Walter De Gray - Encyclopedia

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GRAY (or GREY), Walter De (d. 1255), English prelate and statesman, was a nephew of John de Gray, bishop of Norwich, and was educated at Oxford. He owed his early and rapid preferment in church and state to the favour of King John, becoming the king's chancellor in 1205, and being chosen bishop of Lichfield in 1210. He was, however, not allowed to keep this bishopric, but he became bishop of Worcester in 1214, resigning his office as chancellor in the same year. Gray was with John when the king signed Magna Carta in June 1215; soon after this event he left England on the king's business, and it was during his absence that he was forced into the archbishopric of York, owing his election to the good offices of John and of Pope Innocent III. He took a leading part in public affairs during the minority of Henry III., and was regarded with much favour by this king, who employed him on important errands. to foreign potentates, and left him as guardian of England when he went to France in 1242. Afterwards the archbishop seems to have been less favourably disposed towards Henry, and for a time he absented himself from public business; however, in 1255, he visited London to attend a meeting of parliament, and died at Fulham on the 1st of May 1255. Gray was always anxious to assert his archiepiscopal authority over Scotland, and to maintain it against the archbishop of Canterbury, but in neither case was he very successful. He built the south transept of the minster at York and bought for his see the village, afterwards called Bishopthorpe, which is still the residence of the archbishop of York. He was also generous to the church at Ripon. Gray was regarded by his contemporaries as an avaricious, but patriotic man.

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