Bishop of Winchester; b. c. 1432; d. Sept. 23, 1492. His knowledge of Canon and civil law, gained at Oxford, Cologne, and Padua, together with the influence of his family (he was a grandnephew of Richard courtenay), secured him appointment to an unusually large number of benefices and ecclesiastical offices. However, he gave little attention to pastoral responsibilities prior to his consecration as bishop of exeter in 1478. Even then he continued an active interest in politics, having earlier served as secretary to both Henry VI and Edward IV. His episcopate is noted only for an extensive construction program, especially the addition at his own expense, of the north tower to the cathedral at Exeter. Here he placed the great "Peter bell." Shortly after Richard III seized power, Courtenay joined his kinsmen in organizing a revolt in Devon and Cornwall, but fled to Brittany when the effort collapsed. He returned to England with henry vii, who rewarded his loyalty and service by appointing him keeper of the privy seal in 1485 and arranging his translation to the see of winchester in 1487. Upon his consecration he resigned the keepership of the privy seal and withdrew from politics. He is probably buried in Winchester cathedral.
Bibliography: t. f. tout, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 1885–1900; repr. with corrections, 21 v., 1908–09, 1921–22, 1938; suppl. 1901–) 4:1264–65. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the Scholars of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500, 3 v. (Oxford 1957–59) 1:499–500. p. hunt, Fifteenth-Century England (Pittsburgh 1962).