able to take up his position and held it until his death in early 1325.

Diocese of Brechin

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brechin or Diocese of Angus was one of the thirteen pre-Reformation dioceses of Scotland.

Diocese of Ross (Scotland)

The Diocese of Ross was an ecclesiastical territory or diocese in the Highland region of Scotland during the Middle Ages and Early Modern period. The Diocese was led by the Bishop of Ross, and the cathedral was, latterly, at Fortrose. The bishops of the Early Church were located at Rosemarkie. The diocese had only one Archdeacon, the Archdeacon of Ross, first attested in 1223 with the appearance of Archdeacon Robert, who was consecrated bishop of Ross on 21 June 1249 x 20 June 1250. There is only one known Dean of Christianty (sic.), one Donald Reid called the dean of christianty of Dingwall on 12 June 1530.

Chaplain Provider of pastoral care, often a minister of a religious tradition, attached to an institution

A chaplain is, traditionally, a cleric, or a lay representative of a religious tradition, attached to a secular institution such as a hospital, prison, military unit, school, labor union, business, police department, fire department, university, or private chapel.


Family background

Thomas was the son of a burghess of Dundee named Nicholas. [2] Detailed knowledge of Thomas' father is lacking, but one "Nicholas son of Robert" is found as a burghess of Dundee in a Lindores Abbey document dated between 1237 and 1243. [2] Another relevant Nicholas, "Nicholas the Chaplain", is found in 1281 residing in a Dundee tenement located next the tenement of Radulf de Dundee. [2] It is possible both names referred to the same person, but at any rate either could have been Thomas' father. [2]

Dundee City and council area

Dundee is Scotland's fourth-largest city and the 51st-most-populous built-up area in the United Kingdom. The mid-year population estimate for 2016 was 148,270, giving Dundee a population density of 2,478/km2 or 6,420/sq mi, the second-highest in Scotland. It lies within the eastern central Lowlands on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea. Under the name of Dundee City, it forms one of the 32 council areas used for local government in Scotland.

Lindores Abbey

Lindores Abbey was a Tironensian abbey on the outskirts of Newburgh in Fife, Scotland. Now a much reduced and overgrown ruin, it lies on the southern banks of the River Tay, about 1-mile (1.6 km) north of the village of Lindores and is a scheduled ancient monument

Another Dundee burghess family in the period produced prominent churchman, the family of Hervey de Dundee, Bishop of Caithness. There is no proof that the two families were kindred, although in the early 1310s Thomas was recorded as assisting Hervey's brother Radulf de Dundee obtain a loan for his daughter's marriage portion. [2]

Bishop of Caithness Wikimedia list article

The Bishop of Caithness was the ecclesiastical head of the Diocese of Caithness, one of Scotland's 13 medieval bishoprics. The first referenced bishop of Caithness was Aindréas, a Gael who appears in sources between 1146 and 1151 as bishop. Aindréas spent much if not all of his career outside his see.

Thomas' father was prosperous, wealthy enough to send Thomas to the University of Bologna in Italy. Thomas was recorded as Magister ("Master"), i.e. possessing a Master's degree, at Bologna in 1286. [2] He probably studied there alongside the aforementioned Radulf de Dundee, as well as one Michael de Dundee, whose exact family origin cannot be determined. [3]

University of Bologna university in Bologna, Italy

The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is the oldest university in continuous operation, as well as one of the leading academic institutions in Italy and Europe. It is one of the most prestigious Italian universities, commonly ranking in the first places of national rankings.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern and Western Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

A master's degree is an academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.

Early career

Documents dating to 18 February and 24 April 1293, have Thomas as Subdean of Glasgow Cathedral. [4] On the former date he was at Scone acting as proctor for the cathedral chapter of Glasgow at an arbitration conducted by Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow. Thomas had this role because the dean, Thomas Wishart, was absent, having travelled to Bologna. [2] The arbitration agreement was settled at Glasgow on the latter date. [2]

Glasgow Cathedral Church in Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow Cathedral, also called the High Kirk of Glasgow or St Kentigern's or St Mungo's Cathedral, is the oldest cathedral on mainland Scotland and is the oldest building in Glasgow. Since the Reformation the cathedral continues in public ownership, within the responsibility of Historic Environment Scotland. The congregation is part of the established Church of Scotland's Presbytery of Glasgow and its services and associations are open to all. The cathedral and its kirkyard are at the top of High Street, at Cathedral Street. Immediately neighbouring it are Glasgow Royal Infirmary, opened in 1794, and the elevated Glasgow Necropolis, opened in 1833. Nearby are the Provand's Lordship, Glasgow`s oldest house and its herbal medical gardens, the Barony Hall, University of Strathclyde, Cathedral Square, Glasgow Evangelical Church, and St Mungo Museum.

Scone, Scotland village in Perth and Kinross, Scotland

Scone is a village in Perth and Kinross, Scotland. The medieval village of Scone, which grew up around the monastery and royal residence, was abandoned in the early 19th century when the residents were removed and a new palace was built on the site by the Earl of Mansfield. Hence the modern village of Scone, and the medieval village of Old Scone, can often be distinguished.

Proctor, a variant of procurator, is a person who takes charge of, or acts for, another. The word "proctor" is frequently used to describe someone who oversees an examination or dormitory.

Perhaps soon after or soon before, Thomas inspected charters of Paisley Abbey on behalf of Laurence de Ergadia, Bishop of Argyll. Here he is called Thomas Nicholay ("Thomas, son of Nicholas"). The reports confirm that he was the Glasgow subdean but the date of the inspection can be fixed no more precisely than some time between 1286 and 1295. [5]

In 1295 he is found at the papal court acting as the commensalis ("table companion") and chaplain of Cardinal Hugh Aycelin (Hugh Seguin), the Dominican Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia. Hugh was probably making use of Dundee's training as a lawyer. [2] At this time Thomas is said to be Dean of Brechin Cathedral. The last known dean, William, is attested in 1269, and another dean was in possession by 24 May 1275, but the name of this dean is not known. This person is probably not Thomas as it is unlikely that he was Dean of Brechin and Subdean of Glasgow at the same time. [6]

Election and appointment as Bishop of Ross

The ruins of Fortrose Cathedral on the Black Isle, the "seat" ( cathedra ) of the diocese of Ross FortroseCathedral.PNG
The ruins of Fortrose Cathedral on the Black Isle, the "seat" ( cathedra ) of the diocese of Ross

It is possible that Thomas was still at the papal court when the cathedral chapter of the diocese of Ross were carrying out their elections for the successor of Robert de Fyvie. Two separate elections took place in the period between 17 November 1292 and 18 November 1295, and it appears that the chapter elected both the cathedral precentor, Adam de Darlington, as well as Thomas de Dundee, who then held a canonry in the diocese. [7]

Both Adam de Darlington and Thomas de Dundee resigned their rights to this episcopal see, but nevertheless Cardinal Hugh Aycelin used his influence to secure Thomas papal provision as bishop on 18 November. [8] In the following year Adam de Darlington was compensated by being appointed Bishop of Caithness, the bishopric which adjoined Ross to the north. [9]

Perhaps because of the political troubles in Scotland at the time, there is a two-year gap between Thomas receiving provision to the see and gaining its "temporalities", i.e. gaining actual possession of the office. Scotland's king, John de Balliol, had been in a conflict of authority with the King of the English, who deposed King John in 1296. It was not until 31 July 1297 that the temporalities of the see were released to Thomas by King Edward I of England, probably after a meeting between Thomas and King Edward at London. [2] According to one source King Edward had been told by Pope Boniface VIII to install Thomas as bishop, Edward proceeded to judge the matter for himself. After doing so, and having received Thomas' oath of fealty, King Edward ordered John de Warrene, the Earl of Surrey, to install Thomas into his episcopal temporalities. [10]


A bust of William II, Earl of Ross, made for display in the Tain Museum in Tain Ross-shire UilleamII.JPG
A bust of William II, Earl of Ross, made for display in the Tain Museum in Tain Ross-shire

Thomas had taken up his diocese in Scotland by 17 August 1298. [2] On this date his seal was attached to a document which recorded the losses suffered by Scone Abbey following the Scottish rebel defeat by the English crown at the Battle of Falkirk. [11] In the first few years of the 14th century Thomas witnessed three charters of Coupar Angus Abbey in the company of Robert Wishart, Bishop of Glasgow, a known opponent of the English crown. [12]

He witnessed another charter relating to that abbey, between 1300 and 1302, by John de Soules, who issued it as Guardian of Scotland acting in King John Balliol's name. [12] After the resurgence of English power in Scotland in 1304 Thomas can be found co-operating with King Edward's officials. [12] In the autumn of 1305 King Edward planned a council of advisors to assist his new governor, John of Brittany, and Bishop Thomas was thought trustworthy enough to be included in this council. [12]

It appears that Bishop Thomas remained pro-English and pro-Balliol after the rising in 1306 of Robert de Brus, Earl of Carrick. Bruce had himself crowned king on 25 March (becoming King Robert I of Scotland). Bishop Thomas' positions mirrored those of William II, Earl of Ross. [12] On 7 December 1307 King Edward II of England was seeking Bishop Thomas' support against King Robert. [12]

However, the realities of de Brus power in this part of Scotland were pushed home in the following year. On 13 December 1307 King Robert secured the submission of Bishop Thomas' temporal protector, Earl William. [12] After this submission Bishop Thomas acted as one of the sureties for Earl William's future loyalty. The other guarantor was David de Moravia, Bishop of Moray). [12]

Record of Bishop Thomas' activity in the following years is scarce. The sources do not name him as an attendee of the St Andrews parliament of 17 March 1309, a parliament at which many of the Scottish clergy declared their support for King Robert. However, very few prelates or churchmen were mentioned individually, so that it is not possible to conclude anything about Bishop Thomas' attendance. [12] He may have attended most or all of the assemblies and parliaments of the following decade, but only for the parliament held at Scone on 3 December 1318 is he specifically recorded as being present. [12]

On 29 October 1312 he attached his seal to a treaty between King Robert and the King of Norway. [12] Thomas was the recipient of a papal mandate issued on 1 June 1317 authorising him to give dispensation for the wrongful marriage between King Robert's brother Edward de Brus and a daughter of Earl William of Ross. [12] He is found on 1 November 1321 arranging to pay a loan which had been granted by Coupar Angus Abbey to Radulf de Dundee, a loan that had been granted all the way back in 1312. [12]

His probable last occurrence in the sources concerned a conflict with Kinloss Abbey regarding the prebendal parish church of Avoch. The parish of Avoch lay within Thomas' diocese, but the Abbot of Kinloss claimed the primary right to possess it. A papal mandate was issued on 5 January 1325 to William de Lindores, the Chancellor of Ross, commanding him to judge the dispute. [12] Bishop Thomas was almost certainly alive on that date, but he was dead by 17 April, when Roger, canon of Abernethy, received papal provision to the bishopric of Ross, said to be vacant by Thomas' death. [13]


  1. Also written de Donodei, de Dono Dei or de Donde
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Watt, Dictionary, p. 164.
  3. Watt, Dictionary, pp. 162, 163, 164.
  4. Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 167.
  5. Watt, Dictionary, p. 164; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 167; Watt's Dictionary is able to be more specific than his Fasti Ecclesiae.
  6. Dowden, Bishops, p. 214; Watt, Dictionary, p. 164; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 42.
  7. Dowden, Bishops, p. 214; Watt, Dictionary, p. 164; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 267.
  8. Dowden, Bishops, p. 214; Watt, Dictionary, p. 164.
  9. Dowden, Bishops, p. 239; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 59.
  10. Dowden, Bishops, p. 214.
  11. Watt, Dictionary, pp. 164-6.
  12. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Watt, Dictionary, p. 165.
  13. Watt, Dictionary, p. 165; Watt, Fasti Ecclesiae, p. 42.

Related Research Articles

Donald Campbell was a 16th-century Scottish noble and churchman. He was the son of Archibald Campbell, 2nd Earl of Argyll and Elizabeth Stewart, daughter of John Stewart, 1st Earl of Lennox. From 1522, he was a student of St Salvator's College, at the University of St Andrews. After graduation, he became a cleric in his home diocese, the diocese of Argyll.

Alan de St Edmund was a 13th-century English cleric and administrator of the Roman Catholic Church. His name suggests a connection with Bury St. Edmunds Abbey in Suffolk, but there is no direct evidence. He was the chaplain of Hugh of Evesham, another Englishman, from the diocese of Worcester, who in 1282 was made Presbyter-Cardinal of St Laurence in Lucina by Pope Martin IV. After Hervey de Dundee, bishop-elect of Caithness, died while seeking confirmation at the Roman curia, the pope chose Alan - still in Rome - for the bishopric. Alan was provided by Pope Martin on 13 April 1282.

John de Winchester Bishop of Moray

John de Winchester was a 15th-century English cleric who distinguished himself as an administrator and bishop in Scotland. Winchester was a student of canon law from 1418, graduating with a bachelorate in 1421.

Archibald (bishop of Moray) Prelate

Archibald was a 13th-century Scottish prelate best known for involvement in a dispute with the Pope.

Andrew Stewart (bishop of Moray) Bishop of Moray

Andrew Stewart was a 15th-century Scottish prelate and administrator.

Thomas de Kirkcudbright, also known as Thomas de Dalton [de Daltoun], was a medieval prelate from the Kingdom of Scotland. He was apparently a nutritus, or foster son, of Robert V de Brus, Lord of Annandale, and seems to have been closely linked in some way to Adam de Kirkcudbright, the man who held the church of Dalton in Annandale. He was likely a native Galwegian or perhaps a native of Annandale.

Ingram de Ketenis [de Kethenys] was a medieval cleric from Angus in Scotland.

Thomas de Buittle [Butil, Butill, Butyll, Butyl, Bucyl] 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.

Henry Cockburn was a 15th-century Scottish prelate. Between 1461 and 1476, he was the Bishop of Ross.

Thomas Tulloch [de Tulloch] was a prelate active in the Kingdom of Scotland in the 15th century. A letter of Pope Martin V in 1429 claimed that he was "of a great noble race by both parents". Robert Keith believed that he had the surname "Urquhart", but that is not supported by the contemporary evidence and is probably spurious.

Robert de Fyvie [also de Fyvin] was a prelate based in the Kingdom of Scotland in the last quarter of the 13th century. Perhaps coming from Fyvie in Formartine, from a family of Teesdale origin, Robert was Archdeacon of Ross and a student at the University of Bologna by 1269. In 1275, he was not only a graduate but the new Bishop of Ross, a post he held until his death in the first half of the 1290s.

Adam de Darlington [Derlingtun] was a 13th-century English churchman based in the Kingdom of Scotland. Adam's name occurred for the first time in a Moray document datable between 1255 and 1271, where he was named as the Precentor of Fortrose Cathedral. He seems to have been introduced into the diocese of Ross, along with others from the north-east of England, by Bishop Robert de Fyvie, who may have been descended from the area.

Roger was a churchman based in the 14th century Kingdom of Scotland, and active as Bishop of Ross from 1325 until 1350. Before attaining this position, Roger was a canon of Abernethy; it is possible that Roger was an Augustinian, because it is often thought that Abernethy did not become a collegiate church until some time after 1328, after the marriage of the Abernethy heiress to the Earl of Angus; this however is not certain, as the exact details of Abernethy's transition from being an Céli Dé abbey to an Augustinian priory to a secular college are only vaguely understood.

Alexander Stewart was a 14th-century Scottish bishop. Probably from Menteith, he appears in the sources from the first half of the 1340s, possessing a university degree and holding the position of Archdeacon of Ross. He was active at the papal curia in the second half of the decade as a papal chaplain and administrator, before being provided as Bishop of Ross in 1350, a position he held until his death in 1371.

Alexander de Waghorn, Bishop of Ross, bears a surname that may suggest an origin in the Glasgow area of southern Scotland, though there are other possibilities.

Thomas Lyell [or Lyel] was a Scottish clergyman associated with the diocese of Ross in the late 14th century and early 15th century. After William de Tarbat, Subdean of Ross, was elected Dean of Ross, on 1 May 1395, Thomas was provided as William's successor. Thomas however does not seem to have secured the position, losing out to John de Kylwos, a relative of the Bishop of Ross, Alexander de Kylwos.

Alexander de Kylwos – written alternatively as Frylquhous, Kylquos, and a variety of other forms – was a Scottish churchman and prelate active in the second half of the 14th century. He is known to have held senior positions in three bishoprics, and senior offices in two, before being elected and appointed Bishop of Ross in 1371. Though his episcopate is relatively obscure, he seems to have spent almost all of it inside or around his province, was closely associated with William III and Euphemia I, successive rulers of Ross, and was an associate of the famous Alexander Bur, Bishop of Moray, during the latter's struggle with Alexander Stewart, the son of the King later known by the nickname "Wolf of Badenoch".

Albin of Brechin Prelate

Albin was a 13th-century prelate of the Kingdom of Scotland. A university graduate, Albin is known for his ecclesiastical career in the diocese of Brechin, centred on Angus in east-central Scotland.

Laurence de Ergadia was a thirteenth-century Scottish bishop. Probably from the MacDougall kindred of Argyll, Laurence had become a Dominican friar and presumably university graduate before being elected Bishop of Argyll, an election which took place sometime between 1262 and 1264. Although the election was quashed by the Pope in 1264, the Pope gave him a fresh provision to the bishopric. Laurence appears intermittently in the records during his three and a half decade episcopate, but his activities in his own diocese are badly recorded. He died as Bishop of Argyll sometime in either 1299 or 1300.

Nicholas de Balmyle Roman Catholic bishop

Nicholas de Balmyle, also called Nicholas of St Andrews, was a Scottish administrator and prelate in the late 13th century and early 14th century. A graduate of an unknown university, he served his earliest years as a clergyman at St Andrews, moving on to hold churches in Lothian as well as deputising to two archdeacons of Lothian.


Religious titles
Preceded by
Last known dean:
William (de Crachin?)
Dean of Brechin
× 12951295
Succeeded by
Imbert Aurei
Preceded by
Robert de Fyvie /
Adam de Darlington
Bishop of Ross
1293 × 12951325
Succeeded by