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Pope, Sir Thomas

POPE, SIR THOMAS (c. 1507-1559), founder of Trinity College, Oxford, was born at Deddington, near Banbury, Oxfordshire, probably in 1507, for he was about sixteen years old when his father, a yeoman farmer, died in 1523. He was educated at Banbury school and Eton College, and entered the court of chancery. He there found a friend and patron in the lordchancellor Thomas Audley. As clerk of briefs in the star chamber, warden of the mint (1534-1536), clerk of the Crown in chancery (1537), and second officer and treasurer of the court for the settlement of the confiscated property of the smaller religious foundations, he obtained wealth and influence. In this last office he was superseded in 1541, but from 1547 to 1553 he was again employed as fourth officer. He himself won by grant or purchase a considerable share in the spoils, for nearly thirty manors, which came sooner or later into his possession, were originally church property. " He could have rode," said Aubrey, " in his owne lands from Cogges (by Witney) to Banbury, about 18 miles." In 1537 he was knighted. The religious changes made by Edward VI. were repugnant to him, but at the beginning of Mary's reign he became a member of the privy council. In 1556 he was sent to reside as guardian in Elizabeth's house. As early as 1555 he had begun to arrange for the endowment of a college at Oxford, for which he bought the site and buildings of Durham College, the Oxford house of the abbey of Durham, from Dr George Owen and William Martyn. He received a royal charter for the establishment and endowment of a college of the " Holy and Undivided Trinity " on the 8th of March 1556. The foundation provided for a president, twelve fellows and eight scholars, with a schoolhouse at Hooknorton. The number of scholars, was subsequently increased to twelve, the schoolhouse being given up. On the 28th of March the members of the college were put in possession of the site, and they were formally admitted on the 2gth of May 1556. Pope died at Clerkenwell on the 29th of January 1559, and was buried at St Stephen's, Walbrook; but his remains were subsequently removed to Trinity College, where his widow erected a semi-Gothic alabaster monument to his memory. He was three times married, but left no children. Much of his property was left to charitable and religious foundations, and the bulk of his Oxfordshire estates passed to the family of his brother, John Pope of Wroxton, and his descendants, the viscounts Dillon and the earls of Guilford and barons North.

The life, by H. E. D. Blakiston, in the Diet. Nat. Biog., corrects many errors in Thomas Walton's Life of Sir Thomas Pope (1772). Further notices by the same authority are in his Trinity College (1898), in the " College Histories " Series, and in the English Historical Review (April, 1896).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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