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Masters of the College

Gate to the Master Lodge

The College’s 40th Master entered into office in October 2011. The first two (Chubbes and Eccleston) played an important part in the process of founding the College which was not completed until 1516 when it received its first statutes and its first Fellows (properly so called) were appointed.  Since 1885 Masters have been elected by the Fellows, but previously they were appointed by the bishop of Ely, and almost invariably held the Mastership (which carried only a modest stipend) in conjunction with one or more other church offices among which it may not always have been regarded as the most important.  Duties attaching to these church offices would, in the office-holder’s absence be undertaken by a paid deputy (in parishes by a curate), and those of the Mastership, at times when the Master was not resident, by a Fellow nominated by him (called the President).  The first layman to be Master was elected in 1912, and since 1940 every Master has also been (or was previously) a professor or lecturer in the University.  This list gives details of the offices held by a Master (a) immediately prior to his appointment or election, some or all of which he may have continued to hold while Master; (b) other offices held while Master; and (c) the reason (when not death) for his ceasing to be Master.  Since 1986 Masters have been elected to hold office for ten years.

ODNB indicates that this Master has an entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

The College possesses portraits of Dr Sterne (1634 – 1660), Dr Gower (1679), Dr Ashton (1701 – 1752) and all succeeding Masters.

1497 – 1506

WILLIAM CHUBBES (a) Rector of Stapleford, Cambs.


1507 – 1516

JOHN ECCLESTON (a) Rector of Great Shelford, Cambs., and Chancellor of the diocese of Ely.


1516 (February to July)

THOMAS ALCOCK (a) Archdeacon of Ely and Rector of Bluntisham, Hunts. (c) resigns.

1516 – 1546

WILLIAM CAPON (a) Vicar of Great Shelford, Cambs.; Rector of St Mary Woolchurch, London; Chaplain to and (b) Almoner of Cardinal Wolsey; Dean of Cardinal College, Ipswich; Dean of Tettenhall, Staffs.; (c) resigned.

1546 – 1551

JOHN RESTON (a) Rector of Sible Hedingham, Essex; Prebendary of St Paul’s; Rector of St Augustine by St Paul’s, London.

1551 – 1557

EDMUND PIERPOINT (a) Fellow of Christs’; Vicar of Rattlesden, Suffolk; (b) Prebendary of Lincoln; Rector of Fen Ditton, Cambs.

1557 – 1558

JOHN FULLER (a) Chancellor and Canon of Ely; Prebendary of St Paul’s; Rector of Fen Ditton, and of Hildersham, Cambs.


1559 – 1560

THOMAS REDMAN (a) Chaplain to Bishop of Ely and Rector of Barley, Herts.; (c) deprived.

1560 – 1562

EDWARD GASCOYNE (a) Canon of Ely; Vicar-general of the diocese of Ely; (c) resigned.

1562 – 1563

JOHN LAKYN (a) Fellow of St John’s; Vicar of Impington, and Duxford St Peter, Cambs.; (c) deprived.

1563 – 1579

THOMAS ITHELL (a) Chancellor of the diocese of Ely, Canon of Ely; (b) Rector of Elm and Emneth, Cambs.

1579 – 1590

JOHN BELL (a) Rector of Fen Ditton, Cambs.; (b) Canon of Ely; (c) resigned on becoming Dean of Ely.

1590 – 1617

JOHN DUPORT (a) Son-in-law of Bishop of Ely; Rector of Harlton, Cambs. and Fulham, Middlesex, and Precentor of St Paul’s; (b) Prebendary of Ely.


1618 – 1632

ROGER ANDREWES (a) Brother of Bishop of Ely; Archdeacon of Chichester, Rector of Elm and Emneth, Cambs.; (b) Prebendary of Southwell, Ely, and Winchester; Rector of Cheriton, Hants.; (c) resigned – under royal pressure.

1632 – 1634

WILLIAM BEALE (a) Archdeacon of Carmarthen and Rector of Aberdaron; (c) resigned on becoming Master of St John’s.


1634 – 1644 and 1660

RICHARD STERNE (a) Fellow of Corpus Christi, Chaplain to Archbishop Laud and Rector of Harlton, Cambs.; (c) ejected 1644, restored 1660; resigned on becoming Bishop of Carlisle.


1644 – 1650

THOMAS YOUNG (a) Vicar of Stowmarket, Suffolk, Preacher at St James, Duke Place, London, and member of Westminster Assembly; (c) ejected 1650.


1650 – 1660

JOHN WORTHINGTON (a) Fellow of Emmanuel; (b) Rector of Gravely, Hunts. and Vicar of Fen Ditton, Cambs.; (c) deprived 1660.


1660 – 1662

JOHN PEARSON (a) Archdeacon of Surrey, Prebendary of Ely and Chaplain to the King; (b) Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity; (c) resigned on becoming Master of Trinity.


1662 – 1663

JOSEPH BEAUMONT (a) Son-in-law of Bishop of Ely, his Chaplain and Rector of Elm and Emneth, Cambs.; (c) resigned on becoming Master of Peterhouse.


1663 – 1679

EDMUND BOLDERO (a) Chaplain to Bishop of Ely and Rector of Glemsford and Harkstead, Suffolk; (b) Rector of Snailwell, Cambs.


1679 July to December

HUMFREY GOWER (a) Rector of Newton, Isle of Ely and of Fen Ditton, Cambs.; (c) resigned on becoming Master of St John’s.


1679 – 1701

WILLIAM SAYWELL (a) Chancellor of the diocese of Chichester; (b) Prebendary and Archdeacon of Ely, and Rector of Willingham, Cambs.


1701 – 1752

CHARLES ASHTON  (a) Chaplain to Bishop of Ely and Vicar of Rattenden, Essex; (b) Prebendary of Ely.


1752 – 1758

PHILIP YONGE (a) Fellow of Trinity, Public Orator, Prebendary of Westminster and Vicar of Over, Cambs.; (b) Canon of St Paul’s, Rector of Therfield, Herts., (c) resigned on becoming Bishop of Bristol.


1758 – 1781

LYNFORD CARYL (a) Prebendary of Southwell, Vicar of All Saints’, Cambridge, and Registrary of University; (b) Vicar of Barnburgh, Yorks, Prebendary of Lincoln and of Canterbury.

1781 – 1789

RICHARD BEADON (a) Prebendary of St Paul’s and Archdeacon of London; Rector of Stanford Rivers and Orsett, Essex; (c) resigned on becoming Bishop of Gloucester.


1789 – 1820

WILLIAM PEARCE (a) Master of the Temple, London; Public Orator; Rector of Houghton; (b) Dean of Ely.

1820 – 1849

WILLIAM FRENCH (a) Fellow and Tutor of Pembroke College; Vicar of Cretingham, Suffolk and Rector of Moor Monkton, Yorkshire and Canon of Ely.


1849 – 1885

GEORGE ELWES CORRIE (a) Fellow and Tutor of St Catharine’s, Norrisian Professor of Divinity, Chaplain to Bishop of Ely; (b) Rector of Newton-in-the-Isle, Cambs.


1885 – 1912

HENRY ARTHUR MORGAN (a) Fellow and Senior Tutor of Jesus.

1912 – 1940

ARTHUR GRAY (a) Fellow, Senior Tutor and Vice-Master of Jesus.

1940 – 1945

WYNFRID LAURENCE HENRY DUCKWORTH (a) Fellow of Jesus and Emeritus Reader in Anatomy; (b) Bursar and Steward; (c) retired.


1945 – 1959

EUSTACE MANDEVILLE WETENHALL TILLYARD (a) Fellow of Jesus and University Lecturer in English; (c) retired.

1959 – 1973

DENYS LIONEL PAGE (a) Fellow of Trinity and Regius Professor of Greek; (c) retired.


1974 – 1986

ALAN HOWARD COTTRELL  (a) Chief Scientific Adviser, H.M. Government; formerly Goldsmith’s Professor of Metallurgy; (c) retired.

1986 -1997

ANDREW COLIN RENFREW (a) Fellow of St John’s and Disney Professor of Archaeology; (c) expiry of tenure.

1997 – 2000

DAVID GEORGE CRIGHTON (a) Fellow of St John’s and Professor of Applied Mathematics.

2001 – 2011

ROBERT JAMES MAIR (a) Fellow of St John’s and Professor of Geotechnical Engineering; (c) expiry of tenure.

2011 -

IAN HUGH WHITE (a) Fellow of Jesus and van Eck Professor of Engineering (b) Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Cambridge