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Richard Barnes (bishop)

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Richard Barnes (bishop)

Richard Barnes
Bishop of Durham
Diocese Diocese of Durham
In office 1575–1587
Predecessor James Pilkington
Successor Matthew Hutton
Other posts Bishop suffragan of Nottingham (1567–1570)
Bishop of Carlisle (1570–1575)
Ordination 1558 (deacon & priest)
Consecration 1567
Personal details
Born 1532
Bold, south Lancashire, England
Died 24 August 1587(1587-08-24) (aged 54–56)
Nationality English
Denomination Anglican
Spouse Fredesmund
Children Mary
Alma mater Brasenose College, Oxford

Richard Barnes (1532 – 24 August 1587) was an Anglican priest who served as a bishop in the Church of England during the reign of Elizabeth I.


  • Early life, education and family 1
  • Episcopal career 2
  • Whittingham affair 3
  • Styles and titles 4
  • References 5
  • Sources 6

Early life, education and family

He was born in Bold which was then a village near St Helens in south Lancashire. He attended Farnworth Grammar School and then was admitted to Brasenose College, Oxford. Here he was elected a fellow in 1552, and received his BA in 1553. This was followed by a BD and then a postgraduate MA in 1557. Finally he became a DD in 1579.

Barnes was ordained a deacon on 24 September 1558 at St Bartholomew-the-Great by Peter Wall, Bishop of Clonmacnoise[1] and a priest on 7 December by Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London at his manor's chapel.[2] After receiving Holy Orders he was made Minister of Stonegrave in Yorkshire. In 1561 he was appointed Canon Chancellor (and canon of the Laughton prebend which was annexed thereto) of York Minster, which offices he held until 1571.

He married Fredesmund Gifford in the 1560s.[3] Their daughter Mary was born about 1567; she married Richard Jocelyn of Hyde Hall in Sawbridgeworth. (Jocelyn was an ancestor of the Baronets Jocelyn of Hyde Hall, the Viscounts Jocelyn and the Earls of Roden by his second wife Joyce Atkinson.)[4][5]

Episcopal career

In 1567 he was appointed Bishop suffragan of Nottingham and later, in 1570, was appointed Bishop of Carlisle. As bishop, he soon gained a reputation as someone dedicated to seeking out recusants. In 1575 he was translated to Durham, as a result of the patronage of William Cecil, 1st Baron Burghley: his election to that See was confirmed on 9 May[6] and he was enthroned at Durham Cathedral on 19 May.[6] It seems that he was on bad terms with Edmund Grindal, then Archbishop of Canterbury. One possible reason for this is that Barnes disapproved of Grindal's refusal to suppress the prophesyings — which refusal had led to Grindal being suspended from office.

Whittingham affair

At the first Metropolitan Visitation of Barnes' tenure, in 1577, Edwin Sandys, Archbishop of York, delegated his authority to Barnes. However, he met determined opposition from the Dean, William Whittingham, who refused to allow him in to the chapter house. In retaliation, Barnes excommunicated Whittingham. Barnes later, during a legitimate episcopal visitation, described the diocese's affairs thus:

...that Augiae Stabulum, the church of Durham ... whose stink is grievous in the nose of God and of men and which to purge far passeth Hercules' labours (BL, Lansdowne MS. 25, fols. 161–2)

However, the conspiracy against Whittingham was brought to an end by the dean's death in 1579.

Styles and titles

  • 1532–1558: Richard Barnes Esq.
  • 1558–1561: The Reverend Richard Barnes
  • 1561–1567: The Reverend Canon Richard Barnes
  • 1567–1579: The Right Reverend Richard Barnes
  • 1579–1587: The Right Reverend Doctor Richard Barnes


  1. ^ Ordination Record: Barnes, Richardus in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 29 July 2015)
  2. ^ Ordination Record: Barnes, Richardus in "CCEd, the Clergy of the Church of England database" (Accessed online, 29 July 2015)
  3. ^ "Richard Barnes".  
  4. ^ Barns-Graham, Peter Charles. "Jocelyn01". Stirnet. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  5. ^ "Mary Barnes".  
  6. ^ a b The Injunctions and other Ecclesiastical Proceedings of Richard Barnes, Bishop of Durham, from 1575 to 1587: p. IX (Accessed 1 February 2014)


  • Foster, Alan, A History of Farnworth Church, its Parish and Village, 1981.
Church of England titles
New title Bishop of Nottingham
In abeyance
Title next held by
Henry Mackenzie
Preceded by
John Best
Bishop of Carlisle
Succeeded by
John May
Preceded by
James Pilkington
Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by
Matthew Hutton
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