Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hovenden, Robert

HOVENDEN or HOVEDEN, ROBERT (1544–1614), warden of All Souls' College, Oxford, born in 1544, was the eldest son of William Hoveden or Hovenden of Canterbury. He was educated at Oxford, was elected a fellow of All Souls' College in 1565, and graduated B.A. in the following year, and M.A. in 1570. He became chaplain to Archbishop Parker, and in 1570 or 1571 held the prebend of Clifton in Lincoln Cathedral (Le Neve, ii. 133). On 12 Nov. 1571 he succeeded Richard Barber as warden of the college. In 1575 he supplicated for the degree of B.D., but proceeded no further until 1580, when he performed all the exercises for the degrees of B.D. and D.D., making the pretensions of the pope the subject of his disputations. He was licensed as D.D. in 1581. In 1582 he filled the office of vice-chancellor of the university. In 1581 he was holding, with his wardenship, the prebend of Henstridge in the cathedral of Bath and Wells, and in 1589 the third prebend in Canterbury Cathedral.

Hovenden entered on his duties as warden of All Souls while the college was striving to preserve the ‘monuments of superstition’ in the chapel from demolition, but in December 1573 the orders of the commissioners in the matter were too stringent to be any longer disobeyed. Hovenden exerted himself, however, to secure the profitable management of the college estates. He caused to be made a series of maps of the collegiate property which are still in existence. He successfully resisted the request of Queen Elizabeth that the college would grant a lease of certain lands to Lady Stafford on terms which would have been disadvantageous to the college, although the lady herself offered the warden 100l. for the accommodation (cf. the correspondence on the subject between Hovenden and Elizabeth's ministers and others in Collectanea, Oxf. Hist. Soc., i. 180 seq.). Hovenden succeeded in recovering for the college the rectory of Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire, which had been granted to it by Cardinal Pole, but resumed by the crown on the accession of Elizabeth. He completed the warden's lodgings, which had been commenced about fifteen years before; enlarged the grounds of the college by adding the site of a house known as ‘The Rose,’ where there was a famous well; rearranged the old library, now disused, and converted into rooms; introduced a better system of keeping the college books and accounts; and put in order and catalogued the archives. An oaken cabinet in the record room still bears his name, written with his own hand.

Hovenden rigorously upheld his authority within the college. With the aid of the visitor, Archbishop Grindal, he compelled fellows who desired to practise law or medicine in London to vacate their fellowships (cf. his contest with Henry Wood, one of the fellows, as related in Strype, Parker, ii. 105). He carefully scrutinised claims to fellowships on the plea of founder's kin.

The principal alteration which he made in the constitution of the college was the admission of poor scholars (servientes), who in 1612 numbered thirty-one, but they were discontinued during the Commonwealth, and are now represented only by four bible clerks. Hovenden died on 25 March 1614, and was buried in the college chapel, where is his monument with an inscription (cf. Wood, Colleges and Halls). Hovenden married Katherine, eldest daughter of Thomas Powys of Abingdon, and is doubtfully said to have had a daughter, Elizabeth, wife of Edward Chaloner, second son of Sir Thomas Chaloner of Steeple Claydon, Buckinghamshire. There is a bust of Hovenden in the Codrington library at All Souls, executed by Sir Henry Cheere.

He had two younger brothers. Christopher (1559–1610) was a fellow of All Souls College (1575–81), member of the Middle Temple, and rector of Stanton Harcourt (by presentation of All Souls). He was buried at Stanton Harcourt in 1610, having married Margery Powys, sister of the warden's wife. The warden erected a monument over his grave. The second brother, George (1562–1625), was rector of Harrietsham, Kent, a living also in the gift of All Souls, and held the tenth prebend in Canterbury Cathedral from 15 Dec. 1609 till his death at Oxford 24 Oct. 1625 (Le Neve, i. 58). Both brothers secured beneficial leases of college property.

Hovenden wrote a life of Archbishop Chichele, the founder of All Souls' College, which was used by Sir Arthur Duck [q. v.] in his life of the archbishop (1617), and a catalogue of the wardens and fellows of the college.

[Professor Burrows's Worthies of All Souls, pp. 93–120; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ii. 144, 373; Wood's Antiquities of the Colleges and Halls at Oxford, ed. Gutch, p. 291; Hasted's Kent, iv. 449; Le Neve's Fasti, i. 49, 190, ii. 133, iii. 476, 560; Archives of All Souls' College; Collectanea (Oxf. Hist. Soc.), i. 180–247, and especially p. 188.]

C. T. M.