William of Wykeham

1324-1404. Bishop of Winchester. Born in humble circumstances, he was educated at Winchester and held various royal administrative posts before becoming chancellor in 1367. He received numerous ecclesiastical livings from 1357 although he was not priested until 1362. Five years later he was consecrated bishop of Winchester. Anticlerical agitation led to his dismissal from the chancellorship (1371), and John of Gaunt had him brought to trial (1376) to answer for his conduct while in office. Though found guilty on only one minor count, he was sentenced to forfeit the temporalities of his see and dismissed from court. On the accession of Richard II he was pardoned, and twelve years later resumed the chancellorship. His importance lies in his generous educational patronage; he endowed a college at Oxford (now New College) in 1379, and a school at Winchester in 1382. His school was the first independent and self-governing school in the country and became the pattern for Henry VI's foundation at Eton.