Flemming, Richard

, an English prelate, and the founder of Lincoln college, Oxford, descended from an ancient family, was born at Crofton iti Yorkshire, and educated at University college, Oxford, where his extraordinary proficiency in logic and philosophy procured him higher degrees than were then usually conferred. In 1406 he was presented to the prebend of South Newbold, in the church of York, and next year served the office of proctor in the university. The copy of the statutes belonging to the duties of junior proctor, which he caused to be transcribed, is still preserved among the archives. Soon after taking his master’s degree, he professed a zealous attachment to the principles by which Wickliff was endeavouring to oppose the established religion, and argued with so much ability as to make many converts, some of whom were persons of high distinction. By what means he was induced to change His opinion, and display equal or greater zeal against the reformation, is not known. In 1396, when a student in theology, or scholar, we find his name among the other Oxford men who condemned Wicklif 's doctrines, and it is certain, that when he speculated on the foundation of a | college, it was for the express purpose of educating divines who were to exert their talents against the heresy of that reformer.

In 1410, being then rector of Boston in Lincolnshire, he exchanged his prebend of South Newbold for that of Langford in the cathedral church of York, and on April 28, 1420, was promoted to the see of Lincoln. In 1424 he was sent to the council of Sienna, where, in a dispute about precedency, he vindicated the honour and superiority of his country, against the Spanish, French, and Scotch deputies. This council was called to continue the proceedings of that of Constance against the Hussites, and other continental reformers, and our prelate distinguished himself so much as to become a favourite with Pope Martin V. who would have promoted him to be archbishop of York, had not the king as well as the dean and chapter opposed his -election with such firmness as to oblige the pope to yield. Flemming consequently remained in his diocese of Lincoln. In 1428, he executed that decree of the council of Constance which ordered that the bones of Wicklilf should be taken up and burned; the harmless remains of a man whom he once honoured with the warmth of his zeal, and supported with the vigour of his talents.

Whatever disappointment he might feel in not succeeding to the archbishopric of York, it does not appear to have interfered with his generous design of founding a college; but his full intentions were frustrated by his death, which took place at Sleford, Jan. 25, 1430-31. He was interred in Lincoln cathedral, where a tomb was erected with a long epitaph in monkish rhime, some part of which was written by himself. The only information it conveys is, that the pr>pe consecrated him bishop of Lincoln with his own hand. In 1427 he obtained the royal licence to found a college or society of one warden or rector, seven, scholars, and two chaplains, in the church of All Saints in Oxford, which was then under his own patronage as bishop of Lincoln; and to unite, annex, and incorporate that church with the churches of St. Mildred and St. Michael, at the north-gate, which were likewise in his gift, and these churches, so united, were to be named the church of All Saints, and erected into a collegiate church or college. A certain chantry in the chapel of St. Anne, within the said church, was to be annexed, under thje patronage of the mayors of Oxford, provided that daily mass, &c. was duly | performed in the chapel for the souls of the founder and others. There were also to be two chaplains, elected and removeable at the pleasure of the rector, who were to officiate in the said church with the cure of souls. The college was to be called, the College of the Blessed Virgin Mary and All Saints Lincoln, in the university of Oxford. The rector and scholars were also to be perpetual parsons of the said church, and were empowered to purchase lands, rents, and possessions, to the yearly value of ten pounds. This licence was dated Oct. 12, 1427. The founder then employed John Baysham, Nicholas Wynbush, and William Chamherlayn, clerks (who were intended to be of the number of his scholars), to purchase ground for the erection of buildings. The first purchase they made was a tenement called Deep Hall, situated in St. Mildred’s lane, between St. Mildred’s church on the west, and a garden on the east; but the founder’s death interrupting their progress, the society resided in Deep Hall, as it stood, maintained by the revenues of the churches above-mentioned, and the money left by the founder. They had as yet, however, no fixed statutes for their government, and were kept together merely at the discretion of the rectors, whose judicious conduct, joined to the utility of the institution, induced some benefactors to augment their revenues by gifts of lands and money. Among these were, John Forest, dean of Wells, who about 1437 built the chapel, library, hall, and kitchen, John Southam, archdeacon of Oxford, William Findarne,esq. cardinal Beaufort, and John Buketot; and these were followed by one who has been allowed to share the honours of foundership, Thomas Rotheram, bishop of Lincoln, of whom some account will be given, hereafter. 1


Bog. Brit. Chalmers’s Hist. of Oxford. Wood’s Colleges and Halls.