Wydow, Robert (DNB00)

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WYDOW, ROBERT (d. 1505), poet and musician, was born at Thaxted, Essex. His stepfather, a schoolmaster, educated him and sent him to Oxford. He is the first recorded holder of the degree of Bachelor of Music at Oxford; in 1502 he was incorporated at Cambridge. After his stepfather's death Wydow returned to Thaxted and succeeded him as master of the school, becoming also vicar of Thaxted on 22 Dec. 1481. He resigned the living on 1 Oct. 1489, and seems to have travelled about this time in France and Italy. Besides being probably appointed penitentiary in St. Paul's Cathedral, he was collated rector of Chalfont St. Giles on 19 Nov. 1493. On 27 March 1497 he was made canon in Wells Cathedral; and after the death of Henry Abyngdon on 1 Sept. succeeded him as succentor. On 21 Dec. 1499 he was granted the vicarage of Chew Magna, and in the following year was installed subdean and prebendary of Holcombe Burnell. He was also ‘scrutator domorum,’ librarian, seneschal, and auditor of the chapter-house at Wells. Other preferments granted him were the advowson of Wookey and the perpetual vicarage of Buckland Newton; these may have been in recognition of his appointment as deputy for the transaction of business between the pope and the cathedral of Wells. He died on 4 Oct. 1505, bequeathing considerable property to the Carthusians of Henton; a requiem was ordered to be sung in every Carthusian monastery in England.

Wydow wrote some Latin poems (not known to be extant), including a life of the Black Prince and a book of epigrams. Edward Lee, archbishop of York, who had known Wydow, calls him facile princeps among the poets of his day; and he is also celebrated by Leland and Holinshed. None of his musical compositions are mentioned; but if William Cornysshe} [q. v.] came from Wells, as there is some reason to suppose (a Thomas Cornish succeeded Wydow as rector of Chew, Wood, Athenæ, ii. 699), Wydow may have had a considerable influence in preparing the way for the great school of Elizabethan composers.

[Grove's Dict. of Music and Musicians, iv. 817; Leland's Catalogus, p. 484; Abdy Williams's Degrees in Music, pp. 60, 65, 119, 121, 154; Davey's Hist. of English Music, p. 84.]

H. D.