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HOUGH, JOHN (1651–1743), bishop of Worcester, was the son of John Hough, citizen of London, who was descended from the Houghs of Leighton in Cheshire. His mother was Margaret, daughter of John Byrche of Leacroft, Staffordshire. He was born in Middlesex, 12 April 1651, and educated either at Birmingham or at Walsall, Staffordshire. He entered as demy at Magdalen College, Oxford, 12 Nov. 1669, graduated B.A. 10 April 1673, M.A. 8 June 1676, B.D. 10 March 1686, and D.D. 22 June 1687, and after a few years was elected fellow. In 1675 he took holy orders, and in 1678 was appointed domestic chaplain to the Duke of Ormonde, lord-lieutenant of Ireland; but he did not long remain in Ireland. In 1685 he was made prebendary of Worcester, and in the same year was presented to the living of Dempsford in the gift of the crown. On 31 March 1687 the president of Magdalen College, Dr. Henry Clarke, died. On 5 April a mandate from James II arrived, ordering the fellows to elect as their president Anthony Farmer [q. v.], who was statutably ineligible. The fellows immediately addressed a protest to the king, and received a verbal answer by Lord Sunderland that the king expected to be obeyed. On 15 April, which was the last statutable day for the election, the fellows elected Hough as their president. Hough is described in the college register as ‘a gentleman of liberality and firmness, who by the simplicity and purity of his moral character, by the mildness of his disposition and the happy temperament of his virtues, and many good qualities, had given every one reason to expect that he would be a distinguished ornament to the college and to the whole university.’ On the following day, 16 April, Hough was presented to the visitor, the Bishop of Winchester, and formally admitted and sworn in president (Bloxam, pp. 34–5). On 28 May the fellows were cited to appear before the ecclesiastical commissioners in June to give account of their refusal to elect the king's nominee (ib. pp. 49, 50). The matter came before the High Commission Court on 22 June, and the president's place was declared void. On 14 Aug. the king issued another mandate to the fellows of Magdalen, ordering them to elect Samuel Parker, bishop of Oxford. The fellows replied on 28 Aug. that the place was already filled. In September James II came to Oxford, and ‘rated’ the fellows ‘in foul language in a very angry tone,’ but they declined to displace Hough. Special commissioners sent by the king reached Oxford 20 Oct., being escorted by three troops of horse. Hough, the ‘pretended president,’ and the fellows were cited to appear before them on 21 Oct. in the hall of Magdalen College (ib. p. 108). Hough was first summoned, and, refusing to resign his claim, his name was ordered to be struck out of the books and the fellows commanded no longer to submit to him. On the next day (22 Oct.) Hough was again called before the commissioners, and again refused to submit or abandon the presidentship. In the afternoon (of 22 Oct.) he appeared a third time, and delivered a formal protest, promising to ‘appeal to my sovereign lord the king in his courts of justice.’ ‘Do you think to huff us, sir?’ asked Sir Thomas Jenner, one of the commissioners who denied the right to appeal. On 25 Oct. the Bishop of Oxford was admitted by proxy. Hough having declined to surrender the keys of the lodgings, they were broken open by force. On 10 Dec., the ecclesiastical commissioners having taken into consideration ‘the contemptuous and disobedient behaviour of Dr. John Hough and the fellows of Magdalen,’ declared them incapable of any ecclesiastical dignity. In September 1688 James II perceived the error of his policy, and wrote to the Bishop of Winchester that as he desired to preserve all the rights and immunities of the church of England, he directed him as visitor to restore Hough to the presidentship and to reinstate the ejected fellows.

Hough's bold resistance was soon after the revolution rewarded by a bishopric. In April 1690 he was consecrated bishop of Oxford, with license to hold the presidentship of Magdalen in commendam. In 1699 he succeeded Dr. William Lloyd as bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, and resigned the presidentship. On the death of Tenison in 1715 he was offered, but declined, the primacy. In 1717 he was translated to Worcester. Always liberal in distributing his wealth, he gave 1,000l. towards the new buildings at Magdalen; rebuilt the episcopal house (attached to the Lichfield and Coventry see) at Eccleshall; and performed a similar service to the see of Worcester. He also gave 1,000l. towards the erection of All Saints' Church in Worcester. He appears to have been of a quiet, retiring disposition. He died 8 March 1743, in his ninety-second year, without illness, and was buried in Worcester Cathedral. On the monument erected to him there he is represented as delivering his protest in the hall of Magdalen College.

Hough published in his lifetime eight occasional sermons. In a laudatory life written of him by John Wilmot, F.R.S., several of his letters are published.

[Life, by John Wilmot, F.R.S.; Diary of Thomas Cartwright, Bishop of Chester (Camden Soc.), London, 1843; King's Visitatorial Power over the Universities, by Nat Johnston, London, 1688; An Impartial Relation of the Illegal Proceedings against St. Mary Magdalen College in Oxford, London, 1689; Burnet's Hist. of his own Time, London, 1838; Bloxam's Magdalen College and James II (Oxf. Hist. Soc.); Bloxam's Registers of Magdalen College; Luttrell's Brief Relation; Macaulay's Hist.; see arts. Faifax, Henry (1634–1702), and Farmer, Anthony.]

G. G. P.