Hygdon, John (DNB00)

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HYGDON or HIGDEN, JOHN (d. 1533), first dean of Christ Church, Oxford, was educated at Westminster School and at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he was elected fellow about 1495. He was lecturer in sophistry there 1498-9, and again 1500-1; senior dean of arts 1500-1 and 1503-4; bursar 1502-3; and vice-president 1504-5. He held the vicarage of Seeding, Sussex, from 1502 to 1504, and became rector of East Bridgford, Nottinghamshire, 20 Dec. 1504. On 30 Jan. 1513-14 he proceeded D.D. On 1 Dec. 1516 he was elected president of Magdalen. A letter written by the fellows to Wolsey after the election proves that Hygden owed his appointment to the favour of the cardinal. He was made prebendary of Milton Manor in the cathedral of Lincoln, 26 Dec. 1521, and prebendary of Weighton in the cathedral of York 2 Dec. 1524. When Wolsey founded Cardinal's College, he chose Hygden to be the first dean. On 6 Nov. 1526 he resigned his presidency and went to live in what had been the house of the prior of St. Frideswides (Browne Willis, Survey of Cathedrals, iii. 438). He energetically helped in completing the arrangements of the new foundation (cf. Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. iv. pt. i. pp. 990, 1137, &c.; pt. ii. pp. 2379, 3141, &c). He tolerated no heresy among his students; sought to improve the college services; and made progresses through the college estates. On 3 June 1528 he was appointed, with Stephen Gardiner and others, a commissioner to amend the statutes of Wolsey's colleges at Oxford and Ipswich. On 15 April 1529 he became prebendary of Wetwang in the cathedral of York. On Wolsey's fall, Hygden exerted himself to save the college from sharing its founder's fate. He and the canons petitioned the king in 1530, and he and Carter interviewed the king in London in the same year. Henry reassured them by saying, 'Surely we purpose to have an honorable college there, but not so great and of such magnificence as my Lord Cardinal intended to have had' .('Letter to Wolsey' in Letters and Papers Henry VIII, vol. iv. pt. iii. p. 6579). Hygden remained in Oxford through 1531 (ib. v. 6), and when Henry refounded the college he was appointed the first dean of Christ Church. On 30 Sept. 1532 he gave 180l. to found four demyships and four probationary fellowships at Magdalen College. On 15 Dec. 1532 Richard Croke, who hoped to succeed Hygden, wrote to Cromwell, 'There is no way but one with Mr. Dean, for he has lain speechless this twenty hours … his goods are all conveyed to Magdalene, Corpus, and New College, on which he has bestowed large sums, but nothing to this college [i.e. Christ Church], where he has had his promotion' (ib. v. 1632). He died 13 Jan. 1532-3, and was buried in Magdalen College chapel, where there is an epitaph in Latin and English. An effigy of Hygden was in the third window of the south side of Balliol College chapel. The letter from the canons to Cromwell, assigned to 20 Dec. 1532, alluding to his death, is apparently misdated. Hygden's brother (ib. v. 224), Brian Hygdon, is separately noticed.

[Letters and Papers Henry VIII passim; Reg. Univ. Oxf. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), i. 90; Welch's Alumni Westm. p. 1; Bloxam's Reg. Magd. Coll. iv. xxiii.; Wood's Fasti Oxon. ed. Bliss, i.38; Wood's Hist. and Antiq. of the Univ. of Oxf ed Gutch, ii. 23, 31, 33, 53, iii. 315, 332, 422, 428, 437; Le Neve's Fasti, ii. 190, iii. 223, 224; Foxe's Acts and Mon.]

W. A. J. A.