Thomas Cranley DD (aka Craule; c.1337–1417) was a leading statesman and cleric in early 15th-century Ireland, who held the offices of Chancellor of Oxford University, Archbishop of Dublin and Lord Chancellor of Ireland.
He was born in England about 1337. He entered the Carmelite order, is recorded as a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, in 1366, became Warden of New College in 1389 and Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1390. He was a Doctor of Divinity and a judge.
In 1397, on the death of Richard Northalis, he was made Archbishop of Dublin and arrived in Ireland the following year. After the accession of King Henry IV, he undertook a mission on his behalf to Rome before being made Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1401. When Henry's son Thomas, Duke of Clarence, was made Lord Deputy of Ireland, Cranley was appointed to his council. A letter he sent to the King around the end of 1402 painted a grim picture of English rule in Ireland. Cranley assured the King of his absolute loyalty and duty to both the King and his son, but implores the King to send money and aid since "your son is so destitute of money that he has not a penny in the world ... and his soldiers have departed from him, and the people of his household are on the point of leaving." The King, who was generally short of money, is not known to have responded.
Pressure of business, ill health and old age made Cranley increasingly unfit to perform his duties, and the office of Chancellor was increasingly carried out by his deputies, first Thomas de Everdon, then Laurence Merbury. Cranley resigned as Chancellor in 1410, but in 1413 the new King Henry V reappointed him to that office. This is a tribute to the high regard in which the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Shrewsbury, held him; he also acted as Justiciar of Ireland, following the sudden death of Sir John Stanley, although in light of his age and health it was understood that this was a temporary appointment. As Justiciar he was assisted by a military council, made up of such noted soldiers as Sir Jenico d'Artois. He became prebendary of Clonmethan in 1410.
In 1417 he was asked to present a memorial on the state of Ireland to the Crown; he reached England, but died at Faringdon in Berkshire on 25 May. He was buried in New College, Oxford: the inscription on his tomb hails him as "the flower of prelates".
Appearance and character
Early historians praised Cranley for both his mental and physical qualities: "thou art fair beyond the children of men, grace is diffused through thy lips because of thine eloquence". He was described as tall and commanding in appearance, with fair hair and a ruddy complexion; in personality witty, eloquent and learned. As a cleric, he was described as charitable, a notable preacher and a great builder of churches.
- Hibbert, Christopher, ed. (1988). "Appendix 5: Chancellors of the University". The Encyclopaedia of Oxford. Macmillan. pp. 521–522. ISBN 0-333-39917-X.
- Salter, H. E. and Lobel, Mary D., ed. (1954). "New College". A History of the County of Oxford. Volume 3: The University of Oxford. Victoria County History. pp. 144–162.
- Ball, F. Elrington (1926). The Judges in Ireland 1221–1921. London: John Murray.
- Wood, Anthony (1790). "Fasti Oxonienses". The History and Antiquities of the Colleges and Halls in the University of Oxford. Google Books. p. 33.
- O'Flanagan, J. Roderick (1870). Lives of the Lord Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal in Ireland. Two volumes. London.
- Otway-Ruthve, A.J. History of Medieval Ireland Barnes and Noble reissue 1993 p.348
|Wardens of New College, Oxford
|Chancellor of the University of Oxford