Hugh de Benin

Hugh de Benin [Benham] (d. 1282) was a 13th century bishop. If his name represents Benholm, then he may have come from an English or Anglo-Norman family recently settled in the Mearns (i.e. Kincardineshire), as the name is linguistically English, unusual in settlement names for the area in this period; the other possibility is that the name "Benholm" is an anglicized corruption of a Gaelic name in Beinn, a possibility strengthened by the spellings Benne and Benin found in the cartulary of Arbroath Abbey. He may have been related to the Christiana Benin who married into the Lundie family of Fife.

Hugh chose an ecclesiastical career and by 1266, if not before, he was Chancellor of the diocese of Aberdeen. His career moved forward further in the early 1270s when, after the death of the previous bishop, the chapter and dean of Aberdeen elected him as the new Bishop of Aberdeen. The decree of election was relayed to the pope by Hugh's proctors Thomas de Benin, a likely brother or relative of Hugh and his successor as Chancellor, and Roger de Castello. Hugh was consecrated at Orvieto by Pope Gregory X between March 27 and July 23 1272.

After returning to Scotland, Hugh was back in Continental Europe in 1274 as one of the bishops of Scotland attending the Council of Lyons. Hugh was a trusted figure with both Pope Gregory and Pope Nicholas III, and was appointed several times to judge for the Pope the fitness of different Scottish bishops-elect. He was one of the most active of contemporary Scottish bishops, heading a provincial council at Perth, enjoying a good relationship with the Earl of Buchan, Alexander Comyn, and commencing new work on Aberdeen Cathedral. He died early in 1282 on an island in lacus de Gowlis [lacu de Goyle; lacu Goule], an unidentified loch; according to one account he choked (suffocatus fuit), to another he died of the cold (catarrho exundate subito interiit) and another by an ambush or to some other kind of treachery (insidiis occubuit).



  • Dowden, John, The Bishops of Scotland, ed. J. Maitland Thomson, (Glasgow, 1912)
  • Keith, Robert, An Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops: Down to the Year 1688, (London, 1924)
  • Summerson, Henry, "Bennum, Hugh of (d. 1281/2)", in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 accessed 21 Feb 2007
  • Watt, D.E.R., Fasti Ecclesiae Scotinanae Medii Aevi ad annum 1638, 2nd Draft, (St Andrews, 1969)

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