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Hugo de Balsham

Hugh de Balsham (or Hugo; died 1286) was an English churchman. He appears first as sub-prior of the Benedictine monastery of Ely. On the death of William of Kilkenny in 1256 the monks elected him Bishop of Ely, to the annoyance of King Henry III of England who had handed over the temporalities of the see to his favourite, John de Waleran. The election was confirmed by Pope Alexander IV in 1257 and Hugh set to work to repair the harm done to the diocese by the intruder.

Little is known about his administration of the diocese, but it is certain that he remained in possesion of it for almost thirty years.

Hugh played an important role in the early history of Cambridge University. In 1280 he obtained a charter from the king allowing him to replace the secular brethren residing in the diocesan hospital of St John at Cambridge by "studious scholars"; a second charter four years later entirely differentiated these scholars from the brethren of the hospital, and for them Hugh de Balsham founded and endowed the college of Peterhouse, the first Cambridge college, and, it is presumed, a model for all the rest.