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Kemp, John

Kemp, John (d. 1454). Archbishop of York and Canterbury. Like Chichele, Kemp was an Oxford DCL who began his career in church courts, becoming dean of Arches in 1414. After an embassy to Aragon, he was a member of Henry V's council in France, as chancellor of Normandy and keeper of the privy seal. He was one of Henry Beaufort's supporters in the council of Henry VI's minority and appointed chancellor of England in 1426. By now he had risen through the episcopate as bishop of Rochester (1419), Chichester (1421), and London (1421), to the archbishopric of York (1426). Duke Humphrey of Gloucester removed Kemp from Chancery in 1432, but he remained a councillor. When the regime of William de la Pole, duke of Suffolk collapsed in 1450, this veteran was recalled to be chancellor. From 1452 he was archbishop of Canterbury. An uncompromising champion of royal authority, he was sympathetic to victims of its abuse by corrupt courtiers. His death, while Henry was insane, was a loss from which the Lancastrian government never recovered. Kemp was created a titular cardinal in 1439, recognition of his political stature; he rarely visited York diocese. He founded a collegiate church and grammar school at Wye (Kent), his birthplace.

R. L. Storey

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