John de St Paul

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John de St Paul (c. 1295 – 1362), also known as John de Owston and John de Ouston, was Archbishop of Dublin 1349–62 and Lord Chancellor of Ireland 1350–56. He had previously been Master of the Rolls in England 1337–40. Apart from a brief period of disgrace in 1340 he seems to have enjoyed the confidence of King Edward III. He was described as a zealous advocate of English policy in Ireland, but also as a pragmatic statesman, who was willing to conciliate the Anglo-Irish ruling class. He did much to enlarge and beautify Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin.[1][2]


The St Paul family is thought to have come to Yorkshire from Guienne.[3] There may have been a family connection to the Counts of Saint-Pol, since Marie de St Pol, Countess of Pembroke, often employed John as her attorney.[4]

He was born about 1295, probably at Owston, South Yorkshire. He was probably the son of Thomas de St Paul, and brother to Robert de St Paul, Lord of Byram, and was said to be illegitimate, although this was later contradicted.[5]

Early career[edit]

He was a clerk in Chancery by 1318 and became rector of Ashby David in Lincoln in 1329, the first of numerous clerical benefices, of which probably the most important was Archdeacon of Cornwall. From 1334 he was regularly appointed guardian of the Great Seal in the absence of the Lord Chancellor and in 1337 he became Master of the Rolls; he received a grant of a house in Chancery Lane in 1339. He was briefly Lord Keeper in 1339.[6]


In 1340 King Edward III, while engaged at the Siege of Tournai, received numerous complaints of corruption and maladministration by his officials. He returned to England with great speed, and dismissed most of the offending officials, including St Paul, who was imprisoned and deprived of the Mastership of the Rolls. On the plea of the Archbishop of Canterbury, John de Stratford, he was soon released, but not restored to the Mastership.[7]

Archbishop of Dublin[edit]

In 1349 he was made Archbishop of Dublin.[8] He received a commission from Pope Clement VI to proceed against certain heretics who had been sheltered by his predecessor. He maintained the long-running dispute with Richard FitzRalph, Archbishop of Armagh over the latter's claim to be Primate of Ireland. He persuaded the King to revoke his letters giving Armagh precedence, and to remove the cause to Rome. He obtained numerous benefits for the Archdiocese of Dublin.[9] His extensive additions to Christ Church Cathedral included the choir (1358) and the new organ.

Christchurch Cathedral

Chancellor and statesman[edit]

He was Lord Chancellor, with one brief interval, from 1350 to 1356.[10] In 1358 he was appointed to the Privy Council of Ireland and the Lord Deputy of Ireland was instructed to pay great heed to his advice. He sat on a Royal Commission to explore for and oversee gold and silver mines in 1360.

In 1361 he was summoned to a Great Council in Dublin: although he was a strong supporter of English rule in Ireland, he urged a policy of moderation and an amnesty for Anglo-Irish leaders who had been in opposition to the Crown.[11]


He died on 9 September 1362 and was buried in Christ Church Cathedral, which he had done much to improve at his own expense.[12]


  1. ^ Fairbank, F.R. "Ancient memorial brasses remaining in the old Deanery of Doncaster" The Yorkshire Archælogical and Topographical Journal, 1891, Vol. 11 pp. 71-94
  2. ^ The Church of All Saints Owston. (1972) The Church of All Saints Owston: A brief guide 1972.
  3. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221–1921 John Murray London 1926 Vol. 1 p. 80
  4. ^ Carlyle p.173
  5. ^ Carlyle, Edward Irving "John de St Paul" Dictionary of National Biography 1885–1900 Vol. 50 p.173
  6. ^ Carlyle p.173
  7. ^ Carlyle p.173
  8. ^ Ball p.80
  9. ^ Carlyle p.173
  10. ^ Ball p.80
  11. ^ Carlyle p.173
  12. ^ Ball p.80