Hugh (fl.1107?-1155?) (DNB00)

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HUGH (fl. 1107?–1155?), called Albus or Candidus, chronicler, was from early boyhood a monk of Peterborough, having been brought into the brotherhood by his elder brother, Reinaldus Spiritus, one of the sacrists of the monastery, in the time of Abbot Ernulf, who ruled the house between 1107 and 1114. Hugh was a very sickly child, and though he lived to a good age, he was never strong. He was called 'Hugo Albus,' from the paleness and beauty of his countenance. Later writers have called him `Hugo Candidus,' which Leland translates as if it were a surname, 'Hugh Whyte.'

Hugh's chief teachers were Abbot Ernulf and his brother Reinald, of both of whom he speaks in terms of warm affection. He remained a monk during the abbacies of John, Henry, Martin of Bec, and William of Walterville. He won the affection, both as junior and senior, of the monks and abbots, and was equally popular in neighbouring monasteries and in the country around. He was employed in every branch of the business of the monastery, both internal and external. In Abbot Martin's time (1133-55) he was elected sub-prior. He was present when the church was burnt in 1116, and at the subsequent reconsecration by Bishop Alexander of Lincoln, in Lent 1139, he kissed and washed the right arm of St. Oswald, the most precious of the Peterborough relics, and bore testimony that the flesh and skin was still whole, in accordance with St. Aidan's prophecy. On the very day of Martin's death (2 Jan. 1155) he was appointed with eleven other senior monks, all of whom were junior to him, as a committee for the election of the new abbot, and they chose William of Walterville, one of their own house. Next day Hugh was sent with the prior, Reinald, to announce the election to Henry II, whom they found at Oxford with Archbishop Theobald. Henry confirmed the election.

Hugh wrote in Latin a history of the abbey of Peterborough up to the election of Abbot Walterville. A later hand has interpolated some references to Hugh's own death and a short account of the deposition of Walterville in 1175. It is conjectured that Hugh died soon after the election of Walterville. It is sometimes thought that Hugh wrote the concluding portions of the Peterborough English 'Chronicle,' which, like his local history, comes abruptly to an end with Abbot Walterville's election. Mr. Wright points out, however, that Hugh used the English 'Chronicle' in compiling his history, and that he mistranslates some of the English words in a way that shows little familiarity with the English tongue. This, if substantiated, would be conclusive against his authorship of the greater work.

Hugh's 'History of Peterborough' was published in 1723 by Joseph Sparke in his 'Historiæ Anglicanæ Scriptores Variæ,' pp. 1-94. An abridged translation of parts into Norman-French verse is printed in the same collection, as well as a continuation, up to 1245, by another monk, Robert of Swaffham, from whom the chief manuscript, still preserved at Peterborough, is called the 'Liber de Swaffham.'

[The sole authority for Hugh's life is his own account of himself in his Historia Cœnobii Burgensis, pp. 34, 66, 67, 68-70, 90, the chronology of which can be adjusted by reference to the Peterborough Chronicle; Gunton's Hist. of the Church of Peterborough; Wright's Biog. Brit. Anglo-Norman Period, pp. 176-8; Hardy's Descriptive Cat. of MS. Materials for British History, ii. 412-13.]

T. F. T.