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Hugh Oldham
(c.1450-1519)

Bishop of Exeter
Born: c.1450 at Crumpsell or Oldham, Lancashire Died: 25th June 1519


Hugh was the brother of William Oldham, Abbot of Chester. He was educated in the household of Thomas Stanley, Earl of Derby with James Stanley, Bishop of Ely and his great friend, William Smith, Bishop of Lincoln and founder of Brazenose College, Oxford. He became chaplain to his patron's wife, Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and mother of King Henry VII, before being appointed Bishop of Exeter in 1504. He was joint founder, with his predecessor in this See, Richard Fox, of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. 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. Oldham himself is better known for the founding of Manchester Grammar School in 1515.

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.

Edited from Richard John King's "Handbook to the Cathedrals of England: Southern Division" (1903).


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