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names thus recorded refer to Cambridge graduates in days long before our earliest
Grace Books.

Of such miscellaneous records, strange to say, one of the earliest is found in a
very unsuspected quarter, viz. in the Pleas of the Forest. At a court held at Huntingdon,
July 1, 1286, an enquiry was held as to infringement of the King's right to exclusive
hunting in the 'warren of Cambridge,' i.e. in the extensive unenclosed lands around
the town. A number of instances are cited of those who had hunted hares there
when 'they were scholars at Cambridge.'

Actually the earliest known brief list of scholars — also one of offenders who obtained
the King's pardon — is printed in Fuller's History, p. 29. The names are those of
'Southern' — i.e. south of the Trent — students who had taken part in a formidable
riot against the Northerners, in 1261.


So much for the sources from which our approximate list of Cambridge students
has been obtained. We have purposely been rather explicit in description, because



most of these records are but little known to historians in general. We must now say
something about the various sources to which we have appealed for the purpose of
identifying our students, that is, of determining their subsequent careers.

Ordinations. Till very recent times the clerical career has always been the domi-
nant one at our Universities. It is very important therefore to procure a list of the
ordinands at the various diocesan registries. There are several reasons for this. In
the first place, though the County Histories generally give the names and dates of
institution to the livings, the identification of the incumbent is necessarily, in most
cases, mere guess-work, as the age and degree are seldom assigned. Again, a large
number of the clergy never obtained a living. Many of them died young ; others had
to be content with curacies or domestic chaplaincies ; some went abroad.

The help afforded by appeal to the Bishops' x ordinations is therefore obvious. For
one thing, whereas an incumbent may be of any age from 23 upwards, the ordinand
is almost invariably within a year or two of the canonical age. And, better still, from
a date varying in the different dioceses, the college and degree of every applicant are
assigned, and his signature recorded in the Subscription Books. In some cases, for
instance in the early post-Reformation ordinations at London, the parentage and birth-
place of the candidate are specified.

It is much to be wished that we could have secured lists of ordinations of Cambridge
men from every diocese. This has indeed been practically accomplished in the case
of two Colleges, Christ's and Caius, but the labour and cost of such an undertaking
for the whole University have proved quite insuperable. It must be remembered that
besides the remuneration of the transcriber, fees are sometimes demanded which are
practically prohibitive. Still we have succeeded — largely owing to the kind help of
several beneficent local antiquaries, whose names are gratefully recorded later on — in
securing the majority of the available ordinations of all the dioceses which principally
concern our Cambridge students ; viz. those of Ely, Lincoln, London, Norwich and
Peterborough; with a considerable number from Carlisle, Durham, York and
Rochester. The Western and Southern dioceses were, in early days, mainly Oxonian.
On the whole, we reckon that these volumes contain, at a rough estimate, over
10,000 ordinations, very few of which have yet appeared in print, except in the
recent biographical histories of Caius, Christ's and St John's.

Even after our own lists commence many new names are to be found in the Bishops'
Registers. That is, the ordinands did not graduate or matriculate, nor do their names
occur in the extant College registers. But the Bishop and his chaplains can hardly
have been deceived on such a subject, so we have always included them. Similar
remarks apply to the claim of an unsupported degree. Not unfrequently a candidate
for orders is described as B.A. or M.A. when no such degree is recorded. There is
no reason to suspect fraud here. The degree may have been conferred, and the Regis-
trary have neglected to enter it in his books. But, more frequently what was meant
is probably this: that the man had satisfied the requirements as to standing, etc., and
had received the testamur from his College, but that owing to illness or absence had
not been actually admitted to a degree by the University.

As regards those ordained without a degree, it may be remarked that the current
phrase, still in use, of ' literate ' as applied to them is of old standing. An equivalent

1 Till lately this help has been strangely neglected. When compiling the Caius College Biographical
History, the editor enquired of one Diocesan registrar, who was something of an antiquary, as to
the extent of such records in his diocese, and was informed that he did not suppose that they had any
in existence prior to 1780.


phrase, in the Lincoln diocese, in Elizabethan times, was 'bred in the schools.'
During the latter half of the sixteenth century many were thus ordained after a year
or two of study at the University.

Institutions to Livings. How are we to procure a list of Incumbents? The only
really complete way of doing this is to appeal to the original authority, that is, to the
Episcopal registers of the various dioceses. But this is a laborious process, and in
some cases, owing to the demand for fees, an expensive 1 one. Fortunately, however,
in the case of the best County Histories, it has already been done for us. This method
possesses several great advantages. In the first place, the Bishops' registers generally
date from a very early period, far back in the fourteenth or even thirteenth century.
Then, again, they commonly assign the University degree, if any, and state the cause
of vacancy, whether by death, resignation, or deprivation, of the previous incumbent.

But there is an alternative plan, and to those who have to work under commercial
conditions, the only alternative plan. This is, to appeal to the First Fruit, or Institu-
tion Books, at the Public Record Office. These date from 1535, when Henry VIII
appropriated the ' first-fruits ' paid to the Pope, on institution to a living. The main
defect of these lists is their incompleteness. That some livings, of small value, were
excused first-fruits is well known, but it does not seem to be realized what a large
number, from one cause or another, escaped this tax.

It was to these lists that Mr Foster appealed. He had a complete transcript made,
arranged the names alphabetically, and then compared his results with the Oxford
lists. His plan was, on the whole, very satisfactory, as those who have consulted his
work will admit, and it was certainly economical. It was to this catalogue, compiled
by Mr Foster, that we had fully expected to have access — it is still in private hands —
but in this we have been disappointed. We have therefore had to take the more
laborious course of consulting the various County Histories, and, where these failed,
consulting the First-Fruit books at the Record Office, appealing to the kind help of
local antiquaries, consulting parish and other topographical magazines, etc.

The result on the whole is — as in the case of our total University membership list
— that though we have had to undergo a very great and unexpected amount of labour,
yet we have been rewarded by a correspondingly increased amount of valuable results.
We may fairly claim that — at any rate so far as concerns the Eastern and Northern
parts of England, which were the principal recruiting grounds for Cambridge — our
identifications of University incumbents is decidedly more complete than are those
of the Alumni Oxonienses.

If it be asked what proof we have of the truth of our identifications, the answer
must be frankly given — that it is to some extent guess-work. Of course practical
certainty can be attained in many cases : the name may be a very peculiar one ; the
degree may be decisive; the birth-place, parentage, or patronage may give a useful
clue. Above all, we have the assistance, in our case, of many thousands of recorded
ordinations ; and we have the help (which Foster had not) of being able to compare
our lists with those of the sister University. The reader will notice that we have em-
ployed a graduated scale to indicate the degree of uncertainty in the doubtful cases —
'one of these names,' 'perhaps,' 'probably.' To many enquirers any indications such
as these will be of service.

It may be pointed out here that there is a method available in the doubtful cases
for those who are willing to take the trouble of employing it. In every diocese the

1 At one registry there was a charge of six shillings and eight pence an hour, and no relaxation
was made for those whose object was purely historical or literary.

v.a.c. b


Bishop holds a Visitation from time to time, at which all his clergy are required to
attend and exhibit their letters of orders. The results are, or should be, recorded in
the Bishop's Register. Take this example. We find that one John Ward was appointed
rector of Billockby, Norfolk, in 1673. So far as the name goes he might be anyone of
a dozen at Cambridge or Oxford; or he might not have been at either University.
It would hardly be worth while to mention him under the vague description, ' one
of these names.' But the Visitation of 1677 states that he was ordained priest at
Norwich, Jan. 5, 1672-3; the Bishop's Register states that this ordinand was B.A.
of Jesus College; and the Jesus books give us his parentage and birth-place. Of
course this elaborate enquiry is not always available: in many cases the requisite
data are missing. But it is well to know that our ecclesiastical records — where they
are extant — contain a clue to the puzzle. Even that elusive being, John Smith, can
thus be securely gripped, if only the apparatus is in working order.

Inns of Court. Until recent years, the clerical career accounts for much the larger
proportion of our students, especially of those who graduated. Indeed it would hardly
be too much to say that, during the seventeenth century, the odds are almost ten to
one that a man who had proceeded to the M.A. degree either had taken, or eventually
did take, holy orders. But many of the sons of the country gentry of course entertained
no such prospect. Their typical career — following the precedent of Mr Justice Shallow
and his friends — was to reside for a year or two at the University, and then to enter
at one of the Inns of Court. Sometimes they became barristers and followed the legal
profession, but, more often, their only object was to secure some qualification for the
post of justice of the peace in their own county. We have had accordingly to search
the admissions at the four London Inns. Those of Gray's Inn and Lincoln's Inn
offer no difficulty, as they have been published; and there are, for the former,
Mr Joseph Foster's commencement of an annotated list in his Collectanea, and
those of the Inner Temple have been published down to 1660; for the later
admissions we have to thank the great kindness of the Rev. T. C. Dale, of Clapham,
who has searched the books for all the entries which concern Cambridge. For the
Middle Temple, the librarian, Mr C. A. Bed well, has kindly come to our help. He
has examined the sheets as they were printed, corrected them, and supplied the names
of those students whom we had not secured.

Of course these are only admissions. It is much to be wished that there were some
accessible list of those who were eventually called to the Bar, and therefore adopted
the Law as a profession, so that the list of these might be complete.

Probate Registries. In the volumes of the Record Society a large number of Calen-
dars of early wills have been printed. These, together with those published by various
local societies have been frequently consulted, and much information obtained. In
particular, we must mention the vast assemblage in the Prerogative Court of Canter-
bury, which commence in 1388. Thanks to the indefatigable kindness of Mr J. Chal-
lenor Smith, late of Somerset House, we have been favoured with many references
to, and extracts from, the wills in this and other collections.

Naturally, for our purpose, one of the most useful of these Calendars is that of
the Cambridge Vice-Chancellor's Court— summarily indicated in these volumes as
' V.C.C.' This court had the supervision of the wills, not only of actual members of
the University, but also of the various townsmen — college-servants, tradesmen, etc. —
who were affiliated to the University. The earliest of the series now existent is dated
1501; the latest 1765. They naturally contain much useful information, and they


occasionally supply names as to which we have no other record. Unfortunately, at the
time of the reform of the Probate Registries in 1858, these wills were removed from
their ancient and natural repository in the University Registry, and transferred, to-
gether with those of Ely, to Peterborough. Many of the more important of these wills
were transcribed or summarized by Thomas Baker, the antiquary, and are to be found
amongst his MSS. at the British Museum or the Cambridge University Library.
It may be remarked that this court is an ancient one. For instance the will of John
Wulpit, preserved in the treasury of Queens' College, is described as proved in the
Chancellor's Court, 1441.

Specification of Schools. It is a valuable feature in several of the Cambridge
College admission registers that the school at which the student was educated is
mentioned, and in many cases the name of the master is recorded. In the case of the
Caius register — much the earliest and best of those in existence — the inclusion of
this information is due to the express enactment of John Caius himself. The result is
that from 1560 onwards we have a mass of scholastic information which it is safe to
say can be acquired from no other source in England. In the third volume of the
Caius Biographical History will be found a list of about 1900 schoolmasters, drawn
from the admissions to that College alone down to the year 1800. The value of this
information is obvious, even in the case of the great historic schools of England, since
few, if any, of these have a complete register of their early scholars. In the case of the
second-rate schools such knowledge becomes still more important, as their history, in
many cases, has never been written; sometimes the date of their foundation, and the
names of most of their masters are unknown.

Perhaps the most interesting fact which emerges from consideration of these data
is the proof of the existence, three or more centuries ago, of many scores of schools
scattered in villages and small towns all over England. We cannot, of course, assert
that all these were 'schools' in a technical sense; that is, with a special building, some
endowment, and a succession of masters. Some may have been the private venture of
an individual, very likely the parson of the parish. But the fact remains that every
boy, even in the remotest part of the country, could find a place of education in his
own neighbourhood competent at any rate to fit him to enter College. In those days
some fair knowledge of Latin was imperative. Whatever they learnt at their village
seminary they must have come up prepared to hold their own, or at least to compete,
with the boy from Bury St Edmunds or Norwich, from St Paul's or Merchant Taylors'.

It would be an interesting enquiry for the local or parish historian to ascertain what
has become of these various schools. Some, of course, through the luck of an adequate
endowment, have risen to great things. Several of our now flourishing ' public schools,'
do not appear — so far as University evidence affords a clue — to have differed materially,
two or three centuries ago, from a number of their now extinct or insignificant rivals.
A small fixed or dwindling endowment has probably been the cause of decay of these
latter. It is not at all unlikely that the change of popular sentiment which now so
generally insists that the sons of the well-to-do shall be educated apart from those of
the poor, in some big boarding school in the country, has cooperated here. It takes
a large area to supply an adequate number of the former class. Which of the competing
schools should be starved out of existence, as feeders of the University, in consequence,
would depend upon endowment or skilful head-mastership.

Change of Style. We have adopted in these volumes, of Part I which ends with
the year 1 751, what is the only correct and unambiguous course in dealing with events



which occurred between Jan. i and March 24, inclusive, viz. that of assigning the
double date, e.g. Jan. 30, 1648-9. This means that the day in question would, by our
reckoning, be assigned to 1649, but at the time was assigned to 1648.

The principal difficulty one has to face is this. In taking a date, from an ordinary
history of the popular kind, we often do not know what the author means. Has he
simply copied some contemporary record — parish register, tombstone, etc. — or has
he tacitly substituted the modern reckoning? Wherever we can determine which
he has done we have substituted the double date in order to avoid confusion. Some-
times, however, this is not possible, and then we have to leave the exact date ambiguous.
Thus, when any one is said, in these volumes, to have died ' Feb. 15, 1615/ it is meant
that we simply do not know whether this should stand 16 14-5, or 161 5-6. A number
of these puzzles have been left us, the Dictionary of National Biography itself being
a not-infrequent offender.

It is especially necessary to call attention to this question of ambiguity of date
owing to the fact that the B.A. degree was almost always taken in January. For in-
stance, Richard Bentley graduated B.A. in Jan. 1679-80, and M.A. in 1683. The
printed Graduati simply gives these dates as 1679 and 1683; incidentally making it
appear that four years intervened between B.A. and M.A. instead of three and four
or five months. But the reader must not infer from this that in using the Graduati he
has only to add on a year to make the date correct according to modern reckoning.
Unfortunately this simple rule does not hold good. Not all the B.A. degrees were
taken in January, but only about nine-tenths of them. The remaining tenth, technically
called Ad Baptistam degrees, were taken after March 25, when there is no difference
between the old and the new style. Borlase, in the Graduati (1659-1823), makes no
distinction here, but adheres to the old style throughout.

Signatures. These are not unfrequently enquired after, for purposes of identifi-
cation, especially by American genealogists. The answer is rather disappointing.

1 . The only early general lists of signatures are to be found in the Subscription
Books for degrees, where the candidates were required to sign their acceptance of the
Royal Supremacy, and of the formularies of the Anglican Church. These commence
in 1618; are interrupted between 1642 and 1660; and continue thence till 1870, when
the tests on ordinary graduation were abolished. Generally speaking, therefore, the
signature of any graduate between those dates will be found. This includes the in-
corporations and the mandate, or 'honorary' degrees.

2. Another series, commencing 1662, includes all fellows of Colleges. This was
required by the Act of Uniformity of that year. It continued till 1870.

3. At the present time every student has to sign his name at Matriculation. This
is not an ancient practice, as it only commences in 1724. In old times the signing was
done by the prelector, who sent in the names of candidates of his own College to the
Registrary. But this is little loss, for the signature of a boy of 14, or even younger,
would be of very little use for subsequent identification.

4. The above refers to University sources. As regards the various Colleges no
brief account can be given beyond saying that no signatures are to be found of
ordinary students, and very few of the scholars ; but that those of most of the fellows
can generally be found by searching the gesta of College meetings, and the various
official account books.

Relationship. It will be noticed that we have taken considerable trouble to assign
the relationship between the various students. This will save the searcher much labour


in the case of the commoner names, where the related members may be far separated
in our lists. Academic education in England has always been to a considerable extent
influenced by family sympathy and tradition, and so we find generation after genera-
tion resorting to the same University and often to the same College; the occasional
breaches of continuity being sometimes due to the local accident of some school or
county providing a scholarship at some particular College.

Whilst on this subject the compilers cannot forbear remarking that they believe
their case to be unique so far as England is concerned, as they represent respectively
the eighth and ninth generations, from father to son, who have graduated: — the first
three at Oxford, the last six at Cambridge. It may be added that it was the accident
of a local endowment — a scholarship at Blundell's School, Tiverton, Devon, for
Sidney Sussex College — that diverted the stream from Oxford to Cambridge. Another
very remarkable case is to be found at Harvard College, U.S.A. Two generations of
Saltonstalls graduated at Emmanuel, and no less than seven of their successors, from
father to son, have followed at the American University.

Proper Names. Owing to the extraordinary variety in the spelling of the names,
we have had to adopt, for Part I, i.e. the earlier part, the following plan. As regards
surnames the only satisfactory method is to group together those which may reasonably
be called the same, but to preserve in each case the spelling actually given on the first
occasion, or, in the case of famous men, the spelling by which they are best known;
and to make free use of cross-references. The lexicographical purist who insists on
names being spelt ' as they are given,' and indexed accordingly, does not understand
his work ; or at any rate does not appreciate how much labour he might save the reader.
When the variations of a name are dispersed in an index the searcher has to consult
page after page in order to make sure that he has them all, and he can never be sure
that the man he wants is not lurking under an alias with another initial letter. Take
the case of Dr Caius. In contemporary records he appears under ten, or more, forms.
The earliest of these are Kees and Keys, as, presumably, his father spelt the name.
But of course we have entered him as Caius. We have added plentiful cross-references
which should assist in directing searchers to the right place in the case of even the
most valiantly spelled names.

As to Christian names the case seems different. Here there is what may be called
a right and a wrong way, and we have adopted the ordinary spelling. But it must be
confessed that the common practice of Latinizing names sometimes gives trouble.
What about 'Jacobus,' for instance? Is he James or Jacob? It is impossible to say,
unless we can track him into common life, and find him clothed in ordinary English.

Place Names. Place names also have caused vexation, especially those assigned as
the birth-place of a student. We have done our best to determine them from gazetteers
and local histories, but they are sometimes probably mere hamlets or manor houses.
When not identifiable we have left them as given, draping them with inverted commas.
In olden times dialectic differences must have aggravated the difficulties of the scribe ;
the southern prelector or registrary having to interpret the utterances of his pupils,
say, from Yorkshire or Cumberland. As to recognized parishes two points may be
noticed. In not a few cases the modern rendering differs appreciably from the old
one. In that case we have given it as it occurs in Crockford or the Clergy List. Where
the county boundary, in reference to a parish, has been changed, as occurs from time
to time, we have adopted the present assignment.

Emigrants to New England. Every one knows how keen is the interest, felt

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 2 of 155)