Beckington, Thomas

, an English prelate, was born in the parish of Beckington, in Somersetshire, or according to Dr. Chandler at Wallinoford in Berkshire, towards the close of the fourteenth century. He was educated in grammar learning at Wyk chain’s school near Winchester, while that great prelate was living, and proceeded to his college (New College) in Oxford in 1403, the year before Wykeham died, and there became doctor of laws, and continued in his fellowship about twelve years. Within this period, most probably, he was presented to the rectory of St. Leonard’s, near Hastings in Sussex, and to the vicarage of Sutton Courtney in Berkshire. He was also prebendary of Bedwin, York, and Lichfield, archdeacon of Buckingham, and master of St. Catherine’s hospital near the Tower in London. About 1429, he was dean of the court of arches, and a synod being then held in St. Paul’s church, London, which continued above six months, Beckington was one of three appointed to draw up a form of law, according to which the Wickliffites were to be proceeded against. Having been once tutor to Henry VI. and written a book, in which, in opposition to the Salique law, he strenuously asserted the right of the kings of England to the crown of France, he arrived to high favour with that prince, and was made secretary of state, keeper of the privy seal, and bishop of Bath and Wells. On Sunday, Oct. 13, 1443, he was consecrated by the bishop of Lincoln in the old collegiate church of St. Mary of Eton; and after the ceremony, celebrated his first mass in his pontificals in the new church of St. Mary? then erecting, and not half finished, under a pavilion provided for the purpose at the altar, directly over the spot where king Henry had laid the first stone.

Bishop Beckington was well skilled in polite learning and | history, and very conversant in the holy Scriptures; a goo-d preacher, and so generous a patron and favourer of all learned and ingenious men, that he was called the Mxcenas of his age. His works of munificence and charity were numerous. He contributed to the completion of Lincolncollege, which had been left imperfect by its founder, Richard Flemming, bishop of Lincoln, and got the manor of Newton-Longueviile settled upon New college, Oxford, in 1440. He also laid out six thousand marks upon the houses belonging to his see; built an edifice, called New-buildings, and the west side of the cloisters at Wells; and erected a conduit in the market-place of that city. By his will, dated Nov. 3, 1464, and procured to be confirmed under the great seal, he left several charitable legacies. He died at Wells, Jan. 14, 1464-5, and was buried in his cathedral, where his monument is still to be seen. His panegyric was written by Thomas Chandler, warden of New college, who had been preferred by him to the chancellorship of Wells. He does not appear to have ever been chancellor of the university of Oxford. His book on the right of the kings of England to the crown of France is in the Cottonian library, with some other of his pieces, and a large collection of his letters is in the Lambeth library. 1


Biog. Brit. Chandler’s Life of Wayntete. Chalmers’s Hist, of Oxford.