Wilfrid – People

Reproduced from the North Isle Nave window in Chichester Cathedral


Feast Day


Acha, Queen


Daughter of King Aelle of Deira and married King Aethelfrith of Northumbria

Aelle, King


King of Deira (559-588) having seized the sub-kingdom on the death of King Ida of Bernicia

Aethelburh (Ethelburga), Queen


Daughter of the King of Kent and wife of King Edwin of Northumbria. She brought to Northumbria the Roman missionary Paulinus, who converted Edwin and many of his subjects in 627; daughter Eanfled married King Oswiu. On death of Edwin in 632, Aethelburh flees with her daughter Eanfled and Paulinus back to Kent (with Hilda?). Later founded a monastery at Liming.

Aethelfrith (Ethelfrid), King


Son of Aethelric and grandson of Ida; King of Northumbria (592 – 616)

Aethelric, King


King of Bernicia on death of Ida (559-592) and also Deira on Aelle’s death around 588

Agilbert (Agilberht), Bishop


Gaulish Bishop who ordained Wilfrid as a priest (663 ) at the instigation of King Alhfrith. Wilfrid acted as spokesman for Agilbert at the Synod of Whitby (664), successfully advocating the rejection of Celtic practices in favour of Roman. One of the bishops who consecrated Wilfrid as bishop of Northumbria at Compiègne, France.

Aidan, St.

31 August

b. , Ireland d. 651, Bamburgh, Northumberland .Apostle of Northumbria, monastic founder, first bishop of Lindisfarne.

Alhfrith (Alcfrith), King


Son of King Oswiu; sub-king of Deira (655-664); banished or killed at hand of Oswiu

Aldfrith, King


Illegitimate son of Oswiu; King Bernicia (685-704)

Augustine of Canterbury


First archbishop of Canterbury. Prior of the Benedictine monastery of St. Andrew, Rome, when Pope St Gregory I the Great chose him to lead a mission of about 40 monks to England in 597. Died 604/5

Bead, the Venerable, St.


b 672/3 d 735Anglo-Saxon theologian, historian, and chronologist,

Benedict Biscop, Biscop Baducing, St.

12 January

b. c. 628, Northumbria d. 689/690, Wearmouth, Northumbria. Accompanied Wilfrid as far as Lyons on first journey to Rome 652/3. Made several journeys to Rome; on second journey in 664/5/6? was to accompany  Alhfrith, sub-king of Deira (king  Oswiu’s son] but Oswiu forbade it [LAWJ 12] King Ecgfrith gave him 70 hides of land to form a monastery at Wearmouth where he installed his own form of the Benedict Order based on what he observed on his visits to Rome.



Mother of St. Hilda. Celtic origins and married Anglo Saxon Hereric, nephew of King Edwin.

Cadwallon (Caedwalla or Cadwalader), King


d. 633, British king of Gwynedd (in present north Wales) who, with the Mercian king Penda, invaded Northumbria in 632, killed the Northumbrian king Edwin in battle, and devastated the region. Defeated and slain by Oswald near Hexham.

Chad, St.

2 March

d. 672, Lichfield, Mercia. Educated at Lindisfarne. At the request of King Oswiu, he was consecrated bishop of the Northumbrians (with his see at York) whilst Wilfrid was in Gaul being consecrated to the same position. In 669 the new archbishop, St. Theodore of Canterbury, charged Chad with improper ordination. On Wilfrid’s return in the same year, Chad resigned York and retired to Laestingaeu. When the bishop of Mercia died, Theodore asked King Oswiu to appoint Chad as the bishop’s successor. The king approved, and Chad, having been reconsecrated by Theodore in 669, chose Lichfield, where he built a church and monastery, as the new seat of his diocese.

Colman, St.

8 August

b. c. 605, Ireland d. 676, Inishbofin Island. A monk at the monastery of Iona before succeeding Finan in 661 to become the third bishop-abbot of Lindisfarne. He championed the case for the Celtic practices at the Synod of Whitby in 664 but King Oswiu ruled in favour of the Roman practices championed by Wilfrid. After the decision he resigned his see and, with all the Irish and about 30 of the English monks of Lindisfarne, returned to Iona. Between 665 and 667 he founded several Scottish churches, afterward sailing to Ireland with his disciples.

Columba, St.

9 June

b. c. 521, Tyrconnell [now County Donegal, Ire.] d 597, Iona [Inner Hebrides, Scot.]; abbot and missionary traditionally credited with the main role in the conversion of Scotland to Christianity. Columba and his 12 disciples erected a church and a monastery on the island of Iona (c. 563)

Constantine the Great


b 280? d 337 . Commander of a garrison at York when proclaimed Emperor. First Roman emperor to profess Christianity. Instigated Council of Nicaea in 325 (referred to by Wilfrid at the Synod of Whitby).

Cuthbert, St.

20 March

b. 634/635 d. 687 bishop of Lindisfarne

Eanfled, Queen


Daughter of King Edwin of Northumbria and Queen Aethelburh; married King Oswiu. Sponsored Wilfrid at Lindisfarne; sent Wilfrid to her cousin Erconberht, king of Kent and supported his first visit to Rome. On Oswiu’s death in 670 she brought his body to Whitby abbey for burial. She stayed on at the abbey with her daughter Eanfled and later had her father King Edwin’s remains buried at the abbey. She succeeded Hilda as abbess of Whitby after Hilda’s death in 680.

Eanfrith (Eanfrid) King


Son of Aethelfrith; seized power in Bernicia on death of Edwin 632 but killed by Cadwallon 633

Eata, St.


Abbot of Melrose, founded a Celtic monastery at Ripon in 651. Replaced by Wilfrid as abbot of Ripon in 660/1 and returned to Melrose with his Celtic monks. In 677 Archbishop Theodore breaks up Wilfrid’s see and appoints Eata bishop to Bernicia with seat at either Hexham or Lindisfarne.

Ecgfrith (Egfrith), King


Son of Oswiu; King of Bernicia (670-685)

Edmer (Eadmer) b c 1060 d c 1128, Canterbury. English historian and biographer of  St. Anslem. Born into wealthy family impoverished by the Norman Conquest. Raised at Christ Church, Canterbury where he lived as a monk until 1093. Accompanied Anslem on extensive travels until Anslem’s death in 1109. Greatest works ‘Historia novorum in Anglia’ (c 1115) and Vita Anselmi (c 1124) . [EB] .Interest here is his ‘Vita Santa Wilfridi’ relating how Oda, Archbishop of Canterbury,  removed the remains of Wilfrid from Ripon to Christ Church to ensure their safe preservation.

Edwin, King


King of Northumbria (616-632)

Egbert, King


King of Kent 664-73

Erconberht, King


King of Kent, father of Egbert, cousin of Queen Eanfled.

Elfleda (Aelfflaed) (Aelfleda), Saint


B 655 Daughter of King Oswiu and Queen Eanfled. Oswiu dedicated her to a life in the church after his defeat of Penda. Brought up by Hilda first at Hartlepool and then Whitby monasteries. Succeeded her mother Eanfled as abbess of Whitby.

Ethelthryth (Etheldreda), Queen


Daughter of Anna, king of the East Angles. First married to an ealdorman of the South Gyrwe named Tondberht who died shortly after the marriage, Queen and first wife of King Ecgfrith. Marriage remained unconsummated and later Wilfrid conducted a ceremony at Coldingham (run by Abbess Aebbe, Ecgfrith’s aunt) making her a nun. Became Abbess of Ely.



Father of St. Hilda. Married Celt Breguswith. Nephew of King Edwin and exiled during Hilda’s birth in 614. Died, possibly of poisening shortly after Hilda’s birth.



Sister of St. Hilda. Married to the king of East Anglia and had a son Eadwulf who became king of Mercia. When widowed retired to a French convent at Chelles on the river Marne near Paris.

Hilda (Hild), Saint

17 November

 B 614 d 680. great niece of King Edwin. Daughter of Anglo Saxon Hereric, brother of Edwin and Celtic Breguswith. Her sister Hereswith married the king of East Anglia. In 647 Hilda was staying with her nephew Aldwulf, king of the East Angles in preparation to join her widowed sister in a monastery at Chelles near Paris. Bishop Aidan of Lindisfarne intervenes and gives her a parcel of land on the south bank of the Tyne (modern day South Shields) to form a monastery. In 649 moves to become abbess of Harlepool and abbess of Streoneshalh (Whitby) in 657. At Harlepool Hilda was charged with looking after Oswiu’s daughter Elfleda who he dedicated to a life in the church after his defeat of Penda. Elfeda subsequently taken to Whitby with Hilda in 657.

Whitby becomes a renowned centre of learning under Hilda. Through her guidance the humble farm labourer Caedmon became established as the first English poet.

The Synod of Whitby is held at the monastery in 664 with Hilda supporting with Bishop Colman the Celtic cause. Unlike Colman (who renounces his see at Lindisfarne), Hilda accepts the decisions made by Oswiu in favour of the Roman traditions but remains a critic of Wilfrid. In 677 when Wilfrid appeals to Rome against the decision of Archbishop Theodore to divide his see into three, Hilda sends an ambassador to Rome to support the Archbishop’s decision.

Ida, King


First King of Bernicia (547-559)

Iurminburg, Queen


Second wife of King Ecgfrith and bitterly opposed to Wilfrid.

James the Deacon


Deacon to Archbishop Paulinus at York and left as the sole survivor of the Paulinus Roman Mission in Northumbria after king Edwin killed and Paulinus fled back to Kent with Edwin’s queen Aethelburh

John of Beverley


Bishop of Hexam in 678 and bishop of York in 708. came from Canterbury to study under Hilda at Whitby. Set up a monastery to retire to and bcame known as John of Beverley


Edmer’s 12th century document Vita Sancti Wilfridi (Life of Wilfrid) makes reference to how Lanfranc enshrined the relics of Wilfrid (previously moved by Odo from Ripon to Christ Church, Canterbury – see below for Odo),  to a newly built church at Canterbury par 115 [VSW].

b 1005 d 1089, Archbishop of Canterbury [DONB]

Oda (Odo) 

Edmer’s 12th century document Vita Sancti Wilfridi (Life of Wilfrid) makes reference to how Odo removed Wilfrid’s relics from Ripon to Christ Church to ensure their safe preservation par 113-114 [VSW] But note from below that the relics could have been mistaken for those of Wilfrid II of York!

d 959, archbishop of Canterbury, called ‘the Good’.One of Ælfred’s nobles, named Æthelhelm, or Athelm, adopted him, caused him to be baptised, and provided a teacher for him, under whose care he learnt Latin. Æthelstan highly esteemed him, and gave him the bishopric of Ramsbury, to which he was ordained in 927 by Archbishop Wulfhelm. On the death of Wulfhelm in 942 King Eadmund offered him the archbishopric, but he declined it on the ground that it ought not to be held except by a monk. The king persisted, and finally he either sent or went in person to Fleury to request that he might be granted the cowl by the convent there. During the reign of Eadred he accompanied the king on one of his expeditions into the north, possibly in 947, when Ripon was destroyed, going not as a warrior, but in order to negotiate, and collected relics of saints from the ruins of Ripon. Chief among these were the bones of Wilfrid the famous bishop of York, which he sent to Canterbury. By his command Frithegode composed his metrical ‘Life of Wilfrid,’ for which Odo wrote the extant prose preface (Historians of York, i. 105-7). In this he speaks of his translation of the saints’ relics. It has, however, been asserted, on the authority of the contemporary ‘Life of Oswald,’ that the bones which he translated were those of Archbishop Wilfrid the second (ib. pp. 225, 462; Gesta Pontificum, p. 245). Oswald (d. 972) [q.v.], afterwards archbishop of York, was his nephew, and it was with his uncle’s approval that Oswald went, probably in Eadred’s reign, to Fleury to learn the Benedictine rule. [DONB]

Odo of Bayeux b c.1036 d Feb. 1097, Palermo. Also called Earl of Kent. Half brother of William the Conqueror and bishop of Bayeux. Probably commissioned the Bayeux tapestry for the dedication of his cathedral in 1077. Son of Herluin of Conteville by Arlette who had previously been the mistress of Duke Robert 1 of Normandy. Took part in the Norman invasion in 1066 and fought in the Battle of Hastings. Following year made Earl of Kent and assigned to guard southeast England. With 2 other men ruled England during William’s frequent abscences. Active in organsising the First Crusade and died on his way to the Holy Land [EB]

Osric, King


Son of Aelfric and cousin of Edwin; seized power in Deira on death of Edwin 632 but killed by Cadwallon 633

Oswald (Oswold), King

5 August

b. c. 604 d. 642 Son of Aethelfrith and King of Northumbria after slaying King Cadwallon of Gwynedd. Defeated and killed by Penda at Maserfelth (probably near Oswestry).

Oswin, King


Son of Osric. Ruled Deira on death of Oswald 642 and killed after quarrelling with Oswiu 651

Oswiu (Oswu), King


Son of Aethelfrith, brother of Oswald and King of Northumbria (642-670)



Roman monk, Archbishop of York. Brought to Northumbria when Aethelburh married king Edwin.

Penda (Penga), King


d. Nov. 15, 654), Anglo-Saxon king of Mercia from about 632 until 654. Killed Northumbrian Kings Edwin and Oswald; slain by the Northumbrian king Oswin at the Battle of the Winwaed near Leeds.

Raedwold, King


King of the Angles

Theodore, Archbishop


b 603 d 690 a Greek monk, appointed archbishop of Canterbury by the pope in 668 and re-instates Wilfrid as Bishop of York in 669. He divides Wilfrid’s diocese in 677/8 – Bosa (monk from Whitby ) to Deira with his seat at York and Eata (of Melrose and Ripon)         to Bernicia with seat at either Hexham or Lindisfarne. Soon after creates new see at Ripon and invites Eadhead to be first bishop. Wilfrid appeals to Rome

Wulfhere, King


King of Mercia 659-75