First master of the Order of the Temple, Hugh was a vassal of the count of Champagne from Payns, northwest of Troyes in France. He settled in the kingdom of Jerusalem after 1113, and in 1119, together with Godfrey of Saint-Omer and a few other companions, began to patrol the road from Jaffa (mod. Tel Aviv-Yafo, Israel) to Jerusalem in order to protect pilgrims from Muslim attack. They were sustained by benefices centered on the Temple platform in Jerusalem.
In 1127, Hugh was part of a delegation sent by King Baldwin II to accompany Fulk V, count of Anjou, to Jerusalem, where he was to marry Melisende, Baldwin’s eldest daughter. While in the West, Hugh traveled extensively in France, Normandy, Flanders, England, and Scotland in order to recruit forces for an attack on Damascus planned for late 1129. In January 1129 the Templars received a rule at the Council of Troyes following an oral explanation of their original customs by Hugh himself. At about the same time, Hugh asked Bernard of Clairvaux to write in their support, a request that resulted in the treatise De laude novae militiae. A contemporary letter by a “Hugo Peccator,” intended to strengthen Templar morale, may have been Hugh’s own work.