The colleges and halls: Queens'

A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1959.

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, 'The colleges and halls: Queens'', in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge, (London, 1959) pp. 408-415. British History Online [accessed 30 May 2024].

. "The colleges and halls: Queens'", in A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge, (London, 1959) 408-415. British History Online, accessed May 30, 2024,

. "The colleges and halls: Queens'", A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3, the City and University of Cambridge, (London, 1959). 408-415. British History Online. Web. 30 May 2024,

In this section



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.

Chapel. (fn. 9)

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 in use.

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. Paterson.

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)

The first 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 colleagues.

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 fellowships.

Historical Sketch.

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 Testament.

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, Thomas Horton.

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 19th century.

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 London.

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 the Interregnum.

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.


  • 1. Fuller, Hist. 162.
  • 2. The documents mentioned above are printed in W. G. Searle, Hist. of Queens' Coll. (1867–71), i. 3–99.
  • 3. Ibid. i. 222–33.
  • 4. Ibid. i. 85.
  • 5. See Willis and Clark, Archit. Hist. ii. 1–68.
  • 6. Ibid. ii. 12.
  • 7. A. Oswald, in C.A.S. Comm. xlii. 8–26.
  • 8. See p. 146.
  • 9. Willis and Clark, Archit. Hist. ii. 36–43.
  • 10. Cooper, Annals, iii. 283.
  • 11. Ibid. iii. 365.
  • 12. W. G. Searle, Hist. of Queens', ii. 567.
  • 13. In 1955 the living of Newton Toney was amalgamated with that of Cholderton (patron, Oriel Coll. Oxf.).
  • 14. Grimston is amalgamated with Congham (patron, the Bp. of Norw.)
  • 15. Statuta Collegii Reginalis Anno 1559 (1822), ed. G. C. Gorham, contains notes on the texts of the earlier statutes.
  • 16. King, a layman, had been elected in 1832 by royal dispensation.
  • 17. The average value of a fellowship was given by the commissioners of 1852 as £145, with 30s. a week during residence: Cooper, Annals, v. 101.
  • 18. Searle, Hist. of Queens', i. 137–41.
  • 19. Erasmi Epistolae (1906), ed. P. S. Allen, i. 465–549; see p. 167.
  • 20. J. B. Mullinger, Univ. Camb. ii. 55–63, 78, 374–80.
  • 21. Searle, Hist. of Queens', i. 213, 236.
  • 22. Ibid. 256–62. And see P. Hughes, Reformation in England (1953), ii. 327.
  • 23. Historiae Cantabrigiensis Academiae, Liber primus', 57, in Works of John Caius (1912), ed. E. S. Roberts.
  • 24. J. H. Gray, Hist. of Queens' Coll. 97.
  • 25. Searle, Hist. of Queens', ii. 517–20.
  • 26. Queens' Mun., Old Parchment Register, f. 147b; and see Searle, Hist. of Queens', ii. 576.
  • 27. J. H. Gray, Hist. of Queens', 195.
  • 28. H. Gunning, Reminiscences (1854), i. 257; see p. 234.
  • 29. J. E. Foster and T. D. Atkinson, Cat. of Loan Pictures in Fitzwilliam Museum (1895), 37–38, 41–42; E. Alfred Jones, Old Plate of Camb. Colls. 59–63.
  • 30. B.M. Cat. of Seals, ii. 38–39.
  • 31. Searle, Hist. of Queens', i. 83, 159.