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Five hundred copies of this book have been
printed and the type has been distributed.

This copy is &Q>.__?t&&-


C. F. CLAY, Manager














JOHN VENN, Sc.D., F.R.S., F.S.A.,



J. A. VENN, M.A.,








A work with the above title will provoke inevitable comparison with its predeces-
L sor — the Alumni Oxonienses — and enquiry will reasonably be made as to how it
stands, in respect of range and of copiousness of information, when compared with
that well-known work. It is, we hope, no indication of a grudging spirit, if we begin
by insisting on the fact that the difficulties which Mr Joseph Foster encountered, great
as they were, are small in comparison with those which confronted us. It is a bare
statement of fact to say that we had to undertake four or five years of work before
reaching his starting point. As is well known, Colonel Lemuel Chester, the American
genealogist, amongst his numerous and extensive collections, made or procured a
complete transcript of the Oxford matriculations. Mr Foster bought this, after Col.
Chester's death, and used it as the basis of his work. Now the Oxford matriculation
records, unlike those of Cambridge, give, as a rule, the parentage and birth-place of
the student. This list was, therefore, sufficient for his purpose. He was under no
necessity of going behind, or beside, it, by consulting the College Admission Registers.
As regards this part of his work he started with his materials at hand, fully prepared.

A very different experience awaited the Cambridge undertaking. In the first place
the original records of matriculation had to be carefully examined from the commence-
ment in 1544. They had never been transcribed, or even indexed, until Mr Stonebridge,
the chief clerk at the Registry, undertook the work of compiling a preliminary list.
This, of course, had to be verified by comparison with the originals. But more than
this, owing to the scantiness of the Cambridge matriculation records, we found it
occasionally necessary to appeal to the College registers for information. On doing
this, we found, to our surprise, that the cases were very numerous in which a student
duly entered at a College had nevertheless neglected the statutory duty of matricula-
tion. This of course involved the obligation of working through all the sixteen College
Admission Registers. It was well worth the trouble, not only for the number, but
also for what may be called the quality, of the names thus added, as the omissions are
largely found in the case of youths of social or political importance. Such men generally
entered as fellow-commoners, and, as they did not contemplate proceeding to a degree,
they often neglected to matriculate. The monumental instance in point, here, is that
of Oliver Cromwell. He was duly admitted at Sidney, April 23, 161 6, and resided
for a year; but, as he neither matriculated nor graduated, the University, as such,
entirely ignores his presence.

The number of names thus recovered is large. We reckoned that some 3000 in all
were obtained from College sources, and added to the list of those academically
matriculated, between 1544 and 1659 alone. The results of our labours, so far, were
published, in 1913, in the Matriculations and Degrees y 1 544-1 659.

Unless a very different state of things existed at Oxford, which we have no reason
to suppose, the number of Oxonians given by Foster must be seriously defective, since it
rests almost entirely on the matriculation lists. We may therefore fairly claim that,
if we have had a heavier task, we have, in return, obtained a much more complete list
than that of the sister University.

The foregoing remarks apply only to that comparatively later part of University
history which starts with the commencement of the matriculations in 1544. But, as



the title indicates, the scope of our work is considerably more extensive than this.
We have ventured to set before us a much more ambitious aim. This is, in fact, no
less than that of obtaining a complete Roll-call, or list, of all the members of our
University from the earliest date — whatever that date may be, in the thirteenth
century. No such attempt has ever yet been made, we presume, on behalf of any
ancient University; and no such attempt can, we feel sure, from the nature of the
case, ever approximate to complete success. Foster's Alumni does not commence until
1500, and there are not many names in his work between that date and 1570; these
being mostly taken from the Degree lists and Wood's Athenae. Our earliest recover-
able students date from 1261.


Some account 1 must now be given of the various records from which our know-
ledge of the University career of the students is drawn, as these are but little understood

I. The Matriculation Register. By a statute of 1544 every student was required
to matriculate on his entrance to the University. This was on the occasion of his taking
the oath of fidelity to his Alma Mater, a ceremony presumably of very ancient origin,
if not coeval with the foundation of the University, though no earlier records of the
ceremony are preserved. The only exception was in the case of those under 14, who
were supposed not to comprehend the nature of their obligation. They are distinguished
by the term impubes.

As this is the only official record of membership, it ought to be complete and trust-
worthy. Unfortunately it is neither the one nor the other. Very many names of students
who undoubtedly came into residence are omitted altogether. Indeed one negligent
Registrary has emphasized his term of office (1590-1601) by failing to record any
matriculations at all.

The formalities by which the matriculation was effected differ from those now in
vogue. At the present day the freshmen all attend in person at the Senate House, and
there sign their names, before the Vice- Chancellor. In olden times, when the students
were mostly boys, their names were sent in to the Registrary by the prelectors — College
officers with some of the duties of a tutor — and these were copied into the official books
by the Registrary or his clerk. Fortunately most of these prelectors' lists have been
preserved in their original form, so that we have been able to correct, and supplement
deficiencies, by comparison with them. But the consequent labour has been heavy,
as the prelectors scribbled their lists, often almost illegibly, on shabby little scraps of
paper, and the blunders of the copying clerk are numerous, and sometimes almost
incredible in their carelessness. Some examples of the consequent results will be
found further on.

II. Degree Lists. It might naturally be supposed that as the conferring of
degrees is the principal corporate act of a University, the records of these acts would
be fairly complete from the first. Unfortunately this is very far from being the case.
For nearly the first two centuries our history, in this respect, is a blank. We can
find nothing but a casual reference, here and there — in a bishop's register, on a
monument, in a deed, in the Calendar of Papal Letters, and so forth — that the man
in question was a graduate.

1 This account of the University Records is largely re-written from that given in the Introduction
to the Matriculations and Degrees, 1 544-1619.


i. Our continuous records commence with the Grace Books. These exist from
1454 1 to the present day. The first four volumes, labelled A, B, T, A, have been pub-
lished in the Luard Memorial Series. They cover the period 1454-1588.

These books contain two distinct classes of records. There are the 'Proctors'
accounts,' or returns of the fees paid and received for every kind of University work;
and there are the official acts of the University in the way of conferring degrees and
appointments, of public notices, addresses, and so forth. The two series naturally to
some extent cover the same ground; and in the first volume (A) they are mingled
together. B and T, respectively, contain the two series separately, and therefore much
of their information is given twice over. A, and its successors, report only the cor-
porate acts of the University. As in all such documents, there are many omissions ;
that is, in a number of cases' where the University is recorded as having conferred
a degree the proctors have no entry of any fee being paid, or of any ' caution ' (i.e. pledge)
for the performance of the necessary acts having been deposited. And conversely the
proctors often record such payments and deposits when the University has failed to
record a degree. For the purposes of this work, where brevity is necessary, we have
made no distinction here. We have regarded either sort of entry as practical proof that
the degree was conferred.

But, besides the Grace Books, we have two other sources of information as to the
degrees conferred.

2. The Ordo Senioritatis . Cambridge used to boast, until a few years ago, of
being one of the only two 2 Universities in the world which possessed a really ancient
' Honours Examination List.' This was the famous Mathematical Tripos. In its later
stage it was a very rigorous and impartial test of intellectual capacity. It must have
acted as a powerful stimulus, at a time when exertion in general was slackening; and
many a hard-headed youth from the north of England who came to College with little
classical or literary culture, found, in the 'Tripos,' full scope for his native powers.
A long list of Judges and other famous men might be compiled from amongst the
'high wranglers.'

But in its origin — the first extant list is in 149 1 — it is simply what its unvarying
title implies. It was an 'order of seniority.' In a place where many men were in
constant intercourse, and had to take part in processions, compete for appointments,
and so forth, some recognized principle of seniority was desirable. What were the
grounds on which the arrangement was originally made, it is now impossible to say.
In many cases priority was certainly granted to social position : the fellow-commoner,
or young man of family, often stands first. In other cases, as in that of Dr John Caius,
in 1530, it looks as if intellectual pre-eminence was the determining cause. A short
account of the gradual evolution of the ancient Ordo into the later Tripos is given in
the introduction to Grace Book A. It is sufficient to say here that it supplies a second
list which can be used to supplement the list derived from the graces for degrees.

3. The Supplicats. But there is a third list to be considered. Before a grace for

1 As a matter of fact the ' Proctors' Accounts ' are preserved from a slightly earlier date. It is a
pity that these were not included when volume A was published. We have inserted the information
they yield as to degrees.

* The other was the old Catholic University of Louvain destroyed, during the French Revolution,
in 1794. The arrangement of the lists, in this case, seems to have been governed, from the first, in ac-
cordance with the intellectual merits of the candidates. It was really an order of merit. The reason for
regarding the old Cambridge ' ordo senioritatis' as having been abolished in 1909 is that in that year the
arrangement in individual order — the one constant characteristic all through — was abandoned, and the
men grouped in classes.


a degree could be passed, the University required a testimonial from the College
authorities that the candidate had kept the requisite number of terms, and was other-
wise duly qualified. This, which was signed by the College prelector, took the form
of a 'request' for the degree. Hence the name of 'supplicat.' As a rule there is no
need to appeal to these supplicats (they are generally preserved from the latter part
of the sixteenth century). But in years where the degrees are omitted — as happens
occasionally — they become important. As a matter of precaution we have consulted
them throughout.


So much for the principal University records. But, as already intimated, these
give no personal information, beyond the very vague suggestion as to social status,
afforded by the fact of matriculation as fellow-commoner, pensioner, or sizar. It is
from the College Admission Registers, exclusively, that we can obtain such facts as
parentage, birth-place, age, school, and so forth. A fairly full account is given in the
Matriculations and Degrees, of the dates of commencement and fulness of information
afforded by these registers. But enquiries are so often made on this subject, from those
outside, that it will be well to give a brief summary. We have to thank the respective
authorities for permission to publish the contents of these registers, including some
already printed. In the case of the four Colleges which have published their registers
with biographical details we have, of course, only summarized the information afforded,
and acknowledged it under each entry.

(i) Peterhouse. Commences in 1617, and records, from about 1635, the parent-
age and place of education, in many cases. It was published, with many
biographical details, by Dr T. A. Walker, in 1912.

(2) Clare. Commences 1631. Personal details seldom given before 1665.

(3) Pembroke. Commences 161 6. Fairly complete information given as to birth-
place and parentage.

(4) Gonville and Caius. Much the best of the series. Commences 1560, and
contains, throughout, unusually full information. Published, in three volumes,

(5) Trinity Hall. Very late and meagre. Commences 1692, and contains hardly
any facts.

(6) Corpus Christi. The actual register is late and meagre. But Robert Masters,
fellow and historian of the college, collected, from various college records,
the names of all the students whom he could discover from the foundation
in 1352. These are printed, with some biographical notes, in his History
of the College, published 1753 : reprinted with additions by Dr Lamb, in

(7) King's. As is well known, the foundation scholars and fellows, until 1865,
were confined to those on the Eton foundation. Of these there is a complete
list in Harwood's Alumni Etonenses, from 1441 to 1797. By the kindness of
Mr R. A. Austen-Leigh, we have been able to add, in many cases, the age,
parentage and birth-place, taken from the books at Eton. But besides the
Etonians, there were always some outsiders; fellow-commoners, pensioners
and sizars. These have been added, partly from the matriculations, and
partly through the researches of Mr F. L. Clarke, of the bursar's office.

(8) Queens'. The names and county origin, but nothing more, are given,
generally speaking, from 1569.


(9) St Catharine's. Commences about 1627; but is scarcely more than a list
of names.

(10) Jesus. Commences 1618. Gives at first only the name and county origin.
Fuller information does not occur till much later.

(11) Christ's. Commences 1622. Gives, in most cases, full particulars. It was
published in two volumes by Dr Peile in 191 3. He not only gives full bio-
graphical details of all the students whom he could identify, but also gives
similar information about all known members of the College from the
foundation in 1503.

(12) St John's. Commences 1630. Gives full information as to the students. The
publication of this register, with biographical details, was commenced by
Professor J. E. B. Mayor, and continued by Mr R. F. Scott, the present

(13) Magdalene. Commences 1646. Information fairly full.

(14) Trinity. Commences 1635. Records at first only the name of the student.
After 1682 the usual fuller particulars are mostly given. This has been
printed in four volumes, but without any information beyond what is given
in the register. It should be noticed that the first volume contains the names
of students of King's Hall (one of the earlier foundations incorporated into
Trinity, in 1 546) from its commencement or rather from the first appearance
of the 'King's Scholars' in 13 17. This is far the earliest continuous list of
scholars in existence. The accident of its preservation is due to the fact that
the payments for their support were made out of the Exchequer, from
the records of which they were extracted by Mr A. E. Stamp.

(15) Emmanuel. The names of the students are recorded from the foundation
of the College in 1584. But unfortunately no personal details are given
beyond an occasional mention of the county origin.

(16) Sidney Sussex. Commences, with the foundation, in 1598. At first little
more than the name is recorded; but from 1619 onwards it becomes much
fuller. Next to that of Caius, it is the best of the series.

These remarks apply to College records; but there is one serious omission which,
in all likelihood, will never be made good. It is that of the ancient Hostels or Boarding
houses. That these institutions, like every other corporation or common gathering
place of men, must have possessed account books is fairly certain. And it is almost
equally certain that these accounts must have contained the names of the students,
and the sums due from them. Take, for example, Physwick Hostel, which was attached
to Gonville Hall for nearly 200 years. It was far more populous than the Hall, and
though it may not have bred professional theologians to rank with the bishops and
other dignitaries who adorned the predominant partner, it probably ranked higher
in social distinction. This we know indeed to have been generally the case with the
Hostels, the Colleges being by comparison frequented by the poor and industrious
students. Many a younger son of the knights and squires of Norfolk and Suffolk must
have been enrolled for a year or two in Physwick Hostel, but their names can never
be recovered. And this house was but one of many in Cambridge. They died out
rather suddenly towards the middle of the sixteenth century, two or three of them just
surviving long enough to appear in the earliest matriculations from 1544. But, so far
as is known, no trace of any Admission Register, or other contemporary record, of
any one of them has ever turned up in Cambridge or elsewhere.



So far we have been concerned with what may be called the continuous records of
the University and the various Colleges. But these do not carry us back beyond, gener-
ally speaking, the middle of the fifteenth century. For the recovery of earlier names
we are dependent upon various and casual sources of information. We can only mention
a few of these.

i . Episcopal Registers. In the lists of ordinations which these generally contain,
the names of early fellows have been found, definitely assigned to a college or identi-
fiable by a degree. But the number of such is not large. The vast majority of ordina-
tions in which any reference is made to the qualifications of the candidates refer to
the monasteries. The candidates were either monks, or clerks selected by the monastery
to act as curates of the churches which they held as rectors. Their 'title' is stated to
be the monastery. The ' Canterbury and York Society ' has commenced the publication
of a number of the early Episcopal Registers ; and as these are proceeded with much
information may be expected that will be of interest for University history.

Not unnaturally the case of Ely is exceptional. From the earliest date the fellows
of Peterhouse were appointed by the bishop, on the nomination of the College, and
of course their names are duly recorded in the registers. In the case of Gonville Hall
and Trinity Hall, similar information should have been obtainable at Norwich; since,
by the statutes of William Bateman, annual returns were made, both to the bishop
and to the dean and chapter, of every vacancy and appointment. These returns must
have dated from 1350. But unfortunately the authorities in question seem to have
kept a coeval waste-paper basket, for, after careful enquiry, it cannot be found that
any trace of such records is now in existence.

Another class of information in the Episcopal Registers is interesting, and may
prove valuable as more registers are printed. This consists in the occasional licences
granted by the bishop to allow a clerk to leave his parish, for a specified period, for the
purpose of study at the University. For instance, Thomas Aylward, Vicar of Havant,
obtained such leave for 5 years, in 1405.

2. College records or account books. These are the most important sources
of information for the recovery of very early names. But the work of searching them
is laborious, and so far, we believe, only two or three of the muniment rooms have been
systematically examined for this particular purpose. To indicate the kind of material
that may be thus obtained, take the case of Gonville and Caius College. The Computus
Books, or Bursars' accounts, commence in 1423, and continue, with occasional gaps,
to the present day. They yield, directly or indirectly, the names of the fellows and
indicate the commencement and termination of their tenure. Similarly with the
scholars and others on the foundation. Another series of books, now perfect from 1581 ,
gives the names, stipends, and length of residence, of all those who held scholarships.
A third set, called Absence Books, records for many years the exact dates of arrival in
College, and departure, of every one on the foundation. Thus it was found possible
to furnish an enquirer with the exact amount of residence kept by William Harvey,
the great physiologist, during his college career, viz. from 1593 to 1600.

But the most interesting lists contained in these particular account books consist
in those of the Pensionarii, viz. of the students who, not being on the foundation, paid
a 'pension' or rent for their rooms; which was duly entered in the bursar's books.
These lists, at Gonville and Caius College, commence about 1491. The following is
the entry for Lady Day, 15 13.


D 3 Humf. de la Pole debet xii u xvi 9 vii d .

M r Farwell debet xxx s .

Doctor Wright xx s .

M r Harman iii s iv 4 .

M r Repps, monachus, debet pro sua pensione i s viii d .

Monachi Norwicences debent xiiii s .

D s Belham debet iii s iv* 1 .

D s Mayner debet iii s iv*.

D s Brycotte debet iii s .

M r Englysthe debet xxx s .

M r Carman debet vi s viii d .

M r Bolen debet vi s viii d .

M r Knyvet debet vi s viii d .

Monachi de Lewes debent x s .

D s Atherole et D s Crome debent pro 3 terminis x s .

M r Aldrich debet v s .

Some research, it need not be said, is required in order to identify these men, but
what has been ascertained will be found under their names. Several of the monks
who formed a large constituent element amongst these pensioners are mentioned in
the Visitation of their monasteries by the Bishop, as well as by Dugdale, and elsewhere.
It may be remarked that it is almost entirely due to this College entry that these students
can be assigned to Gonville Hall, or, in the case of several, to the University in any
way. When it is remembered that Gonville Hall was one of the smallest in Cambridge,
and that probably most of the other colleges have similar material lying buried out of
sight in their muniment rooms, it becomes plain that a vast amount of fresh informa-
tion will some day come to light.

Another clue to missing names was found by Dr Peile amongst the records at
Christ's College. This was a list of allowances to sick scholars, viz. to those who were
unable to take their meals in the common Hall. As these lists dated from a time prior
to the Matriculations, they supply a number of names not to be found elsewhere.

3. Miscellaneous public documents; Patent and Close Rolls, Papal
Letters and so forth. These contain in the aggregate, a considerable mass of early
information concerning appointments, pardons, indulgences, etc. Not a few of the

Online LibraryUniversity of CambridgeAlumni cantabrigienses; a biographical list of all known students, graduates and holders of office at the University of Cambridge (Volume pt 1 vol 1) → online text (page 1 of 155)