– 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.

Early history of overseas students at Balliol

Copy of cartoon010

 ‘Oxford Types. Balliol’, from a print in the Senior Common Room.

Thomas Shrimpton & Son, stationers of broad Street, sold series of Oxford caricatures, of which this is one example. This one was published in 1882, and alone among the surviving Types contains six figures while the others show one or two. That they are all undergraduates is indicated by the short Commoner’s gown. The older Type on the right probably represented an Unattached Student. Many Unattached (or Non-Collegiate) Students, a category admitted to the University for the first time in 1868, spent five or six terms living cheaply in lodgings or hostels before becoming formally attached to a College and moving into College premises to complete their degree courses. Among them were what would now be called mature students, men in their thirties and forties.

The caricature is reminiscent of the description of the college in 1873 as a medley of ‘Japanese and Scots, Hindoos and Frenchmen, Americans and Englishmen, Brahmins and Catholics, Nonconformists and High Anglicans, Jews and Gentiles… sparks of nobility and artizans; a bazaar of all nations and languages, the whole world in miniature’ (CE Vaughan, ‘Balliol five and twenty years ago,’ Magazine of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire. Vol 11 no 4 (1899), pp.137-145.)

The first American students came to Balliol in the 18th century (Jones p. 165)

  • James Trent (son of William, of Philadelphia), 1717/8
  • Charles Hill (son of Charles, of Charlestown, South Carolina), 1735/6
  • William [Henry] Drayton and his younger brother Charles Drayton (sons of John, of St Andrews, South Carolina), 1761,
  • Phillip Grymes (son of Phillip, of Virginia), 1764
  • Lewis Burwell (son of Lewis, of Virginia), 1765
  • Arthur Mabson (son of Arthur, of Long Island), 1779

The Universities Tests Act opened Oxford to non-Anglicans in 1871. Joseph Foster’s Alumni Oxonienses 1715-1886 includes a final section on ‘Indians, etc’ . The college affiliations speak for themselves. There are in fact 15 Balliol men on the list; Iwakura transferred to Balliol in Hilary Term 1874. Jogendra Nath Sircar (Balliol 1874) should also be on the list.

One more interesting sidelight on overseas students at Oxford, though not related to Balliol, is the ‘Greek College’ for Greek Orthodox students, which functioned under the aegis of Worcester College from the 1690s to 1705.

  • article by Peter Doll about the 2001 conference at Worcester
  • Peter M. Doll (ed.), Anglicanism and Orthodoxy 300 years after the ‘Greek College’ in Oxford (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2006

Published sources:

Jones, John. Balliol College: A History. 2nd ed. rev. Oxford: 2005.

Prest, John. ‘Balliol, for example.’ chapter 5 of The History of the University of Oxford Vol.VII, pt.2: The Nineteenth Century. pp.159ff.

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