Robert Wikeford

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Robert Wikeford (1330–1390) was a distinguished English diplomat who became Lord Chancellor of Ireland and Archbishop of Dublin.

Early career[edit]

He was born at Wickford in Essex, where his family are said to have been Lords of the Manor of Wickford.[1] He was a fellow of Merton College, Oxford, became a clerk of the Chancery, and Archdeacon of Winchester in 1368.[2]

He seems to have been a man of diplomatic and military ability, and was entrusted by King Edward III with a number of missions to the rulers of Flanders and Brabant and the King of Aragon. In 1373 he was made Constable of Bordeaux and later joined with the Seneschal in the government of Aquitaine.

O'Flanagan[3] records that in 1375 the royal judges in Aquitaine in a lawsuit in which Wikeford was defendant, gave judgement against him without hearing him in his defence and imposed financial penalties of great severity. Wikeford appealed to the King in Council, and the King immediately ordered the judgement to be cancelled. The episode suggests that Wikeford, though a valued Crown servant, was not popular.

Irish career[edit]

In 1375 Wickford became Archbishop of Dublin and a year later was made Lord Chancellor. O'Flanagan[4] believes (despite the lack of written records for this period) that he was a gifted and conscientious Chancellor; in addition to his judicial business he undertook a vast range of official duties, including holding Parliament at Castledermot. He was granted the manor of Swords, near Dublin, and the right to hold a fair there. He ceased to be Chancellor about 1380, and as he aged his duties as Primate became increasingly onerous. In 1390 he was permitted to return to England in the hope of improving his health, but died on 29 August.

Character[edit]

O'Flanagan praises him as a wise and learned judge and a man of great ability.[5] However, the Aquitaine lawsuit suggests that he was not popular, and as Archbishop he showed a harsher side to his character by expelling all beggars from his diocese.

References[edit]

  1. ^ O'Flanagan, J. Roderick Lives of the Lord Chancellors of Ireland London 1870
  2. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926
  3. ^ Lives of the Chancellors
  4. ^ Lives of the Chancellors
  5. ^ Lives of the Chancellors