James de Berkeley Bishop of Exeter  25
third son of Thomas De Berkley, by his wife, dau. of William De Ferrers Earl of Derby. When the news reached Exeter that Bishop Walter Stapeldon had fallen a victim to the popular phrensy in London, the dean and chapter assembled to deliberate on a suitable successor. Their choice was unanimous in favour of their colleague James Berkeley. For the last eight years he had been also Archdeacon of Huntingdon, and was powerful by his family connections. The royal assent was given to the election on 12 Dec 1326, and six days later the King addressed a letter from Kenilworth to Pope John XXII, extolling the elect for pre-eminence of merit, noble descent, learning, and circumspection, and praying that no obstacle might be opposed to his consecration. To the cardinals individually the King on the same day addressed letters to the same purpose (Rymer's 'Foedera,' tom. .iv. p. 240). The primate Walter Reynolds consecrated the elect, at Canterbury, on Midlent Sunday, 22 Mar following, assisted by the Bishops of Rochester and Chichester; or perhaps on 15 Mar, as the 'Chronicon' of Exeter asserts. But, after the consecration, the Pope interfered: on 22 Apr he announced that he had reserved to himself the power hâc vice of providing a successor to Walter Stapeldon. Godwin has unfairly represented this interference, and takes occasion to vituperate the Holy See: nay, goes so far as to attribute the premature death of the consecrating primate, and of the new Bishop, to the terrors excited by the acerbity of the Pope's language. How wide this is from the truth must be evident from the bull addressed to James Berkley, at the date above mentioned, which is fortunately preserved in Bishop Grandisson's 'Register' (vol. i. fol. 35). With great good sense and feeling, after affirming his right to provision, in this particular case of reserve, he excuses the parties on the ground of their being ignorant of his intention, ratifies his election and consecration, supplies every defect, and commands that no prejudice shall accrue, and no obstacle be interposed to the canonical government of his diocese of Exeter.