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Jocelin of Wells

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Bishop of Bath and Wells (JOCELINUS THOTEMAN), d. 19 Nov., 1242. He was probably a native of Wells in Somerset, though no details of his parentage have survived. In 1203 he was acting as one of the king's justiciars at Westminster, and in the same year he was one of the custodes of the vacant See of Lincoln . He was already a canon of Wells and in 1203-4 he received two benefices, Lugwardine and Urchenefeld in Herefordshire. When Savaric attempted to gain possession of Glastonbury Abbey, the monks appealed to the pope : whereupon Savaric sent Jocelin with the precentor of Wells to force them to withdraw their appeal. In the year 1205 Savaric died and on 3 February, 1205-6 Jocelin was elected bishop in his stead by the canons of Bath with the concurrence of the chapter of Wells. He was consecrated at Reading on 28 May, 1206. Two years later he left England in consequence of the interdict. The king outlawed him and seized his estates, but these were restored in 1213, when John submitted to the pope. In 1215 he aided Stephen Langton to obtain Magna Charta and his name occurs in the charter as one of the king's counsellors.

On the death of John, Jocelin and the Bishop of Winchester anointed and crowned the boy-king, Henry III, and he actively supported Hubert de Burgh in expelling the French forces which remained in England, and in regaining for the king the royal castles which had been seized by Falkes de Breaute and other unruly barons. In 1218 he acted as one of the itinerant justiciars for the south-west of England and at the same time he brought to a close the long dispute between his diocese and the Abbey of Glastonbury. He received some manors in return for the surrender of his claims and was thenceforth known as the Bishop of Bath and Wells. The proceeds of these manors he devoted to the work of rebuilding Wells cathedral, an old English building with a Norman choir. Jocelin built the existing nave and choir. The west front and the flower part of the three towers were also his work. His cathedral was consecrated on 23 Oct., 1239. He also built the cloisters, began the bishop's palace, and erected a manor house at Wookey. He drew up constitutions for the church, insisted on the residence of the prebends, increased their common fund, and endowed the cathedral school with houses and land. He founded with his brother, Bishop Hugh of Lincoln, St. John's Hospital at Wells. At his own desire he was buried in the choir of the cathdral. A calendar of his episcopal charters and deeds is given in the report of the Historical manuscripts Commission on the manuscripts of Wells cathedral.

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