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John Kemp
(1380-1454)

Bishop of Rochester
Bishop of Chichester
Bishop of London
Archbishop of York
Archbishop of Canterbury
Born: 1380 in Ollantigh, Kent
Died: 22nd March 1454


John was the son of Thomas Kemp of Ollantigh, near Ashford in Kent, where he was born. He was educated at Merton College, Oxford. After having practised as an ecclesiastical lawyer, he became Dean of the Court of Arches, Vicar General to Archbishop Chicheley and Keeper of the Privy Seal. He was also employed by King Henry V to conduct negotiations with Aragon, Sicily and France.

He was appointed to the Archdeaconry of Durham and, in 1419, became Bishop of Rochester, being translated, in 1421, to the See of Chichester and, during the same year, to London. He was a member of the Council which was appointed after the accession of Henry VI and, in 1426, became both Chancellor and Archbishop of York. Kemp was too much engrossed with his political duties to devote much attention to the administration of his diocese, in which great disorder prevailed.

He exerted himself to bring the war with France to a close and took a leading part in the embassies which attempted, without success, to negotiate a peace. He was the mainstay of the Lancastrian party.

In 1439, he was created a Cardinal, by Pope Eugenius IV, and was translated to the See of Canterbury in 1452. His death took place only two years later.

Edited from G.M. Bevan's "Portraits of the Archbishops of Canterbury" (1908).

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