He was successively councillor of the parlement of Grenoble, secretary to the king, almoner to Marie de' Medici, abbot of Aulnay and finally, in 1606, bishop of Sees.
He was now firmly established in the favour of the king, who gave him successively the abbacy of St Severin, in the diocese of Poitiers, the office of almoner to the dauphiness, and in 1685 the bishopric of Lavaur, from which he was in 1687 promoted to that of Nimes.
The king (Henry VIII.) happened at the time to be visiting in the immediate neighbourhood, and two of his chief counsellors, Gardiner, secretary of state, afterwards bishop of Winchester, and Edward Fox, the lord high almoner, afterwards bishop of Hereford, were lodged at Cressy's house.
Almoners, as distinct from chaplains, appear early as attached to the court of the kings of France; but the title of grand almoner of Franc* first appears in the reign of Charles VIII.
In England, the royal almonry still forms a part of the sovereign's household, the officers being the hereditary grand almoner (the marquess of Exeter), the lord high almoner, the sub-almoner, and the secretary to the lord high almoner.
The office of hereditary grand almoner is now merely titular.
The lord high almoner is an ecclesiastical officer, usually a bishop, who had the rights to the forfeiture of all deodands and the goods of a felo de se, for distribution among the poor.
He had also, by virtue of an ancient custom, the power of giving the first dish from the king's table to whatever poor person he pleased, or, instead of it, alms in money, which custom is kept up by the lord high almoner distributing as many silver pennies as the sovereign has years of age to poor men and women on Maundy Thursday.
The success which attended his efforts on these two occasions, and the eloquence which he displayed, perhaps contributed to his choice as the king's almoner and confessor.
Made Wolsey his almoner immediately on his accession, and the receipt of some half-dozen further ecclesiastical preferments in the first two years of the reign marks his growth in royal favour.
Next came dignities of a slightly lower rank, such as those of grand almoner (Fesch), grand marshal of the palace (Duroc), grand chamberlain (Talleyrand), grand master of the horse (Caulaincourt), grand huntsman (Berthier), grand master of ceremonies (Segur).
In 1882 he became honorary chaplain and sub-almoner to Queen Victoria, and in the following year was appointed dean of Windsor, and domestic chaplain to the queen.
After the States-general was dissolved he remained in Paris, and the next year he became almoner to Anne of Austria, the child-queen of Louis XIII.
In France the arch-chaplain was grand-almoner, and both in France and in the Holy Roman Empire was also high chancellor of the realm.
He preached at the coronation of Queen Anne and became her almoner and confidential adviser in matters of church and state.
He was so remarkable for his bounty and charity to all persons of worth that it was said of him that he seemed to be the almoner-general of the nation.
Returning home, he was appointed tutor to the sons of Henry II., by one of whom (Charles IX.) he was afterwards made grand almoner (1561) and by the other (Henry III.) was appointed, in spite of his plebeian origin, commander of the order of the Holy Ghost.
Through the influence of Samuel Wilberforce, he was offered the post of sub-almoner to Queen Victoria, always recognized as a stepping-stone to the episcopal bench, and his refusal of it was honourably consonant with all else in his career as an Anglican dignitary, in which he united pastoral diligence with an asceticism that was then quite exceptional.
He received the grand cordon of the Legion of Honour, became grand-almoner of the empire and had a seat in the French senate.
A procession is formed in the nave, consisting of the lord high almoner representing the sovereign, the clergy and the yeomen of the guard, the latter carrying white and red purses in baskets.
In 1823 he became a theological student at the seminary of Saint Sulpice; four years later he was ordained and became almoner of the college Henri IV.
After entering the Benedictine order and teaching at the university of Paris from 1435 to 1438, he became almoner to Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, who entrusted him with diplomatic missions in France, Italy, Portugal and Castile.
In the same year he gained a footing at court as almoner to Madame.
In October 1843 he was appointed by the archbishop of York to be sub-almoner to the queen.
His first appointment had been as almoner to Queen Catherine Parr, then wife of Lord Seymour; and he peached her funeral sermon in September 1548.
In 1663 he was prebendary of Ripon, in 1667 prebendary of Salisbury, in 1668 archdeacon of Merioneth, in 1672 dean of Bangor and prebendary of St Paul's, London, in 1680 bishop of St Asaph, in 1689 lord-almoner, in 1692 bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, and in 1699 bishop of Worcester.
He was appointed almoner to the princessdowager of Wales in 1750.