William de Vere

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William de Vere
Bishop of Hereford
Appointed 25 May 1186
Term ended 24 December 1198
Predecessor Robert Foliot
Successor Giles de Braose
Ordination 10 August 1186
Consecration 10 August 1186
Personal details
Died 24 December 1198
Buried Hereford Cathedral
Denomination Catholic

William de Vere (died 1198) was Bishop of Hereford and an Augustinian canon.


The son of Aubrey de Vere II and Adeliza of Clare, probably the fourth of five sons,[1] and brother of Aubrey de Vere III first earl of Oxford, de Vere spent part of his youth at the court of King Henry I of England and his second wife, Queen Adeliza of Leuven. Little is known of his education, but he had received minor ecclesiastical orders before 1141.[1] He was a friend of Bishop Arnulf of Liseux, and may have studied in Paris.[2]

William de Vere was promised the chancellorship of England by the Empress Matilda in the 1141 charter by which his brother was made earl, but given the political and military setbacks she suffered in that and subsequent years, it is not surprising that there is no record that he served as her chancellor.[3] He later entered the household of Archbishop Theobald of Bec of Canterbury (d. 1163). He served in the archbishop's household with near-contemporaries Thomas Becket and John of Salisbury in the 1150s.[4] Theobald sent him on diplomatic errands to France in the early 1160s.[1] He is thought to have served briefly as a secular canon of St. Paul's, London, about 1163, but that William de Vere may have been a member of an unrelated Ver family associated with the bishop of London in Domesday Book. William became an Augustinian canon at St Osyth's Priory at Chich, Essex, for from that monastery he was recruited in 1177 by King Henry II to supervise the rebuilding of Waltham Abbey in Essex to house an Augustinian canonry. His name is one of two listed in the Pipe rolls as receiving monies toward that project.[1]

King Henry later employed de Vere as an itinerant justice,[5] then nominated him as Bishop of Hereford on 25 May 1186. He was consecrated on 10 August 1186.[6] In that office he occasionally continued to serve as a royal justice under Richard I.[5] Bishop William is credited with having extended the east end of Hereford Cathedral, constructing the transitional retrochoir, two transept chapels, and possibly a lady chapel (the latter two areas replaced by his successors). He is also thought to have constructed the bishop's palace at Hereford.[7] He expanded the work of his predecessors in the administration of the diocese and employed Gerald of Wales and Robert Grosseteste.[8]

As a canon at St. Osyth's, de Vere wrote a Latin life of that saint,[1] which now exists only in fragments recorded by antiquarian John Leland in the sixteenth century.[1] In that work he made references to his family. He donated a relic of St. Osyth to Waltham Abbey, and promoted the cult of that saint at Hereford Cathedral.[1] He may have visited Palestine, perhaps in 1178 or in 1182–1185.[1]

De Vere was one of several bishops who excommunicated Prince John and his supporters in 1194, and was present at Winchester Cathedral for the recoronation of King Richard I in April 1194. William de Vere died in December 1198 and is buried in Hereford Cathedral, where his tomb with an effigy can be found.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Barrow "Vere, William de" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ Arnulf of Lisieux Letters of Arnulf of Lisieux p. 36, no. 26
  3. ^ Cronne, et al. Regesta Regum Anglo-normannorum no. 634
  4. ^ Barlow Thomas Becket p. 31
  5. ^ a b Saltman Theobald p. 165 footnote 3
  6. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 250
  7. ^ Blair "Twelfth-century Bishop's Palace" Medieval Archaeology p. 59
  8. ^ Barrow "Athelstan to Aigueblanche" Hereford Cathedral pp. 42–43


  • Arnulf of Lisieux (1939). Barlow, Frank, ed. The Letters of Arnulf of Lisieux. London: Offices of the Royal Historical Society. OCLC 789689. 
  • Barlow, Frank (1986). Thomas Becket. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-07175-1. 
  • Barrow, Julia (2000). "Athelstan to Aigueblanche, 1056–1268". In Aylmer, G.; Tiller, J. Hereford Cathedral: A History. London: Hambledon Press. ISBN 9781852851941. 
  • Barrow, Julia. "Vere, William de (d. 1198)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oct 2007 revised ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/95042. Retrieved 15 February 2009.  (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  • Blair, J. (1987). "Twelfth-century Bishop's Palace at Hereford". Medieval Archaeology. 31. 
  • Cronne, H. A.; Davis, R. H. C.; Davis, H. W. C., eds. (1968). Regesta regum Anglo-Normannorum, 1066-1154: Regesta regis Stephani ac Mathildis imperatricia ac Gaufridi et Henrici Ducum Normannorum, 1135-1154. 3. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press. OCLC 609731175. 
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X. 
  • Saltman, Avrom (1956). Theobald: Archbishop of Canterbury. London: Athlone Press. OCLC 385687. 

Further reading[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Robert Foliot
Bishop of Hereford
Succeeded by
Giles de Braose