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Ashton, Hugh (d. 1522), Catholic ecclesiastic and university benefactor, apparently never himself had a formal university education, his main expertise lying in administration and estate management. He probably first encountered Lady Margaret Beaufort, countess of Richmond and Derby, in Lancashire, his native county, and rose to prominence through this association. On 7 January 1496 he was admitted to the rectory of ...

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Hugh Ashton (d. 1522) by unknown sculptor © Crown copyright. NMR

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Badew, Richard (d. 1361), university principal and founder of University Hall, Cambridge, was born, towards the close of the thirteenth century, into an established knightly family which took its name from Great Baddow, near Chelmsford, Essex, where it had estates dispersed among several neighbouring villages. According to ...

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Balliol, Dervorguilla de, lady of Galloway (d. 1290), noblewoman and benefactor, was a daughter of Alan, lord of Galloway (b. before 1199, d. 1234), and his second wife, Margaret, eldest daughter of David, earl of Huntingdon (d. 1219). Born some time after 1209, the date of her parents' marriage, her distinctive Gaelic name, ...

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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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Beverley [Ingelberd], Philip (d. 1323x5), benefactor, was the son of Robert and Alice Ingelberd, and is first recorded in January 1303, when he was nominated to the church of Keyingham near Hull in Holderness, close to Beverley, on the recommendation of Walter Langton (...

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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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Brome, Adam (d. 1332), administrator and first founder of Oriel College, Oxford, was probably the son of Thomas of Brome, who took his name from Brome near Eye in Suffolk; according to the inquisition held after the death of Edmund, earl of Cornwall...

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Clare, Elizabeth de [Elizabeth de Burgh; known as lady of Clare] (1294/5–1360), magnate and founder of Clare College, Cambridge, was usually known as Elizabeth de Burgh, and was described by herself and others as lady of Clare. She was the youngest daughter 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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Collier [Collyer], Richard (1480x85?–1533), mercer and benefactor, was born at Horsham, Sussex. The identity of his parents is unknown. He was closely related to the Caryll family of the neighbouring parish of Warnham, but the precise nature of that kinship remains unclear....

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Cooke, John (d. 1528), mercer and benefactor, was born in Minsterworth, a few miles west of Gloucester, the son of Thomas and Alice Cooke. The loss of Gloucester's early civic records means that little can be said of his career there, except that he prospered greatly in the town. He served as sheriff—the equivalent of bailiff—in 1494 and 1498, and became an alderman in 1501, the year in which he was first chosen to be mayor; he was elected again in 1507, 1512, and 1519. In June of 1513 he was involved, as mayor, in a dispute over common rights with the abbot of ...

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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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Eglesfield [Egilsfeld], Robert [Robert de Eglesfeld] (c. 1295–1349), founder of Queen's College, Oxford, was the third son of John of Eglesfield and Beatrix, his wife, John having been the third son of Thomas of Eglesfield and Hawisa, his wife. John, and other members of the family, held lands in and near ...

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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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Holden, Thomas (d. 1441), founder of St Mary's College, Oxford, was the son of John Holden, and grandson of Robert Holden, of the village of that name near Whalley, Lancashire. Having probably met Thomas Langley (d. 1437) when the latter was heavily involved in the administration of the ...