William of Durham

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William of Durham (died 1249) is said to have founded University College, Oxford, England.[1][2] He probably came from Sedgefield, County Durham and was educated at Wearmouth monastery and in Paris, France.

William of Durham was archdeacon of Caux and (in 1235, for a few months) archbishop-elect of Rouen in Normandy, France.[1]

When, in 1229, riots broke out in Paris, he may have been the leader of a group of students who migrated from that city to Oxford, but this tradition is not attested to by contemporary sources. What is more certain is that he held several rich benefices in England and died in Rouen, in 1249.

He left 310 marks,[1] a large amount of money, in his will to be invested in rents that would support scholars in Oxford. This benefaction resulted in one of the first of the Oxford halls or colleges. Subsequently this foundation took the name of University College, the oldest college at Oxford University, founded on William of Durham's death and legacy in 1249.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 University College, A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3: The University of Oxford, 1954, pp. 61–81.
  2. Darwall-Smith, Robin, A History of University College, Oxford. Oxford University Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-19-928429-0.