Thomas le Reve

Last updated

Thomas le Reve (died 1394) was the first Bishop of Waterford and Lismore following the unification of the two sees in 1363, and was also Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was a strong minded and combative individual, who was not afraid to clash with his superiors.



Little is known of his early life, but a reference to his "great age" at death suggests that he was born in the early years of the fourteenth century. His name is believed to be an early form of Reeves, which later became common in Ireland. He was prebendary of Killaloe and then of Lismore.


He became Bishop of Lismore in 1358. In 1363 Pope Urban V united the sees of Lismore and Waterford with le Reve as the first bishop of the united see. [1] The union had been decreed as early as 1327 by Pope John XXII; it was to take effect on the death of whichever bishop passed first, but for reasons which are unclear it did not happen on the death of John Leynagh, le Reve's predecessor as Bishop of Lismore in 1354. It may well be that le Reve used his influence to ensure that he, not Roger Cradock, Bishop of Waterford, who should have succeeded to the united see on Leynagh's death, would be the first bishop. Although King Edward III ordered that the temporalities of the diocese be delivered to Cradock, this was not done; and four years later, when Cradock was translated to the see of Landaff, le Reve was confirmed as joint bishop without a formal election.

He spent part of 1363 at the Papal Court in Avignon, where he sought a number of benefits for himself and the clergy of his dioceses, but few of them were granted. [2]

Lord Chancellor

He was briefly Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1367–8. Few records of his tenure in the office survive, but he was accused of improper conduct in using the Great Seal of Ireland to retrospectively appoint his own candidates to certain offices, and this may have been the reason for his removal from office. [3] A brief power struggle developed between Le Reve's friends at Court and those of his rival for the office, Thomas de Burley, Prior of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, who had the advantage of long experience in the office, having already been Lord Chancellor in 1359–64. Burley emerged as the victor in the struggle.

Le Reve attended the Irish Parliament held at Kilkenny in 1367, which passed the celebrated Statutes of Kilkenny, an attempt to enforce a rigid legal and cultural separation between the Old Irish and the Anglo-Irish. Le Reve gave his full support to the Statutes. [4] He was also present at the Parliament of 1371, where he quarreled with both the Lord Treasurer of Ireland, Stephen de Valle (or Wall), Bishop of Limerick , and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, William de Windsor. Relations with Windsor remained bad throughout the latter's tenure in office; it has been suggested that Windsor took his revenge in the Parliament of 1375, where Le Reve was assigned the notoriously unpopular task of collecting taxes.

He remained a member of the Privy Council of Ireland and, despite his advancing age, he attended its meetings occasionally.

Quarrel with Archbishop of Cashel

Perhaps our best insight into le Reve's character comes from the glimpse we get of him in the written account of visitation of Philip de Torrington, Archbishop of Cashel in 1374. Le Reve emerges from this account as a formidable and quarrelsome individual, as indeed was Torrington. We have only Torrington's side of the story, which may not be entirely objective; [5] but that le Reve could be quarrelsome is clear from his clashes with Windsor and Bishop de Valle.

According to Torrington, le Reve resisted the visitation by armed force, and, although already an old man by medieval standards, he physically assaulted the Archbishop. He then looked on with approval as the Archdeacon of Cashel, who has accompanied Torrington, was attacked and seriously wounded by armed men in le Reve's retinue. [6]

Surprisingly little seems to have come of the episode. Torrington excommunicated le Reve, but this seemingly drastic step had no obvious effect on le Reve's career. In 1377 while in England Torrington attempted to persuade the Crown to take action against the bishop, but again nothing seems to have come of it, [7] and when Torrington died in 1380 le Reve was still in possession of his see.


He died at an advanced age in September 1394.

Related Research Articles

William of Wykeham 14th-century Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England

William of Wykeham was Bishop of Winchester and Chancellor of England. He founded New College, Oxford, and New College School in 1379, and founded Winchester College in 1382. He was also the clerk of works when much of Windsor Castle was built.

The office of 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.

His Grace or Her Grace is an English style used for various high-ranking personages. It was the style used to address Kings of England until Henry VIII and the King or Queen of Scots up to the Act of Union of 1707, which united the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England. Today, the style is used when referring to archbishops and non-royal dukes and duchesses in the United Kingdom.

Dean of St Patricks Cathedral, Dublin

The Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral is the senior cleric of St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, elected by the chapter of the cathedral. The office was created in 1219 or 1220, by one of several charters granted to the cathedral by Archbishop Henry de Loundres between 1218 and 1220.

Maolmhuire Mag Raith Irish archbishop

The Most Rev. Dr Maolmhuire Mag Raith, was an Irish priest and archbishop born in County Fermanagh, Ireland. He came from a family of hereditary historians to the O'Brien clan. He entered the Franciscan Order and was ordained to the Roman Catholic priesthood. The Vatican later appointed him the Bishop of Down and Connor in Ireland, but he converted to the Anglican Church of England and became the Protestant Archbishop of Cashel. Mag Raith is viewed with contempt by both Protestant and Catholic historians, owing to his ambiguous and corrupt activities during the Reformation. He also served as a member of the Parliament of Ireland.

Cellach of Armagh or Celsus or Celestinus (1080–1129) was Archbishop of Armagh and an important contributor to the reform of the Irish church in the twelfth century. He is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church as Saint Cellach. Though a member of the laicized ecclesiastical dynasty of Clann Sínaig, he took holy vows and gained priestly ordination. This put an end to the anomalous state of affairs, in effect since 966, whereby the supreme head of the Irish Church had been a layman. Following the Synod of Ráith Bressail, in which a diocesan structure for Ireland was established, he became the first metropolitan primate of all Ireland.

The Synod of Kells took place in 1152, under the presidency of Giovanni Cardinal Paparoni, and continued the process begun at the Synod of Ráth Breasail (1111) of reforming the Irish church. The sessions were divided between the abbeys of Kells and Mellifont, and in later times the synod has been called the Synod of Kells-Mellifont and the Synod of Mellifont-Kells.

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly archdiocese

The Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly is a Roman Catholic archdiocese in mid-western Ireland. The archdiocese is led by the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, who serves as pastor of the mother church, the Cathedral of the Assumption and metropolitan of the ecclesiastical province of Cashel and Emly. The Diocese of Cashel was established in 1111 by the Synod of Rathbreasail. The ecclesiastical province, which was roughly co-extensive with the secular province of Munster, was created in 1152 by the Synod of Kells. The cathedral church of the archdiocese is located in Thurles, County Tipperary. The incumbent archbishop is Kieran O'Reilly.

Events from the year 1394 in Ireland.

The Bishop of Waterford was a medieval prelate, governing the Diocese of Waterford from its creation in the 11th century until it was absorbed into the new Roman Catholic Diocese of Waterford and Lismore in the 14th century. After the creation of four archdioceses for Ireland in the middle of the 12th century, Waterford fell under the Archbishop of Cashel.

The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore is an episcopal title which takes its name after the city of Waterford and town of Lismore in Ireland. The title was used by the Church of Ireland until 1838, and is still used by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Bishop of Cashel and Waterford was the Ordinary of the Church of Ireland diocese of Cashel and Waterford; comprising all of County Waterford, the southern part of County Tipperary and a small part of County Limerick, Ireland.

The Bishop of Lismore was a separate episcopal title which took its name after the town of Lismore in County Waterford, Republic of Ireland.

Robert Daly was Church of Ireland Bishop of Cashel and Waterford from 1843 to 1872.

Walter de Fulburn, or de Fulbourn was a leading English-born statesman and cleric in medieval Ireland, who held the offices of Bishop of Waterford, Bishop of Meath and Lord Chancellor of Ireland

The Dean of Waterford in the United Dioceses of Cashel and Ossory in the Church of Ireland is the dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford.

Thomas de Burley was an English-born judge and monk in fourteenth century Ireland. He held office twice as Lord Chancellor of Ireland. He was the Irish Prior of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, whose Dublin house was at Kilmainham, from 1356 till his death. He had a reputation for corruption and vindictiveness towards his opponents.

Jeremiah Kinane (1884–1959) was an Irish prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as the Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, then Coadjutor Archbishop of Cashel & Emly until when he became the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cashel & Emly.

John Brenan was a Roman Catholic prelate who served as Archbishop of Cashel (1677–1693) and Bishop of Waterford and Lismore (1671–1677).

Events from the year 1367 in Ireland.


  1. Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol.1 p. 85
  2. Bliss Calendar of Papal Registers Vol.1 1342-1419 pp. 438–9
  3. Ball p. 85
  4. Gilbert, Sir John History of the Viceroys of Ireland Dublin 1865 pp. 224–7
  5. Logan, F. Donald, ed. (1977). "The Visitation of the Archbishop of Cashel to Waterford and Limerick, 1374-5". Archivium Hibernicum. 34: 50–55. doi:10.2307/25487420.
  6. Logan p. 50
  7. Logan p. 50