Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fitzhugh, Robert
FITZHUGH, ROBERT (d. 1436), bishop of London, the third of the eight sons of Henry, lord Fitzhugh (d. 1424), was educated at King's Hall, Cambridge, of which he became master, 6 July 1424, and in the same year was appointed chancellor of the university (Le Neve, Fasti, iii. 599, 697). Before this he had enjoyed a considerable number of ecclesiastical benefices, which his noble birth and the leading position held by his father readily secured for him. In 1401 he was appointed by the prior and convent of Canterbury to the rectory of St. Leonard's, Eastcheap, which in July 1406 he exchanged for a canonry in the cathedral church of Lismore, and was subsequently installed prebendary of Milton Manor in Lincoln Cathedral, though he had not then been admitted to any but the minor orders. In 1417 he was ordained subdeacon by Bishop Fordham of Ely at Downham, and deacon in 1418, and was made canon of York in the same year. The next year, 10 July, he exchanged his prebend of Milton Manor for the archdeaconry of Northampton, to which was added the prebendal stall of Aylesbury on 4 Aug. As chancellor of Cambridge he delivered a speech in convocation which we are told was much admired for the elegance of its latinity. He proposed as a remedy for the great decrease of students that the richer benefices of the English church should for a limited period be bestowed solely on graduates of either university. This measure was carried into effect by Archbishop Chichele in the convocation of 1438 (Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, i. 166, 187, 194). Fitzhugh went on various diplomatic missions to Germany and elsewhere. In 1429 he was sent as ambassador to Rome and Venice, and, while absent from the realm at the papal court, was appointed bishop of London, Bishop Gray being translated to Lincoln to make room for him. He was consecrated at Foligno on 16 Sept. 1431. In 1434 he was named one of the two episcopal delegates appointed with other laymen and clerics to represent the sovereign and nation of England at the council of Basle. Letters of safe-conduct for a year were given him, 8 May, and license was granted to take with him vessels, jewels, and gold and silver plate to the value of two thousand marks. His allowance was to be at the rate of five hundred marks, to be paid daily, and he was not bound to remain away for the whole year, nor for more than a year (Rymer, Fœdera, x. 577, 582, 583; Fuller, Church Hist. ii. 438–43). During his stay at Basle he was elected to the see of Ely, vacated by the decease of Bishop Philip Morgan (25 Oct. 1435), but died on his way home. His will is dated at Dover, but he is said to have died at St. Osyth's in Essex, 15 Jan. 1435–6. He was buried in his cathedral of St. Paul's, in the higher part of the choir, near the altar, his grave being distinguished by his mitred effigy in brass, his left hand bearing the crozier, his right hand raised in benediction. His epitaph thus records the chief events of his career, and testifies to his general popularity:
Nobilis antistes Robertus Lundoniensis,
Filius Hugonis, hic requiescit: honor
Doctorum, flos Pontificum, quem postulat Ely,
Romæ Basilicæ regia facta refert.
Plangit eum Papa, Rex, grex, sua natio tota,
Extera gens si quæ noveret ulla pium.
Gemma pudicitiæ, spectrum pietatis, honoris
Famaque justitiæ formula juris erat.
He bequeathed 12l. towards the erection of the schools at Cambridge, and all his pontificals to St. Paul's, except a ring given him by the Venetians, which he had already affixed to St. Erkenwald's shrine.[Dugdale's St. Paul's, pp. 45, 219, 402; Milman's Annals of St. Paul's, p. 91; Godwin, De Præsulibus, i. 188; Rymer's Fœdera, ll. cc; Dugdale's Baronage, i. 405; Fuller's Church Hist. ii. 438–43.]