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Hugh Cook alias Faringdon

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Title: Hugh Cook alias Faringdon  
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Subject: 16th-century English clergy, People from Faringdon, 1539 deaths, English martyrs, Southcote, Berkshire
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Hugh Cook alias Faringdon

The Blessed Hugh Faringdon O.S.B. (died 1539), earlier known as Hugh Cook, later as Hugh Cook alias Faringdon and Hugh Cook of Faringdon, was a Benedictine monk who presided as the last Abbot of Reading Abbey in the English town of Reading. At the dissolution of the monasteries under King Henry VIII of England, Faringdon was accused of high treason and executed. He was declared a martyr and beatified by the Catholic Church in 1895.[1][2]

Hugh Faringdon plaque, English Martyrs Church, Liebenrood Road, Reading


  • Life 1
  • Legacy 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Born Hugh Cook, he adopted the surname of Faringdon when he became a monk, sometime prior to 1500. The use of this surname suggests that he came from Faringdon, a town some 30 miles (48 km) northwest of Reading. However it is also significant that he subsequently used the arms of the Cook family of Kent, suggesting that he had connections there. He is believed to have been educated within the abbey, and later served as the sub-cellarer of the abbey.[1]

Hugh Faringdon was elected Abbot of Reading Abbey in 1520, upon the death of Abbot Thomas Worcester. As well as his spiritual duties, he also took up the civil duties expected at that time of a mitred abbot, being appointed as Justice of the Peace and to various governmental Commissions for Berkshire from 1526 to 1538.[1]

At first Faringdon's relationship with King Henry VIII of England seems to have been supportive. King Henry was his guest on 30 January 1521, and he later became one of the royal chaplains. Among Henry's New Year gifts in 1532 was £20 in a white leather purse to the Abbot of Reading.[3] When the king was hunting in the neighborhood the abbot would take the opportunity of sending him presents of Kennet trout or hunting knives.[4]

Faringdon seems to have taken the king's side during the divorce controversy. While Henry was searching for authorities to support his views on matrimonial laws, Faringdon sent him books which he thought would serve the purpose.[5] He sat in

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Thomas III
Abbot of Reading
Succeeded by
Abbey dissolved
  • Reading Borough Libraries: Blessed Hugh Faringdon

External links

  1. ^ a b c d Cross, Claire (2004–9). "Cook, Hugh". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  2. ^ a b "Blessed Hugh Faringdon (d. 1539), Last Abbot of Reading Abbey". Reading's Great People. Reading Borough Libraries. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  3. ^ a b c Wainewright, John. "Blessed Hugh Faringdon." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 28 May 2013
  4. ^ , Vol. I, p.359, Longmans, Green and Co., London 1914Lives of the English Martyrs Declared Blessed by Pope Leo XIIICamm O.S.B.,Dom Bede. "Blessed John Forest".
  5. ^ a b   
  6. ^ Nash RBH: Hugh Cook of Faringdon's Memorial
  7. ^ "Blessed Hugh Roman Catholic Church", Faringdon community Website


See also

The Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School, a specialist performing arts college in Reading, is named after him.[2] The Blessed Hugh Catholic Church in Faringdon is named after him.[7] The Abbot Cook pub in Reading, a Mitchells and Butlers pub at Cemetery Junction in Reading, is named after him also. His feast day is on 14 November.


In 1539 Faringdon was indicted for high treason, being accused of having assisted the Northern rebels with money. He was tracked down at Bere Court, his manor at Pangbourne, and taken back to the Tower of London, where he spent two months.[6] As a mitred abbot he was entitled to be tried by Parliament, but no scruples troubled the chancellor, Thomas Cromwell. His death sentence was passed before his trial began.[3] Along with John Rugge, a known associate, and John Eynon, the priest of St Giles' Church in Reading, he was found guilty and hanged, drawn and quartered before the inner Abbey gatehouse on 14 November 1539. The monks of Reading, not under suspicion of complicity in the Abbot's alleged treason, were given pensions normally set upon monks and nuns at the dissolution of their monasteries.[1]

When the commissioners arrived to take the surrender of Reading Abbey, they reported favorably of the abbot's willingness to conform, but the surrender of the abbey does not survive, and it is not therefore known whether or not Faringdon actually signed it.[5]


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