The Queen's Kingsmen

Ours being a royal foundation, we occasionally bump up against the sovereign. We were endowed by Henry VI with land to support the College, which meant we were Lords of the Manor on desirable estates. Many years after her Cambridge visit there arose a dispute with Elizabeth I about whether she ought to have the right to name the landholder of a College property (in Sampford Courtenay, Devon). One of her negotiators in that case was Francis Walsingham, better known as her spymaster, who was perhaps assigned to this duty because he had been a Pensioner (a student paying his own way) at King’s, from 1548.

Compared to the charter above, the letter shown below is apparently of less significance. The Queen asked her ministers to write it, it is not decorated, it is in English rather than Latin, and it does not bear a royal seal. It was signed by the Lord Treasurer William Cecil, first Baron Burghley (1520/21-1598), and the Principal Secretary Francis Walsingham (c.1532-1590).

Another Kingsman in the Queen’s household was Walter Haddon. Haddon came up to King’s in 1533 and was a member of the College until 1552. As the best Latin writer of his day he was chosen to translate the Book of Common Prayer into Latin in 1560. Elizabeth officially authorised its use at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, and Eton and Winchester. Haddon accompanied Elizabeth I to Cambridge on her 1564 visit. The following year the queen granted him the site of the abbey of Wymondham, Norfolk, with its manor and lands.

Walter’s son Clere Haddon, an exceedingly promising King’s student, drowned in the Cam in 1571. Probably because of this terrible loss, Provost Goad made a decree, recorded in the College’s archives (shown below), forbidding all members of the College, including servants and Choristers, to swim or bathe in rivers or streams anywhere within Cambridgeshire.

 

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