Oldham Family History

OLDHAM, Bishop Hugh

OLDHAM, Bishop Hugh

Male 1452 - 1519  (67 years)

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  • Name OLDHAM, Hugh 
    Prefix Bishop 
    Born 1452  Crumpsall, Manchester, England, UK Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 1519 
    • Testamenta Vetusta: Being Illustrations from Wills....

      Hugh Bishop of Exeter

      Hugh Bishop of Exeter, 16th December 1518.
      If I die within the Diocese of Exeter. My body to be buried in the South part of St. Peter's Church in Exeter, in the Chapel that I have caused there to be made and hallowed in the honor of my Lord God St. Saviour; and if I die without the Diocese of Exeter, then I will my body be carried to Oxford, there to be buried in Corpus Christi College, that my Lord of Winchester hath caused there to be made; and if my goods will not suffice to bring me to Oxford, then I will my body be buried in the next College Church or religious house of Monks or Canons. I will that in the Chapel that I have caused to be made in Exeter Church, one of the Vicars Chorals there say mass daily for ever, with a collect for my soul; I have provided for mine obit v marks, yearly; also I will that Richard, Bishop now of Winchester, be prayed for as well in the course mass as in the said obit by the wholoe quire, and also among the vicars severally, to whom th said Richard hath been a special benefactor in establishing them together in their commons; to the house of the Gray Friars in Exeter X.L.X. for an obit; to the house of Black Friars X. L. S. I name to be mine executors Richard Bishop of Winchester; Tho- Bishop of Salubriens, my suffragan; Master John Voysy Dean of Exeter; Master Hugh Ashron, Canon Resident in the Cathedral Church of York; Master Robert Weston, Subdean of the Cathedral Church of Exeter; Master Nicholas Henshaw and Roger Hetton, my servants. I will that my obit be kept in Corpus Christi College, to which College I give all such houses, lands, &c. lying in Chelsea, which I bought of Reynold Braye, whereof the deeds remain with Stephen Coope, to have and to hold to the same College for ever, by the ordinance of my Lord of Winchester. Proved 16th July 1519.

      Appointed Bishop of Exeter by bull dated 27th November 1504; he died 25th June 1519, and was buried in his own Cathedral.

      Bishop Hugh Oldham
      Hugh Oldham was Bishop of Exeter, and founder of the renowned Manchester Grammar School. Having spent his youth in medieval Manchester, he retained a long affection for it. Facts about his birth are sketchy, though it seems probable that he was born at Goldbourne Lane in Oldham sometime around 1452. Another tradition has him born in Crumpsall , Manchester - this on the basis of his coat of arms having been found on a house in 1864, though this may be unreliable.
      He was educated in the home of Thomas Stanley, first Earl of Derby, whose wife, Countess Margaret Beaufort, (to become mother of the future king Henry VII), took a keen interest in the education of young boys. (Curiously, girls were not considered as needing academic education). Later, Hugh Oldham studied at Exeter College in Oxford and at Queen's College, Cambridge.
      Under the patronage of the influential Countess, Oldham prospered as one of her protégés, and was appointed Bishop of Exeter in 1504, after her son Henry's accession to the throne. Oldham was described as "being a man of more zeal than knowledge, and more devotion than learning". Always keenly interested in education, he was a benefactor of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and founder of the Manchester Grammar School, (originally the Manchester Free Grammar School for Lancashire Boys).
      The Manchester Grammar School was set up by Oldham with the expressed purpose of making good education available to all those who could benefit from it, and the poor especially - all that was required of potential students was that they have an aptitude for learning, and Oldham would take care of the funding. Most of his endowment came from revenues he eared from his fulling mills on the River Irk, where the school was built nearby. Oldham's mills retained the monopoly in grinding of all of Manchester's corn and malt until 1758. His school was built on Long Millgate (near Victoria Station , and adjoining Chetham's School of Music), where a building of that name survives today, though the Grammar School moved to its new, larger purpose-built premises in Rusholme in the 1930s.
      The building now forms part of Chetham's School, though a stone lintel over its entrance still reads "Manchester School" in Latin. The school still incorporates Oldham's own arms within its badge - a literal pun, whereby an Owl is seen with a speech bubble emerging from its beak bearing the word "DOM". ("Owl-dom" is probably the way his name would be pronounced in the 15th century). See Oldham Town Coat of Arms. Hugh Oldham died in 1519 and his body lies in Exeter Cathedral in Devon.
      The Manchester Grammar School is still a registered charity, and admits young boys on the basis of academic merit, offering free places to those who cannot afford it. Many celebrities have been educated at the school, and it still regularly figures in the top 5 schools in Great Britain.


      A native of Manchester, or its immediate neighbourhood, of the ancient family of Oldham, of Oldham in Lancashire, Hugh was the brother of William Oldham, Abbot of Chester. He was educated in the household of Thomas Stanley, first Earl of Derby with James Stanley, Bishop of Ely and his great friend, William Smythe, Bishop of Lincoln and founder of Brazenose College, Oxford. He became chaplain to his patron's wife, Margaret of Richmond , mother of King Henry VII , before being appointed Bishop of Exeter in 1504.
      His resignation of the living of Lanivet in Cornwall on 5 Jul 1493, on a pension of twelve pounds, to be deducted from the income of his successor John Oby, is recorded in Bishop King 's Register, fol. 166. About the same time he was collated by that prelate to the archdeaconry of Exeter, and, whilst on a visit at the Royal Manor of Shene, obtained, on 11 March following, the canonry and prebend in this cathedral, void by the death of John Paskewe. Chaplain to his noble patroness and to King Henry VII , he assisted on 24 Jan 1503, at the laying of the first stone of the Royal Chapel in Westminster Abbey. Pope Julius II, by his bull dated Rome 27 Nov 1504, provided him to the see of Exeter, void by the death of Bishop John Arundell , and the temporalities were restored to him on Epiphany-day following, but we cannot fix the precise day of his consecration. His Register commences with 12 Jan 1505, and is fairly kept. In Sep of that year he reached his diocese and commenced its visitation. With the license of his sovereign, dated from Croydon 12 Jan 1509, he appropriated to the priest-vicars of his cathedral the chapel of Clist Gabriel at Sowton, and the chapel of the Holy Ghost at Warlond in Totnes, and he added for their benefit a free gift of 80l. sterling, which they gratefully acknowledged on 8 Feb that year.
      Towards Corpus Christi College, the foundation of his dear friend and predecessor Richard Fox, Bishop of Winchester, he contributed the large sum of six thousand marks ('Hist. et Antiq. Oxon.,' lib. ii. p. 23F). It was through Bishop Oldham, who foresaw the coming changes of the Reformation, that Fox was induced to found a college instead of a monastery, as he had at first intended. And he also assigned certain lands and houses in Chelsea, which he had purchased, to its better endowment. At Manchester he erected and endowed in 1515 the grammar-school or college of which he was warden.
      Bishop Oldham's chantry chapel remains, in the south choir-aisle of Exeter Cathedral, covered with tiny owls: a rebus on his name. The arms of the See, as borne at present, (Gules, a sword erect in pale argent, pomelled and hilted or, surmounted by two keys in saltire of the last) were settled by this Bishop. Earlier examples vary the position of the keys and sword.
      Hoker, in his 'MS. History' (p. 337), relates the Bishop's punctuality of dining at eleven o'clock in the morning, and of supping at five o'clock in the afternoon, and that to ensure precision he had a house-clock to strike the hours, and a servant to look after it. Should his lordship be prevented by important business from coming to table at the appointed time, the servant would delay the clock's striking the hour until he knew that his master was ready. Sometimes, if asked what was the hour, he would humorously answer, "As your lordship pleaseth", at which the Bishop would smile and go his way.
      From a document in his Register, dated 30 Dec 1513, we learn that he had then completed St. Saviour's Chapel in his cathedral to receive his mortal remains. Finding his end drawing near, he quitted London about Easter 1519, and, after passing six weeks at Bishop's Clist, removed to his palace in Exeter. On 25 Jun he instituted Bernard Travesse to the church of St. Mary Major, Exeter; and his Registrar concludes thus, "Ipsoque eodem die, viz. xxv die mensis Junii, anno Domini millimo quingentesimo decimo nono, in palatio suo Exon., Dominus ab hâc luce migravit. Cujus animæ propitietur Deus, Amen". His will, dated 16 Dec 1518, was proved 16 Jul 1519. The Bishop had a brother, Bernard, who was collated to the treasurership of Exeter Cathedral on 5 Apr 1515, but who died within a month after his appointment.
      King, Richard John: "Handbook to the Cathedrals of England: Southern Division" (1903).
      Bishop of Exeter , b. in Lancashire, either at Crumpsell or Oldham; d. 25 June, 1519.
      Having spent a short time at Oxford , he entered Queen's College, Cambridge. After his ordination he became chaplain to the Countess of Richmond and soon obtained many benefices , being appointed Dean of Wimborne and Archdeacon of Exeter . He also held prebends in the cathedrals of London , Lincoln, and York, and was rector of St. Mildred's, Bread Street, London . Henry VII honoured him by appointing him as one of those who laid the foundation stone of his chapel in 1503. In the following year he was appointed Bishop of Exeter by a Bull of 27 Nov., 1504. Though not a learned man , he encouraged learning and in 1515 founded and endowed Manchester Grammar School. Through his influence over his friend Bishop Foxe of Winchester , Corpus Christi College , Oxford , was founded for the secular clergy , instead of for the Winchester monks . He added six thousand marks to Foxe's foundation, where his portrait is still honoured as that of a benefactor. From 1510 to 1513 he with other bishops was engaged in resisting what they considered the undue claims of Archbishop Warham with regard to the probate courts, and in the end won a considerable measure of success. Less fortunate was his litigation with the Abbot of Tavistock concerning their respective jurisdictions, during which he is said to have incurred excommunication . Before the dispute was ended, he died, so that his burial had to be postponed until absolution was procured from Rome .
      Oldham, Bishop of Exeter (Vol.vii, p 14. 164.189.271) Mr Waalcott will be interested to learn, that Bishop Hugh Oldham was not a native of Oldham, but was born at Crumpsall, in the parish of Manchester; as appears from Dugdale's Visitation of Lancashire, and the "Lancashire MSS." Vol xxxi. His brother, Richard Oldham, appointed 22nd Abbot of St. Werburgh's Abbey, Chester, in 1452, was afterwards elevated to the bishoprick of Man, and dying Oct. 13, 1485, was buried at Chester Abbey, Chester. T. Hughes, Chester.
    Person ID I39174  oldham
    Last Modified 16 Dec 2011 

    Mother OLDHAM, England 
    Family ID F2279  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

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