William of St. Barbara

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William of St. Barbara
Bishop of Durham
Elected 14 March 1143
Installed c. 18 October 1144
Term ended 13 November 1152
Predecessor William Cumin
Successor Hugh de Puiset
Other posts Dean of York
Consecration 20 June 1143
Personal details
Died 13 November 1152
Buried Durham Cathedral in the chapter house
Denomination Catholic

William of St. Barbara or William of Ste Barbe (died 1152) was a medieval Bishop of Durham.


From William's name, it is presumed that he was a native of Sainte-Barbe-en-Auge in Calvados in Normandy (Neustria).[1] He was a canon of York Minster in 1128.[2] He was Dean of York by December 1138.[3]

William was elected to the see of Durham on 14 March 1143 and consecrated on 20 June 1143.[4] He was elected in opposition to William Cumin who had been intruded into the see by King David I of Scotland in 1141. Cumin was never consecrated and by 1143 had been excommunicated by Pope Innocent II who also ordered a new election to be held at York Minster. It was this election which selected William of St. Barbara.[5] However, the new bishop was not able to enter Durham right away,[6] and he was enthroned either on 18 October 1144 or shortly thereafter.[7]

Troubles continued in Durham, and the bishop was unable to attend the Council of Rheims in 1148, which led to a suspension by the pope for inattendence. William supported Henry Murdac in the disputed election to the archbishopric of York, and it was probably Murdac who arranged for the suspension to be lifted. William also supported the Cistercians and the Augustinians, which perturbed his cathedral chapter which was made up of Benedictine monks.[1] He died 13 November 1152.[4] A grave identified as his was excavated in the 19th century in the chapter house of Durham Cathedral.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Offler "Ste Barbe, William de" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 6: York: Prebends: Unidentified Prebends
  3. Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 6: York: Deans of York
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 241
  5. Crouch Reign of King Stephen p. 310
  6. Barlow English Church p. 97
  7. Greenway Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066-1300: Volume 2: Monastic Cathedrals (Northern and Southern Provinces): Durham: Bishops
  8. Carver "Early Medieval Durham" Medieval Art and Architecture p. 13


Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
William Cumin
Bishop of Durham
Succeeded by
Hugh de Puiset