William de Melton

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Archbishop of York and treasurer of England; b. Melton, near Hull, in Yorkshire, date unknown; d. April 5, 1340. Probably because of the influence of Anthony Bek, Bishop of Durham, he came as a boy of humble parentage to the service of Edward Carnarvon, Prince of Wales, who shaped his political and ecclesiastical careers. After ordination Melton began to receive ecclesiastical preferment by 1299. When Edward came to the throne in 1307, Melton was appointed keeper of his privy seal; from 1314 to 1316 he was keeper of the wardrobe. Upon the death of Archbishop Grenefield, Edward II secured Melton's election to York in 1316, although papal provision was delayed until 1317 by a protracted interregnum. Melton supported the "Middle party" from 1318 to 1320 and held the treasurership of the realm from 1325 to 1326 and again in 1330. The northern barons and bishops rallied around him against the Scottish menace, although his forces were defeated at MytononSwale in 1319. Melton retained his loyalty to Edward II and refused to attend the coronation of edward iii (1327) but officiated at his marriage the following year. In 1330 he was acquitted of cooperation in the abortive intrigues of the Earl of Kent. One of York's greatest pastors, Melton earned a contemporary reputation as a man of prayer and pastoral zeal. He used the financial resources at his disposal to grant gifts and loans on a wide scale. His body lies in the north aisle of York Minster.

Bibliography: w. h. dixon, Fasti eboracenses. Lives of the Archbishops of York, ed. j. raine (London 1863). c. l. kingsford, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 13:227229, l. h. butler, "Archbishop Melton, his Neighbours and his Kinsmen, 13171340," The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 2 (1951) 5468.

[f. d. logan]