Warham, William

, an eminent English prelate, archbishop of Canterbury, and lord high chancellor, the son of Robert Warham, was born of a genteel family at Okely, in Hampshire. He was educated at Winchester school, whence he was admitted a fellow of New college, Oxford, in 1475. There he took the degree of doctor of laws, and, according to Wood, left the college in 1488. In the same year he appears to have been collated to a rectorship by the bishop of Ely, and soon afterwards became an advocate in the court of arches, and principal or moderator of the | civil law school in St. Edward’s parish, Oxford. In 1493 he was sent by Henry VII. with sir Edward Poynings, on an embassy to Philip duke of Burgundy, to persuade him to deliver up Perkin Warbeck, who had assumed the title of Richard duke of York, second son of king Edward IV. representing that he had escaped the cruelty of his uncle king Richard III. and was supported in this imposture by Margaret, duchess dowager of Burgundy, sister of Edward IV. as she had before given encouragement to Lambert Simuel, the pretended earl of Warwick, out of the implacable hatred which she had conceived against Henry VII. Upon this remonstrance the ambassadors were assured by the duke’s council (himself being then in his minority) that “the archduke, for the love of king Henry, would in no sort aid or assist the pretended duke, but in all things preserve the amity he had with the king; but for the duchess dowager, she was absolute in the lands of her dowry, and that he could not hinder her from disposing of her own.” This answer, being founded on an assertion not true, namely, that the duchess dowager was absolute in the lands of her dowry, produced a very sharp reply from the English ambassadors; and when they returned home Henry VII. was by no means pleased with their success. They, however, told him plainly that the duchess dowager had a great party in the archduke’s council, and that the archduke did covertly support Perkin. The king for some time resented this, but the matter appears to have been accommodated in a treaty of commerce concluded in February 1496, by certain commissioners, one of whom, on the part of England, was Dr. Warham.

Warham now, according to lord Bacon, began much to gain upon the king’s opinion, and having executed his office of master of the rolls, as well as his other employments, with great ability, and with much reputation, he was in 1502 made keeper of the great seal of England, and on the first of January following lord high chancellor. In the beginning of 1503 he was advanced to the see of London. In the preceding year the king’s eldest son Arthur prince of Wales was married to Catherine of Arragon, but died soon after, and Henry’s avarice rendering him unwilling to restore Catherine’s dowry, which was 200,000 ducats, he proposed that she should marry his younger son Henry, now prince of Wales. But there being great reason to believe that the marriage between | prince Arthur and Catherine had been really consummated, Warham remonstrated, in very strong terms, against this preposterous measure, and told the king, that he thought it was neither honourable, nor well-pleasing to God. In this, however, he was opposed by Fox bishop of Winchester, who insisted that the pope’s dispensation could remove all impediments, either sacred or civil. This marriage, it is well-known, afterwards took place, and was the cause of some of the most important events in English history.

In March 1503-4, bishop Warham was translated to the see of Canterbury, in which he was installed with great solemnity, Edward duke of Buckingham officiating as his steward on that occasion. He was likewise, on May 28, 1506, unanimously elected chancellor of the university of Oxford, being then, and ever after, a great friend and benefactor to that university, and to learning in general. In 1509, Henry VII. died, and was succeeded by his son Henry VIII. from whose promising abilities great expectations were formed. Archbishop Warham’s high rank in the church, and the important office he held in the state, as lord chancellor, naturally caused him to preside at the council-board of the young king, and his rank and talents certainly gave him great authority there. One of the first matters of importance, in the new reign, was the marriage of the king, which, from his tender age, and his aversion to it r had not yet taken place, and it was now necessary that his majesty should decide to break it off, or conclude it. Warham still continued to oppose it, and Fox, as before, contended for it; and it, accordingly, was performed June 3, 1509; and on the 24th of the same month, the king and queen were crowned at Westminster by archbishop W r arham. In the years 1511 and 1512, we find our prelate zealously persecuting those who were termed heretics; and although the inttances of his interference with the opinions of the reformation are neither many, nor bear the atrocious features of a Bonner or a Gardiner, they form no small blemish in his character.

Warham continued to hold his place of chancellor for the first seven years of Henry VIII. but became weary of it when Wolsey had gained such an ascendancy over the king, as to be intrusted with almost the sole administration of public affairs. Warham, says Burnet, always hated cardinal Wolsey, and weuld never stoop to him, esteeming | it below the dignity of his see. Erasmus relates of Warham, that it was his custom to wear plain apparel, and that once when Henry VIII. and Charles V. had an interview, and Wolsey took upon him to publish an order, that the clergy should appear splendidly dressed, in silk or damask, Warham alone, despising the cardinal’s commands, came in his usual cloath-s. One misunderstanding between Warham and Wolsey was about the latter’s having the cross carried before him in the province of Canterbury. Warham as primate of all England, had taken umbrage that Wolsey, who was only archbishop of York, should cause the cross to be carried before him in the presence of Warham, and even in the province of Canterbury, contrary to the ancient custom; which was, that the cross of the see of York should not be advanced in the same province, or ia the same place, with the cross of Canterbury, in acknowledgment of the superiority of the latter see. When Warham expostulated with Wolsey on this subject, he appears to have convinced him of the impropriety of his conduct; but rather than desist from it, and lose a dignity he had once assumed, Wolsey contrived how he might, for the future, have a right to it, wkhout incurring any imputation of acting contrary to rule. And though his being a cardinal did not give him the contested right, he knew that he might assume it with a better grace, if he was invested with the legantine character; and therefore he solicited and obtained it, being made the pope’s legate a latere in November 1515. On this, in the following month, the archbishop Warham resigned the seals, and Wolsey was made lord chancellor in his room. There were subsequently many contests between these two great statesmen, in which Warham generally maintained the dignity and independence of his character with great firmness; but Wolsey, as long ag he remained the king’s favourite, was the more powerful antagonist. Still, notwithstanding his superiority, Warham sometimes was enabled to convince him that he stretched his power too far. Of this we have a remarkable instance. Warham had summoned a convocation of the prelates and clergy of his province to meet at St. Paul’s April 20, 1523, and the cardinal had summoned a convocation of his province of York to meet at Westminster at the same time. But as soon as the convocation of Canterbury met, and were about to proceed to business, the cardinal summoned them to attend him April 22, in a | legantine council at Westminster. This extraordinary step gave great offence to the prelates and clergy of the province of Canterbury. They indeed obeyed the summons, ljut when they came to treat of business, the proctors for the clergy observed, that their commissions gave them no authority to treat or vote but in convocation. This objection proved unanswerable, and the cardinal, to his great mortification, was obliged to dismiss his legantine council. When, in 1529, Wolsey was deprived of all his honours, the great seal was again offered to Warham, but being now far advanced in years, and displeased with the general proceedings of the court, he declined the offer. In his last year, 1532, he exhibited two instances of weakness, the one in being, with many others however, imposed upon by the pretended visions of Elizabeth Barton, commonly called the Maid of Kent; the other, in a kind of protest, which he left in the hands of a notary, against all the laws that had been made, or that should thereafter be made, by the present parliament, in derogation of the authority of the pope, or the right and immunities of the church. The design of this private protest against those laws to which he had given his consent in public, is not very obvious. Burnet would suggest, that it was a piece of superstitious penance imposed on him by his confessor, in which case it must be accounted an instance of extreme weakness.

The archbishop sat in the see of Canterbury twentyeight years, and died at St. Stephen’s near that city, in the house of William Warham, his kinsman, and archdeacon of Canterbury, in 1532. He was interred, without any pomp, in his cathedral, in a little chapel built by himself for the place of his burial, on the north of Becket’s tomb, where a monument was erected for him, which was defaced in the civil wars. He laid out to the value of 300Q/. in repairing and beautifying the houses belonging to his see. It appears, from a letter of Erasmus to sir Thomas More, that though he had passed through the highest posts in church and state, he had so little regarded his own private advantage, that he left no more than was sufficient to pay his debts and funeral charges. And it is said, that, when he was near his death, he called upon his steward to know what nioney he had in his hands; who telling him “that he had hut thirty pounds,” he cheerfully answered, Satis maticiin cwlum, i.e. “That was enough to last till he got to Heaven.” ’ He left his theological books to the library | of All-Souls college, his civil and canon law books to New college, and all his books of church music to Winchester college.

He was the warm friend and generous patron of Erasmus, to whom, besides many letters, he sent his portrait, which Dr. Knight suppose* to have been a copy of that at Lambeth by Holbein; Erasmus, in return, sent him his own. He also dedicated his edition of St. Jerome to the archbishop, and in other parts of his works, bestows the highest encomiums on him. He calls him his only M*aeeenas, and says that his generosity and liberality extended not to bim only, but to all men of letters. Erasmus gives us a very pleasing account of Warham’s private life. “That,” says he, “which enabled him to go through such various cares and employments, was, that no part of his time, nor no degree of his attention, was taken up with hunting, or gaming, in idle or trifling conversation, or in luxury or voluptuousness. Instead of any diversions or amusements of this kind, he delighted in the reading of some good and pleasing author, or in the conversation of some learned man. And although he sometimes had prelates, dukes, and earls as his guests, he never spent more than an hour at dinner. The entertainment which he provided for his friends was liberal and splendid, and suitable to the dignity of his rank; but he never touched any dainties of the kind himself. He seldom tasted wine; and when he had attained the age of seventy years, drank nothing, for the most part, but a little small beer. But notwithstanding his great temperance and abstemiousness, he added to the cheerfulness and festivity of every entertainment at which he was present, by the pleasantness of his countenance, and the vivacity and agreeableness of his conversation. The same sobriety was seen in him after dinner as before. He abstained from suppers altogether: unless he happened to have any very familiar friends with him, of which number I was; when he would, indeed, sit down to table, but then could scarcely be said to eat any thing. If that did not happen to be the case, he employed mr time by others usually appropriated to suppers, in study or devotion. But as he was remarkably agreeable and facetious in his discourse, but without biting or buffoonery, so he delighted much in jesting freely with his frit-lids But scurrility, defamation, or slander, he abhorred, and avoided as he would a snake. In this manner did this great man | make his days sufficiently long', of the shortness of which many complain.”!1