Hugh Cook Faringdon
Blessed Hugh Cook Faringdon, O.S.B., (died 1539), also known as Hugh Faringdon or Hugh Cook, was a Benedictine monk who ruled 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, he was accused of high treason and executed. He was declared a martyr and beatified by the Catholic Church in 1895.
Born Hugh Cook, he adopted the surname 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 adopted the arms of the Cook family of Kent, suggesting he might have had connections there. He is believed to have been educated within the abbey, and later served as the sub-chamberlain of the community.
Hugh Cook 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.
At first his relationship with King Henry seems to have been supportive. He sat in Parliament from 1523 to 1539 and, in 1530, he signed, with other members of the House of Lords, a letter to the Pope pointing out the evils likely to result from delaying the divorce desired by the King; and, again in 1536, he signed the Articles of Faith which virtually acknowledged the supremacy of the Crown over the Church. 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.
In 1539, Faringdon was indicted of 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. Along with John Rugge, a known associate, and Master 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, under suspicion of complicity in the Abbot's alleged treason, were not given pensions normally set upon monks and nuns at the dissolution of their monasteries. This changed only under Henry's successor, his daughter, Queen Mary
The Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School, a specialist performing arts college in Reading, is named after him.The Blessed Hugh Catholic Church in Faringdon is named after him. 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.
- Cross, Claire (2004–9). "Cook, Hugh". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
- "Blessed Hugh Faringdon (d. 1539), Last Abbot of Reading Abbey". Reading's Great People. Reading Borough Libraries. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
- Ford, David Nash. "Hugh Cook of Faringdon (d.1539)". Royal Berkshire History. Nash Ford Publishing. Retrieved 2009-06-12.
- Nash RBH:Hugh Cook of Faringdon's Memorial
- Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Hugh Cook (subscription or UK library membership needed)
- Royal Berkshire History: Hugh Cook of Faringdon, Abbot of Reading
- Reading Borough Libraries: Blessed Hugh Faringdon
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Blessed Hugh Faringdon
|Catholic Church titles|
|Abbot of Reading