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Term ended1084
PredecessorÆthelmær, Bishop of Elmham
SuccessorWilliam de Beaufeu, Bishop of Thetford
Personal details
DenominationRoman Catholic Church
Lord Chancellor
In office
MonarchWilliam I of England
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byOsmund

Herfast or Arfast (died 1084) was the first Lord Chancellor of Norman England. He was also Bishop of Elmham and later Bishop of Thetford, after he moved his see there.


Born in Normandy, Herfast joined William the Conqueror during the Norman Conquest of England and was appointed head of the royal writing office after the Battle of Hastings. He was Lord Chancellor of England from 1068 to 1070.[1]

After serving as Lord Chancellor, he was consecrated Bishop of Elmham in 1070, but about 27 May 1072 he moved the see to Thetford, thus becoming Bishop of Thetford.[2] He attempted to move his diocese to Bury St. Edmunds Abbey, with the assistance of Herman the Archdeacon, but the proposal was opposed by its abbot, Baldwin. Herfast finally lost in the King's Court in 1081 and was fined a crippling amount, which was unpaid when he died.[3]

He signed the Accord of Winchester in 1072.[4]

Bishop Herfast died in 1084.[4] He was a married bishop, and his sons held land in Norfolk at the time of Domesday Book in 1086.[5]


  1. ^ Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 83. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  2. ^ Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1986). Handbook of British Chronology (3rd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 217 and 243. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  3. ^ Licence, Tom (June 2009). "History and Hagiography in the Late Eleventh Century: The Life and Work of Herman the Archdeacon, Monk of Bury St Edmunds". English Historical Review. 124 (508): 518–521. ISSN 0013-8266.
  4. ^ a b Greenway, Diana E. (1971). Fasti Ecclesiae Anglicanae 1066–1300. Vol. 2: Monastic cathedrals (northern and southern provinces). pp. 55–58.
  5. ^ Williams, Ann (2000). The English and the Norman Conquest. Ipswich: Boydell Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-85115-708-4.

Further reading

Political offices Preceded byfirst Norman Chancellor Lord Chancellor 1068–1070 Succeeded byOsmund Catholic Church titles Preceded byÆthelmær Bishop of Elmham 1070–1075 Succeeded bysee moved to Thetford Preceded bysee moved from Elmham Bishop of Thetford 1075 – 1084 Succeeded byWilliam de Beaufeu

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