Archbishop of York; place and date of birth unknown; d. pontigny, August 1285. William appears to have come from the village of Child's Wickham in Gloucestershire, England. He was a university-educated magister, but there is no record of him before January 1264, when he was instituted to the church of Ivinghoe in the Diocese of Lincoln and in the gift of the bishop of Winchester. At that time he was already chancellor of York. Wickwane was elected archbishop of York, June 22, 1279, after the death of Abp. walter giffard. His election was quashed, but he was then provided by nicholas iii and was consecrated at Viterbo in September of 1279. He was harrassed by Abp. john peckham of Canterbury on his way back to York.
An extremely conscientious diocesan, he devoted five years to the meticulous care of his province. His most ambitious project was the visitation of durham, which he attempted when that see was both occupied and vacant. He was attacked both physically and legally, and the ensuing lawsuit survived Wickwane. As a result of his troubles, he left England for the Roman Curia, but stopped at the Cistercian abbey of Pontigny as had becket, stephen langton, and edmund of abingdon. There he died of fever and was buried with a ring of gold on which was inscribed Ave Maria gracia plena. Wickwane sacrificed comfort and dignity for the principle of metropolitan jurisdiction and for the integrity of the church of York. He is a strong example of the 13th–century English type of pastoral bishop. His supposed work, the Memoriale, is not extant, but his register and a collection of his letters as chancellor survive.
Bibliography: The Register of William Wickwane, Lord Archbishop of York, 1279–1285, ed. w. brown (Durham 1907). w.h. dixon, Fasti eboracenses. Lives of the Archbishops of York, ed. j. raine (London 1863). w. hunt, The Dictionary of National Biography from the Earliest Times to 1900 (London 1885–1900) 21:178–179. c. r. cheney, "Letters of W. W., Chancellor of York, 1266–1268," English Historical Review 47 (1932) 626–642. r. brentano, York Metropolitan Jurisdiction and Papal Judges Delegate, 1279–1296 (Berkeley 1959).