Balsham, Hugh De

, or de Bedesale, or Belesale, the tenth bishop of Ely, and founder of St. Peter’s college, or Peter-house, in Cambridge, was in all probability born at Balsham, in Cambridgeshire, from whence he took his surname, about the beginning of the thirteenth century. He was at first a monk, and afterwards sub-prior of the Benedictine monastery at Ely. In 1247, November 13, he was chosen, by his convent, bishop of Ely, in the room of William de Kilkenny, deceased, but king Henry III. who had recommended his chancellor, Henry de Wengham, being angry at the disobedience of the monks, refused to confirm the election, and wasted the manors and estates belonging to the bishoprick. He endeavoured at last to persuade the monks to proceed to a new election aU ledging, that it was not fit so strong a place as Ely should be intrusted with a man that had scarcely ever been out of his cloister, and who was utterly unacquainted with political affairs. Balsham, finding he was not likely to succeed at home, went to Rome, in order to be confirmed by the pope who then was allowed to dispose of all ec^ clesiastical preferments. In the mean time, Boniface, archbishop of Canterbury, used his interest at Rome to obstruct Balsham’s confirmation, though he could alledge jiothing against him and recommended Adam de Maris, a learned Minorite friar, to the bishopric but all his endeavours proved unsuccessful. As to Wengham, having been recommended by the king without his own desire and knowledge, he declined the honour, alledging that the two others, (Balsham and Maris), were more worthy of it than himself. This matter remained in suspense for above ten years, and was at length determined in favour of Balsham for Wengham being promoted to the bishopric of London, upon Folk de Basset’s decease, the pope confirmed Balsham’s election on the 10th of March, 1257, and he was, consecrated the 14th of October following. Being thus fived in his see, he applied himself to works of charity, and particularly in the year 1257, or 1259, according ta some, put in execution what he had designed, if not begun, before, the foundation of St. Peter’s college, the first college in the university of Cambridge. He built it without Trumpingtun gate, near the church of St. Peter, (since demolished), from whence it took its name and on the place where stood Jesus hostel, or de poenitentia Jcsu Christ i, and St. John’s hospital., which he | purchased, and united. At first, he only provided lodgings for the scholars, who were before obliged to hire chambers of the townsmen at an extravagant rate and they, and the secular brethren of St. John the Baptist, lived together till the year 1280. Then the monks making over to him their right to the hospital above-mentioned, he endowed his college on the 30th of March of the same year, with maintenance for one master, fourteen fellows, two bible-clerks, and eight poor scholars, whose number might be increased or diminished, according to the improvement or abatement of their revenues. And he appointed his successors, the bishops of Ely, to be honorary patrons and visitors of that college. The revenues of it have since been augmented by several benefactors. The munificent founder had not the satisfaction to see all things finished before his decease. He died at Dodington, June 16, 1286, and was buried in the cathedral church of Ely, before the high altar. 1


Biog. Brit. Bentbam’s Hist, of ly, where are a few additional particulars.