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Diocese of Lichfield

Took its rise in the conversion of Mercia by St. Cedd and his three companions in 652 and subsequent years

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* Published by Encyclopedia Press, 1913.

Lichfield, Ancient Diocese of (LICHFELDENSIS). This diocese took its rise in the conversion of Mercia by St. Cedd (q.v.) and his three companions in 652 and subsequent years. One of these was Diuma who was made Bishop of Mercia about 656. Among the successors of Diuma was St. Chad, who fixed his seat at Lichfield, where he built a monastery. As time went on other dioceses were carved out of the Mercian territory—the sees afterwards known as Hereford, Worcester, and Dorchester. But Lichfield, though lessened in territory, grew in political importance until the time of the ascendancy of Mercia under Offa, when that king determined to raise Lichfield as a rival to Canterbury. At the Council of Chelsea in 785 legates from the pope invested Bishop Higbert of Lichfield with the archiepiscopal pallium, giving him metropolitan authority over Worcester, Leicester, Lincoln, Hereford, and the East Anglican dioceses of Elmham and Dunwich. On the death of Offa the pope restored the full power of Canterbury, and in 803 the Council of Clovesho accepted the decision of the Holy See. During the ninth century the diocese suffered much from the Danes, and the great Abbey of Repton was sacked. The next step was the gradual conversion of the invaders. In the anarchy that ensued in the Midlands after the Conquest, the estates of the see were devastated, and Lichfield itself was so poor a place that after the Synod of 1075, which directed the removal of all sees to walled towns, Bishop Peter fixed on Chester as his cathedral city, and his successor, Robert de Limesey, transferred his seat to Coventry.

The chapter at Lichfield was nevertheless maintained, and one of the early Norman bishops Roger de Clinton rebuilt its cathedral there, rededicating it to St. Chad, whose relics he there enshrined. Enmity and jealousy, however, marked for many years the relations between the Lichfield secular canons and the Coventry monks, and successive episcopal elections were the occasions for fresh quarrels. Gregory IX (1227-41) settled the dispute by arranging that the elections should be made alternately by each chapter. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries the building of the cathedral continued. Though not one of the larger cathedrals, it has many beauties, including the west front and the Lady Chapel, and is altogether exceptional in having three spires. When the Reformation swept away all abbeys and monasteries, the great monastic cathedral church of Coventry was destroyed, and the diocese was robbed by the king of many manors. The churches were plundered and the shrine of St. Chad in Lichfield cathedral was violated and stripped. The schismatical bishops, Roland Lee and Richard Sampson, wasted the diocesan property. The last Catholic bishop was Ralph Bayne, who was deprived of the temporalities of his see by Elizabeth and imprisoned in the house of the Protestant bishop, Grindal. There he died in November, 1559. The following is the list of the bishops of Lichfield, the dates of the Saxon bishops being very doubtful:

Bishops of Mercia: Diuma, 656; Ceollach, 658; Thumere, 659; Jaruman, 663. Bishops of Lichfield: St. Chad, 669; Winfred, 673; St. Sexwulf, 675; Headdi, 691; Aldwini (Wor.), 721; Witta, 737; Hemele, 752; Cuthred, 765; Berhthun, 768; Higbert, 785; Aldulf, 801; Humbert,—; Herewin, 816; Higbert II,—; Aethelwald, 818; Hunberght, 828; Tunberht,—; Cineferth, 870; St. Cumbert,—; Tunbriht, 890; Wigmund, 901 (?); Ella, 920; Alfgar, 944 (al. 935); Kynsy, 960 (al. 949); Wynsy, 974 (al. 961 or 964); Elphege, 992 (al. 973); Godwin, 1002; Leofgar, 1020; Brihtmar, 1026; Wulsy, 1039; Leofwin, 1053; vacancy, 1066; Peter, 1072; Robert de Limesey, 1086; vacancy, 1117. Bishops of Coventry and Lichfield: Robert Peche, 1121; Roger de Clinton, 1129; Walter Durdent, 1149; Richard Peche, 1161; vacancy, 1181; Gerard la Pucelle, 1183; vacancy, 1184; Hugh Nonant, 1188 (al. 1184); Geofrey de Muschamp, 1198; vacancy, 1208; William de Cornhill, 1215; Alexander de Stavenby, 1224; Hugh Pateshull, 1240; vacancy, 1242; Roger Weseham, 1245; Roger de Meyland (Longespee), 1258; Walter de Langton, 1296; Roger de Northburgh, 1322; Robert Stretton, 1360; Walter Skirlaw, 1386; Richard Scroope, 1386; John de Burghill, 1398; John Catterick, 1415; William Heyworth, 1419; William Booth, 1447; Nicholas Cloose, 1452; Reginald Bolars (Butler), 1453; John Hales, 1459; William Smith, 1492; John Arundel, 1496; Godfrey Blyth, 1503; Roland Lee, 1524; Richard Sampson, (elected schismatically), 1543; Ralph Bayne, 1554.

In Catholic days the Diocese of Lichfield included the counties of Derby, Salop, Stafford, and most of Warwickshire. It was divided into four archdeaconries: Derby, Shrewsbury, Stafford, and Coventry. The arms of the see were: party per pale, gules and argent, a cross potent and quadrate in the center between four crosslets patee of the second and or.

EDWIN BURTON


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