The establishment of the College
is chiefly to be attributed to Andrew Dockett,
Rector of St. Botolph's, Principal of St. Bernard's
Hostel, and first President of Queens'. Dockett
obtained a royal charter on 3 December 1446 for the
incorporation of a 'College of St. Bernard', to consist of a President and four fellows. The site for its
proposed buildings lay east of the present Queens'
Lane and is now occupied by St. Catharine's
College. A more favourable site was acquired,
covering the whole area bounded by Queens' Lane,
Silver Street, the river, and, to the north, the then
existing Carmelite Priory, and at the request of the
society Henry VI granted them a new charter on
21 August 1447. But Queen Margaret of Anjou
petitioned her husband for leave to refound and
rename the College 'to laud and honneure of sexe
femenine', since there was in Cambridge no college
founded by a queen of England. The society again
surrendered its charter, and letters patent dated
30 March 1448 granted the College's land, with
leave to found a college, to Queen Margaret.
Queens' College. Quarterly, 1. Barry of eight pieces argent and gules, 2. Old France with a label of three pieces gules, 3. Argent a cross potent between four similar crosslets or, 4. Old France a border gules, 5. Azure sown with crosslets fitchy or, two golden barbels back to back, 6. Or on a bend gules three eagles argent, all within a border vert. [Granted 1575]
So St. Bernard's College disappeared and on 15
April 1448 Queen Margaret issued her charter
founding 'the Queen's College of St. Margaret and
St. Bernard', with the same society, possessions, and
provisions for drafting of statutes as for the former
foundation, and entitled to hold
property in mortmain to the
value of £200 a year. The
foundation stone was laid on 15
April 1448 by Sir John Wenlock,
the queen's chamberlain, but no
statutes seem to have been
framed during Henry VI's reign.
However Dockett 'so prevailed
with Queen Elizabeth, wife to
King Edward the fourth, that
she perfected what her professed
enemy had begun'. (fn. 1) Edward IV's
writ of 25 March 1465, permitting the College to hold property,
described it as enjoying 'the
patronage of Elizabeth, Queen
of England', and in her grant of
the College's first statutes on 10
March 1475 Elizabeth even
referred to herself as vera fundatrix. Thus the modern spelling
of 'Queens'' does justice to both
of the royal ladies who succeeded
each other in promoting the
College's foundation; and over a
doorway of the modern Dockett
building are appropriately placed the words Et reginae
nutrices tuae. Moreover a tradition was being created
that the Queens of England were successive patronesses of the College. This appears from Richard III's
licence dated 25 March 1484 which declared that the
College existed by the 'patronage of our aforesaid
consort', Queen Anne Neville, and from his grants
of lands of 5 July 1484 which were attributed to consideration for his wife. This tradition was, however,
allowed to lapse from the 16th century until it was
happily renewed by Queen Elizabeth, consort of
George VI, in 1948. (fn. 2)
Site and Buildings.
In 1448 the site comprised that on which the front court was shortly to
rise; together with the space between it and the
river; and a strip on the north side, from Milne
Street, now Queens' Lane, to the river, bounded
by a walled lane, beyond which was the Carmelite
Priory. Fearing, with reason, that their suppression
was approaching, the friars tried to make over their
property to the College by a deed dated 8 August
1538; but on 17 August royal commissioners were
instructed to take possession of the priory on behalf
of the Crown. On 12 September 1544 Henry VIII
granted the site to John Eyre of Bury, from whom
Dr. May, President of Queens', finally bought it on
behalf of the College on 8 November. (fn. 3) The land was
laid out as gardens for the President and fellows.
The College land west of the river was acquired
from the town for 40 marks, in accordance with
letters patent of Edward IV, Queen Elizabeth, and
Edward, their son, in 1475. (fn. 4) The centre of this area
is occupied by the Fellows' walled Garden. South
of it were erected at various times cottages, stables,
a brew-house, and two lecture-rooms. North of it
lies the well-timbered peninsula, now gay with
flowers in the spring, and known as 'the grove'.
Queens' is almost completely constructed of red
brick, probably imported from Holland. (fn. 5) The only
notable exceptions are the central part of the
President's Lodge, which is of timber and plaster,
and the Essex Building, which is of the local white
brick. The contract for the woodwork of the first
building dated 14 April 1448 relates to the north and
east sides and the south-eastern corner of the front
court, that is the library, chapel, main gate, and
three staircases of chambers. Another contract,
dated 6 March 1449, provided for the woodwork of
the hall, buttery, and kitchen on the west side, and
chambers in the south-western angle of the court.
With the help of £200 from Henry VI and £220
from Marmaduke Lumley, Bishop of Lincoln, the
front court was completed, in two stories, with
attics above. The President was lodged in the northwestern corner and the tower above the gate formed
the treasury. The court was an ambitious departure
from the humbler standards of earlier Cambridge,
and is 'the earliest remaining quadrangle in Cambridge that can claim attention for real architectural
beauty, and fitness of design'. (fn. 6) The architect was
almost certainly Reginald Ely (d. 1471), an intimate
friend and parishioner of Dockett. (fn. 7) Owing to the
durability of the material used the court is almost as
it was built. A later slate roof with battlements was
removed and the roof restored to its original tiled
state by Dr. Fitzpatrick, President, in 1910 and
1926. Additional buildings were erected along the
river about 1460, consisting of chambers with a
cloister on the inner side of the ground floor.
Further cloisters, running eastwards to join the
front court, completed the enclosure of Cloister
Court later in the century.
The famous gallery connecting the President's
original chambers with the buildings on the river, is
a timber and plaster construction overhanging the
northern cloister. It was erected about 1540 with
material from the former Carmelite Priory. Above
the gallery bedrooms were added in 1560; and the
whole, together with the original chambers and part
of the river front, has afforded post-Reformation
Presidents and their families a singularly charming
residence. In 1564 a 'clunch' and stone building was
erected in the south-west corner of the College,
along Silver Street and the river. In the course of
two centuries it fell into disrepair and was demolished
to make way for the Essex Building. In 1618, when
the College could not accommodate its swollen
numbers, two staircases were added extending northwards from the eastern portion of the chapel. They
were of two stories; to which, after a fire, a third was
added between 1778 and 1782. The Essex Building
(1756–60) occupies the south-western corner of the
College on the east side of the river. Although it
was designed to afford an elegant and commodious
residence for the fellows, its exterior of white Cambridgeshire brick is so little in harmony with the
rest of the College that it is fortunate that the
society had not the resources to complete the rebuilding of the whole river-front in the same style.
Meanwhile various details were added. In 1733
the picturesque dial was placed over the entrance to
the library passage in the front court. The famous
wooden, or 'mathematical', bridge was thrown across
the river in 1749, replacing an earlier one of 1700,
and was reconstructed in 1867. Hall received its
present panelling and was covered with a flat ceiling
in 1732–4. This ceiling was removed in 1846, the
former roof exposed, and a new scheme of decoration
carried out by Bodley in 1875.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the
College buildings were greatly enlarged. In 1886
a block of four staircases, the Friars' Building, was
erected along the northern side of the ground once
owned by the Carmelites and later used as the
President's kitchen garden. This was soon followed
by the new chapel. In 1912 the Dockett Building
was erected along the northern part of Queens'
Lane, on the site of some almshouses for women,
now demolished. (fn. 8) The building contained 26 sets of
rooms, a guest-room, the college offices, and in the
basement, a completely new departure, bathrooms.
The College could then accommodate approximately 10 fellows and 100 undergraduates, but after
1918 the number of undergraduates more than
doubled. In 1935 the society decided for the first
time to build chambers on the left bank of the river.
The picturesque cottages inhabited by college
servants, and several unsightly buildings, were demolished, and there arose the long curved building
of four stories with gables and a central tower,
named the Fisher Building after the most eminent
President. It contains sets of rooms for 4 fellows and
73 undergraduates, a guest-room, sick-room, and
dispensary, and numerous bathrooms. Two squashracquet courts and seven garages were also built.
The old brew-house and stables were reconditioned,
as a memorial to Dr. Fitzpatrick, to provide two
common-rooms for undergraduates; their former
common-room being converted into a dining-room
supplementary to the hall. The architect of the whole
plan was G. C. Drinkwater.
The foundation stone was laid on 15
April 1448, and the chapel was licensed for divine
service by William Grey, Bishop of Ely, on 12
December 1454. There is little record of the effect
of the Reformation on the chapel. Statues were
removed in 1547, the walls whitewashed in 1548
and the altars removed in 1549. These altars were
restored in 1554, but again removed in 1559 and
a communion table introduced. In 1570 the organ
was removed. Under Doctors Mansell and Martin
the society evidently gave some support to the
Laudian reforms. A 'Reparation of the Chappell'
was effected in 1631–2 at a cost of £88 2d. A college
order of 20 January 1631 provided for deductions
from all stipends for the purchase of candles, lamps,
&c., until some benefaction should meet this expense. In 1635 the College was reported as one of
those which 'endeavour for order'. (fn. 10) In 1637 the
communion plate was replaced by new and more
costly vessels, and the organ was evidently again
During the Civil War the notorious Dowsing was
commissioned to deal with Queens'. It evidently
exasperated him that 'none of the Fellows would put
on their Hatts in all the time they were in the Chapell',
and he recorded that on 26 December 1643 his men
destroyed about 110 'superstitious' pictures as well
as 10 or 12 'apostles and saints within the hall'. They
also removed the steps of the chancel, (fn. 11) and about
the same time the organ was again removed. Nevertheless a defiant College order of 19 December 1648
provided that 'chapell bee observed onlie according
to statute, notwithstanding anie decree to the contrarie'. (fn. 12) At the Restoration Dr. Martin devoutly refurnished the chapel. The east end was panelled with
cedar, and the organ reintroduced. He himself presented a silver-gilt basin and large candlesticks.
In 1775 the chapel was redecorated in the taste of
the time. A flat ceiling was introduced, the altarpiece removed, and the tombstones taken up from
the floor. The west end was moved back 3 feet, the
cedar panelling removed, and the floor paved with
Ketton stone. Reaction followed in 1845, when the
ceiling was removed and a new oak roof, an imitation of the original, was made. The east window was
restored and filled with stained glass, as were the
north windows. In 1858–61 two sets of rooms south
of the chancel were converted into an organ chamber, and a reredos of alabaster was erected.
When the new chapel was built in 1889 to 1891
the three south windows were removed to its south
wall. Thereafter the original chapel served as a
lecture-room and place of meeting, as well as a
supplement to the library, until its reconstruction
in 1952 as a reading-room. In 1888 the society,
although financially distressed, decided to build a
chapel of more adequate size. It was mainly due
to the generosity of Arthur Wright, Vice-President,
and his zealous collecting of subscriptions, that the
chapel, designed by Bodley, was erected and dedicated in 1891. It is a lofty building of thin bricks and
Ancaster stone in the late English Gothic style. The
interior is of great dignity. A high reredos of red and
gold encloses the restored altar-piece, a painting in
three panels of the Cologne Renaissance. The glass
in the east and north windows is by Kempe. Figures
of St. Margaret and St. Bernard, gifts of H. G.
Lemmon, stand high on the east wall. Members of
the college who died in the two World Wars are
commemorated on the north wall.
The library is on the north side of the
front court. According to a catalogue of 1472 it
already contained 224 volumes at that time. In the
16th century valuable gifts were made by Erasmus,
Sir Thomas Smith, and William Chaderton, President and Bishop of Lincoln. Thanks to many subsequent donations and the bequest of his books
by Isaac Milner, President, in 1820, an adequate
catalogue was needed, and one by Thomas H.
Horne was published in 1827. The library then
contained 30,000 volumes, which number had increased to about 50,000 by 1940.
Bequests from Arthur Wright, Vice-President, in
1924, and R. H. Kennett, fellow and professor of
Hebrew, in 1932, endowed the library with a fine
collection of oriental books, housed on the attic
floor and separately catalogued by H. M. J. Loewe,
honorary fellow. M. R. James's catalogue of the
western manuscripts was published in 1905. The
finest manuscript is the 12th-century gloss by
Porretanus on the Psalms in two volumes in original
binding. The rarest is a 15th-century quarto, the
treatise by Wycliffe De veritate sanctae scripturae.
F. G. Plaistowe, former fellow and librarian, published a list of the Early Printed Books to 1500 A.D.
in 1910. Seventeen of the 30 volumes are not represented in the University Library. Among later books
are fine copies of the Shakespeare Third Folio (1664)
and Fourth Folio (1685), Erasmus's Miscellanea
(Basiliae, 1523) with his autograph; and copies of
Walton's and of the Antwerp Polyglot Bibles. The
more valuable books are housed in a small museum,
together with royal and other charters and an important collection of English 17th-century tokens
given in 1905 by W. G. Searle, a fellow.
The furnishings of the main library on the first
floor date from the 17th century. Its windows contain some interesting stained glass formerly in the
Carmelite priory. After the Second World War
generous gifts from old members of the College
helped towards the reconditioning of the old chapel
as a reading-room for undergraduates and a memorial to the Queens' men who had fallen in the war.
Their names are on tablets beside those of their predecessors of the First World War, on the north wall
of the new chapel. The reading-room was designed
by Dr. C. T. Seltman, fellow and librarian; the
architect being Sir Albert Richardson, P.R.A. The
work was carried out in oak with steel bookstacks,
and a gallery, and was designed to hold 20,000
volumes, and should provide undergraduates with
most of the books they need, at least in the humanities. It is adorned with a globe presented by Sir
Thomas Smith in 1577, a head of Aphrodite Ourania,
of the 1st century a.d., bequeathed by A. B. Cook,
Vice-President, in 1952, a replica of a Greek 5th
century bronze hydria, given by Dr. Seltman, and
a great part of the collection of works of art bequeathed in 1950 by Robert Temperley. This war
memorial was opened on 14 June 1952.
A generous benefactor was the
Lady Margery Roos, who in 1469 enabled the
College to buy lands in Huntingdonshire sufficient
to support five fellows with a stipend of £6 13s. 4d.
each. About 1471 John Marke, citizen of London,
gave the College the Christopher Inn and 9 messuages in Bermondsey Street, Southwark, for the support of one fellow. Dame Alice Wyche founded a
fellowship with a gift of £320 about 1473. In 1474
the Lady Joan Burgh presented the manor of St.
Nicholas Court, Isle of Thanet, for a fellowship.
Parts of this property remained in the possession
of the College until 1947. In 1477 Richard, Duke
of Gloucester, gave the manor and advowson of
Foulmire, but this, together with much larger benefactions which he made as Richard III, was
unfortunately confiscated by Henry VII, and the
prosperity of Queens' was short-lived. Further
fellowships were founded by other benefactors so
that Dockett was enabled to see his original foundation of four fellows increase by the time of his death
in 1484 to 17.
In 1502 Hugh Trotter, Treasurer of York Minster,
endowed a fellowship. Thereafter little was done to
increase the society, although David Edwards endowed another fellowship in 1690. Many persons
have made other benefactions or endowed lecturerships and scholarships. Interesting were the benefactions of Sir Thomas Smith who in 1573 endowed
'a moderate feast' to be celebrated annually on
2 December in his memory; of Sir Henry Williams
(alias Cromwell) who in 1593 endowed an annual
sermon against witchcraft, to be preached by one of
the fellows on 25 March each year in a church at
Huntingdon; and of William Sedgwick, President,
who left sums to augment the President's stipend
and to found scholarships, the surplus to be divided
annually between those fellows who should reside in
College from 3 to 10 November. The first and third
of these benefactions still take effect, but the last
sermon against witchcraft was preached by G. C.
Gorham in 1812.
During the 40 years preceding the First World
War the College suffered severely from the agricultural depression, and at one time the fellowships
were reduced to seven. After 1918, at a time of high
land values, and in view of the expense of renovating
farm buildings, the College sold about half of its
agricultural property. After 1945, when it appeared
that during the previous decade the net rents from
the remaining farms were on the average only 40
per cent. of the gross rents, owing to deterioration
of buildings, the College divested itself of virtually
all its agricultural land, and purchased a number of
shop properties in various parts of England. This
operation approximately doubled the College's external income.
A notable benefaction in the 20th century was that
of Andrew Munro, Vice-President, who in 1935 left
the College upwards of £26,000 to found scholarships in mathematics and physics. Amongst other
bequests for scholarships made by fellows or members of the College were those of E. C. Haynes, Alan
Glendinning Nash, Benjamin William Campion,
Joseph Henry Gray, Thomas Edwin Colyton Frodsham, Harold Anderson Hooper, and, in memory of
her brother Reginald J. C. Paterson, by Miss E. M.
The College has eight advowsons: St. Botolph's
rectory, Cambridge, purchased from Corpus Christi
College in 1460; the vicarage of Oakington, purchased in 1560; the rectory of Little Eversden, presented in 1572; the rectory of Newton Toney
(Wilts.), presented in 1637; (fn. 13) the rectory of Hickling
(Notts.), presented in 1677; the rectory of Grimston
(Norf.), purchased in 1779, (fn. 14) the rectory of South
Walsham (Norf.), purchased in 1734; and the rectory
of Sandon (Essex), presented in 1736.
Constitution and Statutes. (fn. 15)
statutes of 1475 provided for twelve fellows, normally
all priests, and three scholars, although the society
was given leave to adjust its numbers to its material
prosperity. The President was to be elected by the
fellows. Not more than one fellow was to be elected
from any county, nor more than two from any
diocese, except Lincoln which might have three.
Fellows were to study philosophy or theology. After
taking the M.A. degree they might teach the elementary arts subjects for three years. Thereafter
they should proceed with theological studies, unless
the society gave them leave to turn to law, medicine,
or letters. The President was required to reside one
month a quarter, which the fellows could reduce to
one month in the year. He was to be paid £3 6s. 8d.
a year with 2s. a week during residence. A fellow
received £6 13s. 4d. a year or if not a priest £4.
A scholar received £2 13s. 4d. Fellowships were intended for the poor, and fellows were required to
resign if they should acquire an assured income of
£5 from other sources.
The society was to elect annually two treasurers,
a cantor to take charge of chapel, and two deans to
preside over disputations. Every member was required to be in College by 8 p.m. in winter or 9 p.m.
in summer. There were to be daily lectures on the
Bible and the Sentences during three quarters of
each term and in the long vacation until 8 September.
At table in hall fellows were to converse in Latin,
unless the President relaxed this rule at festivals.
This obligation was abolished in 1838.
After revision in 1529 the statutes were confirmed
by Pope Clement VII. The number of fellows was
increased to 18 of whom 14 were to be priests, in
accordance with the wishes of benefactors. There
were to be 4 scholars. Two censors were to lecture in
arts and theology respectively. Fellows were to take
monthly turns as steward. All were to receive the
same remuneration, £6 13s. 4d. All fellows on attaining the M.A. degree were to devote themselves to
the study of Scripture in order to preach the Word
to the people, except for two who might turn to civil
law and medicine respectively and would then be
required to provide professional advice for their
Edward VI's commissioners recast the statutes in
1549. Under Mary Bishop Gardiner, the Chancellor,
restored those of 1529. In September 1559 Elizabeth I's commissioners restored the Edwardian
statutes. There were now to be 19 fellows, all in holy
orders, and at least 12 to be priests. There were to be
8 scholars, a lecturer on Latin authors, and a lecturer
in Greek. A censor was to lecture daily on logic or
philosophy, except that festivals were to be celebrated by lectures on mathematics. Two plays were
to be performed in hall during the winter. The oaths
required of the President and fellows and the services
in chapel were altered to suit the religious change;
and Anabaptists and Libertines were substituted for
Wycliff and Pecocke as heretics whose teaching was
to be foresworn. The President's stipend was fixed
at £5 and commons during residence, that of a
fellow who was a priest at £9. A fellow was not required to vacate his fellowship until he had an income of £10 from other sources. This provision was
frequently interpreted by the society until in 1804
the income in question rose to £120.
The statutes of 1559 remained unaltered until
1838, when by letters patent many matters, such as
rules of behaviour, the stipends of College officers,
and the provision of lectures, were left to the discretion of the society, and fellowships and scholarships
were thrown open to the whole country. As such
alterations had already been made, the statutes of
1860, framed in pursuance of the act of 1856, made
remarkably few changes. The foundation was now
fixed at 14 fellows and 14 scholars, the society being
authorized to increase or, by leave of the Visitor, the
Crown, to diminish these numbers. The President
was to be a priest, though a layman could be elected
by a two-thirds majority. After the restriction to
priests had been abolished, Dr. Venn, a layman, was
elected in 1932. (fn. 16) The President was required to reside for two-thirds of each term, since he was now
no longer a distinguished absentee, but a working
head of the house. Chapel services, hitherto celebrated on Sundays and festivals, were increased by
the daily recitation of matins and evensong during
term. The President was to receive £2, and each
fellow 10s. with his dinners in hall, each week during
residence. The net income of the College was to be
divided into 20 parts, of which the President received 3 and each fellow 1, the remaining 3 forming
a scholarship fund. (fn. 17) The chief innovation was the
cautious provision for the admission of laymen and
married men to fellowships, though the clergyman
and the celibate still retained privileges. Thus the
normal requirement of procedure to holy orders and
degrees in divinity was dropped. Fellows could
marry, though a married man could not be elected
into a fellowship. A married fellow could not reside
in College or be tutor. A fellow had to relinquish
his fellowship ten years after the date of his M.A.
degree; but a celibate fellow, resident in College,
having received holy orders within two years of his
M.A. degree, could retain his fellowship until he
accepted a benefice worth at least £300 a year. Protected by these provisions Queens' was among the
first colleges to permit fellows to marry.
The statutes of 1882, the first composed in English, with subsequent amendments, reduced the
minimum number of fellowships to 11, with provision for the suspension of 3 of these if the corporate
income were severely diminished. The scholars,
however, were increased to 21. For fellowships the
requirements of celibacy, Anglicanism and previous
membership of the University disappeared. To meet
the dangers of widespread matrimony it was provided that at least two College officers should reside
in College during term. A fellowship was to lapse
after six years, unless held in conjunction with a
College administrative or teaching office or a professorship. Thereafter the society normally elected
to fellowships only men prepared to take part in the
educational work of the College. The statutes of
1926, with their subsequent amendments, further
emphasized the educational function of the College
and the increased authority of the University.
Fellowships were divided into three classes. First
the normal, stipendiary fellowships, tenable with
a College or University teaching or administrative
office. In accordance with University Statutes one
half such fellowships were to be reserved for University officers. Secondly research fellowships, of
three or six years' duration, for young graduates.
And thirdly two non-stipendiary fellowships for
professors. The general provisions for retirement and
contributory pensions were adopted, the President
retiring at 70 years of age, or 75 by a two-thirds vote
of the society, fellows, and College officers at 65.
By the statutes of 1926 the College officers included the bursar and junior bursar, steward, dean,
chaplain, librarian, three tutors, praelector, and
lecturers, and to these was subsequently added the
keeper of the College records. In October 1952 there
were 18 fellows; 2 were fellows for life, retired from
the service of the College, 2 were professors, and
13 were University lecturers or assistant lecturers;
but the complications in the financial relations between the University and Colleges had by that date
resulted in the withdrawal of the system of reserved
In the early 16th century
the College was rendered illustrious by two of the
most distinguished men in Europe, St. John Fisher
and Erasmus. Dr. Fisher, Bishop of Rochester and
Chancellor of the University, was elected President
in 1505 at the instance of the Lady Margaret Beaufort. He held the office whilst he was engaged in
supervising her foundation of Christ's College. In
1508 he resigned on the ground that his other duties
prevented his regular residence. After begging him
to reconsider his decision, the fellows asked him
at least to nominate his successor, which he did. (fn. 18)
Fisher's friend and protégé, Erasmus, resided at
Queens' from 1511 to 1514, (fn. 19) occupying, according
to tradition, rooms over the kitchen. He hoped to
introduce the study of Greek and obtain a satisfactory income from the fees of pupils. Disappointed
by the small number of his pupils he devoted himself
to his own studies and while at Queens' completed
most of the two greatest products of his scholarship,
his editions of St. Jerome and of the Greek New
Other members of Queens' to whose virtue and
learning Erasmus bore testimony were Richard
Whitford, the translator of the De imitatione Christi
and author of the Jesus Psalter; and Henry Bullock,
called 'Bovillus' in Erasmus's correspondence.
In the next generation the College was conspicuous
for its support of the Reformation. In 1530 the
College elected into a fellowship Thomas Smith,
Professor successively of Greek and civil law, and
Principal Secretary of State to Edward VI and
Elizabeth I. (fn. 20) To him is attributed the successful
dissuasion of Henry VIII from treating the colleges
of Cambridge as he had treated the monasteries;
though the rescue may be also partly attributed to
Dr. May, President, one of the three commissioners
appointed under the Act of 1545 to report on the
colleges. (fn. 21) Queens' suffered considerably from the
troubles of religious change. When Cardinal Pole's
visitors inspected it in 1557 it had been reduced to
11 fellows, mostly absent and only 3 of them priests,
and 9 juniors, only 3 of them on the foundation. In
that year the English Church came near to being
placed under the control of a Queens' man; for
Paul IV recalled Pole and appointed William Peto,
an aged Franciscan and former fellow, as legate
a latere. Queen Mary protested on Pole's behalf and
the appointment never took effect. (fn. 22)
After the accession of Elizabeth I Dr. May and
Sir Thomas Smith were among the revisers of
Edward VI's Prayer Book. The College now prospered and by 1574 there were 19 fellows and a total
membership of 122; (fn. 23) while in 1621, when the
College was Puritan, with Dr. Davenant as President
and Dr. Preston as tutor, membership had risen to
230, a figure not subsequently reached until the
20th century. (fn. 24) With numbers came distinction, and
perhaps no other College can show a list of more
eminent members in the reigns of Elizabeth I and
James I. Despite the Puritan tradition, the society
under Dr. Martin supported Laud's reforms and
was solid for the king in the Civil War. In 1642 the
President subscribed £100 and ten fellows £85 in
answer to the king's appeal; and the society dispatched 591 oz. of gilt, and 923 oz. of white, plate
which were said to have reached the king at Nottingham. (fn. 25) Many other members of the College fought
or suffered for the king, including Lord Northampton, Lord Capel, John Towers, Bishop of Peterborough, Dr. Robert Cottesford, Sir Hamon le
Strange, Sir Henry Slingsby, Dr. Laurence Bretton,
Lord Hastings, Sir Orlando Bridgeman, Colonel
Richard Neville, and Sir Robert Stapleton.
Retribution soon fell upon the College. On 30
August 1642 Captain Oliver Cromwell arrested Dr.
Martin and removed him and other divines to the
Tower. The President's property and £250 of
College money were confiscated. In August 1643
Dr. Martin was placed under hatches on a ship at
Wapping, with some 80 other persons whom it was
proposed to transport to slavery. But humane counsels prevailed. Dr. Martin spent five more years in
captivity, but eventually escaped and made his way
to France. Meanwhile in 1644 Lord Manchester, the
Chancellor, ejected all the fellows either for nonappearance before his commissioners or for refusal
to subscribe the Solemn League and Covenant. To
the presidentship Manchester nominated Herbert
Palmer, a former fellow and a member of the Westminster Assembly of Divines. He also nominated
nine fellows, seven of them members of Emmanuel
College. On the whole Manchester acted wisely.
Palmer was a learned, devout, and tolerant man. The
fellows included John Wallis, the mathematician,
and John Smith, the Platonist. On Palmer's death,
the fellows elected yet another Emmanuel man,
With the Restoration Dr. Martin returned from
exile and was reinstated in the presidentship on
2 August 1660. Dr. Horton retired, subsequently
conformed to the Church of England and obtained
the living of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, London.
Dr. Martin was required only to eject as many of
the fellows intruded in and since 1644 as should be
necessary for the reinstatement of the surviving
royalist fellows. The sequel was striking. Six of
the royalist fellows presented themselves and were
reinstated. Then in accordance with Dr. Martin's
wish, the reconstituted society formally elected all
the twelve intruded fellows into fellowships. On
25 August 1660 Dr. Martin wrote 'Collegium hoc e
captivitate quadam Babilonicâ ereptum integris et
legitimis suis membris constituitur.' (fn. 26) Thus generously was a reconciliation of roundheads and
royalists effected. By 1672 there were 19 fellows, 27
scholars, and a total membership of about 120. (fn. 27) In
that heyday of the Anglican establishment royal
authority was regularly exercised over the College.
In 1662 Dr. Sparrow, who had suffered much under
the Commonwealth, was promoted to the presidentship by royal mandate; and in 1667 and 1675 the
appointments were similarly made. After Dr. James's
long presidentship the practice ceased. No fellow
appears to have refused the oath to William and
Mary or to have lost his fellowship at the Revolution. This corresponds with the general tone of the
College in the 17th century, which might be called
Tory but Puritan.
In the 18th century the College sank in numbers
to about 60 in all; and in distinction, although a long
list of its members of secondary eminence could
be made. A sign of coming developments occurred
in 1782, when leave was granted 'to Mr. Milner
to build a chemical laboratory in the Stable Yard
adjoining the Coal-house'. Isaac Milner is one of
the outstanding figures in the College's history, of
whom Gunning wrote that 'the University, perhaps,
never produced a man of more eminent abilities'. (fn. 28)
Of humble origin, he worked as a weaver in Leeds
at the age of ten. At 20 he came to Queens' as a
sizar. He became the first Jacksonian Professor of
Natural Philosophy, President of Queens' (1788–
1820), Dean of Carlisle, and Lucasian Professor of
Mathematics. Under Milner, a Tory Evangelical of
despotic manners, the College assumed that lowchurch character which distinguished it during the
At the close of that century an innovation was the
election of a member of another College, Dr. Ryle,
as President, which was followed by the similar
elections of Dr. Chase and Dr. Fitzpatrick. Elections
of non-members of the College into fellowships have
been numerous in the 20th century. By 1953 under
the presidentship of Dr. Venn, the College, though
not among the richer, was one of the larger colleges,
with 18 fellows and 403 members in statu pupillari.
In the hall are three 18th-century
portraits, by Hudson, of Elizabeth Woodville, Erasmus, and Sir Thomas Smith; also portraits of Isaac
Milner, President, by Harlow, and W. M. Campion,
President, by C. E. Brock.
In the combination room are an old panel portrait
of Elizabeth Woodville; and portraits of Erasmus, by
a contemporary; John Aylmer, Bishop of London
1577–94; Mr. Fitzwilliam by Sir Joshua Reynolds;
Arthur Wright, Vice-President, by G. Henry; Bishop
Ryle, President, by H. G. Riviere; and J. A. Venn,
President, by T. la Fontaine.
In the President's Lodge, on the staircase, are
portraits of Commander John Honing, M.P. for Eye
1597; Thomas Hobson, the Cambridge carrier; John
Davenant, President, Bishop of Salisbury; John
Hayes (d. 1730); Robert Plumptre, President; Ralph
Perkins (d. 1751); Isaac Milner, President, by Opie;
Joshua King, President, by Sir William Beechey;
and George Phillips, President, by Sir Hubert Herkomer. In the gallery are an old panel portrait of
Erasmus, and portraits of a Sir Thomas Smith, now
proved to be that of a namesake, 'the customer';
Anne of Denmark and Elizabeth of the Palatinate,
wife and daughter of James I; Oliver Cromwell; his
chaplain, Hugh Peters; George Monk, Duke of Albemarle; Charles II; William Atwood, admitted 1668;
Admiral Caleb Bankes, admitted 1675; Sir George
Savile, M.P. 1750, and Sir Henry Bridgeman, 1763.
In the dining-room are portraits of the Duchess of
Rutland, by Kneller, and the Duchess of Kingston, by
Sir Peter Lely; Anthony Sparrow, President, Bishop
of Exeter and of Norwich; Henry James, President;
Francis Bramston, Baron of the Exchequer, 1678;
William Sedgwick, President; Daniel Wray, by George
Dance; and J. T. Hewit, 1753.
In the Library are portraits of the Princes Henry
and Charles, sons of James I; Humphrey Tindall,
President; Henry, Earl of Huntingdon (d. 1643);
Benjamin Longwith (d. 1743); Edward Willes, 1745;
Henry Plumptre (d. 1746); John Ryder, Archbishop
of Tuam (d. 1775); Thomas Penny White (d. 1845),
by Pickersgill; Frederic Chase, President, by H. G.
Riviere; and Thomas Fitzpatrick, President by W, G.
de Glehn. Another portrait of Dr. Fitzpatrick hangs
in the Fitzpatrick Hall.
Although Queens' sent almost all its plate
to King Charles in 1642, the College is more frequently mentioned in Foster and Atkinson's Old
Cambridge Plate (1896) than any other College,
except Pembroke and Corpus Christi. Of such as
antedate 1760, mention should be made of the following. The Compton Cup of 1637, a plain cup, the
bowl covered with frosting, a baluster stem with
flame ornamentation on the top member, weight
46¼ oz., height 12 in., depth and diameter 6 in. It
is inscribed 'Ex dono praenobilis Jacobi Domini
Compton, honoratissimi Comitis Northamptoniae
filij natu: maximi'. A silver tankard of 1683, 'ex dono
Mattei Ducie: Moreton generosi'. A silver tankard
of 1685, 'ex dono Jacobi Fortrey, Armigeri'. A
curious silver toasting-fork of 1706 in the audit
room, the gift of John Courtenay of West Morland
(Devon). A silver salver and ewer of 1699, the gift
of William Villiers, eldest son of Lord Jersey; and
some candlesticks. (fn. 29)
The earliest seal of the College was circular,
2¼ in. in diameter, and bore the following inscription
in Gothic characters: sigillu' coe' p'sident' &
socior': collegii reginalis sce' margarete & sci'
bernardi de cantebrig: In the centre St. Margaret
thrusting her crozier into the dragon's mouth, and
St. Bernard, with book and pastoral staff, standing
side by side under canopies; beneath are the arms of
Anjou; the President kneeling on the left, the four
fellows on the right side of the shield; beside the
central canopies two smaller canopies filled with
angels kneeling. There is a cast of the seal in the
British Museum. (fn. 30)
A second seal which was in use by 1476 was very
slightly larger. Its inscription, also in Gothic letters,
was: sigillu' collegii reginalis scor' margarete
et bernardi cantebrigie: The two saints stood in
the centre under canopies. At the sides were canopies containing figures holding shields, on the right
the arms of England, and on the left those of Woodville. Below the saints was a shield with the arms of
Searle says that in 1474 the College used a small
round seal bearing a pelican; and that in the presidentship of Dr. Bekensaw there was another seal in
use, bearing the inscription: sigillu' coe' collegii
reginalis scor' margarete et bernardi cant'. By
the reign of Elizabeth I the College was using a
small vesica-shape seal, 1¾ by 11/8 in. It bore only
St. Margaret with her dragon under a canopy, and
the inscription in Gothic letters: s. ad causas collegii regial' cant. (fn. 31)
The present seal was cut in 1675. It is vesicashape, 3 by 2¼ in. It bears the figure of a queen,
robed and crowned, holding sceptre and orb. The
inscription, in Latin characters, runs: sigillum
collegii reginalis cantabrig 1675. The President
also uses a small, almost round, 1 by 1 1/16 in., seal,
which bears the shield of Anjou with the letters
q.c. above. It is traditionally supposed to date from
Presidents of Queens' College
Andrew Dockett: 15 Apr. 1448.
Thomas Wilkynson: 11 Nov. [?] 1484.
John Fisher: between 12 Apr. and 7 May 1505.
Robert Bekensaw or Birkenshaw: c. 6 July 1508.
John Jenyn: Mar. 1519.
Thomas Farman: Dec. [?] 1525.
William Franklyn: Sept. [?] 1527.
Simon Heynes: Jan. [?] 1529.
William May: June [?] 1537, retired, and restored,
1 July 1559.
William Glynn: 5 Dec. 1553.
Thomas Pecocke: Nov. [?] 1557.
John Stokes: 16 Aug. 1560.
William Chaderton: 7 May 1568.
Humphrey Tindall: 3 July 1579.
John Davenant: 20 Oct. 1614.
John Mansell: 29 Apr. 1622.
Edward Martin: 16 Oct. 1631, expelled, and restored 2 Aug. 1660.
Herbert Palmer: 11 Apr. 1644.
Thomas Horton: 19 Sept. 1647.
Anthony Sparrow: 5 May 1662.
William Wells: 26 Sept. 1667.
Henry James: 29 July 1675.
John Davies: 23 Mar. 1717.
William Sedgwick: 15 Mar. 1732.
Robert Plumptre: 12 Nov. 1760.
Isaac Milner: 6 Nov. 1788.
Henry Godfrey: 13 Apr. 1820.
Joshua King: 24 Oct. 1832.
George Phillips: 9 Sept. 1857.
William Magan Campion: 23 Feb. 1892.
Herbert Edward Ryle: 21 Nov. 1896.
Frederic Henry Chase: 9 Mar. 1901.
Thomas Cecil Fitzpatrick: 3 July 1906.
John Archibald Venn: 12 Mar. 1932.
Arthur Llewellyn Armitage: 2 June 1958.