Hatfield, Thomas

, bishop of Durham. Of this great prelate we meet with few accounts previous to his promotion to the see of Durham, except his being a prebendary of Lincoln and York, and secretary to Edward III. by whom he appears to have been much esteemed. Before this time the popes had for many years taken upon them the authority of bestowing all the bishoprics in | England, without even consulting the king: this greatly offended the nobility and parliament, who enacted several statutes against it, and restored to the churches and convents their ancient privilege of election. Richard de Bury, bishop of Durham, dying April 24, 1345, king Edward was very desirous of obtaining this see for his secretary Hatfield; but, fearing the convent should not elect, and the pope disapprove him, he applied to his holiness to bestow the bishopric upon him, and thereby gave him an opportunity of resuming his former usurpations. Glad of this, and of obliging the king, and showing his power at the same time, the pope immediately accepted him; objections, however, were made against him by some of the cardinals, as a man of light behaviour, and no way fit for the place; to this the pope answered, that if the king of England had requested him for an ass, he would not at that time have denied him: he was therefore elected the 8th of May, and consecrated bishop of Durham, 10th of July, 1345.

What his former behaviour, on which the cardinals grounded their objections, may have been, is uncertain; but it is scarce to be imagined, that a king of Edward’s judgment and constant inclination to promote merit, would have raised him to such a dignity had he been so undeserving; nor would he have employed him in so many affairs of consequence as he appears to have done had he not been capable of executing them. In 1346, David king of Scotland, at the head of 50,000 men, invaded England, and after plundering and destroying the country wherever he came, encamped his army in Bear-park, near Stanhope, 141 the county of Durham, from which he detached parties to ravage the neighbouring country; to repel these invaders, a great number of the northern noblemen armed all their vassals, and came to join the king, who was then at Durham; from thence they marched against the Scots in four separate bodies, the first of which was commanded by lord Percy and bishop Hatfield, who on this occasion assumed the warrior, as well as several other prelates. The Scots were defeated, and their king taken prisoner. In 13 54 the bishop of Durham and lords Percy and Ralph Nevill were appointed commissioners to treat with the Scots for the ransom of their captive monarch. In 1355, when king Edward went into France at the head of a large army, he was attended by our prelate; to whom, however, | It is more important to mention, that Trinity college, in Oxford, owed its foundation; it was at first called Durham college, and was originally intended for such monks of Durham as should chuse to study there, more particulars of which may be seen in Warton’s Anglia Sacra. Wood, in his Annals, relates the matter somewhat differently. At the dissolution it was granted, in 1552, to Dr. Owen, who sold it to sir Thomas Pope, by whom it was refounded^ endowed, and called Trinity college. Before Hatfield’s time, the bishops of Durham had no house in London to repair to when summoned to parliament; to remedy this, this munificent prelate built a most elegant palace in the Strand, and called it Durham-house (lately Durham-yard), and by his will bequeathed it for ever to his successors in the bishopric. This palace continued in possession of the bishops till the reformation, when it was, in the fifth of Edward VI. demised to the princess Elizabeth. In the fourth of Mary it was again granted to bishop Tunstall and his successors, and afterwards let out on a building lease, with the reservation of 200l. a year out-rent, which the bishop now receives. On this pfat of ground the Adelphi buildings are erected.

Bishop Hatfield was the principal benefactor, if not the founder, of the Friary at Northallerton, in Yorkshire, for Carmelites or white friars. The records of his time give large accounts of his charities to the poor, his great hospitality and good housekeeping^ and of the sums he expended in buildings and repairs during the time he held the bishopric. After a life spent in an uniform practice of munificence and charity, he died at his manor of Alfond, or Alford, near London, May 7, 1381, and by his will directed his body to be buried in his own cathedral. ' It is there entombed in the south aile under a monument of alabaster, prepared by himself in his life-time, which is now remaining very perfect, though without any inscription. 1

1 Godwin. Antiq. Repertory. Hutchinson’s Hist, of Durham, vol. L