Walter de Fulburn

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Walter de Fulburn, or de Fulbourn (died 1307) was a leading English-born statesman and cleric in medieval Ireland, who held the offices of Bishop of Waterford, Bishop of Meath and Lord Chancellor of Ireland

Biography[edit]

He was born in Cambridgeshire, to a distinguished family, several of whose members played a leading part in Irish politics. His brother Stephen de Fulbourn (died 1288) was Walter's predecessor as Bishop of Waterford and was Archbishop of Tuam 1286-1288; their nephew Adam de Fulbourn also held several clerical and judicial offices in Ireland.

Bishop[edit]

Walter's first clerical appointment in Ireland was as Dean of Waterford in 1281. In 1283 he was consecrated Bishop of Meath, but due to a dispute with a rival candidate for the see, Thomas St. Leger, he never exercised the functions of bishop in that see. He was transferred to the bishopric of Waterford in 1286 and held the see until his death in December 1307.

Lord Chancellor[edit]

In 1283 he became Lord Chancellor. Elrington Ball, while describing him as "a great person" admits that he was a failure in that office.[1] Serious complaints were made about the heavy fees being charged to litigants before the Court of Chancery (Ireland), who also complained that there was only one clerk in the Chancery office, who was so ignorant that the writs he issued were useless.[2] Apparently as a result of these complaints Fulbourn stepped down as Lord Chancellor in 1288.

Charged with corruption[edit]

In addition he was implicated in the accusations of corruption and inefficiency levelled at his brother Stephen in his capacity of Treasurer of Ireland, since Walter regularly acted as his Deputy.[3] The accusations were considered sufficiently serious to prompt an official inquiry in 1284 into the actions of both brothers, the result of which was inconclusive. Numerous grievances were aired and various charges were leveled at them, including debasing of the coinage by the issue of the steeping, an inferior version of the standard silver penny, but neither brother was removed from office. Otway-Ruthven concludes that it is impossible to determine whether or not either brother was guilty of corruption.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ball, F. Elrington The Judges in Ireland 1221-1921 John Murray London 1926
  2. ^ Ball Judges in Ireland
  3. ^ Otway-Ruthven, A.J. History of Medieval Ireland Barnes and Noble reissue 1993
  4. ^ History of Medieval Ireland