Langley Chapel, Middleton Parish Church,
Langley Chapel, Middleton Parish Church, Langley is one of the figures depicted in the chapel’s stained glass window (second from the left), photo by David Dixon, Geograph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Thomas was born in 1360 in Middleton, Lancashire. He was educated in Lancashire under the patronage of James Radcliffe and entered the service of John of Gaunt. He was King Henry IV’s choice to become Bishop of London in 1404 but, after Pope Innocent VII overrode the decision, Thomas was instead appointed Chancellor of England on 2nd March 1405. He became Archdeacon of Durham the following year.

Twice chancellor of England, Archdeacon of Durham, Kings Council and de facto diplomat, Thomas used his political position and the trust of the King to acquire vast personal wealth. Thomas served as King’s Council, King’s Conscience and Chancellor to Henry IV, V and VI. From Durham alone, Thomas received over £4,000 per annum, making him one of the top five richest men in England.

Langley’s philanthropic endeavours were focused on improving education in Durham and supporting the Sherburn House Charity. He is attributed with founding Durham School in 1414. Two Chaplains were funded in the Galilee Chapel of Durham Cathedral to provide free Grammar and music lessons to poor children. In 1429 Langley also donated the St. Cuthbert window at York Minster: an eighteen-panel stain glass window for which funds are currently being raised for its restoration by the York Minster Trust.

Thomas Langley died in November 1437 at his palace in Bishop Auckland.


Fraser, C.M. (2004) 'Langley, Thomas (c. 1360–1437), administrator and bishop of Durham', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, [Online]. Available here (Accessed: 16/05/2018).

York Minster. (2018). 'Protecting the York Minster Glass' [Online]. Available here (Accessed: 16/05/2018).