College Charter

Royal Charter of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge

Edward, by the grace of God King of England and France and Lord of Ireland, to all those to whom these presents shall come, greeting.   

WHEREAS  

(1) our beloved clerk Robert Wodelarke, professor of theology, has founded, established, constructed and ordained a certain dwelling-house with appurtenances in our town of Cambridge in a certain street called Mill Street, within our University of Cambridge, to the honour of God and the blessed Virgin Mary and the holy and glorious Virgin and Martyr Catharine, for one master and three fellows or more to live in the said dwelling-house within the said university for evermore to study philosophy and theology; and

(2) he proposes to name that dwelling-house with appurtenances the Hall of Saint Catharine the Virgin, and has placed in the said Hall a master and three fellows and has established the said master as Master of the Hall and of those fellows, as we understand from the humble information of the said Robert Wodelarke earnestly seeking our grace in the above matters.

WE, earnestly considering the pious and praiseworthy intent of the said Robert Wodelarke and most zealously commending it to God, accept, APPROVE AND RATIFY and by these our letters patent for all future time, by our own special grace and of our certain knowledge and free will, CONFIRM the said foundation, establishment, construction, constitution and ordinance for ourselves and our heirs and successors as kings of England.

And furthermore of our especial grace, WE HAVE GRANTED, and for ourselves and our heirs and successors as kings of England HEREBY ORDAIN AND GRANT: 

(1) that the said Hall of Saint Catharine the Virgin shall be established as a perpetual college and a perpetual society and company in substance and in name for ever firmly incorporated and united for a master and three or more fellows within the aforesaid University; 

(2) that the said college, society or company shall be named and called the Hall of Saint Catharine the Virgin within the University of Cambridge, and shall be so called in perpetuity;

(3) that the said master and fellows of the Hall of Saint Catharine the Virgin within the University of Cambridge as they now are and all their successors who shall be there in the future shall have perpetual succession and capacity; 

(4) that the said master and fellows shall be persons suitable and with full capacity in law to have, hold, acquire, enjoy and purchase in that name lands and tenements, rents, reversions, possessions and services of whatever kind with their appurtenances from any person or persons whatsoever in fee and perpetuity having, holding, acquiring and enjoying for themselves and their successors in mortmain in perpetuity;

(5) also that the said master and fellows and their successors in perpetuity shall have a chest or tower, and other statutes and ordinances and other college appurtenances of whatever kind according to the form and effect of the statutes, ordinances, arrangements and dispositions by the said Robert Wodelarke and his executors in that regard duly made, declared and ordained or to be made declared and ordained;

(6) And that the said master and fellows shall have a common seal to serve for themselves and the business of the said College forever;

(7) And also that the said master and fellows and their successors may sue and be sued in the name of the master and fellows of the Hall of Saint Catharine the Virgin within the University of Cambridge and shall answer and be answered in all courts and tribunals in all types of legal action, personal, real and mixed, before any judges whatsoever whether spiritual or temporal and before all royal courts of ourselves and our successors and all other courts whatsoever.

And furthermore, in order that the aforesaid master and fellows and their successors should more especially beseech almighty God, in whose hand are the hearts of kings, for our healthy estate while we live, and that they should pray more devotedly for our soul after our death, WE HAVE GRANTED AND GIVEN, of our own free will and by our own especial and abundant grace, AND BY THESE PRESENTS DO GRANT AND GIVE for ourselves and our heirs to the aforesaid master and fellows of the Hall of St Catharine the Virgin within the University of Cambridge and their successors, a licence that they and their successors may acquire, receive, possess and enjoy in fee and perpetuity, to have and to hold for themselves and their successors forever all kinds of lands, tenements, rents, reversions, or possessions which are not held from us directly in chief, with their appurtenances generally and severally to the value of forty marks a year after deductions, from any person or persons wishing to give, bequeath, grant or assign such rights to them.  

And furthermore WE HAVE GIVEN AND BY THESE PRESENTS DO GIVE a special licence to all such person or persons abovementioned that they may give, bequeath, grant or assign to the aforesaid master and fellows and their successors all such lands, tenements, rents, reversions, possessions and services abovementioned with appurtenances so that the said master and fellows shall have hold, received and enjoy such lands and rights in mortmain in perpetuity and without any inquisition upon a writ ad quod damnum  or any other royal writ or mandate whatsoever or any other royal letters patent to be brought or prosecuted in this matter; and without any claim, impediment, interference, disturbance, molestation or interruption, whether by any judges, sheriffs, coroners, escheators or other of our bailiffs or officers or those of our heirs or successors, notwithstanding any statute against placing lands in mortmain or any other statutes, ordinances or provisions, and notwithstanding that express mention is not made herein of other grants made by us to the said Robert Wodelarke before this time, or that we are insufficiently informed on any matter.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF we have ordered these our letters patent to be made in the presence of Edward our firstborn son, Prince of Wales and keeper of England, at Westminster the sixteenth day of August in the fifteenth year of our reign (1475). By the king himself, and on that date by the authority of Parliament.