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ECR 60 05

Reference code

ECR 60 05


Appointment of Fellows



Administrative / Biographical history

The Founder had specified that his College should include ten "priest fellows" who were to be "of sufficiency in letters, having skill and ability in reading and singing", Masters or Bachelors of Theology or Doctors of Canon Law (Statute 9). They were to be resident at Eton and a Fellow obtaining a benefice had to resign within a year; accepting a benefice within five miles of the College was forbidden (Statute 25). The original ten Fellows specified by the Founder were reduced to seven following the loss of College income in Edward IV's reign. When Protestant clergy able to marry replaced the celibate Catholic priests envisaged by the Founder, Eton did not require its fellows to resign on marriage; instead a dispensation was obtained from Elizabeth I in 1566 to allow a living to be held in conjunction with a fellowship. The Provost and Fellows appointed the Head Master and were responsible for the seventy King's Scholars but otherwise played no part in the running of the school. Their extensive religious duties largely lapsed with the Reformation although they continued to preach - badly, by later accounts - in College Chapel but their main responsibilities were the running of the estates. The Statutes specified that Eton Fellows were to be elected from present or former Fellows of King's College Cambridge, Eton chaplains or former members of Eton College, although suitably qualified candidates from other colleges or places might be considered. The reduction in numbers, the dispensation, and royal interest all reduced the number of fellowships available to Kingsmen, who protested to the King. In 1636 Archbishop Laud confirmed that five of the Fellows should be from King's College, Cambridge but the Civil War and Charles II's need to reward loyal followers after the Restoration made this something of a dead letter. Troublesome contests for vacant places lead in 1670 to a royal confirmation of Laud's decree and a subsequent order to disregard any letters contrary to it. The Fellows of King's, however, still felt that they were disadvantaged by the reliance of the Eton Fellows of the dispensation of Elizabeth I. In 1814 they appealed unsuccessfully to the Visitor against the practice. As a result of the Public Schools Act of 1868 a New Governing Body with ten members including nominees of the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, the Royal Society and the Lord Chief Justice was appointed. It ran in parallel with the existing College The last of the Fellows appointed under the Founder's Statutes died in 1901 and in 1904 the New Governing Body took over the name Provost and Fellows. These records, however, relate to the unreformed College.


1642 - 1868

Content description

These records relate to Fellows appointed prior to the reform of the Statutes in 1871.

Associated material

ECR 39/170; ECR 39/173; ECR 39/174
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