Houses of Benedictine monks: Durham College, Oxford

A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1907.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


'Houses of Benedictine monks: Durham College, Oxford', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907), pp. 68-70. British History Online [accessed 21 June 2024].

. "Houses of Benedictine monks: Durham College, Oxford", in A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907) 68-70. British History Online, accessed June 21, 2024,

. "Houses of Benedictine monks: Durham College, Oxford", A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 2, (London, 1907). 68-70. British History Online. Web. 21 June 2024,

In this section


Hugh de Derlington, prior of Durham, (1287-90), first sent monks of Durham to study at Oxford; but it was his successor Richard de Hoton, who in 1291, by the purchase of land on the site of the later Trinity College and St. John's, and by the erection of buildings, became the founder of Durham College. (fn. 1) Until 1381 it had no endowments, the monks, six to ten in number, (fn. 2) being supported by the priory of Durham, with occasional gifts from Jarrow, Wearmouth, and other cells of Durham. Their head was a prior, and at the elections of the bishop of Durham in 1316 and 1333 voted with the title of 'Prior Oxoniae,' among the priors of the other cells of the monastery of Durham. On 11 April, 1323, 'the monks of Durham College, next Balliol Hall,' obtained licence for an oratory, (fn. 3) and in 1326 the prior of the monastery of Durham obtained leave from Oseney Abbey, which held the parish church of St. Mary Magdalen, to erect a chapel. He agreed that the parish church should take all the offerings except on the two feasts of St. Cuthbert, in lieu of which he would pay 6d. a year. He also agreed to pay 1s. 6d. a year for tithes from that part of the grounds which was within the parish of St. Mary Magdalen. (fn. 4) The chapel, however, though contemplated, was not built until 1409. (fn. 5) The bull granting to Durham College the right of sepulture is of 1411, and the college accounts (fn. 6) of 1392, which show that only 1s. 6d., not 2s., was the sum due to Oseney in that year, prove that there was no chapel at that date.

About 1379 Thomas Hatfield, bishop of Durham, determined to endow the college, and after his death in 1381 his executors completed his purpose. At a cost of £3,000 they purchased rectories which brought in £200 a year. New statutes were now made. There were to be eight student monks from the monastery of Durham, each receiving £10 a year with the title of 'fellows' (socii), of whom the prior of Durham was to select one to be warden; they were to study philosophy and theology. There were also to be eight secular students called 'pueri' or 'scholares,' four from the diocese of Durham, and four from north Yorkshire, to be selected by the senior student monks; these seculars were each to receive £3 6s. 8d., and were to perform certain unspecified services towards the monks; their study was to be grammar and philosophy. (fn. 7) In time, when the income of the college fell to £150 or less, the allowances were decreased, but the members were still sixteen in number at the time of the Valor ecclesiasticus.

The first compotus of Hatfield's foundation is of 1389, but Robert Blaklaw, who had been appointed prior of the college shortly before, retained his office and old title, so that the head was still called prior in 1401; (fn. 8) after his time the head was called warden, and held office only for seven or eight years, that being the length of the course of study for both fellows and scholars. Between 1400 and 1420 the buildings of the college were much enlarged, and we find that there were often spare rooms, which were rented by monks of York and Whitby and by other individuals. (fn. 9) At the time of the Valor ecclesiasticus the income was £122; it was £115 in December, 1540, when it was surrendered to the king by the prior of Durham. The site of the college with most of the endowments was made over to the dean and chapter of Durham, and the college existed in 1541 and 1542 with a rector, six fellows, and four 'inferior fellows,' (fn. 10) but in 1544 it was once more surrendered to the king, and in 1554 the site and buildings were bought by Sir Thomas Pope, founder of Trinity College. There is an interesting survey of the buildings of Durham College, undated, but evidently made at the end of the reign of Henry VIII. (fn. 11)

Priors of Durham College (fn. 12)

Gilbert Elwyk, S.T.P., occurs 1316

John de Beverlaco, S.T.P., occurs 1333

R—de C—, (fn. 13) between 1340-60

? Uthred de Boldon, S.T.P., c. 1360

? John Aclyff, or de Acley, c. 1380

Robert Blaklaw, c. 1389-1404

William Appylby, 1404-9

Thomas Rome, S.T.P., 1409-19

William Ebchester, S.T.P., 1419-28

Richard Barton, S.T.B., 1428-31

John Mody, S.T.P., 1431-c. 1440

John Burnby, S.T.P., 1442-50

Richard Bell, S.T.B., 1450-53

John Burnby, again, 1453-56

Thomas Caly, S.T.B., 1457-c. 1463

Robert Ebchester, S.T.P., -c. 1464 c. 1475

William Law, S.T.B., c. 1478-c. 1481

John Aukland, S.T.P., c. 1481-9

Thomas Rowland, S.T.B., 1484-7

Thomas Castell, S.T.P., 1487-94

William Cawthorne, S.T.P., 1494-c. 1501

Thomas Swalwell, S.T.P., c. 1501

? Thomas Castell, occurs 1511

Hugh Whitehead, S.T.P., 1512-c. 1519

Edward Hyndmer alias Henmarsh, S.T.P., c. 1527-41

George Clyff, S.T.B., 1541-2

An example of the seal of this priory reproduced in the Collectanea (fn. 14) 'seems to represent the Virgin and Child between St. Cuthbert and St. Benedict, who presents a student monk. (fn. 15) The figures are shown under pinnacled niches, and in the base is a shield of arms—a chevron between three lions, the coat of Thomas Hatfield, bishop of Durham. Legend:—



  • 1. Wood, City of Oxford (ed. Clark), ii, 264.
  • 2. Durh. Coll. R. (Collectanea, vol. iii, Oxford Hist. Soc.), p. 8.
  • 3. Linc. Epis. Reg. Burghersh, Mem. fol. 79.
  • 4. From the original among the Oseney Charters at Ch. Ch. Oxf.
  • 5. Durh. Coll. R. 71; also 20, 'in expensis factis circa dedicationem capelle,' compotus for 1409.
  • 6. Ibid. 58.
  • 7. See Durh. Coll. R. 12, 13, 15.
  • 8. Ibid. 65.
  • 9. Ibid. 19.
  • 10. Ibid. 67.
  • 11. P.R.O. Rentals and Surveys, Roll. 548.
  • 12. Collectanea (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), iii, 23–5.
  • 13. Possibly Robert de Claxton, or perhaps Robert Crayk; ibid. 23.
  • 14. Ibid. Plate ii.
  • 15. Collectanea (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), iii, 26, n. 3.