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Nicholas Farnham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Nicholas Farnham
Bishop of Durham
Elected2 January 1241
Term ended2 February 1249
PredecessorThomas de Melsonby
SuccessorWalter of Kirkham
Other postsBishop of Coventry and Lichfield-elect
Consecrationeither 26 May or 9 June 1241
Personal details
Stockton manor
BuriedDurham Cathedral

Nicholas Farnham (or Nicholas of Farnham; died 1257) was a medieval Bishop of Durham.

Farnham was probably a native of Farnham, Surrey. He studied at Oxford University before moving on to study at Paris and Bologna. At Paris he first studied theology, but later moved to medicine.[1] He taught at the University of Bologna as a teacher of medicine before moving to England.[2] He was at Paris when the riots of 1229 drove many teachers out of Paris. Farnham came to England because of King Henry III's offers of teaching chairs at Oxford to those displaced by the riots.[1]

Farnham was a royal physician[3][4] before he became confessor to the king and queen in 1237.[1] In 1239, the cathedral chapter of Coventry elected him Bishop of Coventry, but Farnham refused the office.[1] He was elected to the see of Durham on 2 January 1241 and at first he wanted to decline the office, but Robert Grosseteste, Bishop of Lincoln persuaded him to accept.[1] Farnham was consecrated as bishop on either 26 May or 9 June 1241.[5]

While bishop, Farnham continued to work for the king. In 1241 he was mediating with King Alexander II of Scotland, and in 1242 he was involved in the negotiations over the marriage of King Henry's daughter Margaret to the future Alexander III of Scotland. As a bishop, he became embroiled in a dispute with a dependency of St Alban's Priory, which was finally settled in 1248 in the priory's favour. The set of constitutions, or laws, he issued for the clergy of his diocese were heavily based on his predecessor's constitutions as well as Grosseteste's for Lincoln.[1]

Farnham was often ill. In 1244 he almost died, and had to go to the south of England where he received a miraculous cure from drinking water which had had bristles from the beard of Saint Edmund of Abingdon soaked in it. Once more in 1248, his health declined, and it was this illness that caused Farnham to seek a licence to resign his see from the pope.[1] He resigned on 2 February 1249 and died in 1257.[5] On his resignation, he had three manors assigned to him for his support,[6] and it was at one of these, Stockton in County Durham, that he died, possibly on 31 July, which was the date his death was commemorated at Durham. He was buried in Durham Cathedral.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Franklin "Farnham, Nicholas of" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. ^ Moorman Church Life in England p. 163
  3. ^ Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 2: Monastic Cathedrals (Northern and Southern Provinces): Durham: Bishops Archived 19 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Ferruolo "Quid dant artes nisi luctum?" History of Education Quarterly p. 11
  5. ^ a b Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 241
  6. ^ Moorman Church Life in England p. 183


  • Franklin, R. M. (2004). "Farnham, Nicholas of (d. 1257)" ((subscription or UK public library membership required)). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/20089. Retrieved 24 January 2008.
  • Ferruolo, Stephen C. (1988). ""Quid dant artes nisi luctum?" Learning, Ambition, and Careers in the Medieval University". History of Education Quarterly. 28 (1): 1–22. doi:10.2307/368281. JSTOR 368281.
  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  • Greenway, Diana E. (1971). Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 2: Monastic Cathedrals (Northern and Southern Provinces): Durham: Bishops. Institute of Historical Research. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
  • Moorman, John R. H. (1955). Church Life in England in the Thirteenth Century (Revised ed.). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. OCLC 213820968.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William de Raley
Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield
elected but refused office

Succeeded by
William de Manchester
Preceded by
Thomas de Melsonby
Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by
Walter of Kirkham

This page was last edited on 16 February 2021, at 21:34
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