Lawrence Booth

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Lawrence Booth
Archbishop of York
Church Catholic
Appointed 1476
Term ended 19 May 1480
Predecessor George Neville
Successor Thomas Rotherham
Ordination 1441
Consecration 25 September 1457
Personal details
Born c. 1420
Barton, Lancashire
Died 19 May 1480 (aged c. 60)
Southwell, Nottinghamshire
Buried Southwell Minster
Nationality English
Parents John Booth
Previous post
Alma mater Pembroke Hall, Cambridge

Lawrence Booth (c. 1420 – 1480) was Prince-Bishop of Durham and Lord Chancellor of England, before becoming Archbishop of York.


The illegitimate son of John Booth of Barton, near Eccles, Lancashire,[1] of the ancient Cheshire family of Booth, established by his brother Sir Robert Booth at Dunham Massey, where it remained seated until the mid-eighteenth century (qv. Earl of Stamford and Warrington).

Lawrence Booth read both Civil and Canon Law at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge,[2] graduating as Licentiate (Lic.C.L.),[3] proceeding Doctor of Divinity. He was elected Master of his college in 1450, a post he held until his death, and also served as Chancellor of the University of Cambridge. Whilst at Cambridge, where he started a movement for both a school for the Arts and a school of Civil Law, he is believed to have produced his first miracle.

Outside Cambridge, Booth's career also advanced quickly helped by his half-brother William Booth, who was Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield (1447–1452) and Archbishop of York (1452–1464).[1] In 1449, he was appointed a Prebendary of St. Paul's Cathedral[4] and, on 2 November 1456, became Dean of St Paul's.[5] He was also a Prebendary of York Minster[6] and of Lichfield Cathedral.[7] From 1454 to 1457 he was Archdeacon of Richmond.[8]

Booth's activities were not confined to the Church; he was also active in government. He was Chancellor to Queen Margaret and, in about 1456, he became Keeper of the Privy Seal,[9] and in that same year on 28 January he was also appointed one of the tutors and guardians of the Prince of Wales. He was Lord Privy Seal until 1460.[9] In 1457 he also served briefly as Provost of Beverley Minster.

On 25 September 1457, Booth was installed as Prince-Bishop of Durham.[10] This was both an important ecclesiastical appointment, and an equally important civil one, as the Prince-Bishop of Durham enjoyed civil authority over a large area of northern England almost until the reign of Queen Victoria.

Although from a Lancastrian family, he cultivated relations with the Yorkists and, after the fall of King Henry VI, Booth adapted himself to the new status quo. He submitted himself to King Edward (the former Earl of March) in April 1461, and by the end of June, Booth was beating back a raid led by the Lords de Ros, Dacre and Rugemont-Grey who brought King Henry VI over the border to try to raise a rebellion in the north of England.[11] Edward named him his confessor.[12] Although he temporarily lost control of the see of Durham, it was restored to him in 1464, after he made submission to King Edward IV; he succeeded in being a prelate who was never imprisoned.[13] He took an active part in King Edward's government thereafter and on 27 July 1473 was made Lord Keeper of the Great Seal,[citation needed] which office he held until May 1474.[14] In October 1473 he led a delegation to Scotland to formally sign the marriage treaty between the newborn son (later James IV of Scotland) of James III and Edward's third daughter Cecily.[15]

In 1476 Booth was translated to the metropolitan see of York,[16] following on from where his half-brother had been archbishop until his death in 1464. He was the only bishop at Edward IV's accession who was ever promoted to higher office.[17]

Booth served as Archbishop of York until his death on 19 May 1480,[16] and is buried beside his brother in the Collegiate Church of Southwell, which both he and his brother generously endowed.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Pollard, A. J. (2008). "Booth, Laurence (c.1420–1480)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  2. "Booth, Laurence (BT450L)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. licentiate in civil law
  4. Jones Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541: volume 10: Coventry and Lichfield diocese: Prebendaries: Offley
  5. Horn Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541: volume 5: St Paul's, London: Deans of St Paul's
  6. Jones Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541: volume 6: Northern province (York, Carlisle and Durham): Prebendaries: Wistow
  7. Jones Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541: volume 10: Coventry and Lichfield diocese: Prebendaries: Gaia Major
  8. Jones Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1300–1541: volume 6: Northern province (York, Carlisle and Durham): Archdeacons: Richmond
  9. 9.0 9.1 Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 95.
  10. Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 242
  11. Ross Edward IV pp. 45–6
  12. Seward The Wars of the Roses p. 85
  13. Davies "The Church and the Wars of the Roses" in The Wars of the Roses p. 141
  14. Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 87
  15. Ross Edward IV p. 213
  16. 16.0 16.1 Fryde Handbook of British Chronology p. 282
  17. Ross Edward IV p. 318


Political offices
Preceded by
Thomas Lisieux
Lord Privy Seal
Succeeded by
Robert Stillington
Preceded by
Robert Stillington
Lord Chancellor
Succeeded by
John Alcock
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Robert Neville
Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by
William Dudley
Preceded by
George Neville
Archbishop of York
Succeeded by
Thomas Rotherham
Academic offices
Preceded by
Hugh Damlet
Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge
Succeeded by
Thomas Rotherham