Charles James Lever.

The King's scholars and King's Hall : notes on the history of King Hall, Published on the six-hundredth anniversary of the writ of Edward II establishing the King's Scholars in the University of Cambridge online

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Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe King's scholars and King's Hall : notes on the history of King Hall, Published on the six-hundredth anniversary of the writ of Edward II establishing the King's Scholars in the University of Cambridge → online text (page 1 of 8)
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C 2 bJ^ fi3H



Seal of King's Hall



Notes on the History of Kings Hall,
published on the six-hundredth anni-
versary of the writ of Edward II
establishing the Kings Scholars in the
University of Cambridge.

Printed Privately.




The Writ of Edward II, 7 July 131 7 .
The Collegiate Movement at Oxford and Cambridge
Establishment of the King's Scholars, 13 17 .
Object of the Foundation .....

Connection with the Court

Scheme of the Foundation .....
Allowances and Emoluments : Robes and Beds

The Journey to York, 1319

Establishment of a Library, circ. 1325 .

Payment through Sheriff Unsatisfactory .

Edward II Recognized as Founder. Annual Exequies of

Commission of Enquiry, Edward III, 1332 .

Over-due Payments Settled, 1335 ....

Purchase of King's Hall by Edward III, 1336

Charter of Establishment, 1337

Financial Position . . . .

The House and the Assignment of Chambers

All Saints' Church used by the Society .

Purchase of Property Contiguous to the Hall, 1341

Commission on Endowment and Statutes, 1342

Scheme of Endowment by Edward III .

College Chests for Loans to Students, 1349, 141 2

The Black Death, 1349, 1360

Services of Powys to the House

Inventory of Goods, 1361 — 62

Growth of the Library .

Development, 1369 — 77 .

Status of Early Scholars .

New Buildings Commenced

Confirmations of Previous Grants, 1377, 1399, 14 13

Statutes of Richard II, 1380

Knowledge of Scholastic Latin required for Admission
Commission of 1383 : the Warden Removed .
Bursars and Stewards. The College Seal
Customs of the House ......

Connection of the House with the Official Classes
Custom Introduced of Scholars Resigning in favour of New













Scholars 32




Pensioners Admitted as a Favour .

The Library, Catalogue of, 1390

The Rebuilding of the College, 1375 — 1438

The Wardens, 1391 — 1448

The Inception of FitzHugh .

Henry VI, Gifts by, 1440

The Conduit Tapped, Arrangement Approved

Status of Scholars. Non-residence .

Audit by Exchequer Abandoned, 1446 .

Over-lordship of the provosts of Eton and King's Colleges, 1447 — 62

Provision of Robes Commuted for a Money Payment, 1448 .

Independence of King's Hall Restored, 1462.

Connection with the Official Classes Increases

The Wardens, 1463 — 85

Plans for Extension .....

Erection of Chambers and the Great Gate
The Wardens, 1485 — 1546 ....
Donations by Members .....
Inventories of Plate, Chapel Goods, Utensils, etc.,
Notices about Special Pieces of Plate

Loan to the King, 1524

Revenue : Emoluments of Warden and Scholars,

Public Lectures, 1535

The Act of 1544

Commission Appointed January 1 546 ■ .

Report of the Commissioners ....

Report Presented to King, March 1546.

Henry VIII Decides to Found a New College at Cambridge

Scheme Drafted, April 1546

Site of the College to Include the Site of King's Hall .

Area of Great Court of Trinity College Acquired and Enclosed

Cost of Proceedings May to Michaelmas, 1546

King's Hall Surrenders its Charters, 28 October 1546 .

King's Hall Dissolved, 17 December 1546 ....

Trinity College Founded, 19 December 1546








Appendix I. Statutes of 1379

Appendix II. Expenses in the matter of the Appropriations

Felmersham and Grendon, 1365 — 66.
Appendix III. Grant of the Patronage of King's Hall, 1447
Appendix IV. The King's Hall Account Books .
Appendix V. The Wardens, 131 7 — 1546 ....




ftfje Ittng's £>cf)olars3 antr King's J^alL

Six hundred years ago, on 7 July 131 7, the anniversary
of his accession to the throne, Edward II issued a writ*
to the sheriff of Cambridgeshire directing him to pay out
of royal moneys in his hands the sums necessary for the
maintenance in the University of Cambridge of certain
scholars whom the king proposed to send there. From
these scholars in due course arose the medieval college of
King's Hall, whose courts and property were, on its sup-
pression in 1 546, assigned to Trinity College. The history
of the site and buildings of King's Hall has been told once
for all by Willis and Clark in The Architectural History of
the University of Cambridge^, and to their account there is
nothing material to add. With that important exception,
the other salient features of the history of the King's
Scholars, and of King's Hall with brief references to its
buildings, are here shortly set out as far as the scanty
records now at our disposal permit. For information
about these records — and in particular about the King's
Hall Books — the writer of this sketch is greatly indebted
to friends who have freely put at his disposal their know-
ledge of the subject. Without such assistance this booklet
could not have been put together on its present lines.

At the beginning of the fourteenth century, one of
the urgent problems at Cambridge and Oxford was the
provision of homes and guidance for deserving secular

* It is printed in the Cambridge Documents^ Published by the Royal Com-
missioners, London, 1852, vol. I, pp. 66-67. This work is hereafter referred to
as Cambridge Documents.

| This work is hereafter referred to as Architectural History.
R. B. 1

•2f :..: //.. ... : KING'S HALL

students. The earliest foundation of this kind at the
universities was due to Walter de Merton who in 1264
made arrangements for the support of twenty scholars at
Oxford vel alibi ubi studium vigere contigerit ; he purchased
property for them at Cambridge as well as at Oxford, but
in 1274 they definitely settled at the latter city. Merton's
foundation served as the model on which numerous colleges
were subsequently established at both universities. The
foundation of Merton was followed at Oxford by University
College in 1280 and by Balliol College in 1282, though in
both cases scholars of these Houses had been supported
by endowments at an earlier date ; and then, before the
middle of the fourteenth century, came the foundation of
Exeter College in 13 14, of Oriel College in 1326, and of
Queen's College in 1341. The same movement developed
more slowly in Cambridge. If we leave out the possible,
but speculative, connection of Merton with Cambridge, the
earliest attempt to solve the problem here was that made
by Hugh de Balsham, bishop of Ely, who provided for the
maintenance of monastic and secular students as two sides
of a single foundation. The arrangement worked badly,
and in 1284 the combination was dissolved and Peterhouse
founded for the displaced secular students. The King's
Scholars whose history we have to trace date from 13 17 ;
and subsequently in rapid succession followed the founda-
tion of Michael-House in 1324, University (later Clare)
Hall in 1326, King's Hall for the reception of the King's
Scholars in 1337, Pembroke Hall in 1347, Gonville Hall
in 1348, Trinity Hall in 1350, and Corpus Christi College
in 1352 : we need not continue the list further.

There may have been discussions before 131 7 on the
maintenance by the king of scholars at Cambridge, but the
writ of 7 July in that year is the earliest record of the royal
intentions on the subject. Two days later the first ten
scholars, with John de Baggeshot their warden, arrived in


Cambridge, and took up their residence in a house hired
for them at the expense of the crown. More scholars
followed, and in or before 13 19 the number had risen to
thirty-two, which throughout their history remained the
normal number on the foundation. King's Hall was pur-
chased for them by Edward III in 1337, and was thence-
forward their permanent home. The names of all those
who are known to have been scholars from 1317 to 1546
have been published in the first volume of the Admissions
to Trinity College*, and probably that record is almost

The object of the foundation was to provide a home for
students who entered the University with the object of
preparing themselves for future work in church and state,
and never in the history of the Society does there appear
to have been any desire for the scholars to take a prominent
part in academic work as such. The class of students
selected for admission, and the periods for which their
names were kept on the boards varied at different times,
but always we believe the primary object of the Society
was to train men for the service of the country : thus
we come across instances of leave of absence granted to
scholars to attend missions abroad, and in later times we
find some of the senior scholars engaged in public affairs
and constantly non-resident.

The connection of the scholars with the court was
always noticeable, and it is well at once to state this, for
it coloured all the history of King's Hall and differentiates
it from that of other collegiate foundations at Cambridge.
The warden was directly responsible to the king : the office
was in the personal gift of the reigning sovereign, and,
unless the appointment by letters patent specified otherwise,
was vacated by the demise of the crown. The scholars
were appointed by the king under the privy seal, but
* This work is hereafter referred to as Trinity Admissions.


doubtless nominations were largely subject to the control
of the warden, and through him royal wishes in the matter
were made effective. We may assume that nominations
went by favour, and that there was no enquiry as to the
order of merit of candidates who were qualified for admis-

From the statutes given to the House in 1380, which
are set out below, it appears that, at any rate by then,
scholars on entry were required to be at least fourteen
years old, acquainted with Latin, and of sufficient know-
ledge and ability to pursue their studies in any faculty
selected for them by the warden. The educational course
was that enjoined by the University, and unless a scholar
died or left for any good reason the assumption, at any
rate at first, was that he remained in residence for some
years or until he obtained outside work or ecclesiastical
preferment. According to this scheme, the members were
of all ages from fourteen upwards, living a common life,
and practically forming one household. The senior scholars
occupied the position of fellows in modern times. Of the
customs and government of the House we shall speak later.

The warden and scholars were housed and maintained
at the royal expense. As we have already stated, they
lived for the first few years of their history in hired houses,
the rent being paid by the crown, but in and after 1337
they occupied collegiate buildings formally assigned to
them. The allowance for commons and maintenance was
calculated at ^d. a day (for a few years it was 3^.) for the
warden and 2d. a day for each scholar in residence, this for
the normal foundation required ^103. Ss. ^d. a year. At
first the allowance was paid by the sheriff of Cam-
bridgeshire from the proceeds of his bailiwick ; this
arrangement, however, proved unsatisfactory, and early
in the reign of Edward III the crown assigned to King's
Hall definite sources of income from which the expenses


were met. Out of this income a common table was main-
tained, and each scholar was given, by way of pocket
money one noble (6s. Sd.) twice a year*, namely on
Assumption Day, 15 August, just before the Stourbridge
Fair, and at the Feast of the Conception, on 8 December,
presumably to facilitate purchases of things not provided
by the Society. For some years shoes were also given to
the scholars, but in time this custom was abandoned : there
is no doubt that the scholars in the later years of the
Hall came from a richer class than was the case at its
foundation, and perhaps this accounts for the cessation of
the provision of shoes.

The warden and scholars further received regularly
from the royal wardrobe gowns and fur, or their equiva-
lents in money. The warden had at first two sets of robes
a year, one trimmed or lined with fur for winter use and
the other with linen for summer use, but early in the
history of the Society he was given in lieu thereof a cash
payment of £5. 65-. Sd. a year, a sum not far short of
double the rental of the premises originally occupied by
the Society. This sum is still paid every year by the
Treasury to Trinity College. A set of robes seems to
have included a body-coat or tunic, a gown or tabard, a
hood, and perhaps breeches. Thus Simon de Bury, when
warden, received in 1325, for his robes a tunic, a long
tabard with budge, and a chaperon, that is a hood which
could be pulled over the head in lieu of a hat. Until 1448
the gowns and fur for the robes of the scholars were given
in kind, usually once a year at Christmas ; after that year
the scholars received a money payment instead of the robes.
The length of cloth given for a set of robes was about
7 ells, that is, if we take an ell as being 45 inches, about

* Though not material to our story, it may be interesting to note that there
is an entry in the account-books for 1522 that Mr Belt had received two bad
nobles which the College agreed to change if he demanded it.


9 yards, but the width of the piece of cloth is not known.
At the distribution in 1337, thirty-five scholars received
252! ells of cloth which gives on the average just over
9 yards of cloth for each scholar. At the distribution in
1330, forty-three scholars received between them 13 lengths
of cloth, 43 lambs' furs, and 5 hoods of white budge : from
this it would seem that a length or roll of cloth contained
about 30 yards. Budge was made from sheep's wool and
was used for the hoods of the legists or students of law : thus
Thomas Powys on 24 August 1330 when he began to read
law received 7 ells of cloth, fur for his coat and long
tabard, and a hood of white budge. Lambs' skins were
used for the hoods of students in the other faculties. Some-
times this gives an indication of the studies of the men.
Thus at the distribution in 1338, twenty-nine scholars
received gowns, tabards with fur, and lambskin hoods,
while five scholars received gowns, long tabards with fur,
and budge hoods, and one scholar, Richard de Wymondes-
low, received a robe as a doctor of laws.

In addition to this annual distribution of robes or
materials for robes, a scholar on first commencing residence
received, from the crown, robes and a bed. In a few
cases particulars are given: thus on 11 July 1326 Aymer
Symeon, on nomination to a scholarship, received a warrant
for 7 ells of blue cloth and a lamb's skin to provide a gown
and fur of the suite of the King's Scholars, and in 1330
Henry de Chesterfield, on nomination to a scholarship,
received for his bed, 8 ells of canvas, 12 ells of linen,
and a bed-coverlet of worsted; while in 1331, Simon de
Bury, on appointment as warden, received for a bed " suit-
able for his estate," 2 1 ells of linen cloth, 1 2 ells of canvas,
and a pillow of green worsted.

The Society began its corporate life in 13 17. A little
more than two years later, on 7 December 13 19, the warden
and scholars were ordered to spend the coming Christmas


with the court, then at York. The details of the journey
have been printed, and form an interesting record of the
method and cost of travelling in medieval times. It will
suffice here to say that for the purpose of the journey the
Society was divided into two sections both of which started
from Cambridge on 20 December. One party, comprising
the warden and six of the scholars, went on horse-back and
arrived at York on Christmas eve ; they paid £1. 3s. \d. for
the hire in Cambridge of seven hackneys, and were allowed
lod. a day for each member of the party for travelling
expenses. The remaining twenty-six scholars travelled
under the care of one of their number, John de Aston, and
their journey occupied nine days : they took with them
y\ rolls of red cloth which had cost no less than ^21. 2s. 6d.,
2 1 lambs' skins and 6 budge skins which together had cost
£3. 195". 6d. They spent the first two days in travelling
by boat to Spalding ; the next day they went, some on
horse-back and some in carts, to Boston ; the next two
days were occupied in going by boat to Lincoln where they
spent Christmas-day ; on 26 December they went by boat
to Torksey, and thence on 27 and 28 December by boat
to York.

The cost of the journey of the twenty-six scholars came
to £4. 5s. S^d. made up as follows : — On 20 December,
hire of boats 5s. od., porterage 2d., bread is. yd., beer
2s. od., herrings is. od., hard fish and codlings is. 4^., fuel
and candles /\d. ; total us. $d. On 21 December, porter-
age 2d., bread is. $d., beer 2s. 2d., herrings is. yd.,
cheese 3d., fuel and candles S^d., beds Sd. ; total 6s. S^d.
On 22 December, hire of carts 2s. od., hire of hackneys
35-. od., bread is. 4^., beer is. lid., herrings 2s. 3d., fuel
and candles $d., beds Sd.; total us. yd. On 23 December,
hire of boat 55-. od., straw ^d., porterage 2d., bread is. 6d.,
beer 25-. yd., meat 2s. \d., hens is. 6%d., fuel and candles
6d.; total 13s. n%d. On 24 December, porterage 3d.,


bread is. 2d., beer 2s. od., herrings 2s. id., eels gd., fuel
and candles 6\d., beds 8d; total ys. $^d. On 25 De-
cember, bread is. ^d, beer 2s. id., meat 2s. 3d., hens is. i\d.,
fuel and candles y\d., beds 8af. ; total Ss. o%d. On 26 De-
cember, hire of boats 2s. Sd., porterage 3^., bread is. Sd,
beer 2s. 3^., meat 25. 1^., eggs yd., fuel and candles 4^.,
beds 8d. ; total 10s. 6d. On 27 December, hire of boat
6s. od., porterage 2d, bread 15. yd., beer 2s. 6d., meat
is. 10^.; total 12s. id. On 28 December, porterage 2d,
bread is. cW., beer is. $d., herrings is. \d. ; total 3s. 11^.
The total for the nine days was £^. 5s. 8\d., and this was
repaid to the warden from the royal exchequer on 3 1 De-

There are no records of the expenses of the Society
during the time the members were at York ; but pre-
sumably while there they were treated as members of the
royal household. Their visit, however, was not devoid of
incident, since a warrant was issued against at least one of
them for having joined with the prior of the preaching
friars of Pontefract in an assault on a certain William
Hardy. The lad was left behind at York and there dis-
appears from our history. Two other members of the
House were also left in the city, of whom probably at least
one was concerned in this disturbance. One new boy was
admitted at York. These changes reduced the numbers
to thirty-one. Of these, twenty-one came back to Cam-
bridge on 20 January, while the warden and the remaining
nine scholars arrived on 9 February, and from these dates
their stipends in Cambridge during the Lent Term 1320*
were reckoned.

We are told that at some time after 1321 Edward II
gave the Society certain books of the laws and canons, from
which we may infer the establishment or existence of a

* All the dates here given are reckoned in the modern style, taking the
year as beginning on i January.


library for the use of the scholars — a valuable institution
when books were so rare: later, perhaps in 1332, these
books were taken away by his mother who claimed them
as her property. Save for this incident, we have little or
no information as to whether or how the founder in-
terested himself in the Society.

The original arrangement was that the sheriff was,
at intervals, to pay the warden the sums due for the
maintenance of the scholars and get receipts showing the
number of men in residence throughout the period covered
by the payment. This worked badly, for the sheriff had
insufficient moneys to meet all the claims on the royal
moneys in his hands. Those who did not continually press
their claims were not paid, and to get the money due to
him the warden had frequently to go to the king to get
letters to the sheriff ordering him to pay up. This arrange-
ment continued, however, through the reign of Edward II.

It is said that it was the intention of Edward II to
build a College for the reception of his scholars* and to
incorporate them, but, if so, his plans miscarried, and from
a writ of 14 December 1326 it would seem that towards
the end of his reign the payments by the sheriff to the
scholars had fallen into arrear. There is, however, no
doubt that Edward II was regarded in the medieval
University as the founder of King's Hall. Thus until
the dissolution of the House it celebrated each year on
27 December in its chapel or parish church his exequies
as founder, and similarly the University celebrated them
on 5 May in its churchf.

* C. H. Cooper, Memorials of Cambridge, Cambridge, 1861, vol. II, p. 194.
This work is hereafter referred to as Cooper's Memorials.

f Singulis annis quinto die Maii sero et in crastino in mane conveniant
universi regenles in ecclesia Beatae Mariae ibidem celebraturi pro anima domini
regis Edvardi de Carnarvan fundatoris Aulae Regiae istius universitatis
devotas exequias cum toto officio mortuorum expleturi (from the ancient statute
De Exequiis): see Cambridge Documents, vol. I, p. 405.



Edward III, who ascended the throne in January 1327,
took throughout his reign a warm interest in his father's
foundation at Cambridge, and his name is inseparably
associated with the history of King's Hall which he pro-
vided as the permanent home of the King's Scholars.

In October 1332, the king gave the scholars ^10 as
compensation for the loss* of the books taken from them
by his mother. Earlier in this year, on 2 April, he
appointed commissioners to remove from the Society those
members who were unfit to pursue the university course,
as also those who were sufficiently beneficed f . We do not
know what was the result of this enquiry, but the warden,
John de Langetoft, must have been held to blame, for on
9 November 1333 he was replaced by Thomas Powys who
held the office until his death in 1361.

At this time there were still constant pecuniary diffi-
culties owing to the fact that the funds in the hands of the
sheriff were insufficient for the proper endowment of the
scholars. Various writs for the payment of arrears due
to them were issued, but finally, on 26 January 1335 the
Royal Exchequer was ordered to pay £&p for wages to the
Society — the sheriff not having enough out of the issues
of his bailiwick J. Probably this cleared matters up to date.

In 1336, the question of giving the Society a permanent
home of its own was taken in hand. On 28 October of
that year the king purchased from Robert de Croyland,
rector of Oundle, a large house built on the ground now
occupied by the walks and grass plot in front of the chapel
of Trinity College. It has been suggested that this was
the house that had been previously hired for the scholars
(at a rent of 5 marks, that is, £$. 6s. Sd. a year) and was

* Cooper's Memorials, vol. 1 1, p. 194.

f Cambridge Documents, vol. I, p. 9; Rymer's Foedera, London, 1704-1735,
vol. II, pp. ii, 831.

\ Cambridge Documents, vol. I, p. 10.


thus already in their occupation : this is possible but it
cannot now be proved or disproved, though the ascription
to Edward II of the title of founder of King's Hall and not
merely of the King's Scholars strengthens the view that the
house occupied by the scholars in his reign was that later
known as King's Hall. The site was bounded on the east
by the tenements of Edmund de Walsingham and William
atte Cunduit, situated in the High Street (now known as
Trinity Street), which have since been replaced by the
Great Gate and adjoining buildings ; on the west by an
open landing place or wharf known as the corn-hythe ; and
on the south by a narrow lane, called later the King's
Childer Lane, which ran to the river from the High Street
passing to the south of the present Great Gate *.

By letters patent f, dated 7 October 1337, the king, to
the honour of God, the Virgin Mother, and all the Saints,
and for the weal of the souls of his father, himself, his wife,
his children, and his forefathers, established in perpetuity
in the University a College of a warden and thirty-two

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Online LibraryCharles James LeverThe King's scholars and King's Hall : notes on the history of King Hall, Published on the six-hundredth anniversary of the writ of Edward II establishing the King's Scholars in the University of Cambridge → online text (page 1 of 8)