– 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.

Posts tagged “family history

Q&A: the Register

When using the Balliol College Register images online, I am confused by sets of usually 3 initials in parentheses, following the Balliol years in the education section of many entries. What do they mean?

Initials in parentheses are those of that student’s Balliol tutor(s). You can find a list of tutors’ initials just before the Index, and then use the Index to find that tutor’s own entry.

College Register 2nd edition 1833-1933

College Register 3rd edition 1900-1950


Family History enquiries

Looking for information about an individual who may have been a member of Balliol College? Here’s how:famhistenqs3
(1) Balliol biographical research resources – see also the University Archives’ helpful links to several of the same sources.

(2) AE Emden, A Biographical Register of the University of Oxford to AD 1500 (3 vols, 1957) and a supplementary volume 1501 to 1540 (1974). (Print resource only)

(3) Joseph Foster, Alumni Oxonienses 1514-1700 and 1700-1886

(4) Oxford University Archives

(5) Oxford University Calendar and the Oxford University Degrees Office

(6) Oxford Archivists’ Consortium (OAC) – contact details for all college archives and other local resources

(7) Balliol Archivist


Masters of Balliol

It seems unbelievable, but Balliol does not have a complete list of Masters; indeed, we cannot be sure who the inaugural head of house was, or whether he was known as the Master – the title wasn’t used consistently for centuries after the college was founded. Here is what we do know:

in 1283 Robert de Alburwyke. Fellow of Merton 1284, 1286; dead by 1306.

in 1284, 1292 Walter de Fodringeye. Fellow in 1273. Executor of Devorguilla’s will. Canon of Lincoln 1298. His own will was proved 1315.

in 1295 Hugh de Warkenby. Fellow or Master of University Coll. in 1307. Canon of Chichester 1313, Treasurer 1320, 1330.

in 1307 Stephen of Cornwall.

in 1321 Thomas de Waldeby. Living 1359.

in 1324 Henry de Seton. Fellow in 1321. Vicar of Lund, Yorks 1327.

in 1328 Nicholas de Luceby. Fellow in 1321.

in 1329 Richard de Chikwelle.

in 1332, 1337 John de Poklyngton. Fellow of University Coll. in 1340.

in 1340, 1345 Hugh de Corbrigge.

in 1349 William de Kyrneshale. Fellow in 1337.

in 1356 Robert de Derby. Fellow of Oriel in 1360. Junior Proctor 1360. Died 1361.

in 1360, 1361 John Wyclif. Translator of the Bible into English. Died 1384. ODNB.

in 1366 John Hugate. Fellow in 1361.

in 1370, 1395 Thomas Tyrwhit. Died 1395-1399.

in 1397 Hamond Askham. Fellow in 1370.

in 1407 William Lambert. Dead by 1414.

in 1411, 1416 Thomas Chace. Chancellor of the University 1426. Chaplain to Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, 1434. The first part of the College Library was built at his expense, 1431. Died 1449. Master Thomas Chace and the Fellows at prayer are depicted in a window now in the Chapel

in 1420, 1422 Richard Rotherham. Chancellor of Hereford 1422. External Rector of Balliol 1433. Died 1455.

in 1423, 1427 Robert Burley. Rector of St. Nicholas, Abingdon 1430. Vicar of Cumnor 1440. Died 1452-1458.

in 1428 Richard Stapilton. Fellow in 1411. Apparently resigned 1429, but mentioned as Master 1433.

in 1440, 1441 William Brandon. Fellow in 1431. Junior Proctor 1431, Senior Proctor 1432.

in 1450, 1456 Robert Thwaytes. Chancellor of the University 1446. Died 1458.

in 1458, 1465 William Lambton. Fellow in 1446. Junior Proctor 1446.

in 1469, 1475 John Segden. Fellow in 1438. Senior Proctor 1440. Died 1476-1482.

in 1481, 1483 Robert Abdy. Fellow in 1450. Junior Proctor 1456. The second part of the College Library was built by him. Died 1483: buried in St. Mary Magdalen (memorial brass, now lost). Will dated 7 April 1483, proved at Oxford 12 July 1483.

in 1484, 1495 William Bell. Fellow in 1467. Will dated 4 May 1495: requested burial in St. Mary Magdalen.

in 1496, 1511 Richard Barnyngham. Fellow in 1486. Died by 1515.

1512-1518 Thomas Cisson. Fellow in 1495. Died 1526-1543.

1518-1525 Richard Stubbes. Fellow in 1510. Died 1525-1529.

1525-1539 William Whyte. Resigned, probably under duress. Will proved 1547.

1539-1545 George Cotes. Fellow in 1522. Fellow of Magdalen Coll. 1527. Junior Proctor 1531. Bishop of Chester 1554. Died 1555.

1545-1547, 1555-1559 William Wright. Fellow in 1527. Resigned, probably under duress. 1559.

1547-1555 James Brookes. Fellow C.C.C. 1532. Bishop of Gloucester 1554. Judge at the trials of Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer. Zealous Romanist. Died in prison 1560. Buried in Gloucester Cathedral (no monument). ODNB.

1559-1560 Francis Babington. Fellow of St. John’s Coll. Cambridge 1551. Fellow of All Souls in 1557. Proctor 1557. Rector of Lincoln 1560-1563. Died abroad, about 1569. ODNB.

1560-1563 Anthony Garnet. Fellow in 1551. Resigned 1563. Living 1597, then a prisoner in Marshalsea Debtors’ Prison.

1563-1570 Robert Hooper. Died 1570-1571.

1570-1571 John Pierse. Fellow of Magdalen 1545. Bishop of Rochester 1576, Salisbury 1577. Archbishop of York 1589. Died 1594. Memorial in York Minster. ODNB.

1571-1580 Adam Squier. Fellow 1560. Proctor 1567. Resigned 1580. Dead by 1588.

1580-1610 Edmund Lilly. Fellow of Magdalen 1563. Proctor 1573. Vice-Chancellor 1585, 1595. Buried in St. Mary’s, Oxford, 1610.

1610-1616 Robert Abbott. Born Guildford. Fellow in 1581. Bishop of Salisbury 1615. Died 1617. ODNB.

1617-1637 John Parkhurst. Born Guildford. DNB says his election was part of a campaign to secure the Tisdale benefaction (his wife was a Tisdale). Fellow of Magdalen 1581. Proctor 1597. Died 1639. ODNB. Will: Berks. Died and buried at Shillingford, Berks. where he was Rector.

1637-1648 Thomas Laurence. Born in Dorset. Fellow of All Souls in 1618. Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity 1638-1648. Expelled 1648. Died at Colne, Somersham, Hunts, 1657. ODNB.

1648-1651 George Bradshaw. Fellow in 1633. Nominated Master by the Parliamentary Visitors, 1648. Resigned, 1651.

1651-1672 Henry Savage. Fellow. Nominated Master by the Parliamentary Visitors 1651. Author of the first College History 1668: Balliofergus. Portrait in Hall. Died 1672. ODNB. Will: OU Chancellor’s Court. Buried in Chapel.

1672-1678 Thomas Goode. Fellow in 1629. Canon of Hereford 1660. Buried in Hereford Cathedral 1678 (no memorial). ODNB.

1678-1687 John Venn. Son of Simon Venn of Lydeard St Lawrence. Vice Chancellor 1686. Died 1687. Buried at Lydeard St Lawrence 12 Oct 1687: table top tomb in churchyard south of the tower. Not to be confused with the homonymous regicide.

1687-1704 Roger Mander. Vice-Chancellor 1700. Died 1704. PCC will. Buried in Chapel, where there was a stone.

1705-1722 John Baron. Vice-Chancellor 1715. Died in College 1722. Buried in Chapel, where there was a stone.

1722-1726 Joseph Hunt. Buried at King’s Sutton, Northants 1726; his father’s burial place Burghclere, Hants is mentioned in his PCC will. Hunt was born and baptised there.

1726-1785 Theophilus Leigh. His election was controversial. Vice-Chancellor 1738. Died 1785. Buried at Adlestrop.

1785-1798 John Davey. Blundell Fellow 1752. Died 1798. Vicar of Bledlow, Bucks; buried there.

1798-1819 John Parsons. Fellow 1785. Gave the lead in establishing University Honours Degree examinations, and in the opening of Fellowship examinations. Vice-Chancellor 1807. Bishop of Peterborough 1813. Buried in Chapel 1819 (memorial survives, now in the Antechapel). Portrait in Hall. ODNB.

1819-1854 Richard Jenkyns. Fellow 1803. Vice Chancellor 1824. Largely responsible for the opening of Scholarship examinations, 1827. Dean of Wells 1845. Died in the Master’s Lodgings 1854. Buried in Wells Cathedral. (His original monument has been replaced by a floor slab). Portrait in Hall ODNB.

1854-1870 Robert Scott. Fellow 1835. Dean of Rochester 1870. Died 1887. Portrait in Hall. ODNB.

1870-1893 Benjamin Jowett. Fellow 1838. Regius Professor of Greek 1855. Vice Chancellor 1882. Died 1893. Buried in St. Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Oxford. Bust in the College Office, portraits in Hall, Library etc. ODNB.

1893-1907 Edward Caird. Snell Exhibitioner 1860. Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Glasgow 1866. Died 1907. Buried in St Sepulchre’s Cemetery, Oxford. Portrait in Hall. First lay Master. ODNB.

1907-1916 James Leigh Strachan Davidson. Fellow 1866. Died 1916. Buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford. Portrait in Hall. ODNB.

1916-1924 Arthur Lionel Smith. Fellow 1882. Died 1924. Buried in Holywell Cemetery, Oxford. Portrait in Hall. ODNB.

1924-1949 Alexander Dunlop Lindsay. Fellow 1906. Vice-Chancellor 1935. Founder, University of Keele. Died 1952. Portrait in Hall. Bust in Library. Lord Lindsay of Birker,1945. ODNB.

1949-1965 Sir David Lindsay Keir. Fellow of University Coll. 1921. Vice-Chancellor, Queens University, Belfast 1939. Portrait in Hall. Died 1973. ODNB.

1965-1978 John Edward Christopher Hill. Fellow 1938. Portrait in Hall. ODNB

1978-1989 Anthony John Patrick Kenny. Fellow 1964. Portrait in Hall. Knighted 1992.

1989-1994 Baruch Samuel Blumberg. George Eastman Visiting Professor 1983. Portrait in Hall. Nobel Laureate.

1994-2001 Colin Renshaw Lucas. Fellow 1973. Vice-Chancellor 1997-2004. Knighted 2002. Portrait in Hall.

2001-2011 Andrew Winston Mawdsley Graham. Fellow 1969. Acting Master 1997-2001.

2011-      James Drummond Bone. Snell Exhibitioner 1968. Professor, Dean and Vice-Principal, Glasgow. Principal, Royal Holloway. Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of London. Vice Chancellor, University of Liverpool.


Q&A access to college collections and using archives for historical research

Q: I need to use primary sources for my essay/dissertation. Are there interesting sources in College archives? Where do I start?

A: The Lonsdale Curator is always glad to hear from students and tutors and to discuss potential sources in the College archives and elsewhere. At the moment I have students working on club and society records, the Swinburne Papers, the Jowett Papers and the Urquhart Papers. While college libraries are normally open only to members of that college, college archives and manuscript collections are open to anyone with a bona fide research question that requires access to the original source material. Primary sources are very exciting, but they are not always the most efficient way to get distilled information – after all, the reason or method in which the information was originally gathered and recorded, whether 25 years or a century or more ago, may well have had nothing to do with the kinds of information you want to get out of that record, or the way we think about it now. So make sure you exhaust secondary sources first – someone may have done a lot of the legwork for you!

Here’s something I prepared earlier about using archives for historical research:

These readings are recommended for anyone planning any type of research project that will require consultation of archival or manuscript material.

  • from the Institute for Historical Research – article
  • from the University of London Research Library Services – article
  • Archival Research Techniques and Skills – student portal
  • University of Nottingham: Document Skills – Introduction

A few notes:

  1. Plan ahead.
    • Many archives are not open full time and have very limited space for researchers; it may take some time for the archivist to answer your enquiry, or to get a seat, so plan your visit in advance.
    • Make sure you need to see the original material (see below), and if you do, that you are as prepared as possible.
  2. Do your secondary reading first, and find out which of your primary sources have been published, edited, calendared or indexed.
    • You will need that information in order to engage fully with the primary sources and make the most of your valuable research time.
    • Secondary sources often cite relevant primary sources and their locations.
    • Published sources may be available to you more easily and with less travel than original ones.
    • You will be better equipped to make enquiries of and ask for assistance from archivists and manuscript librarians.
    • The professionals you deal with will be able to tell whether or not you are well prepared, and you are likely to get more detailed responses if your enquiries are well informed. If it’s clear you haven’t read basic printed sources, they are quite likely to send you away to do that first. If you ask for primary sources which have been published, you will be given the published version.
  3. Use the online archive networks.
    • There is an ever-increasing amount of information online about archives, from general national databases to subject-specific portals. A few of the networks are listed here.
  4. Ask for help.
    • You are not expected to know everything about where to find primary sources. It’s more complicated and less systematic than identifying published sources, and archivists and curators are specialists in this kind of lateral thinking. (But do your homework first!)

Q&A – tracing living Old Members & their families

Q: Can you put me in touch with an Old Member of Balliol or descendants of a past member?

A: We are not able to give contact details or any other personal information about any living Old Member of Balliol, or their families, to any third party, but our Alumni Officer will do her best, within reason, to pass on letters for those for whom we have current contact details.


Q&A – Jane Austen & Balliol

Q: What was Jane Austen’s connection with Balliol?

A: No personal connection; her great-uncle Theophilus Leigh (1693-1784) was Master of Balliol 1726-1784. Her father and her two eldest brothers were undergraduates at St John’s College, Oxford, and her maternal grandfather was a Fellow of All Souls.


Q&A: founders’ kin

Q: I believe I’m a descendant of the Balliols; how can I find out more about the family?

A: We have some Balliol family history and a list of sources for further reading on the Founders page. Caution: the Balliol name in the founders’ line died out in the Middle Ages, and not all Baileys are descended from the Balliols.