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William Waynflete

Born: 1395 at Wainfleet All Saints, Lincolnshire
Provost of Eton
Bishop of Winchester
Died: 11th August 1486 at Bishops Waltham, Hampshire

William of Waynflete was the eldest son of Richard Pattin (alias Barbour). His father was a Lincolnshire esquire of good family, married to Margery, daughter of Sir William Bereton of Bereton (Staffs). He took his surname of Waynflete from the place of his birth in that county. He was educated in Wykeham's Colleges at Winchester and Oxford; the former of which he subsequently became master and was removed thence by King Henry VI to the new royal foundation at Eton. Here he was appointed provost in 1443. Four years later, he was elected Bishop of Winchester, on the nomination of the King; and, for nine years from 1449 to 1459, Waynflete was Chancellor of England.

Throughout the Wars of the Roses, he remained constant to his early patron, King Henry VI, and was consequently regarded with disfavour during the reign of his successor, Edward IV. Waynflete, however, lived to see the restoration of the Red Rose of Lancaster in the person of King Henry Tudor and died in 1486: the last of a triad of long-lived prelates at Winchester - Wykeham, Beaufort and himself.

Waynflete's reputation for learning and piety was great. He is now, however, best remembered as the founder of Magdalene College, Oxford - a magnificent endowment, not surpassed by those of his predecessor, Wykeham, or of King Henry himself. Some prescience of a great coming change was apparently felt by these prelates, as well as by Fox and Wolsey, all of whom appropriated large masses of ecclesiastical wealth and landed property to the foundation of colleges, rather than of monasteries. "It can hardly be doubted that some wise Churchman suggested the noble design of Henry VI in the endowment of King's at Cambridge and of Eton. Wolsey's more magnificent projects seem, as it were, to be arming the Church for some imminent contest. They reveal a sagacious foreknowledge that the Church must take new ground if she will maintain her rule over the minds of men.


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