Ralph of Norwich (a.1200–p.1258), priest and royal official, began his connection with Ireland in May 1216, when he was sent as a messenger to the justiciar, Geoffrey de Marisco (qv), from the king. In the next decade Ralph made at least six crossings of the Irish Sea and served in a variety of administrative positions in both England and Ireland, including royal messenger and exchequer official in Ireland. His connections to the court gained him several benefices, including a canonry in St Patrick's, Dublin (1227). In 1229 he was granted custody of the temporalities of the see of Emly, with the instruction that he was to use them to further the king's interests in the succession dispute in the vacant see. In the same year he was sent to advise the Irish clergy on the collection of a levy, and in March 1230 Ralph conveyed 2,000 marks sent from Ireland to the king by the justiciar, Richard de Burgh (qv). His death was erroneously reported in 1231 and recorded in the Annals of Dunstable. Ralph served in England as a justice of the Jews by 1227, a justice of the king's bench till c.1234, and an itinerant justice from 1235.
He was appointed chancellor of Ireland on 9 July 1249 and held office till 16 May 1256, when he was ordered to surrender the seal of the lordship of Ireland to the king's son, the Lord Edward (he had relinquished before 25 July 1256). He was elected archbishop of Dublin after the death of Archbishop Luke (qv) in December 1255 and was accepted as such by the king. However, his election was quashed by the pope on the grounds that he was entirely a secular cleric and a royal official, lending credence to Matthew Paris's description of Ralph as a witty man, of sumptuous tastes, who was more at home in the royal courts than in the halls of learning. After surrendering his position as chancellor Ralph returned to England, where he was acting as an itinerant justice in 1258.