William James (bishop)

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William James

Bishop of Durham
Bp William James.jpg
Diocese Diocese of Durham
In officeSeptember 1606 (conf.) – 1617 (died)
Predecessor Tobias Matthew
Successor Richard Neile
Other post(s) Master of University College, Oxford (1572–1584)
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University (1581–1582 & 1590–1592)
Dean of Christ Church (2 September 1584–1596)
Dean of Durham (5 June 1596 {installed} – 1606)
Personal details
Sandbach, Cheshire, England
Died(1617-05-12)12 May 1617 (aged 74–75)
Durham, County Durham, England
Buried Durham Cathedral
Nationality English
Denomination Anglican
ParentsJohn James & Ellen Bolte
Spouse1. Katherine (née Risby)
2. unknown person
3. Isabel (Atkinson née Rilley)
Childrenat least 2 (a son, Francis, and a daughter who married a Ferdinand Morecroft)
Profession academic
Alma mater Christ Church, Oxford
Ordination history of
William James
Episcopal consecration

William James (1542 – 12 May 1617) was an English academic and bishop.


William James graduated with an MA degree at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1565. [1] He was Master of University College, Oxford, in 1572, and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1581, and again in 1590. He became Dean of Christ Church in 1584. [2]

James became Dean of Durham in 1596, where he was a witness to the decay of agriculture in northeast England. [3] [4] He was Bishop of Durham from 1606. [2]

In early 1611, James had custody of Arbella Stuart, with the intention of the King to take her north to Durham. In the event, Arbella was moved from Lambeth to be confined at Barnet, while the bishop travelled north leaving Sir James Croft in charge, and for health reasons did not follow, being moved to East Barnet. [5] When Arbella and her husband William Seymour, 2nd Duke of Somerset, (who was in the Tower of London) made simultaneous but badly coordinated escapes on 3 June 1611, she simply walked free. [6]

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  1. Alumni Oxonienses 1500-1714, Jablonski-Juxston
  2. 1 2 Tillbrook, Michael (September 2004). "James, William (1542–1617)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14623.(Subscription or UK public library membership required.) Online edition, January 2008.
  3. "Deans of Durham". Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1541–1857. British History Online. Vol. 11, Carlisle, Chester, Durham, Manchester, Ripon, and Sodor and Man Dioceses. London: Institute of Historical Research. 2004. pp. 77–81. Retrieved 21 September 2015.
  4. Richard L. Graves, Society and Religion in Elizabethan England (1981), page 638.
  5. Sarah Gristwood, Arbella: England's Lost Queen (2003), pp. 359–368.
  6. Gristwood, pp. 370–371.
Academic offices
Preceded by Master of University College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Preceded by Dean of Christ Church, Oxford
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
Succeeded by
Preceded by Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
Succeeded by
Nicholas Bond
Church of England titles
Preceded by Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by