Cambridge University



[Transcribed from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland 1868]
by Colin Hinson ©2013

"CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY, a parish in the town of Cambridge, Cambridgeshire. The foundation of this University, or of the school of learning out of which it ultimately grew, is a matter still involved in uncertainty. That in the 7th century a school on the model of some in France was established by Sigebert, King of the East Angles, is related by Bede in his "Ecclesiastical History." It has been conjectured that Cambridge was the seat of this school, and that Edward the Elder restored and extended it after the invasions of the Danes, building halls and appointing teachers." (There is more of this description).

[Transcribed and edited information from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868]

Archives & Libraries

  • The Archives of the University of Cambridge
    • Details of the history and the holdings of the Archives of the University of Cambridge can be found in "The Victoria History of the Counties of England - A History of Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely - Volume III" , pp.327-329

Description & Travel

  • Cambridge - University
    • "The origin of this University has been the subject of much controversy: it is generally stated that Sigebert, King of the East English (629-35), was the first person of influence who fostered learning in this place: to this, Bede says, he was guided, as to many other works of piety, by Felix, the first Bishop of Dunwich, who presided over the churches of East England from A.D. 630 to his decease in A.D. 638. During the Danish invasions, about 871, the town was burnt, and the progress of learning here arrested; but the University was re-established by Edward the Elder in 915; and a further revival took place in 1110; Henry III about 1230, granted a charter to the University, but its most important privileges were bestowed by Edward III in 1333: Letters Patent were granted by Henry VIII in 1534, and a charter by Queen Elizabeth in 1561; and later the University was incorporated by Act of Parliament, in 1571 (13 Eliz. c. 29): its statutes have been revised on several occasions, and were altered to a very considerable extent under the " Cambridge University Act, 1856" (19 and 26 Vict. c. 88): new statutes were confirmed by the Queen in Council, 31 July 1858, under the " Universities' Act, 1858" (21 and 22 Vict. cc. 57 and 58), and the statutes of the University were further revised by the " Oxford and Cambridge Universities' Act, 1877" (40 and 41 Vict. c. 48), and confirmed a new by Her Majesty in 1882. James I in 1614, conferred on the University the privilege of sending two members to Parliament, the right of election being vested in the members of the Senate: all Doctors of Divinity, Law and Physic, and Masters of Arts or Laws having their names upon the register, have votes in this assembly. By Order in Council, 13th May, 1869, power was given to the University to admit as students, and to confer degrees on, persons who are not members of any college or hall.

      The University of Cambridge is a society of students in all and every of the liberal arts and sciences, incorporated, as stated, by Queen Elizabeth, under the title of "The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge." This corporation is a union of seventeen Colleges or Societies, and of certain Masters of Arts and students, who, though not members of any colleges, are members of the larger corporation of the University, and entitled to share in all privileges within its precincts, other than those which are accessible only to members of college. Both this larger corporation of the University and the smaller ones of the colleges are devoted to the study of learning and knowledge, and are intended to promote the better service of the Church and State. All the colleges have been founded since the first year of Edward I. and are maintained by the endowments of their respective founders and benefactors. Each college is a corporation governed by its own statutes, but all are controlled by the statutes of the University.

      The Senate consists of all persons of the degree of Master of Arts and of any higher degree who retain their names on the books (excepting those whose first degree has been that of B.D. under the now repealed " Ten year" statute of Queen Elizabeth), and no new statute can become law without the assent of this body.

      The Electoral Roll consists of certain official persons, including the heads of Colleges and Professors, and of all members of the Senate who live within certain limits of the University and its neighbourhood for 120 days in the year.

      The Council of the Senate, established by 19 and 20 Vic. cap. 88, consists of the Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, four heads of Colleges, four Professors, and eight other members of the Senate, chosen from the electoral roll by the Senate. No measure can be submitted till it has obtained the sanction of the Council.

      The several degrees of the University are conferred upon such persons as are duly presented to the Vice-Chancellor by their respective college officials after satisfying the University Examiners or Professors respectively in the several examinations and exercises required by the statutes of the University, after a statutable residence and a course of instruction, partly under college tutors and partly under the University Professors & c. The college authorities are responsible for the behaviour of students within the walls of their respective colleges; and the Proctors for their conduct outside the colleges and in the University at large. The University Terms are three in number and include 227 days at least: October or Michaelmas Term begins on the 1st October and ends on the 19th December; Lent Term begins on the 8th January and ends not later than the Thursday next before Easter Day; and Easter Term begins no earlier than the Tuesday next after Easter Day and ends on June 24th." [Kelly's Directory Cambridgeshire - 1900]

  • University Buildings
    • "The Senate House, in Trumpington street, erected at a cost of about £20,000, is a structure of Portland stone, surrounded by pilasters of the Corinthian order, supporting a frieze and cornice and finished with a balustrading, each front being also relieved by a Decorated pediment; six ornamental stone vases, completing the original design, were placed above the east and south fronts in 1891, at the cost of the late Samuel Sandars esq. M.A. of Trinity College. The interior, which is ornamented with columns of the Doric order, is 101 feet in length, 42 in breadth, and 32 in height: the galleries are of Norway oak, richly carved, and the floor is of black and white marble; at the east end are statues of Charles, Duke of Somerset, by Rysbrack, and of the Right Hon. William Pitt, by Nollekens: at the upper, or west end, is the Vice-Chancellor's chair, with seats on each side for the proctors, heads of colleges, doctors of the several faculties and noblemen. Here degrees are conferred and other public business of the University is transacted. Members of Parliament for the University are also elected here, the Vice-Chancellor being the returning officer.

      The Fitzwilliam Museum, in Trumpington street, and perhaps the finest of modern Classical structures in this country, was erected in 1837-47 from the designs of George Basevi esq. architect, who being accidentally killed by a fall at Ely Cathedral (October 16th, 1845.), the work was completed by Charles R. Cockerell esq. R.A. the principal front exhibits a grand portico of eight Corinthian columns, the order being continued on each side and flanked by advanced wings, inclosing loggia, the whole supporting a cornice and pediment; the wings and loggia are relieved by niches, containing in bold relief figures of the Muses: the Museum was founded and endowed by Richard Viscount Fitzwilliam, who died in 1816, and bequeathed to the University his splendid collection of books, paintings, drawings and engravings, together with the dividends arising from £100,000 South Sea Annuities for the erection of a museum for their reception; to the above has been added a valuable collection, presented by the late Mr. Mesman to the University: the majority of the paintings in this collection are of the Flemish and Dutch schools; the library contains a collection of engravings, etchings, drawings and illuminated manuscripts and coins (including Col. Leake's collection), which makes the museum, in this respect, one of the most important in Europe: in 1850 John Disney LL.D. presented a valuable collection of ancient marbles, eighty three in number; and in the same year John Kirkpatrick esq. presented a collection of thirty four casts of antique statuary; but these are now in the galleries of the Fitzwilliam Archaeological Museum. The museum has been further enriched by many other valuable presents of paintings, prints, books & c. especially twenty-five water-colour drawings by the late J. M. W. Turner, presented by the late John Ruskin esq. M.A. in May 1861; and thirty valuable modern paintings given by Mrs. Elizabeth Ellison, of Sudbrook Hall, Lincolnshire, in 1863; in 1872, by the will of the late Rev. R. E. Kerrich, the museum acquired seven paintings, 200 volumes of books, together with many portfolios of valuable engravings in 1876, the late A. A. Vansittart esq. presented 17 pictures, including fine examples of Ruysdael, Guercino, Marieschi & c.; other benefactors have been the Rev. J. W. Arnold D.D. in 1859, and the Rev. C. Leasingham Smith in 1878, their gifts including works by Hogarth, Salvator Rosa, Pierre de Molyn, Cooper & c. Fifteen paintings on panel, illustrative of Early Italian Art, were purchased in 1893; these include a Pisan or Sienese Crucifixion of about 1200 A.D. and fine altar retables by Simone Memmi and Cosimo Rosselli. The general management is intrusted to a syndicate, composed of the Vice-Chancellor and eight other members of the Senate. The museum is open to the public every day but Friday (when it is reserved for members of the University and friends accompanying them) from 10 to 4 from the 1st of September to the 30th of April; from 10 to 6 from the 1st of May to the 24th of June; and from 10 to 5 from the 25th of June to the 31st of August.

      The museum of Archaeology, Little St. Mary lane, was opened in May, 1884, and consists of two distinct departments, viz.:- the Museum of Classical Archaeology, an extension of the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the Museum of General and Local Archaeology, founded in 1883. The former occupies four galleries containing over 600 casts, arranged chronologically, each gallery representing, so far as practicable, a marked period in the history of art, and the collection, as a whole, is second only to the famous Museum of casts at Berlin. The latter occupies the four southern galleries, and includes the museum of the Cambridge Antiquarian Society, now known as the Antiquarian Museum and Library, which contains a collection of Roman antiquities from Litlington, Shefford and Great Chesterford. The Ethnological section comprises the important collections formed in the South Sea Islands by Sir Arthur Gordon G.C.M.G. (now Lord Stanmore) and A. P. Maudsley esq. M.A. Baron Anatole von Hugel and others. In 1891 the Foster bequest added over 4,000 specimens of stone, metal, pottery and glass, and the collection of Saxon pottery and bronze ornament is how exceedingly rich. To the Antiquarian Museum nearly 7,000 objects, mostly from Cambridge and the Eastern Counties, have been added since 1884.

      The Museum of Geology, now placed in a suite of rooms under the north wing of the University Library, consists of the original collections of Dr. Woodward, founder of the Professorship, bequeathed by him to the University in 1727, together with the large additions made by the different professors since that time, and especially by the Rev. Adam Sedgwick M.A., F.R.S. professor from 1818 to 1873. The collections are very large, and are chiefly arranged in drawers rather than under glass. For educational purposes and research no other Geological museum equals this, and for general interest it is hardly surpassed even by the National Museum at South Kensington. Amongst other things is a collection made by Agostino Scilla, a distinguished Italian painter, who, in 1670, published a work on fossils, the illustrative sketches for which, made by him, as well as the original fossils themselves, are preserved here. Besides the Palaeontological series there is a fine collection of rocks, and of specimens prepared for the microscope and for illustrating the mode in which the earth's crust has been built up and modified from time to time. There are also many objects illustrating economic geology, the various phosphates exactly assigned to the locality and geological horizon from which they were procured, and an extensive series of polished marbles. A new museum of brick and stone is now (1900) in course of erection, from plans by T. G. Jackson R.A F.S.A. at the north-east corner of the Downing College grounds, at an estimated cost of £44,000, of which some £28,000 will be realised from the fund subscribed in honour of Professor Sedgwick; the remainder is provided for by large sums of money previously presented to the University for the same purpose, viz. a share of the £23,000 subscribed in 1835 for the erection of Cockerell' s building and £4,000 of the Woodwardian trust money laid out upon it.

      The Museums and Lecture Rooms form an extensive range of buildings on the site of the old Botanic Garden, on the north side of Downing street, and include a connected series of museums and lecture rooms for the use of the professors, comprising a museum of zoology and comparative anatomy, physiological and morphological class-rooms, botanical museum and herbarium; surgical museum; mineralogical museum; engineering laboratory, and workshops; optical and astronomical lecture room, chemical laboratory, Cavendish laboratory of experimental physics & c. The museums (which include the Medical and Natural Science Laboratories) are situated in Free School lane and are open to the general public from 9 to 6 daily. The new Chemical Laboratory, in Pembroke street, was erected in 1887, from designs by Mr. J. J Stevenson, based on a plan proposed by Professor Liveing. The ground floor contains laboratories for elementary work and three lecture rooms, the largest room seating 240 and the two others, 60 each; and in addition a preparation room and specimen room: on the mezzanine floor is the private room and laboratory of the professor of chemistry, and a room for organic analysis: on the first floor are the advanced students' laboratories, a laboratory for organic chemistry, balance room, lecture room, and a private room for the Jacksonian Professor: higher up is the library, and one or two rooms for special researches. The buildings for the study of anatomy, in Corn Exchange street, consist of dissecting rooms, anatomical museum and lecture rooms. The University Library, which can be shown to have been already in existence during the first half of the 15th century, occupies that part of the two quadrangles which lies between the Senate House and Trinity Hall. It has been enriched at different times by royal and private benefactors, including King George I. (1715), Thomas Rotherham or Scot, Archbishop of York (1484), Dr. Richard Holdsworth, master of Emmanuel College (1849), Henry Lucas (1664), Tobias Rustat (1666), John Hacket, Bishop of Lichfield (1670), William Worts (1709), John Manistre (1826), Henry Bradshaw, librarian (1886), John Couch Adams, Lowndean professor (1892) and Samuel Sandars M.A. Trinity College: it now contains upwards of 500,000 volumes (being thus third among the libraries of the United Kingdom); the University spends £5,000 a year upon it; and it is continually increased by the provisions of the Copyright Acts, under which the University may claim a copy of every new work published in this country: the building was very considerably enlarged in 1866, at an expense of £14,500, and further enlarged in 1889, at a cost of £16,000, of which £10,000 was derived from a bequest by the late John Hancock esq. some time fellow of St. John's College. The Divinity School, probably the oldest University building in the town, originally stood on the north side of the Schools quadrangle, under the present catalogue room of the University Library, with which it was incorporated in accordance with a report of the library syndicate in the year 1856; in the same year the Rev. W. Selwyn D.D. of St. John's College, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, set apart £700 a year from the income of his chair as an augmentation of the stipend of the Norrisian professorship, proposing at the same time, if the Norrisian professorship should meanwhile become vacant, to continue the same contribution during his tenure of office for the furtherance of theological study in such a way as might seem best: in accordance with this provision a trust was formed in 1864 to receive and administer the sums so set apart with a view to the erection of a Divinity school, and shortly before Professor Selwyn's death (April 24, 1875), when the accumulated fund amounted to nearly £10,000, a site opposite St. John's College was purchased by the University at a cost of £3,750; the building, erected in 1878-9, is in the Gothic style of the 15th century, from the designs of Mr. Basil Champneys M.A. architect, and contains a large lecture room capable of holding about 300 students, a small lecture room, library and four rooms for the professors. In Nov. 1890, the library was augmented by the addition of the library of the late Dr. Lightfoot, Bishop of Durham, bequeathed by him to the Divinity school. The University Pitt Club, Reading and News Rooms, established in 1827, and now occupying rooms at 7 3/4 Jesus lane, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. to members of the University only: it is well supplied with all the principal newspapers and periodicals, London and provincial, and has a good selection of useful and standard works. The Pitt Press, or University Printing Office, on the west side of Trumpington street, and erected in 1831-3 is an embattled structure of three stories in the Perpendicular style, from designs by Mr. Edward Blore, architect, and surround three sides of a square: the principal front is releved by buttresses rising into crocketed pinnacles above the parapet, and in the centre is a large square tower, with a canopied oriel over the entrance, an open embattled parapet and crocketed pinnacles at the angles: the foundation stone was laid in November, 1831, by the Marquess Camden, who also opened the building 30th April, 1833: the University printers are Mr. J Clay M.A. and Mr. C. F. Clay M.A. The Cambridge University Union Society, established in 1815, averages about 4,560 members, 3,220 of whom are life members: the buildings, in Bridge street, are of red brick in the Gothic style of the 14th century, from designs by Alfred Waterhouse esq. R.A.: an addition, containing the library, smoking and tea rooms, was erected in 1884 from plans by the same architect, at a cost of £8,000: the library comprises 30,000 volumes and there are several rooms supplied with all the principal newspapers and periodicals of the day: debates take place every Tuesday evening during term: the society is managed by a committee and certain officers, including a president, who are elected terminally.

      The Cambridge Philosophical Society, established in 1819, was incorporated by charter in 1832, and is managed by a council, consisting of a president, three vice-presidents, treasurer and three secretaries, who are elected in October in each year, that being the anniversary of the society; the meetings are held once a fortnight during term at the New Museums.

      The Botanic Gardens, south of the town, between the Hills road and the Trumpington road, occupy an area of about 21 acres: the garden is well arranged and contains an extensive collection of indigenous and foreign plants: in the centre is a piece of ornamental water, and the whole garden is surrounded by trees and shrubs, arranged in such a manner as to afford the most complete facility for reference: the hot-houses are spacious, and contain a variety of curious and valuable exotics and in 1891 the plant houses were considerably enlarged, at a cost of over £5,000: the whole is under the management of a syndicate, of which the Vice-Chancellor is chairman: the public are admitted free daily, Sundays excepted, and to the hot-houses between the hours of 2 and 5 p.m.; but strangers will readily obtain admission at any reasonable hour by making application to the curator at the gardens.

      The University Observatory, erected in 1822-24, at a cost of nearly £20,000, on the Madingley road, and surrounded by tastefully laid-out grounds, is an edifice of Bath stone, on a plinth of granite, in the Classic style, from designs by Mr. J. C. Mead, of London, and consists of a centre with east and west wings and a pedimented porch carried on pillars of the Grecian Doric order: the principal instruments include a mural circle of 8 feet diameter; there is also a transit clock by Hardy and a very fine transit circle by Troughton and Simms, having a telescope of 8 inches aperture by Cooke and two divided circles of 3 feet in diameter: in 1835 a telescope of nearly 12 inches aperture and 20 feet focal length, with an object glass, by Cauchoix, of Paris, was presented to the Observatory by his Grace the Duke of Northumberland, and is placed under a revolving dome 27 feet in diameter; in 1891 a large equatorial telescope, 29 feet focal length and 25 inches aperture, was presented by the late Mr. Newall, of Gateshead, and in 1899 a telescope of novel form was erected for photographic purposes, with a triple object glass of 12 ½ inches aperture and 19¼ feet focal length, by Cooke, corrected for both visual and photographic work and mounted by Grubb: the Observatory is open to members of the University and their friends daily (Sundays excepted) from 12.30 to 1.30; no strangers are admitted, except in company with a member of the University.

      The University Racquet and Fives Courts, in Portugal street, were built in 1892 by a company, at a cost of £7,000, and comprise two racquet courts, BRIDGE is a municipal and parliamentary borough, head of a petty sessional division, and county court district.

      The University Boat Club contends annually with Oxford in a race, which takes place at Easter on the Thames between Putney and Mortlake: up to the year 1900 Oxford has won 32 races and Cambridge 24." [Kelly's Directory Cambridgeshire - 1900]

  • The Colleges
    • "Colleges are a purely English institution, and although now, for the most part, forming the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, are as an institution not so ancient as the universities. In the earlier times of the universities, the students lived in a way not unlike that of the " non ascript" or unattached students of the present day. After a time, however, halls or hostels began to be formed in which the students lived a more coenobitic life, and by degrees the existing colleges, as one by one they came into existence, superseded the halls, and for some centuries afforded a collegiate life and regime to every member of the two great Universities. In Oxford the difference between a college and a hall is that the colleges are corporate bodies, holding and managing their own property and endowments, the corporation consisting (with only three exceptions in Oxford and none in Cambridge) of a Head, a body of Fellows and a body of Scholars, the Head and Fellows being the governing body. The halls, on the other hand, are not corporate bodies, and any endowments they possess are held in trust for them by the University. In Cambridge there are no halls proper: Clare and Catharine have within the last few years each taken the names, as they already possessed the status, of a college: and Trinity Hall only retains its original name for the obvious reason that a Trinity College already exists. The heads of all the colleges in Cambridge are called Masters, with the exception of those of King's and Queens', who are called respectively Provost and President.

      In most of the colleges the Head is elected by the Fellows: but the Master of Trinity is appointed by the Crown, and the Master of Magdalene by the possessor of the Audley End Estate. The Fellows and Scholars are elected by the Heads and Fellows of the colleges after competitive examinations. Fellowships were originally tenable for life on the condition of celibacy: this condition, however, has been much modified, and marriage does not vacate a Fellowship held in conjunction with a professorship, while in some colleges provision is made for marriage conditionally on the acceptance of a college living within a specified time. Scholarships are usually tenable for about four or five years. The undergraduate members of colleges are called Fellow Commoners, Advanced Students, Pensioners and Sizars. There are Sizarships in some of the colleges, and numerous Scholarships and Exhibitions are open to undergraduates."
      [Kelly's Directory Cambridgeshire - 1900]





You can see maps centred on OS grid reference TL448581 (Lat/Lon: 52.202115, 0.117428), Cambridge University which are provided by:


Military History


Names, Personal

  • Cambridge Alumni Database Alumni Cantabrigienses was compiled by J.A. Venn, a former president of Queen's College. This list of all known students, graduates, and officers at the University of Cambridge offers information from the university's earliest records which date from around 1261. The entire collection contains 10 volumes in 2 sets. The first set covers alumni from the earliest records to 1752 and the second set from 1752 to 1900. The compilation was completed in 1921. Every entry offers important information which may include any of the following: notable accomplishments, occupations, birth date, birth place, other schooling, spouse's name, parents' names, siblings and other important associations. The Alumni Cantabrigienses is searchable on the Internet.

Probate Records

  • Two courts cover Cambridge University as follows:
    • Court of the Chancellor or Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge: Jurisidiction over members of the university and persons connected, even loosely, with the university.
      • Records are with the University Archives in Cambridge University Library. Wills 1501-1765, administrations 1534-1746 and inventories 1498-1761. Published index to wills 1501-1765 (1907) which is not complete. There is also a card index to all records in the University Library.
    • Peculiar Court of King's College, Cambridge: Jurisdiction in the precints of the college. Records are at King's College, Cambridge. Wills and administrations, 1449-1794 (there is no index).


  • Land Tax: records were compiled afresh each year and contain the names of owners and occupiers in each parish, but usually there is no address or place name. These records reside in the Cambridgeshire Archives for the years 1924-35. Return to the Cambridge page