Thomas Weell

Thomas Weell was instituted as Rector of Thorley on 22 October 1493. Canon Procter's Church Guide and the Board in the Church listing the Rectors would appear to be in error in stating that Thomas was Bishop of Pavia, a diocese in Italy in the ecclesiastical province of Milan.

A confusion probably arose because Thomas was, in fact, Bishop of Pavada, which was near Constantinople (Istanbul). This was, however, no more than a Titular See, that is the seat of a Bishop in name only, as Thomas was what was known as a Suffragan Bishop in Partibus. The designation in partibus is short for in partibus infidelium, that is in the territory of unbelievers. Such no longer functional Diocese were used by the Roman Catholic Church as Titular Sees for assistant or Suffragan Bishops. Registrum Sacrum Anglicanum, which sets out the course of Episcopal succession in England, provides the following information about Thomas:

A.D. 1492. Thomas Weell, Bishop of Pavada, assisted at a consecration in 1494. Suffragan of London, 1492-1502. Rector of Thorley, 1493 ; Thorp, 1495. His will (Thomas Weell, Bishop 'Pavidencis, Suffrygan of Coventrye, of Nun Eaton, Warwickshire') is in the Probate Office, 10 Maynwaring ; dated May 1, proved May 16, 1521 ; to be buried in the chancel of Nuneyton.

For a while during the reign of Henry VII, the Rector of Thorley was therefore a Suffragan Bishop in the Diocese of London, who went on to serve as a Suffrogen Bishop in the Diocese of Coventry and Litchfield.

Philip Hargrave
August 2011


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