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Christopher Bainbridge

1480 - 1514

ARCHBISHOP OF YORK DIPLOMAT AND CARDINAL

For a lad born on a Westmorland fellside farm, the life of Christopher
Bainbridge followed a startlingly distinguished course, and finally achieved
the high office of Cardinal.
The Bainbriggs (now spelled Bainbridge) were originally a Lunesdale family,
but were already settled in Hilton, near Appleby, when Reginald Bainbridge
was born in 1437. He married Isabella Langton, whose brother was
Archbishop-elect of Canterbury.
The Reginald Bambridges were a large family. The eighth child Thomas
succeeded his father on the farm, and in 1472 is described as 'gentleman of
the schyer,' (shire) - what today would be called a gentleman - or
yeoman-farmer. Thomas's grandson Reginald became Headmaster of Appleby
Grammar School from 1578 to 1613.
It is the second son who concerns us here. He was born at the farm at
Hilton in 1460. Following the educational pattern of other Appleby
scholars, he went to Queen's College, Oxford, where he succeeded his uncle
as Provost in 1495, when he was 35 years of age. He studied law at the
Universities of Ferrara and Bologna, and the astuteness thus inculcated was
a strong factor in his advancement in the Church of the time.

From Oxford, preferment followed rapidly. Progressing through a succession
of appointments as Prebendary of Salisbury, then of Lincoln, and several
other places, he was Master of the Rolls when he was appointed Bishop of
Durham in 1507.
After only one year at Durham, he was elected Archbishop of York in iSOg.
This appointment was even more short-lived, as, after only three months in
office, king Henry VIII selected him as Ambassador Extraordinary to the
Papal Court in Rome. He was obviously a man marked for advancement, for in
1511, Pope Julius II c~ated him Cardinal of St Praxis.
Alas, Christopher Bambridge's rise to high office was cut short when his
steward, Rivaldus de M~nena, murdered him by poison on 14th July 1514. It
is~said that he had caned the man for a misdemeanor, and the act was one of
vengeance, though it is possible that political intrigue was the underlying
cause of his death.

Christopher Bambridge was buried in Rome, where his tomb may still be seen
at the English College. The house 'Lane End' in Hilton is said to stand on
the on the site of the farm where he was born

Further reading: D S chambers. Cardinal Bambridge in the Court or Rome.
(Oxford, 1965) G Atkinson, The Worthies ol Westmorland, (London, 1849)