Merton, Walter de, d. 1277, English bishop, founder of Merton College, Oxford. He was lord chancellor from 1261 to 1263, was reappointed after the death of Henry III (1272), and was made bishop of Rochester in 1274. In 1261 he obtained a charter from the earl of Gloucester for the assignation of lands for the support of scholars, and in 1264 a regular charter of incorporation established a “House of Scholars” at Malden, Surrey; this was later transferred to Oxford. The establishment of a corporate body to rule and control the scholars marks the beginning of the collegiate system of education, and Merton College became the model for other colleges at Oxford and Cambridge.
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