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HOLGATE or HOLDEGATE, ROBERT (1481?–1555), archbishop of York, youngest son of Thomas Holgate and Elizabeth, daughter of Robert Champernowne, came of a Yorkshire family entitled to armorial bearings, and was born probably at Hemsworth, near Pontefract, in or about 1481, being, according to his own statement, sixty-eight years old in 1549. He was a canon of the order of St. Gilbert of Sempringham, and was probably educated in the house belonging to his order in Cambridge, though it has been supposed from insufficient evidence that he was a member of St. John's College (Cole MS. xlix. 249). He was a preacher of the university in 1524, and became master of the order of St. Gilbert of Sempringham, prior of Watton, Yorkshire, and vicar of Cadney, Lincolnshire. At Cadney he had some dispute with Sir Francis Ascough, which caused him to go to London, where he became one of the chaplains of Henry VIII. In after years, when he was president of the council of the north, it is said that he had to decide a suit in which Ascough was concerned, and that he upheld the cause of his former adversary, as justice required, remarking that he was beholden to him, for had he not been driven to go to London he had lived a poor priest all his days. Being elected bishop of Llandaff, on the resignation of George de Athequa in 1537, he was consecrated on 25 March in the lady chapel of the Blackfriars church by the Bishop of Rochester, receiving the king's license to hold the mastership of Sempringham and the priory of Watton in commendam. In this year he commenced D.D. by special grace. As bishop of Llandaff he took part in composing ‘The Institution of a Christian Man.’ He was one of the council of the north, and much assisted Cuthbert Tunstall, bishop of Durham, the president. In July 1538 he succeeded Tunstall as president of the council; he resided at York in the house pertaining to his office, was fully employed in secular business, and especially in the transactions between England and Scotland in 1540 and the following years. He signed the surrender of Watton 9 Dec. 1540, and in exchange for the income accruing to him as ‘sole master and prior’ of the twenty-four Gilbertine houses received a grant for life of all the lands of Watton with the patronage of its benefices, the clear income being assessed at about 360l. (MS. State Papers, Mary, 1555, vi. 84; Monasticon, vi. 954). On 29 June 1541 he had a special grant of arms, viz. or, a bend between two bulls' heads couped sable, on a chief argent, two bars gules surmounted of a crutch staff in bend azure (the arms given by Drake appear to be those of Robert Waldby, archbishop of York, 1397–8). On 10 Jan. 1545 he was translated to York, taking the oaths of renunciation and supremacy, and receiving the pall at the hands of Archbishop Cranmer in Lambeth Chapel, a special service being performed at this unique ceremony. Immediately after his translation he alienated to the king sixty-seven manors belonging to his see, receiving in exchange thirty-three impropriations and advowsons which came to the crown by the dissolution of the northern monasteries. While by these and other like measures he much impoverished his see, he became personally the wealthiest prelate in England. On 24 Oct. 1546 he received letters patent for the foundation of three grammar schools at York, Old Malton, and Hemsworth, each to be a separate corporation with a master and usher, the statutes to be framed by the archbishop, who ordained that Latin, Greek, and Hebrew should be taught free; the parents paid a quarterly sum for instruction in English, writing, and arithmetic. On 15 June 1549 Holgate was married after banns to Barbara, daughter of Roger Wentworth. It was said that they had been privately married at an earlier date (Drake). The insurrection in Yorkshire gave him some trouble, but (he afterwards asserted to the king, Edward VI) it was put down by the local forces without charge. Eight persons were executed (MS. State Papers, Mary, u.s.) About this time he had some disputes with the Earl of Warwick, afterwards Duke of Northumberland [see Dudley, John], for, according to his own account, he refused to ‘forbear the order of justice’ in the case of ‘dyvers light persons offenders,’ and also thwarted Dudley with respect to some property which he desired to acquire. These disputes cost him the loss of the presidency of the council, which he held for twelve years. In 1551 one Anthony Norman complained to the privy council that Holgate's wife had previously been married to himself, and claimed that she should be restored, and on 12 Nov. the council appointed three commissioners to inquire into the matter and report accordingly (Council Book, Harl. MS. 352, 206). It appears that their report was in the archbishop's favour, for in a grant from the crown, dated 27 May 1553, Barbara is described as his wife. This grant directed that the manor of Scrooby, in the northern part of Nottinghamshire, which Holgate purchased for about 630l., was to be added to the property of his see after the deaths of himself and his wife. He favoured the doctrines and practices of the foreign reformers, and on 15 Aug. 1552 issued injunctions to the chapter of York ordering the delivery of divinity lectures for the instruction of the inferior officers of the cathedral, and the reading and learning by heart of the scriptures by the vicars choral, who were to be examined constantly in them, and to have each an English testament. He further arranged a cycle of Sunday preachers, and forbade the playing of the organ during service, and all singing except plain song. All the canopy work containing images of saints was to be removed, the carving and images behind the high altar were to be pulled down and texts painted up instead. The library was to be furnished with the ancient fathers, together with works by Calvin and Bullinger (Ornsby). In May 1553 Holgate was sent for to attend the king on the occasion of the coming of the admiral of France (Antoine de Noailles). He went up to Hampton Court, he says, with about seventy horse, and stayed there over the death of the king until Michaelmas, spending on this occasion 1,000l. On 4 Oct. he was committed to the Tower ‘upon pretence of treason or great crimes’ (Strype), and his rich stores, money, plate, and other goods at his houses at Cawood and Battersea and elsewhere were seized. (For the inventory of his effects see Gent. Mag. 1825, pt. i. p. 595.) On 16 March 1554 he was deprived of his bishopric for being married. He wrote to Sir Richard Southwell, one of Queen Mary's privy council, claiming his private estates and movables not belonging to the see, and petitioning to be released and ‘restored to celebration.’ He declared that he repented of marrying, to which, he said, he had been persuaded by the Duke of Somerset, having married for fear that Northumberland should call him a papist, that he was willing to act in his vocation as should be provided from time to time, to obey the queen's laws, and to make amends for his offence. He urged that his case was different from that of the other bishops in confinement, ‘they beinge moche further gone amisse in religion than he was, and with obstynacie,’ and finally offered the queen 1,000l. for his release, which he obtained on 18 Jan. 1555. It has, however, been ascertained that he died on 15 Nov. following his release at the house called the master of Sempringham's head house in Cow Lane in the parish of St. Sepulchre's, London (copy of a letter of Joseph Hunter referring to an inquisition on his death held at the Guildhall on 11 May 1556). He is said to have had two children by his wife (Gent. Mag. 1800, pt. i. pp. 321, 322 n.), but of this there seems to be no proof. By his will, dated 27 April before his death and proved 4 Dec. 1556, in which he makes no mention of wife or child, he, being then sick, directs that he should be buried in the church of the parish where he shall die, and leaves all his lands for the erection and endowment of a hospital at Hemsworth for a master and twenty brethren and sisters, of the age of sixty, or blind or lame, belonging to Hemsworth and three adjacent parishes. This bequest was duly executed. There is a portrait of Holgate in his hospital at Hemsworth, which has been engraved by J. Stow.

[Many materials for the above have been supplied by Mr. Wyndham Holgate of Chelmsford. See Drake's Ebor. p. 452; Cooper's Athenæ Cantabr. i. 164, 549; Hunter's South Yorkshire, ii. 430; Browne Willis's Cathedrals, i. 44; Collier's Eccl. Hist. vi. 23, 84, ed. Lathbury; Strype's Memorials, II. ii. 77, 165, Cranmer, pp. 77, 440, 8vo ed.; Ornsby's York, pp. 290–3, 321–30 (Diocesan Hist. Ser.); Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 954; Machyn's Diary, pp. 46, 58, 80 (Camden Soc.); Gent. Mag. 1800, pt. i. pp. 321, 322, an untrustworthy sketch of life, 1860, pt. ii. p. 522, by Bishop Stubbs, on the investiture with the pall; State Papers, Hen. VIII, v. Nos. 340, 345; MS. State Papers, Mary, Dom. vi. f. 84 sq.; on Holgate's marriage, MS. Harl. 352, f. 206; Cole MS. xlix. ff. 249, 345; manuscript extract of grant of arms from the Records of the College of Arms by Bluemantle Pursuivant, 30 Jan. 1888. For Holgate's work on council of the north (1540–4) see Brit. Mus. Addit. MSS., Transactions between England and Scotland, 32646–55 passim, containing numerous letters signed by him with others on public affairs. For his foundations, Carlisle's Endowed Schools Report, ii. 817, 821, 858, 919, and for suit before the privy council relating to removal of Hemsworth Grammar School, Times, 7 March 1887, p. 3.]

W. H.