Richard Of Ilchester - Encyclopedia

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RICHARD OF ILCHESTER (d. 1188), English statesman and prelate, was born in the diocese of Bath, where he obtained preferment. Early in the reign of Henry II., however, he is found acting as a clerk in the king's court, probably under Thomas Becket, and he was one of the officials who assisted Henry in carrying out his great judicial and financial reforms. In 1162, or 1163, he was appointed archdeacon of Poitiers, but he passed most of his time in England, although in the next two or three years he visited Pope Alexander III. and the Emperor Frederick I. in the interests of the English king, who was then engaged in his struggle with Becket. For promising to support Frederick against Alexander he was excommunicated by Becket in 1166. Before this event, however, Richard had been appointed a baron of the exchequer, his great industry and exceptional abilities as an accountant being recognized by giving him a special seat at the exchequer table, and from 1168 until his death he frequently acted as one of the itinerant justices. Although totally immersed in secular business he received several rich ecclesiastical offices, and in May 1173 he was elected bishop of Winchester, being consecrated at Canterbury in October 1174. Richard still continued to serve Henry II. In 1176 he was appointed justiciar and seneschal of Normandy, and was given full control of all the royal business in the duchy. He died on the 21st or 22nd of December 1188, and was buried in Winchester cathedral. Richard owes his surname to the fact that Henry II. granted him a mill at Ilchester; he is also called Richard of Toclyve.

See the article by Miss K. Norgate in the Diet. Nat. Biog., vol. xlviii. (1896); and W. R. W. Stephens and W. W. Capes, The Bishops of Winchester (1907).

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