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Image of Detail from College Foundation Charter 1496

College Charter

Royal Letters Patent granted to Bishop John Alcock by Henry VII on 12 June 1496.

Latin text of Letters Patent with standard abbreviations silently expanded

Henricus dei gracia Rex Anglie et Francie et Dominus Hibernie Omnibus ad quos presentes littere pervenerint salutem. Sciatis quod nos tam ex fidedigno relatu Reverendi in Christo patris Johannis, Episcopi Eliensis, quam ex publica que fama accepimus quod domus sive Prioratus Religiosarum mulierum sancte Radegundis de fundacione et patronatu Episcopi ut in iure Ecclesie sue Eliensis ac terre tenementa redditus possessiones edificia necnon res bona iocalia et alia ornamenta ecclesiastica eidem domui sive Prioratui pie et caritative antiquitus data et collata per negligenciam atque improvidam et dissolutam disposicionem et incontinenciam occasione vicinitatis Universitati Cantabriggiensi Priorissarum et religiosarum mulierum domus antedicte in tantum dilapidata destructa devastata alienata diminuta et subtracta existunt ipseque ad tantas inopiam et paupertatem sunt redacte quod divina obsequia hospitalitatem aut alia misericordie et pietatis [opera1] ibidem iuxta primariam fundacionem et ordinacionem fundatorum suorum usitata manutenere et supportare seu seipsas que due tantum numero existunt quorum una alibi professa alteraque infamis existit aliqualiter sustentare seu relevare [non2] valeant set ipsas domum sive Prioratum predictum quasi desolatum relinquere oporteat. Unde idem Episcopus ob maiorem devocionem ac divini cultus et virtutis augmentum nobis humillime supplicavit ut sibi licenciam nostram Regiam quod de domo sive Prioratu predicto mulieres predictas totaliter ammovere [3] et expellere et inibi quoddam Collegium perpetuis futuris temporibus duraturum de novo facere fundare erigere creare et stabilire possit et valeat concedere dignaremur gratiose. Nos igitur premissa ac piam et devotam intencionam ipsius Episcopi intime considerantes intuitu Dei et ob sinceram devocionem quam ad sanctam et individuam Trinitatem beatissimam que virginem dei genitricem Mariam sanctum Johannem Evangelistam atque sanctam Virginem Rad[e]gundem et omnes sanctos gerimus et habemus de gratia nostra speciali concessimus et licenciam dedimus prout per presentes concedimus et licenciam damus pro nobis et heredibus nostris quantum in nobis est eidem Reverendo patri et successoribus suis quod ipse et successores sui Episcopi Elienses ac executores deputati et assignati sui seu eorum aliquis vel aliqui de domo sive Prioratu predicto quoddam Collegium de uno Magistro et sex sociis et certo numero Scolarium in grammatica erudiendorum et ad exorandum et divina singulis diebus infra Collegium predictum pro prospero statu nostro et Elizabeth Regine Anglie Consortis nostre carissime carissimeque matris nostre Margarete atque precarissimorum filiorum nostrorum Arthuri Priomogeniti Principis Wallie et Henrici secundogeniti Ducis Ebor[acensi]um [4] ceterorumque liberorum nostrorum dum vixerimus ac pro bono statu ipsius Episcopi similiter dum vixerit ac pro animabus nostris cum ab hac luce migraverimus ac etiam pro anima precarissimi patris nostri Edmundi Richemond ac pro anima ipsius Episcopi cum similiter ab hac luce migraverit necnon pro animabus Priorum fundatorum domus sive Prioratus antedicti et omnium fidelium defunctorum imperpetuum celebraturum ac alia misericordie et pietatis opera ibidem iuxta ordinacionem et stabilimenta per ipsum Episcopum aut executores seu assignatos suos predictos in hac parte facienda ordinanda et statuenda facere fundare erigere creare et stabilire possint et possit perpetuis futuris temporibus duraturum. Et quod Collegium predictum cum sic factum fundatum erectum creatum et stabilitum fuerit Collegium beatissime Marie Virginis sancti Johannis Evangeliste et gloriose virginis sancte Radegundis iuxta Cantebriggiam in Comitatu Cantebriggie imperpetuum nuncupetur vocetur et appelletur. Quodque Magister Socii et Scolares Collegii predicti et successores sui cum sic ut premittitur erectum creatum factum fundatum et stabilitum fuerit Magister Socii et Scolares Collegii beatissime Marie Virginis sancti Johannis Evangeliste et gloriose Virginis sancte Radegundis iuxta Cantebriggiam nominentur nuncupentur vocentur et appellentur. Ita quod per idem nomen placitare possint et implacitari ac respondere et responderi atque prosequi defendere et defendi in quibuscumque Curiis et locis et coram quibuscumque Judicibus sive Justiciariis spiritualibus sive temporalibus et quod sint unum corpus et una Communitas corporata in re et nomine habeantque successionem perpetuam ac commune sigillum pro negociis Collegii predicti expediendis. Et etiam quod sint persone habiles et capaces in lege ad perquirendum et recipiendum terras tenementa redditus reversiones pensiones annuitates et alias possessiones quascumque a quacumque persona seu quibuscumque personis ea eis dare legare seu assignare volenti [5] seu volentibus. Et quod ipsi ordinaciones statuta et stabilimenta pro bono et sano regimine Collegii predicti concedere facere ordinare et prout opus fuerit stabilire possint et valeant. Et ulterius de uberiori [6] gracia nostra concessimus et licenciam dedimus prefato Episcopo atque successoribus suis seu executoribus et assignatis suis predictis et eorum cuilibet quod ipsi seu eorum aliqui postquam Collegium predictum sic factum fundatum erectum creatum et stabilitum fuerit prefatos Magistrum Socios et Scolares in corporalem possessionem domus sive Prioratus predicti ac omnium et singulorum terrarum tenementorum reddituum serviciorum pensionum porcionum et aliarum possessionum eidem Prioratui antiquitus dat[a] et collata [7] tam spiritualium quam temporalium ac iocalium et ornamentorum ecclesiasticorum quorumcumque eidem pertinentium et spectantium instituere inducere et ponere aut institui induci et poni facere valeat et valeant licite et impune. Habenda et tenenda prefatis Magistro Sociis et Scolaribus Collegii predicti et Successoribus suis Magistro Sociis et Scolaribus eiusdem Collegii ad sustentacionem suam et ad alia misericordie et pietatis opera iuxta ordinacionem ipsius Episcopi aut successorum suorum vel executorum sive assignatorum suorum predictorum vel eorum alicuius in hac parte facienda in liberam puram et perpetuam elemosinam imperpetuum. Et eisdem Magistro Sociis et Scolaribus quod ipsi Prioratum sive domum predictum ac omnia et singula antedicta terras tenementa redditus servicia pensiones porciones annuitates et alias possessiones quascumque et cetera premissa cum suis pertinenciis a prefato Episcopo seu executoribus sive assignatis suis predictis recipere acceptare habere et tenere sibi et successoribus suis Magistro Sociis et Scolaribus Collegii supradicti ad sustentacionem ut predictum est possint et valeant similiter licenciam dedimus et concessimus specialem Absque impedimento impeticione aresto seu gravamine quocumque nostri aut heredum nostrorum Justiciariorum Escaetorum Vicecomitum Coronatorum Ballivorum seu aliorum Officiariorum seu ministrorum nostrorum quorumcumque Statuto de terris et tenementis ad manum mortuam non ponendis aut aliquo alio statuto acto ordinacione provisione sive restriccione incontrarium facto non obstante. In cuius rei testimonium has litteras nostras fieri fecimus patentes. Teste me ipso apud Westmonasterium duodecimo die Junii anno regni nostri undecimo

Notes

1, 2. These words were clearly omitted accidentally and have been supplied from the enrolled copy (Patent Roll 12 Henry VII Part I).
3. In the enrolled copy this is ‘amovere’, more correctly.
4. Doubtful: the abbreviated form suggests an ‘-um’ ending, but ‘Eboraci’ would be more usual.
5, 6. Clearly so written, but more correctly ‘volente’ and ‘uberiore’.
7. ‘Dat. et collata’ in both copies – ‘datorum et collatorum’ would be grammatically more correct.

Translation with added punctuation

Henry by the grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland greets all to whom this present letter shall come.

You are to know that we have heard – both from the trustworthy report of our Reverend father in Christ John, Bishop of Ely, and also from public rumour – that the house or Priory of Religious women of St Radegund, of the foundation and under the patronage of the Bishop as within the jurisdiction of his church of Ely, and its lands, tenements, rents, possessions, buildings, and the goods, jewels and other ecclesiastical ornaments piously and charitably bestowed of old upon and gathered in the same house or Priory, through the negligence and the imprudent and dissolute character and incontinency of the Prioresses and religious women of the said house, caused by its proximity to the University of Cambridge, are to such an extent dilapidated, destroyed, devastated, alienated, diminished and removed and the women themselves are reduced to such great want and poverty that they do not have the means to maintain or support the divine offices, hospitality or other matters of mercy and piety there to be practised according to the original foundation and ordinance of their founders or in any way to sustain or support themselves, who are only two in number, of whom one is professed elsewhere and the other of ill repute, but instead they ought themselves to leave the said house or Priory as if [it were] empty;

Wherefore the same Bishop for greater devotion and for the increase of divine worship and goodness has most humbly begged us that we should graciously see fit to grant him our Royal licence, that he may have power and authority to remove and drive out totally the said women from the said house or Priory and there make, found, erect, create and establish a certain new College, to endure for all times to come;

We therefore, taking into careful consideration the proposals and the pious and devoted intention of the Bishop himself, for the sake of God and for the true devotion which we practise and have towards the holy and undivided Trinity, and the most blessed Virgin Mary mother of God, St John the Evangelist, and the holy Virgin St Radegund and all the saints, have of our special grace granted and given licence as we do by this present document grant and give licence for ourselves and for our heirs, insofar as in us lies, to the same Reverend father and his successors, so that he and his successors, Bishops of Ely, and their deputed executors and assigns or any one or ones of them, may have power out of the said house or Priory to make, found, erect, create and establish a College of one Master and six fellows and a fixed number of Scholars to be educated in grammar, both for praying and to celebrate divine offices every day for ever in the said College, for our own prosperous estate and that of Elizabeth, Queen of England, our most dear Consort, and that of our most dear mother Margaret, and above all of our most dear sons, our First-born Arthur Prince of Wales and our second-born Henry Duke of York, and of all our other children, while we are alive, and for the good estate of the Bishop himself likewise while he is alive, and for our souls when we have migrated from this light, and also for the soul of our most dear father Edmund [Earl] of Richmond, and also for the soul of the Bishop himself when he likewise has migrated from this light, and also for the souls of the previous founders of the said house or Priory and of all the faithful departed, and to practise other works of mercy and charity there, according to ordinance and according to the arrangements to be made, ordained and appointed by the Bishop, or his executors or assigns aforesaid, and it can last for all times to come;

And that the said College when it has been thus made, founded, erected, created and established shall be called and named for ever the College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St John the Evangelist and the Glorious Virgin St Radegund, near Cambridge in the county of Cambridge;

And that the Master, Fellows and Scholars of the aforesaid College and their successors, when it has been so erected, created, made, founded and established as is proposed, be named, nominated, addressed as and called the Master, Fellows and Scholars of the College of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St John the Evangelist and the Glorious Virgin St Radegund, near Cambridge;

So that under the same name they may be able to plead and be impleaded, and to answer and be answered, and to prosecute defend and be defended in whatsoever Courts and places, before whatsoever Judges and Justices spiritual or temporal, and that they be one body and one Community corporate in deed and name, and that they have a perpetual succession and a common seal for transacting the business of the said College;

And so also that they be persons able and capable in law of acquiring and receiving lands, tenements, rents, reversions, fees, annuities and any other possessions whatsoever from any person or persons whatsoever willing to give, bequeath or assign those things to them;

And that they themselves may have power and capacity to permit, make and ordain ordinances, statutes and arrangements as necessary for the good and healthy rule of the said College;

And further of our bounteous grace we have granted and have given licence to the aforementioned Bishop and his successors, his executors and assigns aforesaid, and to any one of them, that they or any one or ones of them may after the said College has been so made, founded, erected, created and established have power lawfully and with impunity to institute, induct or install, or to have instituted, inducted or installed, the said Master, Fellows and Scholars, in actual possession of the said house or Priory and of all and each of its lands, tenements, rents, services, fees, portions and other possessions bestowed of old upon and gathered in the same Priory, both spiritual and temporal, and the jewels and any ecclesiastical ornaments whatsoever belonging to and pertaining to the same;

To be had and held by the said Master, Fellows and Scholars of the said College and their successors as Master, Fellows and Scholars of the same College in free pure and perpetual alms for ever, for their sustenance and for other works of mercy and charity to be done on their part, according to the ordinance of the Bishop himself, or of his successors or executors or assigns aforesaid, or of any one of them;

And to the same Master, Fellows and Scholars, that they may have power and capacity freely and with impunity to receive, accept, have and hold the said house or Priory and each of its aforementioned lands, tenements, rents, services, fees, portions, annuities and any other possessions whatsoever, and premises with their appurtenances, from the said Bishop or his executors or assigns aforesaid, for themselves and for their successors as Master, Fellows and Scholars of the abovementioned College, for their sustenance as is aforesaid. We have likewise given and granted special licence free of any hindrance claim seizure or injury whatsoever by us or by our heirs Justices Escheators Sheriffs Coroners Bailiffs or by any other of our Officials or ministers whatsoever, the Statute ‘of lands and tenements not being put in mortmain’ or any other statute, act, ordinance, provision or restriction made to the contrary notwithstanding;

In witness of this we have caused these our letters patent to be made. Witnessed by myself at Westminster on the twelfth day of June in the eleventh year of our reign.

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