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William de Grenefield


Archbishop of York and chancellor of England; b. possibly in Devon, date unknown; d. Cawood Castle, Yorkshire, Dec. 6, 1315. His relatives walter giffard, Archbishop of York (126679), and godfrey giffard, Bishop of Worcester (12681302), smoothed the way for his advance in ecclesiastical and secular offices. Archbishop Giffard maintained him as a student at Oxford, where he probably began his studies in 1269, and later at Paris about 1271. By 1287 Grenefield was doctor of Roman law, and he later gained the doctorate in Canon Law and possibly studied theology. In 1297 he was ordained deacon and, later, priest. Ecclesiastical preferment easily came his way, and in 1297 he became dean of Chichester. During the 1290s he was frequently used by edward i on diplomatic missions, and in 1302 the king made him his chancellor, petitioning a papal indult of nonresidence on his behalf. Two years later when the metropolitan See of york fell vacant, Grenefield was elected, but his consecration was delayed for two years during the interregnum before the election of clement v. Whereupon, he gave up the Great Seal, resided in the north, and devoted his considerable talents to the manifold needs of his far-flung diocese in a region of the country under hostile harassment from the Scots. With a sensitive and humane regard for the plight of the Knights templars Grenefield oversaw the dissolution of their order. His body rests in the north transept of York Minster.

Bibliography: w. h. dixon, Fasti eboracenses. Lives of the Archbishops of York, ed. j. raine (London 1863). t. f. tout, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 8:517519. k. edwards, "Bishops and Learning in the Reign of Edward II," Church Quarterly Review v. 138 (1944) 5786. a. b. emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to A.D. 1500 2:820821.

[f. d. logan]

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