A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 3, the University of Oxford. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1954.
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CORPUS CHRISTI COLLEGE (fn. 1)
A deed at the college, dated 30 June 1513, informs us that Bishop Fox was erecting a monastic college, much on the same plan and of the same size as Canterbury College, but with a better endowment, to provide lodgings for eight monks of St. Swithin's, Winchester, who would follow that part of the Oxford education that was open to monks and would study for the B.D. and D.D. degrees. The college, including the servants and two secular Masters of Arts, to teach logic and philosophy to the monks, would number twenty-one, and the bishop intended to supply an endowment of £160 a year. For some unknown reason he had not yet secured the freehold of the site, but was building on it with the consent of the landlords, i.e. Merton College, Godstow Abbey, and St. Frideswide's. When the college had been completed it would be the property of St. Swithin's. We know from other sources that the builders had already been at work for twelve months. (fn. 2)
It was Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter, who induced Fox to alter his plan, and to found not a monastic college on the lines of Durham College and Canterbury College, but a secular college, much like New College or Magdalen and with the same objects. The change must have demanded some extension of the buildings that had been erected; for a college with 55 to 60 members, all included, instead of 21, must have required more space, even though it be true that the members of a monastic college, being persons of mature years, would each have had a separate room, while in the secular college there were two, and sometimes more, in every room. There is no record what was done; (fn. 3) but we know the endowment was raised from £160 a year to about £380. (fn. 4) The gift of £4,000, which was made by Bishop Oldham, would have covered much of the extension both of the buildings and of the endowment.
The life of the college began on 5 March 1517 when 10 fellows were elected, and by the beginning of the Michaelmas term there were over 20 in residence, some of them being only undergraduates; the whole number of 40 members was not completed until 1522. (fn. 5)
The statutes of the college, which were made in 1517, lay down that the college was to consist of a President and 20 fellows (socii) and 20 discipuli, who were to be natives of certain parts of England, as described below. Like Merton and Oriel, those elected fellows must have taken the degree of B.A. but not of M.A. After taking the degree of M.A. and completing their necessary regency, they ceased to be fellows, unless they were ordained priests. A statute, which seems to be peculiar to this college, lays down that no fellow was to receive any holy orders until he had taken his M.A. degree. Those who had been ordained could remain fellows for life provided that they resided in Oxford and did not acquire by inheritance wealth of £5 a year, or hold a living of £8 a year. But the life in the college had so little comfort, with commons at the rate of only 12d. a week, an allowance of only 4 marks a year, and two in each room, that there was no temptation to remain in college, and 'the average tenure of a fellowship during the first 40 years of the college was under 5 years'. (fn. 6) In later times life in the college was more comfortable and fellowships were not vacated so rapidly. A fellow was on probation for the first two years after election and was called scholaris in the statutes and in all college records until the end of the 18th century when the word went out of use. This word has been a stumbling-block to college historians, who are apt to think it means a scholar in the modern sense, i.e. an undergraduate. At Corpus a scholaris was of necessity a graduate.
The twenty discipuli were to be elected from the same counties as the fellows; they were to be between the ages of 12 and 17 when they were elected, but in certain cases the age limit was extended to 19 so as to catch a desirable candidate. The emoluments were slight; commons at only 8d. a week and an allowance of 2 marks a year; it is clear that every discipulus needed an allowance from home. When elected, he must have received no degree; as soon as he had taken his B.A. degree, perhaps about 20 years old, he was eligible for a fellowship, but there might be a long delay before a fellowship for his county was vacant. In that case he might proceed to the degree of M.A. while still a discipulus, and he might retain the emoluments, such as they were, after he had completed his 24th year, when his tenure would normally end according to the statutes. A discipulus did not pass to a fellowship automatically; fellows were chosen from inside or outside the college, but it was laid down that ceteris paribus one who had been a discipulus was to be preferred, and it is clear from the college records that a discipulus who was not defective in mind or morals might be sure to have a fellowship, and in the first century of the college history there was not much delay in his advancement. Each room held one fellow and one discipulus; the former was to provide instruction and a good example and punishment when necessary. The fellow had a high bed, and the discipulus a truckle-bed. As it is laid down in the statutes (fn. 7) that those under 15 years were to sleep two in a bed, it appears that in a few cases there might be three in a chamber.
A distinctive feature of the statutes is the establishment of three professors of Latin, Greek, and theology who would deliver public lectures open to the whole university, and the classical writers on whom the first two were to lecture are enumerated. These professors were in addition to the fellows, and were to be secured from any part of the country. Their salaries were to be £5 (Latin), 10 marks (Greek), £10 (theology); but as far as is known no professor in theology was appointed. Another distinctive feature was the permission for four or six sons of noblemen or of men of law to reside in college at their own costs, 'not at the costs of the college', so long as they were sub tutoribus and were of good behaviour. The word 'tutor' at that time meant guardian rather than teacher, though the guardian might also be the teacher. The statute need not imply that when the son of a nobleman arrived he brought an adult tutor with him; doubtless the parent of the boy engaged one of the fellows to act as tutor, or tueator as it was sometimes spelt; he saw that the lad was properly taught; he managed his pocket money for him and was responsible that the boy's expenses were duly met, and that he was well behaved.
The establishment for the chapel services was much smaller than at New College. There were to be two chaplains in priests' order, one the precentor, the other the sacristan; two in acolyte's orders were the organist (organorum pulsator) and the sub-sacristan who would ring the bells for service (ad divina campanas pulset); two choirboys who before they were elected must have been taught every kind of song (cantus), or at the very least, plain song and 'pricked' song; they were to be taught grammar and 'good authors' (bonos auctores), either in the college at the expense of their friends, or at Magdalen School. When their voices broke, they might be admitted as discipuli, if they had all the necessary qualifications.
The localities from which the fellows and discipuli must come were: 2 from Surrey, 2 from Hampshire, 2 from the diocese of Durham, 2 from the diocese of Bath, 2 from the diocese of Exeter, of which places Bishop Fox had been successively bishop, as the statutes point out; 1 from Lincolnshire, where the bishop was born, 1 from Lancashire, where Oldham was born, 1 from Bedfordshire, 1 from Oxfordshire, 1 from Wiltshire, 2 from Gloucestershire or Worcestershire, 2 from Kent, and finally 1 of the kin of William Frost, (fn. 8) steward of the founder, and benefactor of the college; such appear as 'Fr. cog.' (Frost's kin) in the college lists. They were not to be elected unless they were of the necessary level. The bishop was aware that when a vacancy occurred it might be impossible to find a candidate from the requisite county; in that case a man might be elected from one of the other privileged counties, provided that no county had more than one extra member. But even so there were difficulties, and it is clear that the college was allowed some latitude. Mr. Andrew Clark (fn. 9) has worked out how the territorial distribution of places was reflected in the college. Of 365 admissions Hants supplied 45, Gloucs. 39, Lincs. 37, Devon 36, Kent 34, Somerset 32, Oxon. 25, Lancs. 19, Durham 15, Surrey 16, Beds. 15, Wilts. 11, Dorset 8, Berks. 6, Worcester 5, and Northumberland 2; these places were covered by the statutes. There remain Herts. 3, Notts. 2, London and Middlesex 8, and 1 each from Essex, Northants, Salop, Suffolk, Sussex, Warwickshire, and Westmorland. The last case represents the election to the post of reader or lecturer, which by the statutes was not confined to any locality, and the same may be true in some other cases. The number from Hants is so large because those of Frost's kin were, by the statutes, counted as of Hants, wherever they were born.
It has been maintained by Dr. Fowler that Fox founded the first Renaissance College, i.e. the first college which aimed at the teaching of the classics as the centre of a university education. The Corpus statutes are the first college statutes which mention the teaching of Greek, and lay down which of the Latin and Greek classics should be studied. It might be added that it is the first college that required that undergraduates, before admission to the college, must be able to write Latin verse. But Dr. Milne has pointed out that Fox was not a Greek scholar; and that any college founded in 1517 would be obliged to deal with instruction in Greek and the study of the classics, for they were now part of a university education. The statutes show very clearly that the sole interest of Fox was to provide an educated clergy. He says that he had founded the college 'solely, or mainly, for the sake of theology'. (fn. 10) At Corpus, as at New College and Magdalen (but unlike Merton), no man could retain a fellowship after becoming M.A. unless he took orders. The founder speaks of those who are not ordained as 'withdrawing from the service of the Lord'. (fn. 11) In fact in some ways Corpus was more clerical than any college; for none might be admitted as discipuli or as fellows, who had any bodily defect such as would be a canonical impediment to the receiving of holy orders. It was evidently the desire of the bishop that every one who enjoyed the benefits of his foundation should join the dominicum ministerium, though it was impossible to make it compulsory.
Some annual lists for the years 1537–42, discovered by Dr. Milne, throw new light on the position of the six commoners or lodgers. These lists, known as Visus, give the names of those who were in residence each week. Besides the fellows, discipuli, and servants, there are other names, never more than six. Some of these names appear for a very short time; in five years there are nineteen in all. Although the Christian names are not given, it seems certain that in some cases lodgers were in time elected discipuli, when their age and their education was sufficient. The same thing is found fifty years later at St. John's, where a lad would often spend a year in the college as a commoner, until there occurred a vacancy to which he was eligible. Dr. Milne deduces that in one case a lad was sent to be a lodger when he was only 8 or 9.
The first President, John Claimond (1517–37), was the hero of a long Latin elegiac poem by John Shepreve (fellow 1528), the Greek reader in the college, of which one copy is in C.C.C. Library and two in the Bodleian. As Master of St. Cross by Winchester and holder of other ecclesiastical benefices he had considerable wealth which he spent generously on both town and university, and in his will he left the sapphire ring, still held by successive presidents, to Magister Morwent, who was to succeed him, and to future presidents 'which ring was given me by the Founder of the College, that I should bear him in mind'. He gave to the library nearly as many Greek and Latin texts and commentaries as the founder, including a Euclid given to him by Simon Grynaeus. (fn. 12) Dr. Milne has shown that apart from Claimond's careful annotations in his books, his methods of work can be studied in the rough notes that he made for his commentary on Pliny's Natural History, the final but unpublished manuscript of which is at Basle. (fn. 13) Claimond was not only liberal to colleges, i.e. Corpus, Magdalen, B.N.C., and Balliol, but also to the town of Oxford, as we learn from Shepreve's poem; he erected a building in the middle of the street in Cornmarket, for the benefit of the sellers of corn, which survived until the siege of Oxford; he also made a rough causeway to Botley, which ultimately became a turnpike road; of his kindness and liberality there can be no doubt. He was also the leading Renaissance scholar in Oxford, equal to Cicero in prose, and to Ovid in poetry, according to Shepreve. He had been a friend of the founder for thirty years, as the statutes tell us, when he was induced by Fox to resign the Presidentship of Magdalen and become President of Corpus. He died at the age of 80, a learned man, wise and religious; he liked to sign himself servus eucharistiae.
Claimond was followed by Robert Morwent (1537–58), who held this post through all the changes of religion in those years. Like Claimond, he had been enticed by the founder from Magdalen and was appointed by him vice-president in 1517. He was a good man of business and steered the college through difficult times with wisdom. It was in his time (1553) that Beam Hall was acquired.
An interesting document (fn. 14) at the Record Office throws light on the internal state of the college in 1538 The deed is dated 'My Lord of Canterbury, the viith of October', which means that it was sent to, or received by, Cranmer on that day. Below it, in a hand which Dr. Milne has identified as Cranmer's, there is 'To my very singular good lord, my lord Privie Seal'. The year must be 1538, for two of the college are described as 'Sir Garret' and 'Sir Turnbull'. This means that they were both of the degree of B.A.; Garret took this degree in spring 1538, and Thurnbull became M.A. in March 1539; the date therefore is 8 Oct. 1538. With it, there is a letter by Cranmer to the Lord Privy Seal, saying 'a scoler of Oxford hath uttered unto me certen things which, forasmuch as they appertain unto the king's majesty, I send them unto your lordship herein enclosed, to be examined by you'. Dr. Milne has been able to identify the scholar; it was Richard Marshall, who took his B.A. in spring 1538, a discipulus at this time, but elected a fellow in Dec. 1538. This identification is proved by a list of twenty-three complaints, part of the record, which apparently was sent to Cranmer; by the language used in these complaints and by the handwriting Dr. Milne proves that Marshall was the author. The complaints were that the college authorities, i.e. the President and seven seniors, who by the statutes were the governing body, would not admit 'those who be counted of the new learning (as they call it) to any office nor yet to any counsell of the college business'. Thomas Goyge, M.A. (fellow in 1526), called Marshall a heretic. The king's injunctions which required preaching were not observed. The word 'papa' was not blotted out everywhere and in some church books had been restored. One of the deans said that if he saw any 'scholar' with a new testament he would burn it. 'Sir Bocher' said that all they which be of the new learning were 'naughty knaves'; and so forth. We gather that Cranmer sent some deputy to Oxford to inquire into these complaints and seven came forward to support the charges; their names are given and what they said in confirmation; they were all of them young, and three apparently only lodgers in the college. The older members of the college were not summoned to be questioned, and it is clear that neither Cranmer nor the Lord Privy Seal considered the accusations to be important. It may be noticed that Richard Marshall, who is here the leading opponent of 'the bishop of Rome', was a champion on his side some fifteen years later, when he was dean of Christ Church in the reign of Queen Mary. It was mainly an attempt on the part of the youngest members to acquire power in the management of the college; but it throws an interesting light on the talk and the accusations which at that time were common in Corpus and the other colleges. It may be noticed that there were no charges against the President or the senior members of the college, and that Marshall, who took the lead in this matter, was not even a fellow.
Though Morwent and the leaders of the college showed no leaning to Protestantism, yet in the period 1547–53, when Peter Martyr was teaching in Oxford, one of the college, William Cole, elected fellow 1545, who was subsequently President, seems to have become definitely Protestant, for he fled to Switzerland when Mary ascended the throne. Another fellow who fled to the Continent was John Jewel, who had been made reader in Latin in 1548, one of the best scholars of the University.
About 1551 some of the fellows appealed to John Poynet, Bishop of Winchester, whether it was now necessary that fellows should take holy orders, seeing that the Mass had been abolished. The bishop replied that 'the words of the statute evidently show that it is your Founder's mind to have all the fellows of your house, saving the student in physic, after certain years, to prepare themselves ad ministerium dominicum, which is, as you known, predicatio verbi et ministerium sacramentorum domini; which ministry remains, though massing be gone'. In 1562 Bishop Horne lays down the same rule, saying that in his recent visitation the President had lamented that the regulation about taking orders was violated; he insists that it must be observed as Bishop Poynet laid down. (fn. 15) And whereas some of the college would make a distinction between the words priesthood and ministry, there is no difference between them in sense. More than a century later we find (fn. 16) that on 25 July 1684 it was resolved by 'the President and the major part of the seniority that Mr. Osmund ought to satisfy the company that he is in orders or give his reasons why he ought not to be proceeded against for not being in orders by the last day of August. Otherwise his fellowship to be declared void.' He lost his fellowship and took a degree in medicine in 1689.
William Chedsey, elected 8 Sept. 1558, was ejected in the autumn of 1559, no doubt for refusing the Oath of Supremacy. William Butcher, elected 15 Dec. 1559, withdrew to his living of Duntesbourne Rouse in 1561. Thomas Greenway, elected Jan. 1562, withdrew to his living of Lower Heyford in 1568. At this time there were continual disputes in the college about the fines for renewal of the copyholds and also for the renewal of leases. These fines increased in value as years passed and ultimately far exceeded what the college obtained from rents. In all colleges there were disputes in what proportion these fines should be divided between the fellows. At Corpus there were repeated accusations that the President kept too much.
William Cole was made President 19 July 1568 in a most high-handed way. The queen sent an order to the college that they were to elect Cole; and when the fellows disobeyed and elected another, the Bishop of Winchester visited the college and deprived of their fellowships those who would not vote for Cole, and so admitted him President. He was a learned man, but he had enemies in the college who would suggest to us that he was an unpleasant character; (fn. 17) but another side is suggested by a charming letter from Cole to Mr. More at Loseley on 25 June 1570, which throws much light on the position of the six commoners permitted by the statutes. The President says he had received Mr. More's son at Oxford with pleasure.
'He shall lye nere unto me every night and shall not be far from me in the day time, being in one chamber with me. I have already made his studie somewhat more handsome than it was; and within these two days I think it will be finished. I will take upon me to be his corrector alone, and you shall know that I will be no hard maister to him. And surely he being so gentle and diligent, as I dout not but he will be, I can not deal strictly with him, but I shall doe him wrong. If you will have him to do anie thing on the virginalls, you must provide that he have a pair sent him. We have one that can teach him well. As for his singing and other exercises, though others shal sometimes have to do with him in those matters, yet I mind myself to prove him now and then as far as my skyl will serve me. I have according to your letters received from you six poundes in olde angels, delivered to me for the necessary uses of your sonne. I will see it bestowed upon him. I ryde abroad often times about the affairs of our colledge, els should he be my scholar and no mansels. But though I have appointed him a teacher, yet doe I meane to be half a teacher to him myself.' (fn. 18)
This boy was probably George More, who because of his gentle birth was allowed by the University to take his B.A. in two years, i.e. in spring 1572, and his M.A. in two years more, at which time he can hardly have been 20 years. (fn. 19) He did not become a discipulus or a fellow; probably he lived in the President's room as a favour; the President would not have a discipulus. A 'studie' was a corner of the room, boarded off, where the student kept his possessions. Where the wife of the President slept and his children we do not know, but from 1572 onwards Cole had the living of Lower Heyford, and his wife and family lived there.
In 1579, when it seemed likely that Cole would resign, the college was divided over two young fellows, who were candidates, Barefoot and Rainolds, each of them aged 30 or somewhat less. The contest affected the whole University, and a letter signed by several heads of houses and more than eighty masters of arts was sent to the Earl of Warwick who was supporting Barefoot, his chaplain, that they did not consider him the better candidate. Letters also were written by some leading members of the University to Leicester and Walsingham commending Rainolds (fn. 20) as a man 'universally learned in the tongs', a painful preacher, and an ornament of the Church such as there had not been since Bishop Jewel. But Cole did not resign; the impression we have is that he was hoping for preferment. Fowler says that he was Canon of Salisbury, Winchester, and Lincoln and Archdeacon of Lincoln; but he was never preferred at Salisbury; at Winchester he was canon only from 1572 to 1579, and at Lincoln, though he held a canonry from 1574 to his death, he was archdeacon only from 1577 to 1580. Finally, in 1598, Cole was transferred from Corpus to the deanery of Lincoln, which was resigned by Rainolds, and the latter became President of the college. The inside story is now revealed in a letter of Archbishop Whitgift of 5 Sept. 1598 to Sir R. Cecil. (fn. 21)
'I have of long time endeavoured to place Dr. Reinolds in Oxford, and the rather because he is employed in writing against the Jesuits and other our adversaries. And now with much adoe Dr. Cole … is content to yield up his presidentship to Dr. Reinolds, so that it would please her Majesty to bestow the deanery of Lincoln on him, and which now Dr. Reinolds hath, wherewith also Dr. Reinolds is well contented. I pray you to move her Majesty to bestow the said deanery upon Dr. Cole, who is an ancient doctor of divinity and an honest, learned and grave man. The exchange is greatly for the benefit of the Church, and for God's and her Majesty's service.'
The course of life of Rainolds at Corpus from 1573 onwards had led to this great reputation. In 1573, when only 23 years old, he was lecturer in Greek and for five years delivered public lectures, especially on the Rhetoric of Aristotle, which brought him fame as a scholar and a stylist. In 1578 he resigned the lectureship and, as we have seen, was a celebrated preacher by 1580. In 1586 Sir Francis Walsingham founded a temporary lectureship, said to have been of £20 a year, to refute Romish teaching, and asked that Rainolds might hold it; whereupon he resigned his fellowship and took a lodging in Queen's College. Wood states 'he read this lecture in the Divinity School thrice a week in full term … and was held by those of his party to have done great good'. When the queen was at Oxford in 1592 'she schooled Dr. John Rainolds for his obstinate preciseness, willing him to follow her laws'; this probably refers to the Puritan tone that he took in his public lectures, but it did not prevent her from promoting him to the deanery of Lincoln in 1593. He continued to live in Oxford and was not installed in the deanery until Sept. 1598, and in December he resigned it.
Rainolds (for so he himself spelt his name, though others used Reinolds or Reynolds) played a leading part at the Hampton Court conference of 1604. The king chose four of the leading Puritans to meet the bishops, and Rainolds was not only one of the four, but their leader. The king expressed satisfaction with the result and was friendly and jocular with Rainolds; and approved much of his suggestion that there should be a new translation of the Bible. According to Wood the translators met once a week in the lodging of Rainolds at Corpus, and 'there (as it is said) perfected the work'. Unfortunately he died in 1607, four years before the work was finished.
About John Barcham who became a discipulus in 1588 and a fellow in 1596, some new discoveries have been made. (fn. 22) He must have had private means, as he gave to the library a copy of Maximus Tyrius in 1595, before he became a fellow, and in 1602 he presented books to the Bodleian. In 1604 he gave the college a valuable work printed at Mainz in 1466. But it was as a collector of coins that he was best known to his contemporaries. The collection, which was given by Laud to the Bodleian, was acquired by the archbishop from Barcham in 1636, whether by gift or by purchase. In addition a collection of 25 gold coins and 4 silver, which was discovered in the college in 1648 and is now on loan to the Ashmolean, was in all probability part of Barcham's collection. They are medieval coins, whereas those acquired by Laud were classical. It is suggested that in 1636, when Laud had taken the older coins, Barcham sent the remainder to the college. It is true that there is no mention of such a gift in the college records; but, so far as is known, he is the only member of the college who collected coins; and a deed about an affair at Bocking in 1612 was found loose not far from these coins. It is suggested that Barcham, who was beneficed at Bocking, wrapped the twenty-nine coins in it when he sent them to the college.
Thomas Turner, who was President 1687–1714, a man of large private means, has left his mark in the college by the buildings which he erected at his own expense. He was a man of influence in the University. 'The President of Corpus', Lord Harley was informed, 'who has the greatest authority among the Heads, is too wary a man to enter into an open opposition of anyone, unless the occasion should be very extraordinary. What he does of that kind will be by private influence.' (fn. 23)
If the Presidents of the 18th century were not remarkable, yet there are signs that the college was efficient and that discipline and education were well maintained. Dr. Fowler prints many extracts about the punishment of members of the college, all illuminating, many amusing, but at the same time indicative of adequate discipline. On 17 July 1741 we find 'For the better encouraging and more effectual securing of industry among the scholars, it is agreed that every undergraduate of the foundation, before his Grace is proposed, shall be examined publicly in such parts of learning, as he is supposed to be well acquainted with, in the presence of those who by the statutes are to approve or disapprove of all candidates for their Bacheler's degree in Arts.' (fn. 24) Before the days of written examination the University granted degrees on the recommendation of the candidate's tutor, and no doubt the recommendation was sometimes given too readily. Here the college draws the strings tighter. Again on 25 Nov. 1800, 'On account of the useless expense and great irregularities attending the custom of giving what are called "Degree Parties", a custom lately introduced by those who have taken the degree of B.A.; it is ordered that no persons shall in future continue to observe this custom.'
In 1755 the Visitor (fn. 25) made an alteration in the statutes of the college which added much to the comfort of the inmates. The founder had laid down that the fellows and the discipuli lost their posts if they ceased to be resident, and discipuli who had taken the degree of M.A. were obliged to remain in the college while they were waiting for the vacation of a fellowship to which they were eligible. When fellowships became more valuable in the 17th and 18th centuries, as rents increased, the fellows were less ready to accept livings, and the rate of promotion was slow. In some years there was not a single matriculation (fn. 26) in the college, and there were often eight to ten discipuli who had taken the M.A. degree and were not yet fellows. When an appeal was made to the visitor by the 'Disciple Masters' as they were called, whether they should be compelled to reside in Oxford, where they had little chance of earning anything, he relaxed the statute that bound them, and apparently at the same time released the fellows from compulsory residence, and they were able to accept posts as curates and schoolmasters until they obtained livings. At one stroke half the college was able to withdraw and from 1755 to 1854 there was plenty of room. In 1755 there were 20 fellows, and of the discipuli 7 were M.A., 9 were B.A., and 4 were undergraduates; to the last we may add 2 clerks, 2 choristers, and 5 commoners. (fn. 27) Assuming that 3 fellows would be necessary as tutors and bursar, there were 24 who could give up residence. Between 1762 to 1840 the number of undergraduates varied between 15 and 19, to which must be added 6 or 7 discipuli with the degree of B.A. There was so much space that there were three common rooms; (fn. 28) but under the University Commission of 1851, new statutes were made; all local restrictions were abolished, and scholars and commoners of the ordinary kind were elected according to the capacity of the college. Before many years were passed the number of undergraduates reached 60 or more, of which about 25 were scholars and exhibitioners.
The Rev. Thomas Edward Bridges (1823–42), vir singulari simplicitate et benevolentia, was of retiring habits and declined the office of Vice-Chancellor when his turn came.
James Norris (1843–72) was distinguished for his business ability. Though personally conservative in outlook his presidentship saw the disappearance of the old statutes, a revolution more far-reaching than the mere change of personnel which had marked the Civil War. On 20 Feb. 1851 it was agreed to give full information 'to the Royal Commissioners as to the Corporate Revenues of the Society and the application of them; also that they, or some person appointed by them, should be permitted to peruse and copy the Statutes of the College and the Injunctions of Visitors'. But the President felt this would be a violation of the oath taken by the President and fellows—until the Visitor stated that he saw no statutable objection. The same day it was resolved to receive no more gentleman commoners but to receive as many commoners as the available accommodation should allow, and on 27 Apr. 1852 the social life of the undergraduates was changed by the dissolution of the junior or scholars' common room which had existed since 1797. (fn. 29) Change continued to the end, for on 25 Oct. 1871 it was agreed to give information to the Royal Commission of Enquiry into the Revenues of the University and Colleges. The fact that, in spite of the unsympathetic attitude of the President, Corpus had been one of the three colleges which remodelled their own statutes (fn. 30) under the Act of 1854 in the interests of 'personal merits' instead of waiting for the action of the University Commissioners was largely due to the next President, John Matthew Wilson (1873–81). Wilson had played a leading part in the movement for reform, but shortly after his election he was incapacitated by ill health.
Shortly after the election of Thomas Fowler (1881–1904) the new statutes drawn up by the Parliamentary and College Commissioners were approved by the Queen in Council, whereby the college revenues were less under the control of the President and fellows than formerly, but were held in trust for clearly defined educational purposes.
Ample material is available for the history of President Fowler's administration, for he has left in the presidential archives a letter book. This includes letters to the idle and their parents and memoranda of punishments inflicted for relighting bonfires in the quadrangle after boat races when they had been already quenched, &c., also about college livings. In connexion with the latter he remarks that they have become a burden. On 2 Nov. 1895 he wrote to the bursar that 'considering the depressing prospects of the present financial year, I shall be glad if you will subtract from the stipend paid to me as President, at the end of the Christmas Quarter £200, in addition to my quarterly return of £25. …'
In 1891 appeared the first number of the Pelican Record, perhaps the first college magazine in Oxford, to be followed by the President's own History of Corpus Christi College, published by the Oxford Historical Society in 1893, and his more condensed volume Corpus Christi which appeared three years later in the series of College Histories.
Thomas Case (1904–24) was succeeded by Percy Stafford Allen (1924–33).
After the first gifts of lands from Fox, Hugh Oldham, Frost, and John Claimond:
'Corpus Christi College hath had these Benefactors: Richard Pate Esquire, anno Elizabeth 18. gaue lands and tenements, to the value of 53. pound 19. shillings 7. pence per annum: out of the which the Colledge is to pay to a free schoole [in Cheltenham] and an Almes house twentie pound. Sir George Saint Paul some fiue yeeres since gaue an hundred pound in money, and fiftie pound per annum: Master Gale of London, out of his lands gaue twentie pound per annum. Master Awdley of London yet liuing, giueth seuen pound per annum, to a student. Richard Cobbe gaue foure hundred marks in money: to the Librarie ten pound per annum, to poore students foure pound: to the vse of the house six pound: Doctor Reinolds gaue 100. pound: bookes valued at an hundred pound.' (fn. 31)
Apart from subscribers to building funds, the only important 18th-century benefactors were Thomas Turner (fn. 32) and Lord Coleraine. The former left £2,000 to complete his buildings, his 'Study of Books', a rent to pay the librarian, and £100 for the Tower Fund. The bequest of the latter's library was only secured after considerable litigation.
In recent decades a number of trust funds held and administered like the Pate charity by the college wholly or partly for its benefit have been formed. Such are the De Teissier Fund (1890), the Benefaction Fund (1895), Miss Wilson's bequest (1897), the Sidgwick Prize (1903), Dr. Fowler's bequest (1904), the Charles James Oldham Trust of £10,000 (1907) for prizes, scholarships, and the library, the C. M. Powell Trust Fund for White's Professorship (1908), the Cuthbert Shields Benefaction Trust Fund for Romance Professorship (1909), Captain Roderick Haigh's bequest of £2,300 in memory of Arthur Elam Haigh (1915), the Alfred De Pass Fund (1920) of the income from £350 for buying books for the library, the J. W. Oddie Trust for scholarships (1923), the Christopher Bushell History Prize in memory of Lt.-Col. Bushell, V.C., founded by Charles Plummer, fellow and chaplain (1928), and the B. H. Soulsby Bequest (1934). The Conington Trust (1907) contributed towards the Corpus Professor of Latin and the Corpus Classical Fund (1916) towards a tutor, both being administered by trustees other than the college. The library also received such gifts as the copyright of Dr. Fowler's books and the donation of Shadworth Hodgson. Beside Emily Thomas's magnificent gift of £100,000 in 1919, of which the Emily Thomas building is only one of the fruits, the college also received gifts of £2,000 in 1912 and £15,000 in 1929 from E. P. Warren. The first was for the tutorial staff and the second towards a praelectorship in Greek.
The college is famous for its old plate, (fn. 33) part of it secular, and part religious. It has always been asked how the secular plate escaped the demands of Charles I when he requested all colleges to 'lend' him their plate. Dr. Fowler suggested that the college was allowed to redeem it for a money payment, and Dr. Milne points out that not only did the college subscribe £400 to the king's needs in July 1642, but within the next twelve months a payment of more than £300 was made for an unspecified purpose. (fn. 34) It is reasonable to assume that the plate was saved in this way; and recently some loose paper wrappings in an old chest in the college, none of them being after the date of 1642, have suggested that the silver was stored in this chest, and perhaps hidden, during the years 1646–60.
The college possesses a disused great seal in addition to that in use, besides the smaller seal used for testimonials. They show a pelican in its piety for Corpus Christi.
Mrs. Reginald Lane Poole, Catalogue of Portraits, ii, 261–77 describes fortytwo portraits. The 16th-century portraits, especially those of the founder by Joannes Corvus and of Richard Pate, are important.
The library, (fn. 35) devoted to the humanist revival, earned the praise of Erasmus. (fn. 36) In 1589 it contained 371 books, of which 310 remain. It contains much of the library of Brian Twyne. A copy of the Prayer Book of 1539, printed by Grafton, contains the signatures of the Privy Council on the fly-leaf. There are 498 manuscripts. (fn. 37) MS. 157 is a horograph chronicle of John of Worcester with important illuminations; MS. 197 is an Old English Rule of St. Benedict. The library is strong in classical, philosophical and 17th-century Italia books.
The site acquired by Bishop Fox for his college was an oblong bounded on the north by Merton St., on the south by the city wall, being about 100 yds. north to south, and about 80 yds. east to west; if, to this, we add the roadway on the west side, which was subsequently acquired from the city, it was 90 yds. wide. It was five Academic halls, or decayed halls, when the bishop bought it, but a few years earlier it was six halls. The easternmost was Urban Hall, belonging to St. Frideswide's; next was St. Christopher Hall, which was in use in 1469; (fn. 38) a survey of about 1470 says that it stretched to the 'College garden', i.e. the Bachelor's garden. (fn. 39) St. Christopher's was bounded on the west by four halls: Corner Hall at the north, then Ledynporch, then Nevile's Inn, and last Bekes Inn. During the half-century 1480 to 1530 Oxford was in continuous decay; there was plague in most years; students avoided Oxford and there was no demand for academic halls. St. Christopher's disappeared and Corner Hall and Nevile's Inn were both 'decayed' in the deed of 1515 when Fox obtained them from Merton. (fn. 40) We read that in 1510 fellows of Merton rented at their own cost some of the rooms of Corner Hall and lodged there; (fn. 41) evidently it was no longer an academic hall. It is highly probable that Ledynporch of Godstow, and Urban Hall and Bekes Inn, both of St. Frideswide's, were no longer used as academic halls, and were also in decay. The Abbess of Godstow surrendered Ledynporch to the bishop 'ob singularem eius benevolentiam et plurima … beneficia collata'; (fn. 42) the Prior of St. Frideswide gave his two halls in return for an annual quit-rent from the rectory of Wroughton, Wilts., of the value of 26s. 8d., which would have been as much as the priory would receive from two disused halls. The sum of £4 6s. 8d. a year, which was obtained by Merton for its properties, is considered by most historians to be an insufficient amount, but it was more than was produced by the property at that time; and as house property in Oxford had been falling in value for 250 years and, for all that was known, would fall farther, the rent received by the college was a good bargain.
The college buildings and their history during the 16th and 17th centuries are described in the report of the Historical Monuments Commission (p. 48); but Dr. Milne does notagree with the suggestion, made in the report, that the college kitchen is the refectory of Urban Hall and therefore older than the foundation of the college. He remarks that this suggestion was not made until quite recent times; and that medieval halls were ordinary houses which at any time might revert to civilian purposes, if there was no demand for them as academic halls. He points out that it was unlikely that a landlord, still less a tenant, would build a refectory of the size of the college kitchen, (fn. 43) and makes the suggestion that this building, running east and west, may have been planned and begun as the chapel of the monastic college which Bishop Fox began in 1512, and that when he altered his project in 1514, whereby a larger chapel was necessary he decided that it should be the college kitchen.
When the college began in March 1517 it is probable that all the front quadrangle was complete. The earliest building accounts which run from 2 March 1517 to 21 Nov. 1518 (fn. 44) make no mention of building, beyond an entry of 'digging of the foundation of the cloister' in 1517. It is possible that the Cloister Chambers date from a few years later. The President had two rooms in the Tower, the ordinary place for the head of a college.
'Round the quadrangle were 20 sets of rooms each of which was to be occupied by a Fellow and his discipulus; all of these are approached from the quadrangle and the entrance to every staircase is within view of the study window of the President's Lodgings in the Tower. The only living rooms outside the quadrangle were the Cloister Chambers between the chapel and the garden, which seem to have been occupied by the Readers or used as guestchambers, this block was possibly not included in the first plan, as it was not completed until after the opening of the college. It must have been finished by 1521, for the Tower Books record in 1521–2 the sum of 3½d. spent on the furniture for the cubicle of Dr. Vives.' (fn. 45)
As in all other colleges, the statutes forbade ball games in the college for fear of injury to windows, walls, and roofs; but Dr. Milne points out that in the accounts of 1551–2 there is an item of 6d. for making the tennis-court door; he suggests that 'it may have been where the Gentleman Commoners' buildings now stand, as there are some traces of older walls there'. About the same time there are entries for the purchase of arrows. There seems to be no evidence to show when the attics were added in the quadrangle. They are shown in Loggan's drawing with dormers facing outwards and invisible from the quadrangle. In New College, All Souls, St. John's, and elsewhere, attics were made about the years 1570 to 1600 and it was probably the same at Corpus. It was found to be a cheap and simple method of adding chambers to the college. Batdements were added in 1625 and about 1737 another story was made on the north and west side of the quadrangle by carrying up the outer walls to include what had been attics in the sloping roofs. In 1804 the inner walls of the quadrangle were faced with Barrington stone; (fn. 46) in 1935 these walls were again partly refaced, the battlements were removed, and the gargoyles recarved. The sundial in the middle of the quadrangle was set up in 1581 from the design of Charles Turnbull, (fn. 47) a member of the college; a perpetual calendar was added on the pillar in 1605, and the sundial was restored at the same time as the quadrangle in 1935–6.
The chapel projects from the SE. corner of the quadrangle. It is now entered under an archway in the east corner of the south side. The vestry originally adjoined the chapel on the NE. side, leaving only one of the chapel windows visible on the north. (fn. 48) In the building accounts the length of the chapel roof is given as 'xxti yardis and one foote', exactly 10 yds. shorter than the present length, 91 ft. Wood (fn. 49) mentions the alterations in 1675–6: 'The floor was paved with black and white marble, the roof painted and gilded, new stalls and a screen of cedarwood set up, the inner chapel lengthened towards the west, and more room made in the outer, by taking short the east end of the library that looked into it.' Therefore the original measurement is not to be emended to 'xxxti yardis', nor to be wholly explained by the frequent inaccuracy of early measurements: the length of the chapel probably was 61 ft. or thereabouts, i.e. the two easternmost bays. This probably formed the original choir. The third bay from the east probably had a roof of the same pitch, since the window in this bay had its ledge heightened to fit the stalls which were put up in 1675–6, and is uniform with the four easternmost windows of the choir, though not spaced evenly with them. This bay, though not included in the 61 ft. of the original chapel roof, probably formed an antechapel with the same pitched roof. The statutes prove the existence of an antechapel, since they forbid members of the college to walk about in the nave when they should be taking part in the offices of the choir, and we are told of the existence of altars to St. Cuthbert and the Holy Trinity, for which there would be no room in the choir. They probably stood in the antechapel, backed against the choir-screen. It is probable that the entrance to the chapel was originally by a door in the north wall, of which part of the jamb still remains, at present concealed behind the organ-case in the antechapel. It is not impossible that there was also an entrance at the west, in the same position as the present door and through a low narthex underneath the east end of the library that was 'taken short' in 1675–6: the great arch in the south side of the quadrangle seems to imply that the chapel was always entered through it. The vestry was probably taken down in 1675–6; at present the antechapel is used as a vestry. The eagle lectern inscribed 'Joannes Claymond, primus praeses' was no doubt either the gift of the first President John Claymond (d. 1537) or a memorial to him. The altar candlesticks were given in 1726 by Sir William Morice, bart., of Werrington. The east window of the chapel was blocked up in order to receive a copy of Guido's Annunciation by Battoni, presented in 1796 (fn. 50) by Sir Christopher Willoughby of Baldon. This was replaced by a Rubens Adoration of the Shepherds, given by Sir Richard Worsley in 1804, when Willoughby's picture was removed to Baldon Church. The upper lights of the window were opened in 1931 to contain a memorial window, from the designs of Mr. H. A. Payne, to Charles Plummer, formerly scholar, fellow, and chaplain of Corpus.
The library occupies the upper floor of the entire south side of the quadrangle. In the college building accounts the length of the library roof is given as 20 yds. 2 ft. This is 17½ ft. shorter than it is to-day. The library seems gradually to have extended its way westward. The arrangement of the shelves is studied and explained in The Chained Library, p. 154, by Dr. Streeter, supplemented by an article by J. R. Liddell in The Library for March 1938. On one point Dr. Streeter is mistaken. He conjectures that the library was not glazed, but the founder's statutes (cap. 42) lay down that students must take care that the windows are not left open lest the glass or the books suffer damage from wind or rain, and the Libri Magni has many references to accounts for glazing. For a series of recent discoveries in the books contained in the library see Dr. Milne's Early History of C.C.C., pp. 37–53.
A house for the President, suitable for a married man, was built on the west side of the college, no doubt in the years 1598 to 1600, when the accounts of the college show that over £300 was spent in building. This must certainly have been the President's house in its first form. In an inventory of 1613 there is mention of a chamber, next to the President's garden, and the matter is settled by a record at the Town Hall. On 20 Dec. 1621 the mayor and corporation, in consideration of the sum of £20, grant to C.C.C. a lease of a lane or void ground between C.C.C. and Canterbury College, measuring 200 ft. north to south and 29 ft. wide, 'together with the messuage lately built upon part of the said lane'; for 41 years, rent 2s. This lease was renewed every 14 years or so to 1878, when the college purchased the freehold. (fn. 51) The language of the lease suggests that this was the renewal of a lease granted before the building of Christ Church, probably in 1522 for 99 years, at a rent of 4d.; a rental of the city properties in 1606, the first rental there is, shows that C.C.C. paid 4d. a year 'for garden ground between the college and Canterbury College'. (fn. 52) This old lane at one time led to St. Frideswide's Meadow, but the gate in the city wall must have been closed at a very early time, perhaps when St. Frideswide's was turned into a priory; but the lane remained as city property. Dr. Fowler proves convincingly that the President still retained a room in the tower until between 1682 and 1684, (fn. 53) and that the college accounts distinguish between camera Presidentis and domus Presidentis up to that time.
Apart from a number of minor alterations there was no serious new building until after the Restoration when a building, which within a century was replaced by the Gentleman Commoners' building, was erected. 'Mr. Rosewell's account of the New Building' shows a number of payments made in 1666, which reached a total of £744 by Feb. 1668. This Mr. Rosewell is no doubt John Rosewell, who was elected fellow in 1656, and was subsequently headmaster of Eton College. Timber was cut and brought from Horspath; Henry Goodson and James Watson were paid £28 15s. for wainscoting the Common Room; Goodson was also paid for chair frames and tables; the carpenter's name was William Belcher. Among the contributors to the building was Thomas Turner, Dean of Canterbury, who gave £40 on 13 Aug. 1667. His son Thomas, who became President in 1687, had been elected a discipulus in 1663. The alterations to the chapel, which Anthony Wood says were made in 1675, were probably the conclusion of the building works which were begun in 1666.
Turner, who was elected President in 1687, was rich and liberal, and within a short while there were building operations again. In Dec. 1689 the Tower Book shows that £300 was spent 'towards the building and repairing of the President's house'. It was then that the wing was made, which projected into the garden, originally a room supported on Doric columns, as shown in the engraving of Skelton of 1726. (fn. 54)
In 1700 repairs began in the chapel and the hall, and the latter was renovated. 'Most of the old members of the College contributed.' (fn. 55) There are estimates from William Townesend and Richard Smith for building work, and from Arthur Frogley, joiner, for woodwork. Frogley was paid £10 for the 'upper table' in the hall, and £20 for four side-tables and £7 'for the 16 foot forms'. (fn. 56) In April 1701 he was paid £226, of which £181 was for '330 yards of wainscot in the hall, and the screen towards the buttery and the passage that leads to the old lodging'. Frogley also agreed to wainscot the President's lodging. Payments were made to 'William Townesend, mason and builder', for carvings in the chapel (probably stone-carving), and Thomas Minn junior was paid £50 towards work done in the chapel. The wood-carving was done by 'Jonathan Mayn carver'; in Apr. 1701 he received £60 for 'carving work done in the college hall' and there were other payments to him. In a letter of Feb. 1702 he says to the President, 'the last time I was at Oxford you ordered me to take the measures of your altar piece'; he now sends a design. 'If you dou your alter pes like this drawin inclosed, you will have as pritey … as any in Oxford and the holl joyner's work and carving work may be done for £150.' The President was not pleased with Mayn, and in a letter of Nov. 1703 to Thomas Gilbert (fn. 57) says 'Mayn is a scurvy rascal and a knave and defrauded Trinity College in his work there'. The accounts were finally closed in April 1706. Of the Fellows' building, formerly known as Turner's buildings, erected between 1706 and 1716, we have little record; as it was entirely the work of the President, its accounts would not come before the college. This monument to the good taste of the period and its improved standard of comfort is said by Hearne to have cost £4,000. There is no evidence to support Horace Walpole's conjecture that Dean Aldrich was the designer. The mason was William Townesend. (fn. 58)
In 1737 the college was again adorned by a new building and again the name of Townesend appears. According to the 'Book of Expenses of Ye Commoners building 1737' among the college muniments, there had been liberal contributions from old members, and before the work was finished £1,768 had been expended; the money mainly went to Mr. Townesend, Mr. Speakman, and Mr. Taylor. In 1741 there is an estimate 'for raising the front of C.C.C. one story higher acarding to a drawing given in', costing £238; this did not mean that new rooms were added to the college, but that the attics in the roof were made into ordinary chambers; there are bills also for inserting 'sash casements' in many rooms, as was done at New College about this time. Another improvement was the making of a chimney in the hall in 1741 together with a marble chimney-piece, and a floor was laid of 568 ft. of 'Portland paving in stone and black marble dotts'. Fowler (fn. 59) remarks that 'hitherto the Hall accounts in the Magni Libri show large payments for charcoal, which must have been burnt in a brazier' in the centre of the hall, the fumes escaping by the louvre. Apparently there was not enough money to complete on the west side what had been done on the north; but
'Mr. Dickins, formerly of this college, having in his will left £600 to the college, to be applied to the new fronting of the side of the quadrangle towards Christ Church, and the President having received a letter from Mrs. Dickins, his widow and executrix, dated 19 May 1748, signifying her desire of having this building finished with as much expedition as might be, called a meeting of the senior fellows, wherein it was agreed to set about the building immediately. And accordingly the President sent for Mr. Tawney, carpenter, and Mr. [William] Robinson, servant to Mr. [John] Townsend mason, who entered into articles to finish the said building for £630, and soon after they went to work, and finished the outside by Michaelmas, and in the winter they finished the chambers within. (fn. 60)
Earlier in the year, shortly before President Mather died, William Robinson had produced an estimate of £335 which 'his late master, Mr. John Townsend, had made for the mason's work in making the west front of C.C.C. in all things agreeable to the north side of the building already done'; the work of Tawney, the carpenter, represents the difference between this estimate and the final cost.
In the second half of the century the building impetus had largely died down, but the panelling of the buttery was done in 1759. (fn. 61) In 1783 the President's house once more was taken in hand. On 28 April 1783, within a month of the election of John Cooke, 'the President, having been requested by the fellows to order a survey to be made of the Lodgings … this day laid before them an estimate of Mr. Pears, an eminent builder in Oxford, for the thorough repair and improvement of them, amounting to £453 12s. 6d., which the gentlemen assembled were pleased to adopt; and Mr. Pears, being present, engaged to complete it by Christmas. But in consideration of these and other heavy charges under which the college now labours it was unanimously agreed to pay every attention to oeconomy and a prudent expenditure of public money.' An attempt to save money by 'an order for the totally abolishing the usually very expensive observation of Corpus day' had to be modified 'in consequence of information received that several quondam members intended to favor us with their company'. (fn. 62) Dr. Fowler says that the dining-room, drawing-room, and front staircase represent the work of 1783, and 'are typical of the slight and unsubstantial building of the period'.
At the beginning of the next century the disintegration of the building stone forced the college to pass resolutions in 1801 and 1804 'to substitute a facing of stone to the walls instead of following the late practice of rough-cast', and 'to new face the inner walls with Windrush or Barrington stone', and to open a subscription for this purpose. By the year 1811 the sum of £1,178 had been subscribed by forty-three old members, and from this fund the ordinary college repairs were defrayed for many years. There was no new building until 1884, when it was resolved to pull down some old houses at the corner of Merton St. and Magpie Lane, and the Ædes Annexae were completed in 1885 from the design of T. G. Jackson. The numbers in the college which had remained at 25 or less from 1760 to 1850 grew rapidly when the old statutes were altered, (fn. 63) and more space was required. What was done in 1885 did not prove to be enough, and in 1927 the annexe was enlarged. Finally, a great addition was made in 1928 by the erection, after the designs of T. H. Hughes of Glasgow, of the 'Thomas Buildings', so named in memory of Emily Thomas, who had given the college £100,000 in 1919. In 1920 T. H. Hughes added another story to the Common Room.