LIVES OF THE BISHOPS OF EXETER
HUGE OLDHAM, a native of Manchester, or its immediate neighbourhood, of the ancient family of Oldham, of Oldham in Lancashire, studied at both our universities. Introduced for chaplain to Margaret Beaufort Countess of Richmond (mother of King Henry VII.), perhaps by her third husband, Thomas Earl of Derby, he soon rose to distinction in the church through her powerful interest.
His resignation of the living of Lanivet in Cornwall on 5th July, 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 11th 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 24th January, 1503, at the laying of the first stone of the Royal Chapel in Westminster Abbey. Pope Julius II., by his bull dated Rome 27th November, 1504, provided him to the see of Exeter, void by the death of Bishop 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 12th January, 1505, and is fairly kept. In September of that year he reached his diocese and commenced its visitation: we have before us a copy of the amended statutes of his cathedral, after he had concluded its visitation on 16th June, 1506. With the license of his sovereign, dated from Croydon 12th January, 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 8th February that year. In the 'Monasticon' of the diocese, p. 92, we have shown his promptitude and success in opposing the encroachments on his ordinary jurisdiction, as attempted by the abbot and convent of Tavistock. But what entitles him to the highest praise is the munificent encouragement he extended to literature.
Towards Corpus Christi College, the foundation of his dear friend Richard Fox Bishop of Winchester, he contributed the large sum of six thousand marks ('Hist. et Antiq. Oxon.,' lib. ii. p. 23F), and he also assigned certain lands and houses in Chelsea, which he had purchased, to its better endowment. At Manchester he erected and endowed the grammar-school or college of which he was warden. In the catalogue of church ornaments belonging to Manchester College, we read of "a cope, a chasuble, and two dalmatics of red silk shot with gold ; the chasuble having images of the blessed Virgin Mary and other saints, with this inscription in English, - 'Praye for the soul off Huogh Oldham,' and the cope had the same inscription, but not the dalmatics."
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 30th December, 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 25th June 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 16th December, 1518, was proved 16th July, 1519. The bishop had a brother Bernard, who was collated to the treasurership of Exeter Cathedral on 5th April, 1515, but who died within a month after his appointment.
Arms: - Sable, a chevron or, between three Owls proper; on a chief of the second, three Roses gules.
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