John Carpenter (bishop of Worcester)

John Carpenter (1399–1476) was an English Bishop, Provost, and University Chancellor.

John Carpenter
Bishop of Worcester
Appointed20 December 1443
Term endedJuly 1476
PredecessorThomas Bourchier
SuccessorJohn Alcock
Consecration22 March 1444
Personal details
Born4 May 1399
Westbury on Trym, Bristol, England
Diedafter July 1476
Northwick, Worcestershire, England

Early lifeEdit

Carpenter's father was John Carpenter the elder, born around 1362 to Richard or Renaud Carpenter of Cambrai and his wife Christina of London. John Carpenter the bishop was also known as John Carpenter the elder.[1] He had three siblings, Margery, John the younger, and William. His two brothers were baptised in Hereford. He was baptised on 4 May 1399 in St Peter's Church, Westbury on Trym, Bristol, England.[2][unreliable source?] He had a notable uncle also called John Carpenter, town clerk of London.

According to Douglas-Smith, Carpenter was Warden of St. Anthony's Hospital, London and Rector of St. Mary Magdalen.[3] A Master John Carpenter, then King's clerk, is referred to in Patent Rolls of 17 March 1433 and 9 July 1435, the first being a grant for life of the wardenship. John Carpenter, bishop of Worcester, appears as a plaintiff in the Plea Rolls of the Common Pleas, in 1450, and is also described as the warden of the Hospital of St Anthony.[4]

Bishop and chancellorEdit

Carpenter was Provost of Oriel College, Oxford, from 1428 to 1444,[5] and Chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1437.[6] Carpenter was nominated on 20 December 1443 and consecrated as Bishop of Worcester on 22 March 1444. He resigned the see in July 1476.[7] Carpenter died in 1476 in Northwick, Worcestershire, England, and was buried in Westbury on Trym.[2][unreliable source?]

Church at Westbury on TrymEdit

Carpenter was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Westbury on Trym in 1476. He had been baptised at the same church, which at that time was dedicated to St Peter and St Paul. Soon after Carpenter became bishop he sought to raise the status of St Peter's to that of a joint cathedral with Worcester, and styled himself "Bishop of Worcester and Westbury".[6][8] He had the building rededicated to the Holy Trinity.[8] Carpenter added a chancel, and a chapel dedicated to St Oswald, to the fabric.[9] He also refounded and rebuilt Westbury College.[10]

Carpenter was buried in the crypt underneath the altar. His memorial was originally a cadaver tomb, with the bishop in full episcopal attire above an enclosure containing a sculpture of a cadaver or skeleton. This tomb was broken up in 1646, during the Civil War, by soldiers from the Bristol garrison.[6] In 1851 the stone cadaver was found in the crypt of the chapel. This was incorporated in 1853 into a new canopied memorial of Purbeck marble,[10] marked on top with a bishop's crozier. Over the porch entrance doorway is a statue of Bishop Carpenter, of unknown date. At some time headless, the statue was restored in the early 20th century.[6]


  1. ^ This family had Flemish/Du Nord French ancestry in its names. Translations of Jean/Jehan/Jehannes become John in English. Jean & Jehan being the diminutive form became John the younger while some Jehan and all Jehannes became John the elder or rarely John the older. For more details see Jenkin.
  2. ^ a b Carpenters' Encyclopedia of Carpenters 2009 DVD, which contains Carpenter Family genealogy. John the elder Carpenter, Bishop – the subject of the article above is listed as RIN 4678.
  3. ^ "The City of London School" By A. E. Douglas-Smith, 2nd Edition, 1965, Oxford.
  4. ^ "IMG_0687". National Archives. University of Houston Law Center. Retrieved 30 October 2013. Entry number 6
  5. ^ H. E. Salter and Mary D. Lobel, ed. (1954). "Oriel College and St Mary Hall". A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3: The University of Oxford. Victoria County History. pp. 119–131.
  6. ^ a b c d Westbury-on-Trym Parish Church and College. From the information framed at the entrance of the Church and containing the History of the Vicars etc. Info also from "Bishop Carpenters Monument" in the Chancel of the Parish Church and directly over the Sepulchre in the little Chapel beneath the Chancel.
  7. ^ Powicke Handbook of British Chronology p. 261
  8. ^ a b "'College: Westbury-on-Trym', A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 2 (1907), pp. 106–108". British History Online. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  9. ^ "Westbury on Trym: The Church". About Bristol, England, UK. Retrieved 30 October 2013.
  10. ^ a b Little, Bryan (1978). Churches in Bristol. Bristol: Redcliffe Press Ltd. p. 32. ISBN 978-0905459066.

Further readingEdit

  • Powicke, F. Maurice and E. B. Fryde Handbook of British Chronology 2nd. ed. London:Royal Historical Society 1961
  • Peasants And Landlords In Later Medieval England by Fryde, 1996. There is major material on Bishop John Carpenter within. The author says that, "He appears to have come from Westbury near Bristol and to have descended from a family of Episcopal tenants there." (p. 169)
  • Lords and Peasants in a Changing Society: The Estates of the Bishopric of Worcester, 680–1540, Cambridge, 1980. by Dyer.
  • Burton, Edwin. "Ancient Diocese of Worcester". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 15. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1912. 23 April 2009.

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by Provost of Oriel College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chancellor of the University of Oxford
Succeeded by
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by Bishop of Worcester
Succeeded by