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HOUGHTON or HOUTONE, ADAM de (d. 1389), bishop of St. David's and chancellor of England, was born at Caerforiog in the parish of Whitchurch, near St. David's, but his name clearly shows that his family was of English or Norman origin. Foss's conjecture that he was a son of John de Houghton, baron of the exchequer in 1347, seems untenable. Adam de Houghton was educated at Oxford, where he took the degree of doctor of laws. In 1337 Adam de Houton of Oxford, clerk, was in trouble for having wounded John le Blake of Tadyngton (Wood, Hist. and Antiq. i. 434). Entering holy orders, he apparently became one of the royal clerks. Some time after 1354 he was appointed precentor of St. David's. On 2 Oct. 1360 he witnessed the parole entered into by Reynald d'Albigny, and was one of the commissioners appointed on 1 July 1361 to receive possession of the counties and cities surrendered by the French under the treaty of Brétigny (Fœdera, iii. 511, 679). On 20 Sept. 1361 he was papally provided to the see of St. David's, and received possession of the spiritualities on 15 Nov. and of the temporalities on 8 Dec. He was consecrated at St. Mary's, Southwark, on 2 Jan. 1362, by William Edendon, bishop of Winchester (Stubbs, Reg. Sacr. Angl. p. 56). In June 1376 he was employed in the settlement of a dispute at Oxford (Fœdera, iii. 1055). As a supporter of the court he was a trier of petitions in every parliament down to 1377 (Rot. Parl. ii. 275–321). On 11 Jan. of that year he was appointed, probably through the influence of John of Gaunt, chancellor in succession to Sir John Knyvet [q. v.] In April he was at the head of the commissioners sent to negotiate for peace with France (Fœdera, iii. 1076), and was engaged on this business at Calais when Edward III's death recalled him to England in June. Houghton was at once resworn as chancellor, and held office till 29 Oct. 1378. In his addresses to parliament Houghton made a somewhat ludicrous use of biblical texts (cf. Rot. Parl. iii. 361; Campbell, i. 274). In 1380 Houghton was employed with Sir Simon Burley in the negotiations for the marriage of Richard with Anne of Bohemia (Froissart, viii. 8, ed. Buchon). He was a trier of petitions in 1384 and 1385. He died 13 Feb. 1388–9, and was buried in the chapel of his college of St. Mary at St. David's, under a large tomb which is now destroyed.

Houghton appears in the statute-book of his cathedral as one of its chief legislators. He established the cathedral school and endowed the choristers. He is also said to have erected the vicars' college; he certainly compelled the vicars to live together, which they had not previously done. But his chief foundation was the fine college or chantry of St. Mary, which he established in 1365, in conjunction with John of Gaunt. The cloisters which connect it with the cathedral are also due to him. There is a curious story that he was excommunicated by Pope Clement VI, and that he excommunicated the pope in return; the incident is alleged to have been represented in the windows of his college chapel. The story as given is chronologically impossible, but if the anti-pope Clement VII (1378–94) is intended, it would at least be intelligible.

[Foss's Lives of the Judges, ii. 447, iii. 59–61; Campbell's Lives of the Chancellors, i. 269, 274–6; Le Neve's Fasti Eccl. Angl. i. 294, 316; Godwin, De Præsulibus, p. 582, ed. Richardson; Browne-Willis's Survey of the Cathedral Church of St. David's, pp. 108–9; Jones and Freeman's Hist. and Antiquities of St. David's, pp. 179, 187, 232, 303–4; Dugdale's Monasticon, vi. 1387–1392; authorities cited.]

C. L. K.