LIVES OF THE BISHOPS OF EXETER
EDMUND LACY - This prelate was the son of Stephen Lacy and Sibilla his wife, as we learn from his Register marked vol. iii. fol. 271b. His parents and his uncle John Lacy were buried in the Conventual Church of the Carmelites at Gloucester. The site where they lay was endeared to him, but it cannot now be distinguished!
In early life Edmund was entered at University College, Oxford, where he took his degree of S. T. P. In 1398 he was appointed president of that college, which he governed for five years ('Hist. et Antiq. Oxon.,' lib. ii. p. 59). His merits soon procured him distinction. We find him, as dean of the Royal Chapel, accompanying his sovereign Henry V. in 1415 to the battle of Agincourt; and within two years he was preferred to the see of Hereford, of which he had been canon, and the king honoured his consecration at Windsor, on 18th April, 1417, with his presence. When His Majesty was informed of the unexpected demise of John Catterick Bishop of Exeter at Florence, he directed a congé d'élire to the dean and chapter here in favour of his friend the Bishop of Hereford. His lordship was unanimously chosen, and Pope Martin V. confirmed the election by his bull bearing date 5th May, 1420. Owing to a multiplicity of engagements and the king's illness, he could not be spared for a time to visit his new diocese; but in the interval his Register (vol. iii. fol. 23) and the fabric rolls testify his zeal in promoting the completion of his cathedral and its cloisters. King Henry V. constituted him one of his executors; and we meet his lordship at Windsor on 28th September, 1422, when the Chancellor, Thomas Langley. Bishop of Durham, delivered up the gold seal of England in a purse of white leather to his infant sovereign Henry VI. (Rymer's 'Foedera,' vol. x. fol. 253). On his return home he held a diocesan synod.
To the vicars-choral of the cathedral the bishop proved himself a considerable benefactor; for their better maintenance he appropriated to them therectorial tithes of Cornwood on. the 6th June, 1432 ('Reg.' vol. ii. fol. 19). His appropriation of the church of Ipelpen on 13th March, 1439, to the custos and college of Ottery is recorded in his Register (vol. iii. fol. 145).
All concur in opinion that he was a meek, charitable, and pious bishop. The office that he composed in honour of the Archangel Raphael (whose festival was kept here on 5th October) was greatly admired by our forefathers, and was used in this and several other dioceses. William Boothe Archbishop of York, in his letter dated "in manerio nostro de Suthewell, 10th October, 1454," in adopting it for his cathedral, extols the author's devotion and zeal, and acknowledges his generous donation of a rich set of vestments for high mass, with three copes of red velvet, and three albs with their appurtenances for his metropolitan church, and twenty pounds sterling for the benefit of its vicars choral. Thomas (Spofford.) Bishop of Hereford, on 6th September, 1445, had admitted and approved the said office, and relates that our prelate had given a set of high mass vestments and three copes of red velvet, with orfreys of gold and red cloth, together with coverings and frontlets of cloth worked with falcons, for the high altar and its two collateral altars, the whole exceeding the value of 200 marks - "consideratâ ejusdem Ecclesiæ nostræ notoriâ paupertatê" (Lacy's 'Reg.' vol. iii. fol. 486). Richard Beauchamp, translated from Hereford to Salisbury, licensed the use of this office for his new diocese on 20th August, 1456. It was also accepted by the provincial chapter of the English Franciscans holden at Chichester on 15th August, 1444.
In the inventory of the jewels, plate, and ornaments of Exeter Cathedral, drawn up on 6th September, 1506, in the possession of the dean and chapter, and exhibited to the commissioners of King Edward VI. on 30th September, 1552, we find it still possessed the chalice of pure gold, weighing 23 ounces, two golden cruets, two silver basons, gilt and enamelled, several splendid vestments, tapestry, and carpets and books, all "ex demo Edmundi Lacy nuper Exon. Episcopi." He is known to have built the great hall in Exeter House, the residence of our bishops in London.
The ponderous Registers of our prelate, comprising upwards of 1700 pages, are decided evidence of his indefatigable attention to his official duties. In consideration of his increasing lameness and weak health he was excused from attending on parliament (Rymer's 'Foedera,' vol. x. p. 404)., The death of the venerable prelate took place at his manor-house, Chudleigh, on 18th September, 1455, as his Register shows, and he was buried on the north side of the cathedral choir. His tomb remains, despoiled of its brass, or, as Leland expresses it ('Itin.' vol. iii. p. 45), "was defaced by Simon Heynes," who was dean between 1537 and 1552. From Hoker and Godwin we collect that the bishop's memory was long venerated in this diocese, and that pilgrims resorted to his tomb.
The will of the bishop, proved 8th October, 1455, in the Prerogative Court (as Dr. Richardson asserts in his edition of Godwin 'De Prassulibus Angliæ,' p. 413) no longer exists; but we learn from documents, in the archives of our dean and chapter, that tenements, which had been granted them, to support his obit, and those of Philip Lacy, Esq., and his wife Isabella, brought in an income in the year 1467 of 7l. 18s. 8d. Queen Elizabeth, by her charter of 5th July, 1587, restored to the dean and chapter "three barns and one field with its appurtenances near Southernhay, within the county of the city of Exeter," and also to the custos and college of priest-vicars the rectory of Cornwood, formerly granted to maintain the obit of Edmund Lacy the bishop in the cathedral church of St. Peter at Exeter.
In conclusion we have to express our concern at not being able to offer further information of a prelate so distinguished in his generation? But perhaps of a bishop so exemplary in discharging the duties of his office, this very silence on the part of political contemporaries may be the best commendation.
Arms: - Azure, three Shoveller's heads erased argent.
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