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Balsham, Hugh of (d. 1286), bishop of Ely and benefactor, took his name from Balsham, Cambridgeshire, one of Ely Priory's manors. Nothing is known of his background, except that during the controversy aroused by his election as bishop it was alleged that he was of servile origins. He became a monk at ...

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Bateman [Norwich], William (c. 1298–1355), diplomat, founder of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and bishop of Norwich, was probably born in Norwich (from which he was sometimes named), the third son of William and Margery Bateman. His father was many times bailiff of the city, and in 1326–7 its member of ...

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Bingham [Byngham], William (d. 1451), ecclesiastic and founder of Christ's College, Cambridge, may have been the William Byngham who was presented to the vicarages of Hutton, near Beverley, Yorkshire, and Alverstoke, Hampshire, by Henry IV in 1401–2. More probably, the future founder of ...

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Colet, John (1467–1519), dean of St Paul's and founder of St Paul's School, was born in January 1467, as attested by a contemporary document; Erasmus, always vague as to chronology, believed him to have been about thirty, two or three months younger than himself, when they first met in 1499. ...

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Durham, William of (d. 1249), theologian and university benefactor, may have been born at Sedgefield, co. Durham. Nothing otherwise is known of his origins or early life, until he is recorded as a regent master in theology at Paris, at a date between 1220 and 1223. To ...

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Maker: unknown artist

William Elphinstone (1431–1514) by unknown artist, c.1505 University of Aberdeen

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Elphinstone, William (1431–1514), administrator, bishop of Aberdeen, and founder of the University of Aberdeen, was probably born in Glasgow. His father, also named William, was a younger son of Sir William Elphinstone of Pittendreich, Stirlingshire, but by 1430 had embarked upon an ecclesiastical career and had thereby committed his son to the illegitimate state. The ...

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Fox [Foxe], Richard (1447/8–1528), administrator, bishop of Winchester, and founder of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, was born at Pullocks Manor, Ropsley, near Grantham, Lincolnshire. He gave his age as seventy-nine in April 1527, indicating that he was born in 1447 or 1448.

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Gonville [Gonvile], Edmund (d. 1351), ecclesiastic and founder of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, came from a rising gentry family of French extraction, in the late thirteenth century recently settled in Norfolk. His brother, Nicholas Gonville, married the heir of the manor of ...

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Walter of Merton (c. 1205–1277) seal The British Library

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Merton, Walter of (c. 1205–1277), administrator, bishop of Rochester, and founder of Merton College, Oxford, was the son of William Cook (le Kuk, le Keu) of Basingstoke, Hampshire, and in his early years was known as Walter of Basingstoke. His father, who died ...

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Smith [Smyth], William (d. 1514), bishop of Lincoln and a founder of Brasenose College, Oxford, was the fourth son of Robert Smyth of Peckhouse in Widnes, Prescot, Lancashire. He received schooling as a boy, but not, as was once thought, as a result of the patronage of ...

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Wardlaw, Henry (c. 1365–1440), bishop of St Andrews and founder of its university, was the nephew of the influential Cardinal Walter Wardlaw; he came of a branch of the Wardlaw family established in the diocese of Aberdeen. A career in the church must have been decided for him at an early stage, as his uncle petitioned the pope on his behalf in 1378 for a canonry of ...

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Waynflete [Wainfleet, Patten], William (c. 1400–1486), bishop of Winchester and founder of Magdalen College, Oxford, was the elder son of Richard Patten (also known as Barbour) of Wainfleet, Lincolnshire, and Margery, daughter of William Brereton of Cheshire and Lincolnshire. Little is known of the ...

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William Waynflete (c. 1400–1486) tomb effigy by courtesy of the Dean and Chapter of Winchester