Christ's College. France modern quartering England with a border gobony argent and azure.
Christ's College (fn. 1) is an enlargement of God's-house, instituted in 1439 by a London parish priest, William Byngham, for training
grammar-school masters. (fn. 2) God's-house first stood in
Milne Street, of which the north
and south ends still exist as
Trinity Hall Lane and Queens'
Lane. This site, near the Schools,
seems to have excited the jealousy
of the University authorities, who
thought of founding a College
themselves; so for protection
Byngham obtained royal licence
to hand over his foundation to
its neighbour, Clare Hall. This,
however, was never done, and a
later licence, on which he acted,
was for an independent College.
He was supported in his project by members of
Clare, and he took its statutes as a model for his
own; indeed the title 'Proctor' given in these to the
head of God's-house possibly reveals his original
design, though it was gradually replaced by the
alternative 'Master' in College deeds, perhaps to
avoid confusion with the University proctors.
Byngham's ground, however, was soon
wanted by Henry VI for King's College, and God'shouse was moved to the present site, outside the
town's Barnwell gate. The royal licence of 1446
empowered the College to take students in all faculties, not only in grammar; and in a further licence of
1448, which may be called the foundation charter,
the king consented to become founder, but desired
that Byngham and his heirs and successors should be
deemed the second founders. The new site covered
two strips of ground, the north (fn. 3) side of the present
First and Second Courts.
The revenue consisted chiefly
of pensions from alien priories, appropriated by
Henry V: Newstead (Lincs.), Sawtry (Hunts.),
Monmouth, Chepstow (Mon.), Craswall (Heref.),
Totnes (Devon), North Hykeham (Lincs.), Thurlow
(Suff.), and Ware (Herts.). God's-house also owned
the advowsons of Helpston (Northants.), Fen Drayton (Cambs.), and Navenby (Lincs.).
The statutes of God'shouse were sealed by the Vice-Chancellor, and the
Prior of Barnwell, William Cambridge, in 1495. Why
the execution of the statutes was deferred so long is
unknown. They provide for a Proctor, Master or
Keeper, and 25 scholars or co-fellows, two in
priest's orders to serve as chaplains and say mass
daily for the king and his kin, for Byngham and for
all benefactors. Only half the members of the
foundation might be from one county, with preference for places where the College has property.
After graduating in grammar they must accept any
post with suitable stipend offered at any school
built within the last 40 years. The studies are
sophistry, rhetoric, logic, and philosophy, the works
of Priscian and Virgil, and the sciences of metrification and versification. One sees here the first gleams
of the dawning renaissance. One scholar is to be
reader and give three or four lectures daily; and
there were to be weekly disputations. Only Latin
might be spoken, except on holidays. No fellow, unless reader or parish priest, might remain after taking
the B.A. degree.
Suitable persons not on the foundation might be
admitted to reside under the same rules of discipline
and study. All poor scholars of the University are
admitted free to lectures. Lectures were to be given
in the autumn term, now the long vacation, doubtless in order that country schoolmasters might refresh
their knowledge, while their schools were shut for
harvest. (fn. 4) Thus Byngham invented University extension. He also instituted the first secondary training
college, by providing poor men with teaching, which
the rich obtained in their hostels, to supplement
Discipline was kept by the Proctor, with two fellows as assessors in serious cases; the penalty for
misconduct, neglect of duty, or incapacity was expulsion, but a fellow might appeal against sentence
to the Chancellor, who is Visitor. There was elaborate
provision for removing the Proctor if incompetent
or ill conducted. The Proctor's stipend was 5s. a
term, 6s. 8d. if the year's income reached £40, and
10s. if it reached £60; the reader's £2 13s. 4d.
annually. A fellow vacated his fellowship on acquiring property to the annual value of £5 6s. 8d. The
servants were a manciple, rendering weekly accounts
to the Proctor, and a cook.
History of God's-House.
Byngham himself took the Proctorship, and lived to preside over
his foundation for nineteen years. Under his successor, John Hurte of Clare, additions were made to
the grounds. Hurte retired to a fellowship at Clare,
and was succeeded by William Fallan, Archdeacon
of London, and perhaps a neighbour of Byngham as
rector there. The next Proctor, William Basset, did
great service to God's-house in defending its claims
to property derived from alien priories, given by
Henry VI, and in extending the site to its natural
boundary at Christ's, then Rogue's or Hangman's,
Lane. No additions were made until the 19th century.
It is probable that Basset enlarged the buildings too.
With the rectory of Fen Drayton he also held that of
Helpston. On retiring he was succeeded by Ralph
Barton, one of the early fellows, appointed reader for
life by Byngham in 1451. God's-house now acquired
its first property in Cambridgeshire, God's-house
Grove at Borough Green on the Suffolk border.
Barton's more important successor, John Syclyng,
had followed the same course of promotion; but
while fellow of God's-house he also became fellow
of Bene't or Corpus Christi College and was senior
proctor. He continued to play an important part
in University business, and was active in the service of the College, enlarging its buildings. About
1496 he visited its properties in the west of England
and the Welsh marches, to collect arrears of rent,
and waited on Lady Margaret Beaufort at Collyweston (Northants.), perhaps thus laying the foundation of her interest in God's-house.
God's-house was a small College, though not the
smallest. It had at least 42 members between 1439
and 1505, of whom 30 are known to have been on the
foundation. Its resources, though slender, were
adequate, but a new era now began.
The Lady Margaret Beaufort
had buried her third husband, and seen her son on
the throne; thenceforward she gave herself to works
of beneficence. It was doubtless her confessor, John
Fisher, then Bishop of Rochester and Chancellor of
the University, who turned her mind to education; (fn. 5)
and she was in touch with Syclyng. So she decided to
enlarge God's-house, to which she was drawn by her
attachment to its first royal founder. Declaring herself 'heir to all Henry VI's godly intentions', she
greatly enlarged the buildings and endowments, to
support 60 members, a Master, 12 fellow scholars,
and 47 pupil-scholars, the difference between the
two grades being now established. She modernized (fn. 6)
the title 'God's-house' to 'Christ's College', and
gave the College royal arms with her own motto,
Souvent me souvient, which reflected Henry's
N'oubliez pas. The College became the great interest
of her few remaining years; she reserved rooms in it
for herself or Fisher, and occupied them at times,
keeping a motherly eye on discipline. The statutes
that she gave were doubtless mainly the work of
Fisher, but her guidance may perhaps be traced in
limiting the number of scholars in each room to two,
and in providing for a nurse in sickness, for clean
surplices, and for a country retreat in time of plague.
This retreat was the mansionhouse, still standing, at Malton, where she gave the
College the parsonage and manor. Her other chief
endowments were the advowson of Manorbier
(Pembs.), Creake Abbey (Norf.), 1,600 acres at
Diseworth and Kegworth (Leics.), the advowsons of
Kegworth and of Sutton Bonington (Notts.) and the
manor of Roydon (Essex), surrendered to Henry VIII
to give to Anne Boleyn in 1531, in exchange for
Bromehill Priory (Norf.). The lands at Diseworth
and Kegworth were sold in 1920.
In 1507 lands near Coventry were left by Margaret
Warton, probably one of Lady Margaret's household, 'to my lady the King's mother', for the use of
the College. Purchases during the first century, all
in Cambridgeshire, included the advowson of Caldecote, the manors of Harlestones at Cottenham, and
of Burgoynes at Impington, and the advowson of
Toft. A yearly pension of £20 due to Bromehill
Priory was always in arrears, and finally in recompense for it the manor and parsonage of Bourn were
given by Edward VI, who thus ranks as the third
royal founder of the College; they supported one
additional fellow and three pupil-scholars. The gift
is the basis of Fuller's story that a covetous courtier
urged the king to take away some of the fellowships
because the society considered itself to be founded
in imitation of Christ and the twelve apostles. The
king replied that he had a better way of marring
their conceit, by adding a thirteenth.
In 1682 Sir John Finch, in memory of himself and
his friend Sir Thomas Baines, gave £4,000 to augment the mastership and found two new fellowships
and also scholarships. These fellows were not
limited to any county or to any study, or required to
take orders. If studying law or physic they might
travel abroad for three years. Preference was given
to founder's kin; and Finch retained the nomination
for his lifetime, and bequeathed it to his nephew
Daniel, Earl of Nottingham, who nominated two of
his brothers, two of his sons, and three others as
fellows. The family connexion lasted until 1815,
when Daniel Heneage held a Finch and Baines
In 1681 Seth Ward, Bishop of Salisbury, gave
property in Essex and Kent to endow scholarships,
with preference for boys from Essex and Hertfordshire schools. Ralph Widdrington, fellow, bequeathed in 1688 an estate estimated at £6,000, but
the will was contested and the College got only
£1 14s. 6d. Other legacies about the same time came
from Thomas Otway, Bishop of Ossory, in 1692, for
exhibitioners from Kirkby Lonsdale (Westmld.)
or Sedbergh (Yorks.), and from Thomas Plume,
Archdeacon of Rochester in 1704. Somewhat later
Thomas Sitwell, fellow, left £600 to improve the
stipends of the Master and fellows; Dame Diana
Drury left land in Norfolk, chiefly to support exhibitioners from free-schools in Norfolk; and Christopher Tancred bequeathed property at Whixley
(Yorks.) to maintain students in divinity. Afterwards no considerable benefaction was received for
nearly two centuries. In 1923 a fellowship was endowed by Pierpont Morgan, who joined the College
on receiving an honorary degree from the University;
and in 1927 Sir Arthur Shipley, Master, bequeathed
another fellowship. In 1934 Sir E. A. T. Wallis
Budge left money for a scholarship, fellowship, or
lecturership; in 1943 R. O. Bishop bequeathed
money for scholarships in history; the A. H. Lloyd
benefaction of 1945 made a considerable donation
for fellowships, studentships, and buildings; and in
1950 W. H. D. Rouse bequeathed a fellowship and
exhibitions. Benefactions had also been made by
W. Lucas, J. M. Synge, N. McLean, F. H. A.
Marshall, and F. S. Salisbury.
Of the original copies of the statutes
given by Lady Margaret, one chained to a desk in
chapel for general reference was worn out in 100
years, and another used by the master in 200; but
a third with her royal signature, Nos Margareta, to
be kept in the treasury, has been preserved. As the
College was not a new foundation, but an enlargement of God's-house, this copy has no formal title.
The statutes are not a bald legal document like those
of God's-house, but give in fluent Latin full details
for the business and life of the College. They begin
by likening the members to parts of the body: the
Master or Keeper (the title Proctor having been
finally abandoned) is the head, the two deans, who
correct erring pupils with the rod, are the arms, the
fellow scholars the principal members, the reader
the organ deputed to procreation, the pupil scholars
the seminarium, and the hired servants the feet.
Domestic details picture the life of the times. Gates
are to be locked at 9 p.m. in winter and 10 p.m. in
summer, and the keys brought to the Master. The
Master's stipend is £6 13s. 4d. yearly with £1 extra
for clothes, and 12d. a week for commons. He may
hold only two benefices with cure of souls. He must
be a doctor or bachelor in theology, or an M.A.
studying theology. He is elected by the fellows or,
failing a majority, appointed by the Chancellor or
Vice-Chancellor. If erring he may be admonished,
or, in the last resort, removed by the Visitor. The
deans maintain discipline, with two pupils as monitors; the scale of fines for neglect of duty ranges from
1s. 4d. to 2s. for adults; for minors there is the rod.
There are twelve fellow scholars, elected from the
pupils, if suitable, with preference for poor men, and
for natives of the nine northern counties, but only
one from each; they must take priest's orders within
a year of election. They had to come to chapel in
clean surplices to sing matins, mass, and vespers on
Sundays and feast days, and at least five times in the
week. Their studies were theology, philosophy, and
the arts; and there were to be two disputations
weekly in chapel. Only Latin was to be spoken in
College, except in a man's rooms or on holidays.
They must not take part in drinking-parties, or
engage in trade, carry arms, keep dogs or hawks, or
play with dice or cards except in hall at Christmas.
A fellow's stipend was 13s. 4d. a quarter with 12d. a
week for commons; an allowance of 12d. each was to
be spent yearly in buying cloth for their gowns at
Sturbridge fair. A barber and a launderer were provided, or if no launderer was forthcoming, an honest
woman of virtuous conversation was to be engaged
as laundress. Women must seldom enter the College
except as nurses. A fellow forfeited his emoluments
on obtaining an income of £6 13s. 4d. or a benefice
with cure of souls. The Master and fellows had to
dine and sup in hall unless they were sick, or when
the College went away in time of plague. They
were allowed 20 days' absence on holiday each year,
but only four fellows might be away at once. The
reader had an extra stipend of 13s. 4d. a year. He
was to give four lectures of two hours in hall daily,
in sophistry, logic, philosophy, and the works of the
poets and orators. (fn. 7) He was to enforce discipline by
fines, which went to his pocket, or by flogging. A
course of exercises was prescribed for the pupil
The pupils had to be poor boys able to speak
Latin, intending to take Holy Orders. They were
elected with the same local preferences as the fellows,
and only three were to come from any one county.
They had to graduate in arts, excepting six, chosen
as most suitable, who were to graduate in grammar
and become schoolmasters. No service was required
of them except in weekly turns at dinner, supper,
and bevers, when seven were to wait on the fellows
and pupils and one was to act as Bibler and read from
the Bible or the Fathers until the Master told him to
stop; and in chapel, where two were to be servers
and prepare the altar and put away the vestments.
When of M.A. standing they had to leave. They
received 7d. a week for commons, and the services
of the barber and launderer. Anyone who came into
an income of £5 6s. 8d. or a benefice with cure of
souls lost his emoluments. The servants were: a
manciple, under the steward, to keep the pantry and
buttery (promptuarium), and to bring the keys of the
gates to the Master at lock-up—his wages were
6s. 8d. a quarter with commons and moderate perquisites; a head cook at the same wages; an undercook at half these wages; a barber with 5s. a quarter;
a launderer or laundress with 13s. a quarter; and a
Master's servant, with 7d. a week for commons.
Suitable students might be admitted as commoners
or pensioners, both fellows and pupils. They were
to be under the same rules as the scholars.
The Visitor was to be Bishop Fisher for life, and
then the Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor, or if these
were members of the College, the Provost of King's.
He was to make a yearly visit to hear complaints and
to question the Master and fellows in chapel. In the
election of fellows and pupil scholars, preference
was to be given to places where the College owned
property. The foundress reserved the right to appoint the Master and fellows during her lifetime.
The present buildings from the
gate to the chapel are substantially those of God'shouse, which was a single court, probably open on
the south side; the back still preserves some original
features. The Master's Lodge, hall, and the remainder
of the first court are Lady Margaret's work. She
reserved the first floor and attics of the lodge for
herself and for Bishop Fisher as Visitor. The interior
of the court was cased in stone 1758–69, but the
oriel window dates from Lady Margaret's time, as
do the two little windows, reopened in 1905, giving
from the first floor of the lodge into the hall, and
the doorway into the hall from what is now the
senior combination-room. This doorway was originally on the other side of the hall, at the foot of the
turret stair to Lady Margaret's apartments, the
lower part of which stair was removed in 1928 to
make the entrance to the second court. The groundfloor was assigned to the Master; the chamber over
the antechapel, with an oratory and private altar,
was also his. Afterwards offices for his servants were
added north of the chapel. This accretion was
enlarged in 1640, and later the Master occupied it
himself; it was now called the Little or Private
Lodge, whilst the lodge itself was let to wealthy
undergraduates. About 1655 the main ground-floor
room became the fellows' combination-room. In
1747 it was restored to the Master and became his
dining-room, and in 1911 his study, while the Little
Lodge was demolished and its materials employed
in building new kitchens south of the hall. The room
over the buttery now became the combination-room.
In 1927 it was opened with the present arches upon
the gallery of the hall, which had been rebuilt and
raised in height, with the old roof preserved, in
1875; the fellows resumed their former combinationroom, and the rooms over the ante-chapel were remodelled to provide the Master with a study. These
rooms are now used as a fellow's set. The three
heraldic achievements above the gallery in the hall
were designed by Sir Ninian Cooper and completed
in 1939. The lodge was extended east of the chapel in
1910 and rebuilt in 1936.
The rule that two pupils were to occupy a room
was later altered to enable four to do so; this shows
an increase in the numbers wishing to join the
College as pensioners. In 1613 a wooden range of
chambers, popularly called 'Rats' Hall', was built
in the Second Court, parallel with the hall; it was
demolished in 1731. Two houses opposite the College, one an inn, the 'Brazen George', were early
used as hostels. To obviate the need for this extra
accommodation outside the precincts the Fellows'
Building was begun in 1640. In the words of an
appeal to old members for subscriptions, to which
many men of distinction responded, it was to provide
'elegantias aequabiles et salubres recessus'. It was
intended for the wealthy men who had now begun
to be admitted fellow commoners while undergraduates, but four, later six, of the best rooms were
reserved for fellows.
The stucco block on the south side of the Second
Court dates from 1824. Its last staircase was added
in 1867. The third court was begun in 1889, and the
addition commemorating the quatercentenary in
1905. The front of the College was extended to
Christ's Lane, enlarging the library, in 1897. The
increase in the wealth of the College between the
two world wars permitted an extensive programme
of building and restoration. Between 1938 and 1953
the fabric was largely overhauled. The repairs in the
First Court could not be delayed, and these were
continued during the first two years of the war. The
stone facings were cleaned and repaired, and attention was devoted to the gateway. The decoration
of the achievement above the gate, postponed on
account of the war, was undertaken in 1951. As far
as possible the original colours were restored. After
the war, the work included the re-roofing of most of
the buildings and an increase in general amenities.
Two new buildings were added to the existing Third
Court, the Chancellor's Building in 1951, and the
Memorial Building in 1953.
God's-house, unlike older foundations,
had a chapel of its own, added after its establishment.
This was enlarged for Christ's College and reconsecrated in 1510. The present vestries on the north
side were two side-chapels, thrown into one and
probably used as a temporary chapel during the
alterations. Another on the south side was demolished to make room for the new lodge, which
blocked the south window, now reopened. Three
English glass windows of God's-house chapel remain
west of the organ, balanced east of the organ by three
that date from the rebuilding. The brass lectern is
medieval. A brass of Syclyng, last Proctor of God'shouse and first Master of Christ's, is within the
altar-rails, and in the south-east corner of the antechapel is one of a maid of honour of the foundress
and her husband.
The enlarged chapel had an organ, replaced by
a new one in 1538. The present organ was built in
1705, just after the chapel was 'rebeautified' with
wainscoting and pavement, and themullions of the
east window removed; these were replaced in 1847.
The wainscot covered up the entrance into the north
chapels, a piscina south of the altar, and a piscina,
consecration-cross, and holy-water stoup in the antechapel; these have now been made accessible. In
1899 the plaster was removed from the ceiling and
its beams and the walls decorated with colour. The
walls were, however, whitened in 1939. The stained
glass in the east window was inserted in 1912 as a
memorial to Dr. John Peile, Master.
The library was until 1852 one room
south of the gate; other rooms were then annexed,
and in 1897 the whole was rebuilt and extended to
Christ's Lane. English, French, and Italian histories and memoirs were left by Peter Fraser in
1852; John Hutton bequeathed Arabic, Persian, and
Hindustani manuscripts, H. M. Scarth books on
Roman Britain, John Peile and J. A. Sharkey classical
works, and W. Robertson Smith his oriental collections. Of more recent years, valuable collections
were given by W. H. D. Rouse, Sir Stephen Gaselee,
A. V. Valentine-Richards, and J. A. Robinson, while
Persian and Arabic books were bequeathed by J.
Stephenson, books on Egyptology by Sir E. A. T.
Wallis Budge, and on theology by N. McLean.
The muniment-room, formerly the treasury, over
the gate contains chests belonging to God's-house.
It has been gradually expanded into a bursary and
College office by annexing adjacent rooms. Previously students' accounts were kept by the tutors
or at the buttery.
The ground now known as the fellows' garden
was leased from Jesus College in 1507 and purchased
in 1554. Hammond's and Loggan's views of the
College of 1594 and 1688, and Custance's map of
1798, show the ground divided by a wall into two
unequal portions, the smaller of which was planted
more or less regularly with rows of trees, the other
laid out with an orchard. Baker's map of 1830, however, shows the present arrangement, which makes
very skilful use of the ground to give a feeling of
spaciousness and distance. From 1565 to 1711 there
was a tennis court, and a bowling-green was first
mentioned in 1686. The garden contains the mulberry tree associated with the name of Milton (fn. 8) and
some cypresses grown from seed from the cenotaph
of Shelley. The bathing pool and the garden house
probably date from the early 18th century.
The first half-century
after the refoundation was marked by difficulties due
to the exchange of Roydon for Bromehill Priory.
Henry Lockwood, the Master, was constantly writing to Thomas Cromwell, who had succeeded to
Wolsey's influence at court, for help in maintaining
the College rights, and there were heavy charges for
travelling to interview Cromwell, who was once
presented with half a tun of wine. Cambridge was
repeatedly visited by the plague; at least five times
in eighteen years the College migrated to its sanatorium at Malton.
Religious changes were echoed by an alteration in
some copies of the statutes, where to the oath of
obedience to the statutes prescribed for the Master
and fellows was added 'so long as these do not contravene the statutes of the realm put forth or to be
put forth', doubtless inserted in compliance with the
injunction of Henry VIII imposed by Cromwell,
directing that all members of the University should
'swear . . . to obey the statutes of the realm made or
to be made for the extirpation of the papal usurpation'. In the treasury copy the rules for chapel
services and attendance and references to pre-
Reformation use, the mass and so forth, have been
bracketed or erased; 'great altar' has been changed
to 'Lord's Table' but was later restored. In the
chapel copy 'mattins, vespers and mass' is replaced
by 'morning prayers, communion and evening
prayers', and special masses for the day and prayers
for the souls of the foundress and benefactors are
omitted, alterations doubtless of the time of Edward VI. One copy omits the Pope's licence to the
Master to hold two benefices, another the provision
of a barber for tonsure.
Plays were acted in hall at Christmas and in the
Lent term; one, Pammachius, on a pope who sold
himself to the devil, was objected to by Gardiner,
Cromwell's successor as Chancellor, but the ViceChancellor's disciplinary court imposed no penalty.
The plays continued through the reformed period
that followed, and under Mary. Richard Wilkes,
Master 1548–53, belonged to the reforming party
under Edward VI; and the king's special commission
met at Christ's lodge, and found little to complain
of at Christ's, but much elsewhere. Under Mary,
Wilkes was removed and replaced by Cuthbert Scot,
who was influential in the University; and fellowships changed hands rapidly, although no fellow was
ejected. Scot retired to be Bishop of Chester, but
came back as an active member of the commission
of inquiry into the colleges, appointed by Cardinal
Pole. His successor, William Taylor, retired after
Elizabeth I's accession, leaving the accounts in some
disorder. Under Elizabeth residents were in trouble
for Puritanism, notably the learned Edward Dering,
or for nonconformity; Christ's was probably the
most Puritan college in Cambridge. But the Master,
Hawford, followed the queen in retaining the old
vestments and ceremonial, as being Catholic ritual,
not a Roman corruption. John Still, fellow 1562–72,
and Lady Margaret's Professor, is said to be the
author of Gammer Gurton's Needle, which was acted
in Christ's hall.
At this time many members were tried in the
Vice-Chancellor's court for schismatic Puritanism
and nonconformity. Bainbridge and Johnson were
imprisoned, and Johnson had to retire to Holland,
where he led the Brownist sect. (fn. 9) In a visitation of
1586 the Vice-Chancellor found many irregularities:
laxity in speaking Latin, and in wearing academic
dress in the town; the dean's practice of 'correcting'
pupils in the buttery or their rooms instead of in
hall; remissness in lectures and commemoration of
benefactors; women bedmakers; proceeds of timber
and fines for renewing leases divided among the
Master and Fellows. The Visitor framed 21 special
injunctions, which the College refused to accept,
though agreeing to reform breaches of statute.
Notable members in the later 16th century were
Richard Clerke, one of the translators of the Bible;
and William Perkins, converted from drink by hearing a woman say to a naughty child, 'Hold your
tongue, or I will give you to drunken Perkins
yonder.' He became an earnest student of divinity,
and lecturer at Great St. Andrew's, where on his
death the College spent £3 15s. 8d. in burying him.
Fuller says, 'He was a painful preacher. . . . he would
pronounce the word damn with such emphasis as
left a doleful echo in his auditors' ears a good while
after'. (fn. 10) Many Roman Catholics were educated at the
College in Elizabeth I's reign, conforming while in
residence but later going abroad, among them
Francis Babington, later Master of Balliol and
Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, and Robert
Turner, Rector of Ingolstadt University. Some
returning on mission suffered for their faith: Ralph
Crocket was hanged, drawn, and quartered at
Chichester in 1588.
In 1594 accounts showed 5s. 9d. to a swanner for
marking six cygnets given by the tenant at Bourn.
Charges for 'swan-upping' and 'winter meat' recur
yearly. The College has its swan-mark, having from
early times had royal licence to keep swans. In 1608
it bought 300 mulberry trees, to please James I, who
wished to start the production of silk in England;
they were 'set' in the year of Milton's birth, and the
tree in the fellows' garden traditionally connected
with him is perhaps one of these, as well as another
in the Master's garden.
About this time the College acquired a watersupply from the Gog Magog Hills; the brook
brought from the Nine Wells in 1610 was tapped at
the south end of Trumpington Street for Emmanuel
and Christ's. It cost much to keep this 'new river'
clean. It still fills the bathing pool in the College
garden, dating perhaps from 1673, and the 'runs' in
In the 17th century Christ's was very prosperous;
the numbers were large and included many men of
position. Schismatic Puritanism gave way to moderate opinions. Christ's was not one-sided: it trained
Quarles and Cleveland as well as Milton, and among
men of action was represented in both parties. It
happily preserved some of the finest plate in Cambridge; but 'divers pictures and angells' in chapel
did not escape the iconoclastic attentions of Dowsing.
In 1643 the residents were mostly moderate royalists,
but there were prominent Puritans later in the Civil
War, and again in 1662. Perkins's pupil William
Ames was suspended by the Vice-Chancellor for
preaching against 'license' in the colleges at Christmas, twelve days' saturnalia with cards and dice.
Moderate and learned Puritans were William Chappell, later Provost of Trinity College, Dublin, and
Bishop of Cork, and Joseph Mead, who wrote 'I
cannot believe that truth can be prejudiced by
truth', and defended conforming with ritual where
it was generally practised: 'I love not to be singular
where I have no scruple.'
Puritanism found its highest expression in John
Milton, who resided from 1625 to 1632. Not unaware of his own parts, he was reserved with his
contemporaries, who nicknamed him 'the lady', and
rather difficult with his seniors. The story that his
tutor whipped him has been exploded, only the
praelector and the deans could use the rod, but there
is some evidence that he was rusticated for a short
period. That his genius was ripening in a congenial
atmosphere is proved by the Ode to the Nativity, and
the Latin poems; and Lycidas, like In Memoriam,
was due to a college friendship. 'Lycidas', Edward
King, had been made a fellow by royal mandate and
had been lecturer in Greek. Milton's brother Christopher followed him from St. Paul's School to
Christ's, and later rose to distinction in the law. There
were two outbreaks of plague whilst Milton was in
residence. The College was kept shut and only
fellows were allowed out without leave. Apparently
Malton was no longer used as a sanatorium.
Two leaders in the Civil War were educated at
Christ's, the parliamentarian Denzil Holles, and the
royalist, Charles Lucas. In 1644 the Earl of Manchester ejected four fellows and confiscated the
goods of nine more. But others steered a middle
course. The saintly Henry More was royalist in
sympathy but Puritan in theology; he carried on in
the College his studious life begun at Eton, declining the Provostship of Trinity College, Dublin, the
Deanery of Christ Church, and two bishoprics.
Ralph Cudworth was an efficient Master, but was
not active in University affairs. With him and More
Christ's came to the front in the intellectual movement of the time, since they were both leaders of the
Cambridge Platonists, whose reaction against Puritan
dogmatism did much to form a rational theology.
Both were content under the new régime of the
Restoration and lived into the reign of James II. The
character of the College under Cudworth and More
is illustrated by the careers of the two friends Finch
and Baines. Finch was a man of family, Baines a
sizar. Meeting as undergraduates, they remained
inseparable as fellows, as men of affairs, and as benefactors. (fn. 11) After graduating M.A., they twice went
abroad to study, Finch becoming M.D. of Padua,
syndic of that University, and professor at Pisa.
Turning to diplomacy he represented his sovereign
at the court of Tuscany and afterwards at Constantinople, where Baines accompanied him as
physician to the embassy. Baines died there; Finch
embalmed his body and sent it home to be buried in
the College chapel. Within a year Finch was laid
beside his friend. John Covel went out with Finch
to Constantinople as chaplain to the Levant Company. His diary gives an interesting account of
Levantine affairs and of his return through Italy.
Later he was chaplain to the Prince of Orange in
Holland. At the age of 50 he succeeded Cudworth in
the mastership, and held it for 34 years, vigorous to
the end. Not unversed in physic and botany as well
as divinity, Covel was also a good man of business;
an eight years' lawsuit about the College property at
Kirkby Lonsdale took him constantly to London.
Under Covel the stewardship was made an annual
instead of a monthly appointment. Thus the manciple
became a servant and not a capitalist, being paid £30
a year, and the profits went to the College. The
numbers, which had declined at the end of Cudworth's mastership, fell lower under Covel. Average
yearly admissions sank from 36 in 1671–80 to 7 in
1741–60, and there was little improvement until the
next century. Nor were the fellows, with few exceptions, of any distinction; they merely 'waited for
their livings, went to them, published an Assize
Sermon, sent their sons to the College, and died'. (fn. 12)
Nicholas Sanderson, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, was not a fellow. Blind from childhood, he
studied at home, made a name as a mathematician,
was elected professor, and admitted M.A. Remarkably successful in his chair, he was a man of general
culture, and could repeat Horace's Odes and much
other poetry. His algebra, published after his death,
was long in use.
In this period there were constant disputes over
eligibility for fellowships and other matters, with
consequent appeals to the Vice-Chancellor's court.
Towers as Master (1723–45) ejected Heneage Finch
from his fellowship, when he became a Member of
Parliament, on the ground that his election to Parliament implied that he possessed more wealth than
the College statutes allowed. Finch appealed, was
reinstated, and held his fellowship while residing at
Minorca as receiver-general.
Leaders in the Evangelical revival were Thomas
Adams, admitted 1720, a parson in Lincolnshire,
and William Grimshaw, admitted 1725, active in
Yorkshire and Lancashire. Beilby Porteus, fellow
1752, Bishop of London, who was sympathetic with
the Evangelicals, took part in the movements for revising the Liturgy and Articles, relieving Roman
Catholics, and establishing Sunday schools. He
founded three gold medals, for Latin and English
theological dissertations and for reading in chapel.
William Paley, sizar, senior wrangler 1763, was an
active fellow and tutor, when tutors were not statutory officials, although they did all the teaching that
was done. He held voluntary classes in divinity, and
his lectures later took shape in his Evidences, Horae
Paulinae, Natural Theology, and Moral and Political
Philosophy, which last marks him as a founder of
utilitarian ethics. Cambridge then had little attraction for vigorous ability; Paley at 33 went to a small
living, and later received an archdeaconry, a canonry,
and an important rectory. Among Paley's contemporaries, Adam Wall wrote on Ceremonies of the University, and Majendie was active as Bishop of Chester
and later of Bangor. As a parish priest Majendie had
established a Sunday school, at a time when it was
'an act of enthusiasm' to do so.
A lawsuit that had run for nearly 40 years, costing
the College thousands, was settled by compromise in
1805, all the other original parties being dead. The
College had leased its moiety of the rectory of
Burnham Westgate (Norf.) and the rector had refused to pay the tenant's share. In 1815 entries rose
again. The only distinguished fellow was Peter
Fraser, who was little in residence, but sat in
Walter's parlour in Printing-house Square writing
leaders for The Times. He retired to a College living
and left his library to the College. George Davys,
tutor to Princess Victoria, and Basil Montagu, commissioner in bankruptcy and editor of Bacon, also
stood out in a bad period, when Thomas Browne,
Master 1808–19, was constantly at war with the
fellows, holding meetings when they were away so
that they might lose their fellowships for nonattendance.
Reform began under John Kaye, senior wrangler,
first Chancellor's medallist, Regius Professor of
Divinity, and Master at 32. He was consecrated
Bishop of Bristol in 1820 and translated to Lincoln
in 1827, but did not resign the Mastership until
1830. An active lecturer, Kaye revived patristic
studies at Cambridge. Under Joseph Shaw as tutor
entries rose to 30, though there were few tripos distinctions, and Shaw, as Charles Darwin his pupil
recorded, was usually at Newmarket on race days.
Another fellow was Alexander D'Arblay, Fanny
Burney's son, an original member of the Analytical
Darwin entered Christ's in 1825. He owed little
to its studies, although interested by Paley's Evi-
dences, but much to its companionships: he was
known as 'the man who walks with Henslow', the
Professor of Botany. After his voyage in the Beagle,
he returned as a fellow-commoner while working up
his results. W. H. W. Betty, 'the Young Roscius',
entered as fellow-commoner when his stage career
as an infant prodigy was over, but he did not
graduate. M. J. Berkely, 'the father of British fungology', for over 60 years a parish priest, was made one
of the first honorary fellows in 1883.
Finances improved at this time. In 1818 the
weekly payment to scholars was increased, and in
1825 a fellow's payment was raised from 3s. to 15s.,
and it was agreed to give scholarships to those distinguished in the College examinations, the first
time that merit was so rewarded. Reform was in the
air. Under Kaye's successor, John Graham, Christ's
was reputed 'a radical society'. In 1837 reformed
statutes were drafted, admitting nonconformists and
allowing fellows to marry. These were opposed by
some fellows, and vetoed by the Visitor. To avoid
disputes over the Mastership, vacated in 1849, the
parties compromised on the easy-going Joseph
Shaw, but he found the seclusion of the lodge so
irksome after 42 years in the combination-room that
in three weeks he resigned. Then he tried a College
living, but after six weeks returned, dying in College
seven years later. Under James Cartmell, who succeeded unopposed, the liberal movement went on.
New statutes were again drafted, but turned down
by the law officers in view of the forthcoming
University commission. Considerable sums were
spent on improving livings, and internal economy
was reformed by College order. Resources were
increased by the discovery of coprolites on College
land, yielding £21,500 in 20 years. Fellows' dividends
soared until in 1873 a limit of £300 was enacted.
But then the fall in agricultural rents began. In 1879
dividends fell to £260. By the new statutes they were
limited to £250. By the end of the century they were
considerably lower owing to a decline in revenues.
In 1854 the College supported the movement to
provide University teaching in natural science, and
to obtain contributions from the colleges for University purposes.
The Statutory Commission led to new statutes
in 1860, the last written in Latin. Non-residence of
fellows was recognized, though the Master could
require a fellow to reside in the interest of the College. Five fellows might be laymen for life, and the
others need not take holy orders for six years after
graduating M.A. Thus were created the prize fellowships without duties, which gave an avenue to the
bar or the public services for able men of small means.
Until 1881 the Master or Keeper kept the College
accounts, but C. A. Swainson, an elderly Divinity
Professor from Trinity, delegated them to a fellow
appointed yearly, the Master paying half his stipend.
In 1915 a regular bursarship was created. New
statutes in 1882 divided the fellowships into senior,
tenable with College offices and retained as life
pensions after 20 years' service, and junior with no
duties attached, lasting six years. All requirement
of holy orders was abolished.
John Peile as tutor and Master made his mark on
the College, and his work was carried on under A. E.
Shipley, Master 1910–27. Eminent in learning beside Peile were Seeley, formerly fellow of Caius,
Skeat, and Robertson Smith. Natural sciences and
other newer studies were encouraged, and, in keeping
with the liberal tradition of the College, students
were welcomed from India and other parts of the
Commonwealth, to whose universities Christ's sent
numerous professors. This movement was emphasized by Field-Marshal Smuts, scholar and honorary
fellow, who subsequently became Chancellor of the
Revisions of the statutes in 1895 and 1915 made
professorships a qualification for senior fellowships
and permitted the number of fellows to vary with
the available income. The statutes of 1926 instituted
non-stipendiary fellowships for those retiring from
fellowships, pensioned by the University, and made
the pursuit of research a condition of holding nonofficial fellowships. The office of vice-master, which
under the statutes had been permitted only on the
authority of the Visitor, was instituted in February
By the statutes granted in 1951 and again in 1952,
the fellowships were reclassified. Of the eight classes
established by the latter, the holders of official
fellowships and research fellowships were alone
entitled to receive dividends from the College
As means of promoting corporate life the following events may be mentioned: the amalgamation
of the athletic clubs in 1881, the institution of a
College magazine in 1886, and the foundation at the
Quatercentenary in 1905 of the College Club of past
and present members, which holds annual meetings
and publishes lists and news of all living Christ's
men. In 1932 an 'alliance of mutual hospitality' was
established with Wadham College, Oxford.
After the First World War, the size and wealth of
the College increased. Financial policy underwent
considerable alteration, which was marked in 1920
by the sale of Kegworth and Diseworth, which
belonged to the original foundation of the Lady
Margaret. The best agricultural properties were
transformed into government securities, and after
1937 into commercial property and industrial equities. The dividends of fellows rose from £180 in
1900 to between £300 and £450 when the fellowship
was held with a qualifying office. The number of
students also increased, rising from 179 in 1913 to
357 in 1926. The number fell to 306 in 1938 but
after the Second World War rose to 458 in 1952.
From 1925 to 1952 the numbers of scholars rose
from 34 to 63 and of exhibitioners from 18 to 61. In
the same period the number of fellows increased
from 15 to 24.
In the chapel: Lady Margaret, early
18th cent. In the hall: Lady Margaret (mid-16th
century), John Milton, Ralph Cudworth by Soest,
William Paley, after Romney, Sir Arthur Shipley by
László, Charles Darwin by Ouless; Field-Marshal
Jan Smuts by Pan.
In the gallery: Walter Mildmay, founder of
Emmanuel College, John Covel, Thomas Linford,
John Howe, William Robertson Smith, Sir John
Seeley, W. W. Skeat by Brock, Francis Darwin by
Rothenstein, E. W. Hobson by Kenneth Green,
C. E. Raven by Edmund Nelson.
In the combination-room: Lady Margaret, John
In the small combination-room: Sir John Finch,
Sir Thomas Baines, William Outram by Mary
Beale, Lawrence Echard by Kneller, H. Gunning,
esquire bedell, author of Reminiscences, by Woodhouse, J. Peile by Reid, A. C. Haddon by László.
In the library: plaster cast, upper
part of figure only, from original mould for bronze
figure of Lady Margaret by Torrigiano on her tomb
in Westminster Abbey; clay head of Milton said by
tradition to have been modelled from life.
In the hall: Marble bust of Milton based on the
above by Montford.
In the garden: by swimming-pool, busts of John
Milton, Ralph Cudworth, and Nicholas Sanderson,
the blind professor of mathematics, urn to Joseph
Chapel plate: Chalice and paten-cover,
silver-gilt, London 1567–8. Small flagon, given
by Henry, afterwards Earl of Manchester, James,
and Sydney Montagu, London 1597–8. Two large
flagons, silver-gilt, bequeathed by Valentine Cary,
fellow 1597–1600, afterwards Bishop of Exeter,
London 1626–7. Salver, silver-gilt, used as almsdish, given by Maria, wife of Thomas Bainbrigge,
Master 1622–46, London 1635–6. Two large patens,
silver-gilt, London 1635–6.
Secular plate: Foundress's Cup, silver-gilt standing-cup with cover, height with cover 13 in., weight
about 39 oz., date c. 1440, bears arms of Humphrey,
Duke of Gloucester, impaled with those of his
second wife, Eleanor Cobham, bequeathed by Lady
Margaret to her confessor, Dr. Wilford, fellow of
Oriel and first Lady Margaret Reader in Divinity at
Oxford, but he received another piece instead. Hourglass salts, three standing salts with covers, only five
or six others are known to exist, a pair, cover of one
lost, decorated with Tudor rose, probably 15th
cent., the third decorated with rose, portcullis,
and fleur-de-lis, London 1507–8. Six Apostle-spoons,
including the Master-spoon, silver-gilt, probably
foundress's gift, c. 1450–78. Foundress's Beaker, gilt
tun with cover, engraved with marguerites and the
Beaufort badges, rose and portcullis, London 1507–
8. Scallop-cup with cover and enamelled coat of
arms, London 1520–1. Two silver-gilt Tazze, London 1572–3 and 1609–10. Standing-cup with cover,
silver-gilt, London 1611–12, presented by J. Pierpont Morgan, 1919. Steeple-cup, silver-gilt, London
1628–9, given by George Montagu, son of the first
Earl of Manchester. Old English silver spoons of
various periods collected and bequeathed by A. V.
God's-house: Common seal lost, impressions
1¾ in. diameter, show a field divided by a horizontal
line; above, the Ascension; below, the Nativity. Seal
ad causas, copper slightly alloyed, 11/8 in. diameter,
middle a building representing the House; above,
the feet of our Lord ascending into heaven; below,
a rose, borders cabled. Legend: sigillum: de:
Godeshouse: Cātebrigie: Ad: Causas.
Christ's College: Common seal, gilt bronze, vesica
shape, 2 in. by 3¼ in. Centre, the Resurrection,
Christ rising from an open sepulchre, his right hand
raised in benediction, his left holding the 'resurrection banner'; on the tomb, 'xp' spes n[ost]ra'. Left, two
angels are holding the lid of the sepulchre; right St.
Mary Magdalene with long flowing hair holding pot
of ointment. Above, crowned Tudor rose, supported
by two angels issuing from clouds; over the whole a
triple Gothic canopy supported by slender shafts at
the sides. Below, in the exergue, the Tudor crowned
portcullis, with a conventional daisy (marguerite) on
either side. At the sides, field filled by diaper of
roses and fleur-de-lis. Legend: s: coe colleg'
Cristi Fudati Per Margareta Regis Herici VIJmi
matrem. Date, contemporary with the refoundation.
Master's seal: silver, circular, 14 in. diameter, a yale
rampant, ground semée with portcullis and roses.
Legend, sigillu custodis collegii cristi cantibrigie.
Proctors of God's-House
William Byngham: 1439.
John Hurte: 1451.
William Fallan: 1458.
William Basset: 1464.
Ralph Barton: 1477.
John Syclyng: 1490.
Masters of Christ's College
Richard Wyatt: 1506.
Thomas Thompson: 1508.
John Watson: 1517.
Henry Lockwood: 1531 or 1532.
Richard Wilkes: 1548.
Cuthbert Scot: 8 Dec. 1553.
William Tayler: 1556.
Edward Hawford: 23 July 1559.
Edmund Barwell: 23 Feb. 1582.
Valentine Cary: 1609.
Thomas Bainbrigge: 26 May 1622.
Samuel Bolton: 1646.
Ralph Cudworth: 1654.
John Covel: 1688.
William Towers: Jan. 1723.
George Henry Rooke: 1745.
Hugh Thomas: 18 Feb. 1754.
John Barker: 11 July 1780.
Thomas Browne: 4 Mar. 1808.
John Kaye: 5 Sept. 1814.
John Graham: 8 Nov. 1830.
Joseph Shaw: 12 Jan. 1849.
James Cartmell: 13 Feb. 1849.
Charles Anthony Swainson: 9 Feb. 1881.
John Peile: 1 Oct. 1887.
Arthur Everett Shipley: 24 Oct. 1910.
Norman McLean: 24 Oct. 1927.
Charles Galton Darwin: 21 Jan. 1936.
Charles Earle Raven: 2 Mar. 1939.
Brian Westerdale Downs: 12 July 1950.