John de Offord

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Chancellor of England, archbishop-elect of Canterbury; d. Tottenham Court, May 20, 1349. The alternate form "Ufford" derives from the assumption that he was a son of Robert Ufford, Earl of Suffolk, but the evidence points to his being of the family of Offord, whose estate at Offord Dameys, Huntingdonshire, he administered until 1332. His younger brother Andrew frequently appears in the records as envoy and commissioner to foreign courts and held various minor posts in church and state. John was a doctor of civil law by 1334, probably of Cambridge, where he is commemorated as a benefactor. He had entered the royal service before 1328 and soon won King edward iii's confidence. For the next 20 years he was constantly employed in private and political negotiations with the pope and the French king in France, Brabant, and Flanders. He is said to have added eloquence, sagacity, shrewd counsel, and dependability to legal acumen, and this brought him rapid promotion to high office. In 1342 he became keeper of the privy seal and later of the great seal also. In 1344 he was installed as dean of Lincoln Cathedral, and in 1345 he was appointed lord chancellor of the kingdom. Although by then aged and paralytic, and despite his strong support of the stringent measures taken against papal provision, Offord was nominated to the See of canterbury by the King, who rejected the cathedral chapter's election of thomas bradwardine. Offord was papally provided to the see on Sept. 24, 1348, and took custody of the temporalities in December. But he died before receiving the pallium or consecration. He was buried by night at Christ Church, Canterbury.

Bibliography: h. warton, Anglia sacra, 2 v. (London 1691) 1:42, 60, 118, 794. t. rymer, Foedera, conventions, litterae inter reges Angliae et alios quosvis imperators, reges, pontifices ab A.D. 1101 ad nostra usque tempora (to 1654), 20 v. (London 170435). w. f. hook, Lives of the Archbishops of Canterbury, 12v. (London 186084) 4:73, 103. c. l. kingsford, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900, 63 v. (London 18851900) 14:901902. a. b. emden, Biographical Register of the Scholars of the University of Cambridge before 1500 (Cambridge, Eng. 1963) 431433.

[j. h. baxter]

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John de Offord

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