Thomas of Cobham

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English scholar, bishop of Worcester; b. Kent, England, c. 1255; d. 27 August 1327. The sixth son of a Kentish knight, he was regent of three universities, being an M.A. of Paris, doctor of Canon Law of Oxford (where he was regent in 1291), and doctor of theology at Cambridge by 1314. He had a distinguished career as a scholar and diplomat and was regarded by his contemporaries as so outstanding in learning and virtue that the monks of canterbury elected him archbishop (1313) on the death of Abp. robert of winchelsea. King Edward II, however, gained the archbishopric for his chancellor, walter reynolds, Bishop of Worcester. Pope john xxii persuaded Cobham to renounce his claims to Canterbury; Cobham in turn was rewarded by provision to the See of Worcester in March 1317. Although consecrated at Avignon, he was not enthronged at Worcester until October 1319. He is buried in Worcester cathedral. During his lifetime he provided money for a congregation house with a library upstairs, to be built against the university church of Oxford, but his intention of endowing the library and leaving his own books to it was frustrated, and they went to Oriel College. They came into the University's possession in 1410, however, and together with the collection of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, form the nucleus of the Bodleian Library.

Bibliography: w. stubbs, ed., Chronicles of the Reigns of Edward I and Edward II, 2 v. (Rerum Britannicarum medii aevi scriptores ; 188283). e. h. pearce, Thomas de Cobham (Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; 1923); ed., The Register of Thomas de Cobham (London 1930). a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500 (Oxford 195759) 1:450451.

[j. l. grassi]