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William Warham William Warham
(1450-1532)

Bishop of London
Lord Chancellor of England
Archbishop of Canterbury
Born: 1450 at Malshanger, Church Oakley, Hampshire
Died: 22nd August 1532 at Hackington, Canterbury, Kent


William Warham was born about 1450, probably at Malshanger in Church Oakley (Hampshire) where his family had lived for several generations. The son of Robert Warham Esq., he was educated at Winchester and New College, Oxford. William became an advocate in the Court of Arches, principal of the Civil Law School at Oxford and Master of the Rolls. He also held the livings of Barley and Cottenham and was appointed Precentor of Wells and Archdeacon of Huntingdon. In 1496, he conducted the negotiations for the marriage of Prince Arthur with Catherine of Aragon and was employed from the outset of his career in many diplomatic missions, which led him to Flanders, France, Scotland and perhaps Rome. He became Bishop of London and Keeper of the Great Seal in 1502, which title he exchanged for that of Lord Chancellor when he was promoted to the Primacy the following year. Though he resigned the Great Seal to Wolsey in 1515, he continued to take a leading part in affairs of State.

When King Henry VIII was seeking a divorce, Warham was appointed counsel to Queen Catherine, but he showed himself unable to oppose Henry's wishes. Nor was he able to offer any effectual resistance when the King, having compelled the clergy to acknowledge the Royal Supremacy, demanded the further surrender of their independence, know as the "Submission of the Clergy".

Warham was, for many years, Chancellor of the University of Oxford, at a time when the revival of letters showed a more generous appreciation of the New learning. He delighted in the society of scholars, and promoted literary enterprises with a splendid liberality. Erasmus became his friend and, not only received much personal kindness from the Archbishop, but was enabled, by his help, to produce his famous Greek Testament.

Archbishop Warham died on 22nd August 1532 and was buried in Canterbury Cathedral.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).

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