HUICK (HEWICKE), Robert (by 1515-80), of London, Enfield St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Mdx.
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Family and Education
b. by 1515. educ. Merton, Oxf. BA 1529, fellow 1530, MA 1533, Camb. MB and MD 1538, Oxf. MD 1566. m. (1) by 1546, Elizabeth, sis. of Henry and Walter Slighfield of ?Peckham, Kent, 1 or 2da.; (2 or 3) lic. 2 Nov. 1575, Mary, da. of one Woodcock of London, 1da.3
1st dean, Merton Coll. 1534-5, 2nd dean 1535-6; principal, St. Alban Hall 10 Mar. 1534-9 Sept. 1534, re-adm. 24 Sept. 1534-5; master of disputations, Austins 1535; fellow, college of physicians, London 1536, censor 1541, 1556-9, an elect 1550-d., pres. 1551-2, 1564, councillor 1553, 1559-61; physician in ordinary to Hen. VIII 1538-47, Queen Catherine Parr 1543-8, Edw. VI 1547-50, Elizabeth 1560-d., extraordinary to Edw. VI 1550-3, commr. relief Mdx. 1550, to hear cases in ct. of marshalsea of the Household 1564; receiver of petitions in the Lords, Parlts. of 1563, 1571, 1572; j.p. Mdx. 1564-d.4
Robert Huick’s parentage is unknown but according to the records of Merton College he came from Berkshire. Although he was one of the most promising Oxford scholars of his time, his career in the university came to a sudden end when he was dismissed as principal of St. Alban Hall for criticizing his colleagues for their conservatism and the writings of the medieval schoolmen for their ‘destruction of the wits’. His fellows at St. Alban Hall, who respected his intellect and great learning, interceded with Cromwell on his behalf, but to no avail. Although he obtained a further appointment at Merton, his Protestantism made him an increasingly uncomfortable member of the university: his conversion in 1532 had been dramatic enough for him to compare it, in a letter to Richard Morison, with the lifting of the veil from Moses’s eyes, but it left him ploughing a lonely furrow at a university ‘where Pelagius reigns till this day’. He entered the royal college of physicians in 1536 but did not break entirely with Oxford until his appointment as physician to Henry VIII. He graduated in medicine at Cambridge and it was not until Elizabeth’s visit to Oxford in 1566 that his old university honoured him with a doctorate of medicine.5
During the closing years of Henry VIII’s reign Huick became a prominent figure at court. He attended the King in his final illness and witnessed his will. In the previous summer he had applied for a divorce on the ground of his wife’s being an ‘ill woman’ (he may have doubted his paternity of the daughter born to her about this time), but on hearing Elizabeth Huick’s answers the Privy Council decided that he had falsified the evidence. Huick appealed against its sentence, and shortly after the King’s death a commission under Cranmer considered the case, with unknown result. The couple may have been reconciled as in 1562 another daughter Atalanta was born to Huick, though of course the mother may have been a second wife of whom nothing is known. Huick had no personal link with Wootton Bassett; he presumably owed his return there to the lord of the manor, Queen Catherine Parr, with whom he was on close enough terms to attend at the childbirth which proved fatal. Nothing is known of his part in the business of the 1547 Parliament, nor is his attitude known towards the crisis following Carlisle’s death involving Baron Seymour of Sudeley and the Duke of Somerset. However, the timing of his appointment as the King’s physician extraordinary, ostensibly a recognition of his past service to the royal family, suggests that this was a reward for his alignment at that time. Huick’s professional skill remained in demand at court and among his patients was William Cecil, one of Northumberland’s abettors in the arrangements for the Parliament of March 1553. Huick is probably to be identified wills the senior Member for Camelford in that Parliament, in which case he no doubt owed his nomination to his position at court.6
Huick’s religion did not commend him to Mary and his appointment as a royal physician was not renewed on her accession, but his fame was such that when Princess Elizabeth fell ill in October 1554 Sir Henry Bedingfield asked the Council’s permission for him to attend her. He was to describe this period in a collection of Latin verses dedicated to Elizabeth after she became Queen. Opening with a dirge on the death of Edward VI, Huick goes on to praise the King’s learning and piety, to lament Jane Grey’s innocence and betrayal, to denounce the cruelty of Mary and her mistreatment of Elizabeth, to argue that had Edward VI lived Calais would not have been lost, and finally to describe Elizabeth’s accession and coronation. The work includes an elegy on (Sir) John Cheke and a eulogy on (Sir) Nicholas Bacon, and mentions Walter Haddon and William Cecil as the writer’s especial friends during his time as Edward VI’s physician.7
In 1560 Elizabeth made Huick one of her physicians. These were years of prosperity for him: he was able to extend his holdings at Enfield, where he had owned property since 1555 and where in 1562 he was assessed for the subsidy on lands worth £40. In 1562 he and Francis Palmes bought lands in Yorkshire worth over £1,360, and he also acquired some property in London which he improved by pulling down ‘old ruinous cottages’ and replacing them by ‘handsome and comely tenements’. In February 1562 Merton College wrote to Cecil proposing Huick as warden, but he was not chosen. He was named to the commission of the peace for Middlesex and in 1564 he was described by the bishop of London as a ‘favourer’ of religion. About the same time he entered the Inner Temple: his admission was doubtless honorary, but it may have been connected with his appointment in the previous year to the court of the marshalsea of the Household during a vacancy in the stewardship of the Household. Although not elected to Parliament again, he was named a receiver of petitions in the Lords in the last three Parliaments summoned before his death.8
Huick was on familiar terms with the Queen and when he took part in the ‘physic act’ performed for her reception at Cambridge in August 1564 he is said to have joked with her; in 1566 he was to take part in a similar ceremony at Oxford when she visited the university. In March 1565 he wrote to Cecil explaining his absence from court; he had been ordered by the Queen to attend Lady Knollys and had fallen ill himself. During the discussions on Elizabeth’s proposed marriage with Charles IX he advised her against bearing children. At New Year 1579 he made Elizabeth a present of two pots of orange flowers and some candied ginger and received in return a gilt bowl.9
In his will, made on 21 Aug. 1580, Huick divided all his movable goods between his wife and his daughter Elizabeth, whom he appointed his executrices. He devised his lands upon his daughter Atalanta, who was already married to William Chetwynd. He remembered his servants and kinsmen and appointed (Sir) Thomas Bromley II and Blanche Parry as overseers. Although his daughter Anne by his first marriage was still alive she received no mention, and Huick directed that if Elizabeth and Atalanta died without issue, his goods and lands were to go to Merton College. He died on 6 Sept. and was buried at Harlington, Middlesex.10
Ref Volumes: 1509-1558
Authors: Elizabeth McIntyre / A. D.K. Hawkyard
- 1. Hatfield 207.
- 2. Except for the final two letters of his surname ‘ke’, the name of the senior Member is barely legible on the badly defaced indenture (C219/20/27). Of the christian name one letter may be a ‘W’ or a ‘b’ probably followed by a ‘t’. OR gives the name as ‘Robertus (HAWKE?)’.
- 3. Date of birth estimated from education. APC, i. 418; Req.2/224/53; London Mar. Lic. ed. Foster, 738; PCC 13 Darcy; C142/196/17.
- 4. Emden, Biog. Reg. Univ. Oxf. 1501-40, p. 304; W. Munk, Roll of R. Coll. of Physicians, i. 32-33; LP Hen. VIII , xiv-xxi; CPR, 1553, p. 356; 1563-6, p. 184; LJ, i. 580, 667, 703.
- 5. Emden, 304; LP Hen. VIII, ix, xii, xiv.
- 6. LP Hen. VIII, xvi-xxi; APC, i. 416, 418; CPR, 1547-8, pp. 124-5; 1549-51, p. 299; C142/196/17; Hatfield, bills 1/38.
- 7. Sloane, 3572, ff. 59-64; F. A. Mumby, Girlhood of Eliz. 180; Royal 12A, f. 38.
- 8. CPR, 1558-60, p. 430; 1560-3, pp. 230-1; 1563-6, p. 184; PCC 13 Darcy; Survey London, xviii(2), 46, 128; Feet of Fines, Mdx. ed. Hardy and Page, ii. 101-55 passim; Cam. Misc. ix(3), 60; CSP Dom. 1547-80, p. 195; Bp. Parker’s Reg. (Cant. and York Soc. xxxvi), 799-800.
- 9. Nichols, Progresses Eliz. i. 230, 245; Munk, i. 32-33; Cooper, Ath. Cant. i. 554; E. Jenkins, Eliz. the Great, 123; Lansd. 9, f. 7; HMC Hatfield, xiii. 201.
- 10. PCC 13 Darcy; C142/196/17.