Thomas le Reve

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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.

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

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.



Little is known of his early life, but a reference to his "great age" when he died 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.

A prebendary is a member of the Anglican or Roman Catholic clergy, a form of canon with a role in the administration of a cathedral or collegiate church. When attending services, prebendaries sit in particular seats, usually at the back of the choir stalls, known as prebendal stalls.

Killaloe, County Clare Town in Munster, Ireland

Killaloe is a large village in east County Clare, Ireland. The village lies on the River Shannon on the western bank of Lough Derg and is connected by Killaloe Bridge to the "twin town" of Ballina on the eastern bank of the lake. The surrounding area is popular for hill-walking.

Lismore, County Waterford Town in Munster, Ireland

Lismore is a historic town in County Waterford, in the province of Munster, Ireland.


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 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 take place 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.

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

Pope Urban V pope

Pope Urban V, born Guillaume de Grimoard, was Pope from 28 September 1362 until his death in 1370 and was also a member of the Order of Saint Benedict. He was the sixth Avignon Pope, and the only Avignon pope to be beatified.

Temporalities or temporal goods are the secular properties and possessions of the church. The term is most often used to describe those properties that were used to support a bishop or other religious person or establishment. Its opposite are spiritualities.

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]

Avignon Prefecture and commune in Provence-Alpes-Côte dAzur, France

Avignon is a commune in south-eastern France in the department of Vaucluse on the left bank of the Rhône river. Of the 90,194 inhabitants of the city, about 12,000 live in the ancient town centre enclosed by its medieval ramparts.

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.

The Great Seal of Ireland was the seal used until 1922 by the Dublin Castle administration to authenticate important state documents in Ireland, in the same manner as the Great Seal of the Realm in England. The Great Seal of Ireland was used in the Lordship of Ireland (1180s–1534) and the Kingdom of Ireland (1534–1800), and remained in use when the island was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (1801–1922), just as the Great Seal of Scotland remained in use after the Act of Union 1707.

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.

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.

Parliament of Ireland Former parliament of Ireland

The Parliament of Ireland was the legislature of the Lordship of Ireland, and later the Kingdom of Ireland, from 1297 until 1800. It was modelled on the Parliament of England and from 1537 comprised two chambers: the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Lords were members of the Irish peerage and bishops. The Commons was directly elected, albeit on a very restricted franchise. Parliaments met at various places in Leinster and Munster, but latterly always in Dublin: in Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin Castle, Chichester House (1661–1727), the Blue Coat School (1729–31), and finally a purpose-built Parliament House on College Green.

Kilkenny City in Leinster, Ireland

Kilkenny is the county town of County Kilkenny in the province of Leinster in south-east Ireland. It is built on both banks of the River Nore. The city is administered as a municipal district within Kilkenny County Council, although the Local Government Reform Act 2014 allowed for "the continued use of the description city". The 2016 census gave the total population of Kilkenny as 26,512.

Statutes of Kilkenny Language laws in medieval Ireland

The Statutes of Kilkenny were a series of thirty-five acts passed at Kilkenny in 1366, aiming to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland.

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.

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  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