– notes, frequently asked questions and useful links from the archivist and curator of manuscripts at Balliol College, University of Oxford. Opinions expressed are the author's own.

Balliol Bidding Prayer

The College was established in the first place by philanthropy, and has been sustained by Benefactors ever since. The Bidding Prayer which is reproduced below recites, in the chronological order of their deaths, the names of Balliol’s major Benefactors since the earliest days. It is traditionally read out by the Master in Chapel on special occasions, especially at the service before the annual Gaudy (old members’ reunion, nowadays usually 3 year groups at a time), and on the feast of St Catherine of Alexandria, the College’s Patron Saint.


We render most humble and hearty thanks unto Thee, O Eternal and Heavenly Father, for all Thy gifts and graces most bountifully and mercifully bestowed upon us; and namely, for Thy benefits, our Exhibitions and maintenance here at the study of virtue and good learning, by the liberality of John Balliol and Dervorguilla his wife, Founders of this College; Hugh de Vienne, William Burnell, Sir Philip Somervyle, Sir William Felton, Thomas Chace, William Gray Bishop of Ely, Dr John Bell Bishop of Worcester, William Hammond, Mr Peter Blundell, the Lady Elizabeth Periam, Dr John Warner Bishop of Rochester, Sir Thomas Wendy, Dr Richard Busby, John Snell Esquire, Dr Henry Compton and Dr John Robinson, successive Bishops of London, the Reverend Henry Fisher, the Reverend Thomas Williams and Jane his wife, Dr Richard Prosser, Dr Richard Jenkyns Master of this College, Miss Hannah Brackenbury, Francis Charles Hastings Duke of Bedford, the Reverend Benjamin Jowett Master of this College, Sir John Conroy, James Leigh Strachan Davidson Master of this College, Thomas Allnutt Earl Brassey, Eustace John Jervis-Smith, William Lambert Newman, Kenneth Edelman Chalmers, James Hozier Baron Newlands, Gerard Henry Craig-Sellar, Mrs Charlotte Byron Green, Francis Fortescue Urquhart, Andrew Cecil Bradley, Percy Hide and Anne his wife, Oliver Gatty, Sir Walter Nicholson, Sir George Leveson Gower, Bernard Sunley, Vincent Massey Governor-General of Canada, Vivian Bulkeley-Johnson, Sir Theodore Tylor, Hugh Salvin Bowlby, the Reverend Dr John Stewart MacArthur, Mrs Annie Billmeir, James Westlake Platt, Harold Greville Smith, Roy Herbert Thomson Baron Thomson of Fleet, William Alexander Waters, Ian Robert Maxwell, Sir William Younger, William Appleton Coolidge, Douglas Roy Skinner, John Thomas Hamilton, Sir James Colyer-Fergusson and others our pious benefactors: most humbly beseeching Thee to give us grace so to use them, as may make most for our furtherance in virtue, and increase in learning, for the comfort and salvation of our own souls, and the benefit and edification of the human race, and, above all, for the glory of Thy Holy Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

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