Chapter 4

'Cambridge, Catholicism and the Irish' is a contribution to the concept of 'British History'. Cambridge University was a very English institution, with little input from Wales, Scotland or Ireland.

4: Cambridge, Catholicism and the Irish

Socially, intellectually, by gender and by religion, nineteenth-century Cambridge was a restricted universe. The University was also constricted in national identity, English rather than British and certainly not an international community. Two students from the United States, Charles Bristed in the eighteen-forties and William Everett in the eighteen-sixties, found their experience so unusual that they actually wrote Yank-at-Cambridge books about it. By the late nineteenth century, a few colleges had crossed the colour line, but they were hardly typical: a cartoon in a May Week magazine of 1894, "A Lecture at Christ's", is remarkable for the crudity of its racism.1 Given the narrowness of the starting point, a multi-racial Cambridge was perhaps too large a jump. Most of the University's students had long been "drawn almost exclusively from England and Wales" and the ethos and outlook of the place remained stubbornly English.2 William Wordsworth, who graduated in 1791, was moved by the thought that Edmund Spenser, "moving through his clouded heaven", had trodden the same courtyards two centuries earlier. "I called him Brother, Englishman, and Friend!" Charles Kingsley imbued his fictional Chartist student, Alton Locke, with an unlikely moment of inspiration on stumbling across oarsmen racing on the Cam. "My blood boiled over, and fierce tears swelled into my eyes; for I, too, was a man, and an Englishman." A conservative polemicist of 1866 was on safe ground in his assumption of inter-connected identities when he denounced a proposal for a lectureship in American history as "opposed to all English feeling, all academic feeling, and all Church feeling".3

Until recent times, "English" was often used as a synonym for "British", even by upper-class Scots,4 and the usage remains entrenched through such derivatives as "Anglo-American". In Cambridge, by contrast, "English" usually meant "pertaining to England". Even Scots and Welsh were semi-outsiders. Cambridge had been a pace-setter in Reformation times because its North Sea trade gave it direct links with Germany. Yet in striking contrast, there was no obvious academic link with Scotland's east-coast university towns, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Aberdeen. Sidney Sussex claims that in John Young, it can boast the first Scotsman ever to take a Cambridge degree; Venn more cautiously accepts him as one of the first.5 Since Young graduated in 1606, when Cambridge University was already four centuries old, Scots cannot have been a common element. Nor had Cambridge anything comparable to the Snell Exhibition at Oxford, which financed a steady stream of able Scots from Glasgow to Balliol from the time of Adam Smith.

However, by the nineteenth century, there were "plenty of them",6 as J.F.M. Wright recalled with distaste: indeed, two of the three future prime ministers who attended the university in the century after 1815 were from north of the Border. Yet there is little evidence of a distinctively Scots contribution to Cambridge. Some came by way of the Scottish universities, but for much of the nineteenth century these were in effect junior colleges: in the eighteen-forties, Glasgow University was "regarded as a preparatory school".7 Critics alleged that because students at Scottish universities were younger than their English counterparts, they were drilled by rote so that they found it difficult to adjust even to such a measure of intellectual openness as could be found in the Cambridge curriculum. Wright warned that "if you fall in with a Scot, you get hold of a bore of a pedant" full of "a pompous rigmarole, about the wealth, honours, and erudition of Aberdeen, St. Andrew's, Dumfries, Glasgow and Edinbro!". In his opinion, Scots' "pretensions to superiority" were evidence only of "their comparative ignorance".8

Such hostility was rare: by and large, the Scots faded into the background. Even those with Scots surnames were often heavily anglicised. The Scottishness of the family of John Moultrie, a poet in the eighteen-twenties who wrote about the Union, had been filtered through three generations in South Carolina. His Loyalist father had removed to England, completing the son's acculturation with an Eton education. (Fort Moultrie, in Charleston Harbour, commemorated a patriot uncle and was to be one of the flashpoints that triggered the American Civil War.) George Corrie, Master of Jesus, one of Cambridge's most rigid conservatives, was a Scot by descent, but the son of an Anglican clergyman in Rutland. The ultimate adjective in his formidable vocabulary of denunciation was "un-English". The philosopher J.E. McTaggart, President of the Union in 1890, came from a Wiltshire family called Ellis, who had changed their surname as a condition of an inheritance.9

At least a sprinkling of the more prominent Cambridge Scots came from aristocratic and gentry backgrounds, as would be expected from the cost of an English university education. They included Charles Maitland, probable co-founder of the Union, Arthur Balfour and the Marquess of Queensberry, codifier of the rules of boxing and persecutor of Oscar Wilde. Scots aristocrats who became Presidents of the Union included W.F. Campbell in 1847 (later Lord Stratheden and Campbell), Lord Aberdeen's son Arthur Gordon in 1849 and W.F. Scott (later Lord Polwarth) in 1885. They barely differed from their English counterparts. Some aristocratic Scots were members of the Episcopal Church, a minority group in Scotland and very much a lairds' sect. When Lawrence Dundas managed to drown himself after getting drunk in 1818, he was commemorated with a memorial in a local Anglican church. Even if Presbyterians, they came from a social background that found it easy enough to emulate Queen Victoria's easy movement between the two established churches. Scotsmen of this type differed little from the English elite in outlook and behaviour. The young Marquess of Huntly was beaten within an inch of his life outside Holy Trinity church taking part in a traditional Fifth of November fight between Town and Gown in 1866.10

It is revealing that the Union never once debated the Ten Years' controversy that preceded the Disruption of the Kirk in 1843, although it did discuss a passing dispute in 1871 over the decision of the Archbishop of York to hold an Anglican service in Scotland. The only serious debate on a Scottish issue in one hundred years resulted in an uncharacteristic expression of sympathy for the crofters in 1885, a degree of goodwill not extended to their Irish counterparts. On the rare occasions when the Union subsequently turned its attention light-heartedly northwards, few members bothered to attend. In 1898, a small gathering agreed that "the Scotch take life too seriously". In 1911, the handful present had the good taste to reject the proposition that "the nature of the Scot is abhorrent".11

It has been calculated that in the century after 1540, seven times as many Welshmen had headed for Oxford as for Cambridge.12 Oxford was more convenient, and in Jesus College it had an institution with a notably strong Welsh identity. Cambridge was remote and offered no such base. Magdalene had briefly seemed set to become the Welsh college in the sixteenth century until a racist Master determinedly drove them out.13 St John's reserved some of its endowments for the education of natives of the Principality. It was at St John's in 1598 that the future Archbishop of York, John Williams, had made it his first task to overcome the "National Defect" of his Welsh accent.14 The inter-varsity contrast continued into the nineteenth century: Cambridge had nothing to compare with the Dafydd, the society dedicated to the promotion of Welsh culture, founded at Oxford in 1886.15 As with the Scots, those who seemed Welsh could turn out to be Englishmen in disguise: John Llewelyn Davies, twice President of the Union, was the product of a Sussex vicarage. Another theologian, and a genuine Welshman, was Rowland Williams, who in 1839 actually managed to persuade the Union that Ireland was owed a debt of justice by the English. Although Williams was tipped to become the first Welsh-speaking bishop since the Reformation until he became notorious for his contribution to Essays and Reviews, he had come to Cambridge from Eton. There he had narrowly escaped death when he was literally scalped in an English public school initiation ritual.16

Two Welshmen who reached the Presidency went on to become Liberal MPs, their careers going down with the eclipse of Lloyd George. J.Ellis Griffith was President in 1886 and Ernest Evans, an Aberystwyth graduate, in 1909.17 The Union debated the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Wales on seven occasions between 1886 and 1914. Evans proposed the only motion that was carried, by 88 votes to 71, despite its peremptory demand for "Immediate Disestablishment". More typical and revealingly worded was the passage, in January 1913, in an almost mirror-image division of 83 votes to 62, of a resolution declaring that proposed legislation "for the Disestablishment of the Church in Wales is both unjust in itself and contrary to the best interests of the Nation". The motion did not specify the Nation whose interests were ill-served, but the division was very similar to the vote of 84 against 68 that had rejected a motion in 1904 sympathising with the "Welsh revolt", the refusal of Welsh local authorities to administer the terms of the 1902 Education Act in protest against privileges granted to Anglican schools.18 Edwardian Cambridge seems to have been closely divided on those occasions when it actually thought about Welsh issues, but on balance the Union subscribed to the legendary encyclopaedia heading: "Wales, see England".

The first recorded bequest to Cambridge University was made in 1256 by a cleric who was anxious to ensure that masses would be said for his soul. The gift came from William de Kilkenny, who was a court bureaucrat as well as bishop of nearby Ely. Was he Irish? The Dictionary of National Biography was not sure: William spent his career serving the king in England and it could not be proved that he had ever lived in Ireland. Even if he was Irish by birth, was he so by ethnicity? His family were Anglo-Norman incomers. As the Duke of Wellington so succinctly put it, being born in a stable did not make you a horse.19 The enigma of definition lies at the heart of any consideration of the Irish at Cambridge.

However they may be defined, the Irish were not especially numerous in nineteenth-century Cambridge. The 1798 uprisings had been enough to persuade the Irish executive not to take up Archbishop Robinson's endowment for a university at Armagh, since the policy of union with Great Britain explicitly pointed to encouraging the gentry to seek their education at Oxford and Cambridge.20 It seems unlikely that many did so. Trinity College Dublin offered a more convenient and cheaper alternative, as can be seen by its overproduction of clergy, medical doctors and lawyers, far beyond Ireland's capacity to absorb. A study of 1290 undergraduates admitted to Jesus College Cambridge between 1849 and 1885 identified 818 as coming from public schools (or institutions modelled on them). Of these, precisely three came from Ireland – as compared with thirty from similar schools in Australia and New Zealand.21 Of course, other Irish came by way of English schools. Parnell had attended private cramming establishments in Somerset and Derbyshire, while one major school, Cheltenham, was established partly to serve a genteel Irish community who chose to overwinter at an English spa town.

Even if statistics existed, it is likely that any attempt to secure reliable figures for Irish Protestants at Cambridge would break down on the rock of self-identification, especially among families that owned estates on both sides of the Irish Channel. Did the Lansdownes belong to Wiltshire or to Kerry? Were the Fitzwilliams from Yorkshire or from Wicklow? Palmerston, son of an Irish peer, was annoyed to find himself regarded as "a Paddy"22 (as he put it) during his time at Edinburgh University, because he came from an indisputably English family that had acquired Irish property and an Irish title as a sideline. Augustus Stafford O'Brien, who became a Fellow Commoner at St John's in 1829, owned estates in Northamptonshire and at Cratloe overlooking the Shannon in the west of Ireland: he had himself rowed to services in Limerick cathedral in a six-oared barge. Stafford O'Brien could be coldly realistic about Irish life, but was also capable of lapsing into flights of fancy:

Ireland is the only country that might be. America will be, Italy has been, Belgium can't be, England (I suppose) is; but darling Ireland might be...

Did his devotion to "this delicious mixture of possible and uncertain" mean that he saw himself as Irish? In the eighteen-forties, he associated with the romantic political group known as Young England. In 1847, he dropped his second surname because people confused him with the Young Irelander, Smith O'Brien.23 An even more complex individual response came from Kenelm Digby, who graduated in 1819. Son of the Dean of Clonfert, and member of a family long settled in Ireland, Digby found the medievalism of Cambridge fascinating, and eventually converted to Catholicism – but he spent his later life in England.24 Thomas and Michael McDonnell, who championed Irish causes around the turn of the century, were Londoners and former pupils of St Paul's School. Their identification with Ireland was in some measure an act of personal choice. Winston Churchill and Michael Collins rarely agreed, but both regarded Erskine Childers as a renegade Englishman. Despite his English antecedents, Childers opted to identify with his mother's Irish relations. By contrast, Parnell, although probably influenced by his American mother, did not choose to adopt her nationality.25 Henry Lynch proposed a motion in favour of Home Rule at the Union in 1882. Was he Irish? His father had grown up on the family estate near Ballinrobe in Mayo and attended Trinity College Dublin. He had then joined an expedition exploring the Euphrates, settled in London as Consul-General for Persia, and sent his son to Eton.26 Similar examples are noted in later chapters. The enduring triumph of the nationalist tradition of 1916 has been to obliterate those who identified themselves as simultaneously Irish and British, as was probably the self-image of young Lynch. Yet because these Irish-British not only existed, but naturally formed cross-channel marriage alliances, there were also many English families who felt links to Ireland. One of the most popular characters among inter-war Cambridge dons bore the splendidly English name of Aubrey Attwater. In 1914, he made what sounds like a gauche contribution to a debate on Ulster and was crushingly reported by the Granta. "Mr Attwater told us about his relations in Ireland, and knows a lot about the country."27 There must have been many young Cambridge men who similarly felt an identification with Ireland and (perhaps less constructively) a qualification to pronounce upon its destiny.

Young Irish aristocrats at Cambridge showed characteristics which observers attributed to national identity, including some that made them a larger-than-life nuisance. The Earl of Mount Charles, son of the Prince Regent's mistress Lady Conyngham, became persuaded that a fellow-passenger on a stagecoach to London in 1816 was a ringleader of the labourers' revolt in the Isle of Ely. The accused, a Fenland farmer, denied the allegation with such acerbity that Mount Charles produced a pair of pistols and issued a challenge to a duel, an action that was not only an absurdity, but a social solecism, since duelling was the preserve of gentlemen. Contemporary opinion, however, accepted that Mount Charles had conducted himself "after the ancient fashion of his countrymen", thereby attributing an ethnic quality to an immigrant family.28 A drunken party on St Patrick's night in 1834 produced a riot of vandalism in Trinity. The offenders included Lord Claude Hamilton, two members of the Ponsonby family, a Conyngham and Lord John Beresford, later Marquess of Waterford, all aggressively asserting their version of Irishness.29 The following year, a Fellow of Trinity "wisely gave a great dinner to his Irish Pupils, it being St Patrick's Day".30 In the eyes of English observers, Irish impetuosity could also take a more generous form. Joseph Romilly was the University official responsible for the administration of degrees. Thanks to the special relationship with the University of Dublin, graduates of the sleeping sister could be "incorporated" and so acquire a parallel Cambridge degree. In 1845, Romilly carried out this procedure for William Baxter, a Dublin graduate and a schoolmaster at Cheltenham. To his surprise, Baxter showed his appreciation with the gift of a magnificent salmon from the Severn – "very like a warm-hearted Irishman," Romilly commented. "I have shown equal attention to hundreds of others without any expression of gratitude."31 It is striking that Romilly should have automatically transmuted a personal gesture into an example of national character. His own forebears were French Protestants (a life-long friend, Adam Sedgwick, attributed Romilly's geniality to the "French blood in his veins") while Baxter's were presumably Scots, a people whom conventional stereotype (on equally fragile evidence) did not associate with generosity.

The reporting of Union debates in University magazines after 1886 makes it possible to identify at least some of those who spoke as Irishmen: most were evidently Protestants, and not surprisingly, most of those were unionists. Two tentative conclusions may be suggested in regard to their contribution to discussion of Irish issues. The first is that there is little evidence that their first-hand testimony exercised much impact, perhaps because in background and outlook, they were remarkably similar to their English contemporaries, and so were often simply duplicating metropolitan prejudices. (It is only fair to add that Indian nationalists made equally little headway in the Union, and probably for diametrically opposite reasons). The second is that because Cambridge remained predominantly Anglican and extremely expensive, it is unlikely that many of its Irish Protestant students came from the Ulster Presbyterian commercial community. For Episcopalians, Oxford and Cambridge were the outworks of Trinity College Dublin, while for Northern Presbyterians, Edinburgh and Glasgow were the outer orbit of Queen's Belfast, the most successful of the three colleges established in 1845. If E.W. MacBride appears frequently in these pages, it is not merely because he was outrageously quotable, but because he spoke with a voice that was rarely heard. Indeed, as the strength of Ulster intransigence emerged in 1912, it became clear that neither the British political elite nor nationalist Ireland had any real appreciation of the force it was suddenly confronting.

If Irish Protestants were probably a minor presence in nineteenth-century Cambridge, Catholics of any variety were even rarer. In the first half of the century, the University was little more than a glorified Anglican seminary and Catholics were barred from taking a degree; in 1867, as Cambridge began to open its doors, the Church itself adopted a negative attitude.32 Since Cambridge was not one of the growing industrial centres, there was little to attract Irish immigration. The small community that formed in the poor district of Barnwell was probably a by-product of seasonal migration of harvest workers, who probably included the "very ragged miserable Paddies" observed by a Fellow of Trinity, Joseph Romilly, at Cambridge railway station in August 1852. The Irish had been, however, sufficiently numerous in 1841 to defend the construction of the first Catholic chapel from a mob of undergraduates who celebrated the Fifth of November by attempting to root out its foundations.33 Britain's only census of religious practice, in 1851, reported that attendance at Mass accounted for a shade under one percent of all church-going in Cambridge. The Catholic presence was just large enough to seem mildly threatening in Protestant demonology. Religious crises were one aspect of undergraduate life, and by 1884 it was estimated that 149 Cambridge men had converted over eight decades.34 The threat was emphasised in the local skyline by the construction, between 1885 and 1890, of the imposing Gothic church in Hills Road. Often called the "Catholic cathedral", the church was in fact far larger than its congregation required, much of the cost being met by a single pious benefactor.35 As so often elsewhere, Catholicism in Cambridge was to prove much less monolithic than its enemies assumed, and the Hills Road church actually played a relatively minor part in the lives of Catholic members of the University.

Leaving aside the point that they were not obviously welcome in an oppressively Anglican culture, the problem that faced Catholic students at Cambridge in the first half of the nineteenth century was characteristic of the challenge that their community had faced ever since the English Reformation. How was it possible to practise a religion that required priestly ministration in places that lacked resident priests? George Petre, a Lancashire Catholic, solved the problem when he arrived in 1803 by bringing his personal confessor with him. When Thomas Redington came over from Galway in 1832, he went one better and was accompanied by his mother as well throughout his entire course. Romilly, who was their guest for dinner, noted in his diary that the priest, Father Prendergast, "crossed himself in saying Grace", clear evidence that Cambridge dons rarely encountered Catholic ceremonial.36

A few colleges were relaxed enough to accept Catholics: Magdalene admitted Charles Acton in 1819 and so can claim Cambridge's only post-Reformation Cardinal.37 St John's was less tolerant. F.A. Paley was driven out in 1846 on suspicion of having encouraged an undergraduate to defect to Rome. Romilly noted that although a "good scholar", Paley was "a weak man" whose own muddled religious views were inclined to Catholicism. "It is a good thing for the University that he is dismissed." The episode may even have been helpful to Paley, since it seems to have made up his mind to be received into the Church of Rome.38 The fact that the offender was grandson of Archdeacon Paley, whose Evidences of Christanity were a compulsory text in the Little-Go, probably added to the pressures to excise his influence from Cambridge. However, no such motive can excuse the Fellows of Jesus for the action they took against one of their own graduates in 1856. The offender, coincidentally named Pope, hailed from Prince Edward Island, and had become a Catholic three years previously. On discovering that he had joined the "Romish mission" to England, his college showed its disapproval by formally expelling him.39 It should be remembered that 1856 was the year which saw the end of the Anglican monopoly over the University's BA degree. Mentalities changed more slowly in the constituent colleges.

In the era of the Synod of Thurles, which thunderously barred the faithful from attending even Ireland's harmlessly neutral Queen's Colleges, it may seem strange that there should have been any Catholics at all in the heretical environment of an English university. It is no coincidence that the few exceptions were wealthy enough to afford Cambridge, some even enrolling among the privileged minority as Fellow-Commoners. Many came from aristocratic families who could usually find ways of securing the blessing of the Church upon their actions. Even with lofty social eminence, they could find their position in Protestant Cambridge irksome. When the Union discussed Maynooth in 1845, the debate record noted that Lord Bernard Howard "spoke with reference to subjects touched upon by one of the Speakers, but not immediately to the subject of the Debate".40 While we have no record of his comments, it is possible to guess at the nature of a clarification offered by the son of the Duke of Norfolk, England's premier Catholic layman.

On most social and political issues, the responses of a wealthy English Catholic might well be identical to those of his Protestant fellows. Gerald Strickland was the heir of a long-established family of Westmorland landowners. At the age of fifteen, through his Maltese mother, he acquired the title of Count Della Catena. He was educated at Oscott and at Cambridge, where he called himself Count Bologna Strickland and was elected President of the Union in 1887. (In later life, when he served a term as governor of Western Australia, his fondness for titles led him to be nicknamed Count Delicatessen.) 41 He was also President of the University Carlton Club, the student Conservative organisation. His Catholic upbringing in no way qualified his Tory opinions. He proposed a motion declaring trades unions "to be injurious to the interests of this country": Cardinal Manning might support the workers, but Cardinal Manning was not a Westmorland landowner. Strickland even spoke against a motion demanding the disestablishment and disendowment of the Church of England. His Maltese connection probably explains his twin enthusiasms for Imperial Federation and for an interventionist foreign policy. However, although his Union career coincided with intense interest in Home Rule in 1886-87, he never spoke on Irish issues, although he supported a motion that deplored "the growing tendency to place political power exclusively in the hands of the people".42 Ironically, he eventually became prime minister of Malta and was thus the only Cambridge Union politician ever to operate a Home Rule constitution.

In Strickland's time, the Catholic population of Cambridge University rarely rose above a dozen students, out of a total of around three thousand.43 From 1867, it had became harder for devout Catholics to enrol at Cambridge. Cardinal Manning persuaded Rome to condemn, although not absolutely to forbid, attendance at the English universities as places dangerous to faith and morals. Manning's motive was probably a back-handed compliment to the gradual opening of Cambridge: with reform in the air, the University might become less oppressively Anglican and so less inherently repulsive to his flock. Although Manning's attempt to create a Catholic University in Kensington quickly failed, the policy of discouraging attendance at the ancient universities survived until his death in 1892.

In 1895, the Duke of Norfolk brokered an arrangement that permitted Catholics to study at Cambridge under appropriate supervision: by 1899, there were at least 45 Catholic students, still less than two percent of the total.44 The appointment of an ex-Army officer and convert, Monsignor Barnes, as chaplain to the University in 1902 was a further step in helping the Catholic student community to find its feet in Cambridge. Fortunately, his alien title and its equally unfamiliar abbreviation were disguised in his nickname. In the "Mugger" Catholic students had not only a dedicated pastor but their own surrogate for the archetypal Cambridge don. The Church also established St Edmund's House, which acquired the former Ayerst premises, and in 1898 petitioned the University for hostel status, pleading the precedent of Selwyn for its identification with a single denomination. The application caused a minor intellectual crisis for Cambridge liberalism, which was not sure whether or not its principles required toleration of a venture that it regarded as illiberal. As so often in Cambridge, the decision did not lie in the hands of liberals, and St Edmund's House was made to wait for formal recognition until 1965, long after it had become an accepted part of the University scene.45

The Union's Laws banned the discussion of theology. However, when a member challenged the intention to debate Papal Aggression in 1851, the President ruled that the ban applied "to strictly Theological questions only".46 Pronouncements on the political aspects of Catholicism were intermittent but sufficient to make disapproval clear. In Praed 's evocation of Union oratory, Bulwer Lytton was portrayed as denouncing "the horrible massacres … of the Bloody Queen Mary" and, by heavy implication, warning against her co-religionists two and a half centuries later. The Jesuits were condemned by 52 to 18 in 1829, and again by 30 votes to 5 in 1844. The temporal power of the Pope was unanimously criticised in 1862 in a house of 35. In 1874, Seyyid Mustafa Ben-Yusuf of Downing proposed a motion disapproving of Gladstone's attack on the Vatican decrees, presumably as a vehicle for preaching religious pluralism. The Union would have none of it, amending the motion to thank Gladstone for having "strengthened the political position of Great Britain, and the cause of Civil and National Independence". It was rare for Cambridge opinion to feel such gratitude towards Gladstone. In 1898, the refusal of official recognition to St Edmund's House was endorsed by 103 votes to 83.47 In formal terms, at least, the Union occasionally condemned international Catholicism and deplored its English manifestations, but only rarely linked Irish problems explicitly to the majority faith of the country's people. However, debate reports quoted in Chapters Nine and Ten suggest that the actual discussion of those issues was markedly less high-minded.

It is never pleasant to discuss sectarian animosity, and perhaps the most positive point that can be drawn from the 1898 debate is the size of the minority. Indeed, it was at around that time that it is possible to trace one of the more dramatic shifts in Union opinion on an Irish issue, which produced a growing acceptance of the idea of a Catholic university. This may well be linked to the return of Catholic students to the Cambridge community after 1895, even if still in small numbers. It was probably unfortunate that the period in which the Church discouraged attendance at Cambridge, the years from 1867 to 1895, coincided with the formation of attitudes to the central issue of Home Rule, often equated by Protestants with Rome Rule.

If Catholics of any nationality were scarce in Cambridge, Irish Catholics were rarer still, and very few argued their case in Union debates. The first to make an impact on the Society was Richard Dillon Boylan in 1824-25. Boylan came to Cambridge from Drogheda by way Oscott. He was an early member of the Apostles, then emerging as Cambridge's self-selected intellectual elite, and in later life became the English translator of Goethe and Schiller. He was also an officer of the Union, serving successively as Secretary and Treasurer in 1825. His acceptance in the University's two elite societies suggests that there was no necessary barrier to a Catholic Irishman provided that he came from a congenial social background. It is unlikely that he owed his election to office in the Union to his administrative genius. Like most Secretaries of the eighteen-twenties, he bemoaned the loss of books from the Society's unsupervised Library but confessed that he was "quite unable to offer any new arrangement for its perfect regularity".48 Worse still, when it came to handing on his responsibilities as Treasurer, he was alarmingly casual.

In the summer of 1825, Boylan left Cambridge to travel on the continent – no doubt because there was little point in staying on for degree examinations when his religion barred him from graduating. Boylan later denied "a culpable inattention, or a wilful neglect of the Society's affairs". He explained that he had asked a friend to hand over his accounts and papers, along with a bank draft for the balance, to his successor. Unfortunately the friend had fallen ill and did not return to Cambridge for the autumn term.49 The Union's business methods were clearly chaotic, and one obvious reform was the establishment of its own bank account. However, this did not solve the problem of Boylan's missing surplus, and almost a year later a curt letter was despatched to his home demanding settlement. It is fortunate that the letter reached its destination, since the officers of the Union seem to have lacked a clear idea of the location of Drogheda: "Mr Boylan not being in England, his Brother had opened the letter".50 Michael Boylan confessed himself "more than astonished at hearing of so strange a transaction" and promised to make good the missing sum himself, since his brother was travelling in France and could not be contacted.51 This was enough to restrain moves to expel Boylan from the Society altogether, although an earlier vote of thanks for his services was formally rescinded on account of his "culpable negligence".52

Perhaps the most revealing incident in the saga was Michael Boylan's anguish at his brother's behaviour: he wrote that the episode had "caused me the greatest distress of mind".53 A Catholic Irishman had been sent to study among English gentlemen and had failed to live up to their unwritten code. This sensitivity may also be seen in Richard Boylan's choice of subjects on which to speak in Union debates. In 1824, he did venture to criticise British policy towards Ireland, but he was the tenth speaker out of eleven on his side, and as the Union overwhelmingly agreed with his point of view by 94 votes to 17, he was addressing a friendly audience. More significant is his silence in debates on the more specific question of Catholic Emancipation, either in 1824 or the following year when, as Treasurer, he was the Union's second-ranking officer.54 Even if apparently successful in gaining a foothold among the English elite, an Irish Catholic remained an outsider who needed to tread carefully and, on the most sensitive issues, not to tread at all.

In the following decade, two Irish Catholics championed unpopular Irish causes in the Union. In 1833, Thomas Redington was one of a small minority to argue in favour of outright Repeal. The following year, he was equally outnumbered when he praised the career of Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Redington soon disavowed his youthful fling, and in 1846 was appointed under-secretary at Dublin Castle, making him the highest ranking Catholic in the Irish government since the seventeenth century.55 He was followed by John Ball who in 1839 argued, without success, that the unpopular Daniel O'Connell was entitled to the gratitude of the Irish people. He was certainly entitled to the gratitude of a young man whose father had become the second Catholic to be appointed to the bench after Emancipation. John Ball pursued a brief career as an Irish Liberal MP in the eighteen-fifties, and may well be one of the models from which Trollope fashioned Phineas Finn.56

One device that gives a snapshot of the relative representation of the Irish in Cambridge is an indicative surname sample. If there is one surname that is conventionally regarded as emblematic of the Irish Catholic peasant, it is surely Murphy. It is of course one of the most common surnames in Ireland, in 1997 accounting for sixty columns in both the Dublin and Cork telephone directories. Well over 50,000 students enrolled at Cambridge University during the nineteenth century. Just thirteen of them bore the surname Murphy.57 By contrast, to take a surname associated with the Irish ascendancy, there were 22 Beresfords (or 23, if we include John Bottom of Caius who changed his name in 1863). Moreover, as a measure of Irishness, the Murphy cohort must be further reduced: one was an English Catholic, three were born overseas, and in two further cases information is inadequate for identification. Of the seven from Ireland, four were almost certainly Protestants and one cannot be classified. Thus the Murphy "sample" at Cambridge was untypical of the surname as a whole. Of the two Irish Catholics, one was probably a member of the prominent local family of distillers in Midleton, County Cork, who came to Cambridge by way of Newman's foundation, the Oratory School at Birmingham. The other was the son of William Martin Murphy, the Dublin entrepreneur, from whom in 1919 he inherited control of the Irish Independent. Neither could remotely be described as an Irish peasant.

The nearest to a peasant Murphy at Cambridge was the son of a shoemaker from Mallow in County Cork which, like many Cork towns, contained a Protestant artisan community. Robert Murphy was a prodigy who published his first mathematical proof at the age of eighteen. A public subscription enabled him to go to Caius in 1825. He won a fellowship in 1829 and was ordained in the Church of England. Unfortunately, the pressures on him were too great and he took to drink. In 1832 his fellowship income was impounded to pay his debts and he returned to Ireland. He made a second attempt at an academic career at London University, but died in his mid-thirties.58

Only one Cambridge Murphy defended an Irish cause at the Union: John Arthur Murphy argued for Home Rule in 1890. Later that year he supported a motion describing Cambridge University as "a ridiculously overrated institution". He left soon afterwards without taking a degree and returned to his home on the verdant island seared by a tragic history that lay on the fringes of a mighty continent. The island was Tasmania.59

Thus Ireland was something essentially external to Cambridge opinion. There was nothing new in this. In 1429, Irish students had been banned from the University after allegations that they were responsible for a campaign of robbery and arson.60 One "rayny & darke night" in December 1688, as King Billy ousted James II from the throne, Cambridge was swept by panic caused by a report that five hundred Irish soldiers had sacked Bedford and were marching on the town. Some even claimed that the Irish had broken into the town by Magdalene and had started "cutting of throates, soe that ye scare ... was very great & dismall".61 Individual episodes faded from the memory but contributed to an overall English assumption that the Irish were unaccountably and perversely different. James Stephen, later Professor of History, provided a revealing reminiscence of his education:

One day I happened to see a map and being then nearly fourteen years old, found out to my extreme surprise, that Ireland was not part of the Island of Great Britain but they were separated by a wide channel of the sea.62

Many English attitudes to Ireland derived from the assumption that the sea either did not, or ought not to exist. Even the officers of the Union could slip into the assumption that Drogheda was in "England".

Half a century after the Catholic Emancipation controversy, one Cambridge Union veteran retained a sense of guilt about British rule in Ireland. Charles Merivale, Dean of Ely, confessed himself to be "pro-Turk" in 1876, or at least unhappy at the imposition of reforms by the European Powers upon the Turks. "All that we can say against them the Irish have said, and still say, against us; and I don't want to set a precedent for a European Conference to extort home rule for Ireland, and the occupation of Ulster by the Russians, and Dublin by the Americans." Other Cambridge observers were less sympathetic.63 William Whewell began his energetic travels across continental Europe in 1819, but did not visit Ireland until the British Association met in Dublin in 1835. He went armed with his own preconceptions. "You have no reason to fear for me," he assured his sister, "for, though they are fond of breaking each others' heads, they never molest strangers." Observation of the poverty of the south of Ireland only increased the tendency of the carpenter's son to dehumanise its people:

No English pig of the slightest respectability would think for a moment of living in such cabins as you see in long rows in every town and village ... and the dress of the people is so ragged that I never could comprehend the possibility of its being taken off and put off again.

The Irish, he concluded, "do not find any peculiar wretchedness in being in rags". Indeed, they probably "rather prefer them to whole clothes".64

For some Cambridge Protestants, Irish ethnicity was interwoven with language and religion. Joseph Romilly had an inexhaustible taste for taste for preaching. He often confided his opinions of pulpit oratory to his diary, but only rarely was he moved to record the actual contents. One exception was an entry for February 1836 when he attended a service intended to raise money for missionary work in Ireland. From the sermon he learnt that "there were 500,000 in Ireland who understood no language but Irish, & that the Irish had such a veneration for their language that they thought nothing heretical could exist in it".65 George Corrie actually taught himself Irish, although mainly to facilitate his research into Church history. A sabbatarian (as he showed in his denunciation of a Sunday excursion trains to Cambridge), Corrie deplored the fact that "in Ireland nothing is so common as to have your feelings shocked by Sunday dances, and games of all kinds". None the less, his sympathies were with the poor Irish, "in having for a long time before them the example of Sabbath-breaking countenanced if not encouraged by the Priests". Perhaps he attended the sermon that had so interested Romilly, for by July 1836 he felt "a most itching desire" to visit Achill Island, off the Mayo coast, where Protestant missionaries were rolling back the frontier of superstition, "to the no small consternation of the [sic] McHale's Popery".66 His wish came true in 1839, thanks in part to the hospitality of Stafford O'Brien at Cratloe.

Two themes predominate in Corrie's comments on Ireland, and both of them may be confidently regarded as chosen in advance as organising principles for his observations. One was the evil influence of the priesthood. He carefully noted clerical interference in politics, priestly opposition to popular education, and the physical violence and spiritual intimidation employed to obstruct Protestant missionary work. From Achill, he travelled on to Ventry, the Protestant bridgehead in Kerry. There he encountered an old man who had converted because he could not accept that a priest could absolve him of his burden of guilt. As a young man, he had stolen twenty sheep. The crime was duly confessed to the parish priest, who had promised divine forgiveness so long as he received a sheep and several fleeces of wool every Christmas. It was just the sort of story that Corrie eagerly lapped up: a tormented soul sacrificed to a corrupt and worldly racket. However, two experiences challenged this all-embracing interpretation. One was that Corrie's visit coincided with the brushfire early stages of Father Mathew's Temperance campaign. Corrie first heard of Theobald Mathew from one of Stafford O'Brien's estate workers:

He told me that there is now a Friar in Cork who cures people of a love for whisky, by means of a charmed medal which is worn about the neck, and is purchased for eightpence. The medals are numbered, and it is calculated that not less than ten thousand have already been sold. The effect of the medal is said to be such that whosoever possesses it is seized with a hatred of whisky, and in fact, would be prevented from possibility of drinking any more, since if he were to attempt it, the whisky would become maggots.


Corrie's informant believed that Mathew "had shewed one of those who went to him the whisky actually changed into maggots". Another local man had taken his son to Cork "to be miraculously cured of lameness", and insisted that by Father Mathew had performed a miracle, "though the contrary was manifestly the case". "The Friar, it seems, made the sign of the cross, uttered some prayer, touched the lame part, and the boy was instantly relieved from pain!" Whether for good or ill, some priests were evidently trading on the ignorance of their people. Yet Corrie related another tale with evident approval. A Protestant minister visited by converts from the Blasket islands off the Kerry coast had "greatly excited their attention" by striking a lucifer match. "On their return to the Island, they had some argument with Romanists respecting the power of the priests", which the Protestants had won by proclaiming that their minister "brought fire out of a stick!". Tactics condemned as mummery and superstition in the hands of the enemy evidently became fair game in a good cause.

The other challenge to Corrie's preconceptions took the form of a meeting with a local priest, Father Malone, whom Stafford O'Brien invited to dinner. Corrie does not seem to have made any allowance for the pressures upon a Catholic priest, asked to dinner at the Big House to meet an unusually zealous Protestant clergyman from a famous university. "At first Mr Malone seemed shy and embarrassed, but after some general conversation he became chatty." Presumably Malone decided that it would spoil a pleasant evening to tell the host and his English visitor that they were heretics destined for Hell. Instead, he adopted a workaday attitude to his calling, leaving the disapproving Corrie with the impression that he "seemed to regard his office as a profession by which he had to live". When O'Brien remarked on the good looks of a local girl, Father Malone replied: "I don't know much about her, for she will be no profit to me, since she is not in my parish, and so if she were to marry, I should be none the better for it." Corrie concluded that "Malone came quite up to my notion of a Popish priest. … There was not a particle of apparent religion about him, but on the contrary he seemed to be a mere trading ecclesiastic." The sole positive quality detected by Corrie in his fellow dinner guest was a certain scepticism about the Temperance crusade. According to Malone, "the road between Mallow and Cork was covered with people dead drunk … in consequence of their having drunk very copiously, as a kind of farewell to whisky" before presenting themselves before Father Mathew and abjuring alcohol for ever. When it came to the denigration of a Catholic venture in social reform, the worldly and cynical Father Malone suddenly became a highly credible source.

Corrie's second theme, set in convenient counterpoint, was the inherent goodness of the Irish people themselves. Like Whewell, he was struck by the squalor in which so many of them lived, such as the old woman he met in County Limerick who lived in "a most miserable cabin, not nearly so good as almost every pig-stye in England". Not far away, Corrie was struck by the contrast between two adjoining fields, one neatly cultivated, the other poorly tended. On learning that the tenant of the former was a Protestant, he was moved to comment that "Popery seems like a blight of heaven resting on this land!" It was religion, and not the inherent character of the people, that accounted for their backward condition. "That there is no ignorance strictly speaking in the Papists that makes them less worldly wise, may be seen at once by any who will pay the slightest attention to their ready intelligence." The inherent goodness of the Irish people also shone through "a great gathering of peasantry" organised by Stafford O'Brien as a sort of Merrie Ireland celebration on the Cratloe estate. "They are indeed a light-hearted, social people, their whole demeanour marked by the utter absence of all rudeness," Corrie wrote, before launching into his familiar moral. "One can only marvel at the cruel superstition which habitually converts such beings into relentless savages." 67

The relentless and uncompromising intellectual framework that shaped Corrie's view the Irish is one that arouses little sympathy today. However, our own distaste may lead us to miss an important element in his attitudes. Corrie did not simply abominate Catholic Emancipation as the "legislative renunciation of God". He regarded concessions to Catholics, especially in Ireland, not as overdue acts of justice but rather as artificial attempts to reverse the course of history in defiance of that divine will that he would later voice so confidently in his opposition to Sunday excursion trains. "Surely the great general purposes which God has declared toward the human race, are inconsistent with the long continuance of such a system as Irish Popery!" Even so ostensibly secular an issue as reform of the Irish corporations was to Corrie a battleground for religious truth. He rejoiced at the demise of "the Popish Municipal Corporation Bill intended for Ireland" during the parliamentary session of 1836. "May a merciful God grant that this may be the first step towards our deliverance from the spirit of Popery." When the bill was reintroduced the following year, Corrie concluded that the sole aim was that Ireland should be "thrown into the hands of the Papists, as to secure a permanent majority in the House of Commons efficient only for mischief". A modern response might be that such a move would merely recognise Irish reality. To such an argument, Corrie would have responded that present reality could not possibly correspond to divinely ordained destiny: "we may expect a not distant termination to a superstition which is at variance with all those great principles which hold society together". Indeed, only the reluctance of the English "as a nation to turn to God" could delay the victory of Protestantism, and "till then we may well be permitted to suffer the national detriment".68

For all its sectarian narrowness, Corrie's analysis had room for a mellow if patronising view of the Irish themselves. They were, in his perception, quaint and inefficient, but essentially they were victims of their faith, from which they must in time escape. While Corrie was hardly a prophet of modernity, there was a sense in which he was right: railways, telegraphs, schools and the English language did undoubtedly change Ireland and its people. Remarkably, however, modernisation did not significantly change Ireland's religion. Indeed, in many respects the Church exploited the forces of change to become a more powerful organisation as the nineteenth century progressed. By the time Charles Kingsley took a break from preparing his inaugural lecture as Professor of History to visit Mayo twenty years later, hopes of a massive conversion to Protestantism were starting to fade. The Catholicism of the Irish increasingly appeared to be their own self-inflicted burden, something accepted not in ignorance of a better way, but wilfully adopted in defiance of the paths of light. The logical corollary was an interpretation of the Irish that elaborated Whewell's pastiche of a quaint peasantry into a full-scale portrait of an inferior race.

Kingsley was moved by the poverty and the physical monuments to famine in "this land of ruins and the dead". "You cannot conceive to English eyes the first shock of ruined cottages; and when it goes on to whole hamlets, the effect is most depressing. ... what an amount of human misery each of these unroofed hamlets stands for!" Like Whewell, Kingsley's solution was implicitly to deny the humanity of the victims and, by 1860, he could call upon Darwin to do so. "I am haunted by the human chimpanzees that I saw along that hundred miles of horrible country. ... to see white chimpanzees is dreadful". With his usual insensitivity, Kingsley extended the metaphor into a full-scale racist comparison: "if they were black, one would not feel it so much, but their skins, except where tanned by exposure, are as white as ours". The emphasis in these reports was upon Kingsley's own anguish at having to witness Irish suffering:

I don't believe they are our fault. I believe there are not only many more of them than of old, but that they are happier, better, more comfortably fed and lodged under our rule than they ever were.

If Irish degradation was not "our fault", then by default the blame must fall upon the people themselves.69 One of the few English commentators who managed to escape from the simplistic equation of ethnicity with poverty was George Cornewall Lewis, an Oxford academic, who had conducted a more detailed government enquiry into Irish social conditions in 1833:

Before I went to Ireland I had very strong opinions as to the influence of race on the Irish character. But when I came to look at things more nearly, and to see all the demoralising influences to which they have been and are subjected, I asked myself whether a people of Germanic race would have turned out much better; and I really could not answer in the affirmative.70

In most English perceptions, the notion of racial inferiority was carried forward to the later nineteenth century, long after Ireland had become a modernising and even prosperous country: it was Salisbury who casually equated Irish Celts with "Hottentots" as peoples who, in his opinion, were unfit to operate representative institutions.71

Undergraduates love paradox, and the racial argument could be stood on its head: Home Rule, Edward Selwyn told the Union in 1907, was necessary because of "the difference between the Anglo-Saxon and the Celt".72 Outright racism was rare in the Union, but there are clues to suggest that debates were conducted within an intellectual framework that presupposed an ethnic as well as a social hierarchy in which the Irish occupied an ambiguous position, close to that of Cambridge's Indian students, who were regarded with mild amusement. As late as the nineteen-thirties, Geoffrey de Freitas could report for the Granta that "the Maharaj Kumar Prafulla Chandra Bhanj Deo of Mayurbhanj and Bastar spoke, but there is no room to say what he said".72 Forty years earlier, a contribution by an Indian student to the debate on the Parnell commission was reported in equally patronising terms – "obviously doing his best to grapple with a subject of which he knew about as much as the most Irishmen do of the Punjab".73 An even more striking, and indeed offensive, attempt at wit was uttered during a light-hearted debate on the Irish in 1897: "America will only be tolerable when every negro [sic] kills an Irishman and is hanged for it."74 Remarkably, the perpetrator of this sentiment, which lacked even the doubtful merit of originality, was Charles Masterman, an exponent of the new social liberalism and a member of Asquith's government during the Home Rule crisis of 1912-14.

Overall, ethnic prejudice against the Irish formed a minor element in Cambridge attitudes to Ireland. Even the fact that the University was almost totally devoid of a Celtic, Catholic, peasant voice may be of little moment: the assertive and demanding presence of Irish MPs at Westminster did little to win English hearts and minds. The most consistent quality in Cambridge attitudes was neither racism nor ignorance, but the simple assumption that Ireland was something external, a nuisance and an intrusion. In November 1888, Montague Rhodes James was obsessed by the need to save a valuable collection of medieval manuscripts for the British Museum: "instead of making a fuss about Ireland", the House of Commons should "attend to the best interests of the country". Parliament, of course, was not notable for its enthusiasm in its consideration of the Irish question in 1888, but was forced to do so by nationalist pressure. An exasperated James had "no patience ... with the Home Rulers". England was "the country" and its "best interests" lay in preserving medieval manuscripts.75 Looking back half a century at the achievement of Catholic Emancipation, A.M. Sullivan had identified as the most dynamic aspect of the County Clare election the fact that the Irish people had seized the political initiative for themselves. "What ought to be done, or might be done, for them was constantly debated," but never before had British opinion been obliged to respond to a political agenda of Irish creation.76 This was a fair criticism of the political culture at large. For the Cambridge Union, a society operating in a very English university, buttressed by a sense of social and intellectual superiority and dedicated to the art of debating, it could not be other than a necessary limitation.


Abbreviations are listed at the close of the Preface.

1. The Cam: A May Week Magazine, 9 June 1892, p. 19.

2. Gray, Cambridge and its Story, p. 1. Regulations for the appointment of official peace-keepers in 1268 imply the presence at Cambridge of students from Scotland, Wales and Ireland, but these perhaps owed inspiration to Paris, where the university was organised into "nations". English county identities were important at individual colleges, but it is noteworthy that Cambridge did not develop a structure based on "nations". L-G, p. 12n.

3. Ged Martin, "Cambridge Lectureship of 1866", p. 24.

4. John Buchan surprised Hensley Henson in 1934 by referring himself as "an Englishman",

adding "I have no use at all for the silly affectation of substituting Briton for Englishman when speaking of Scots". H.H. Henson, Retrospect of an Unimportant Life (2 vols, 1943 ed.), ii, p. 354. Like Cosmo Lang, who went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury, Buchan was a former President of the Oxford Union.

5. Scott-Giles, Sidney Sussex, p. 36.

6. Alma Mater, ii, p. 134.

7. 7. Bristed, p. 279.

8. Alma Mater, ii, pp. 135, 137. Beresford Hope (former President of the Union and MP for Cambridge University) defined the difference between the older English universities and their Scots counterparts in 1876: "the Scotch universities, with their Professorships and spacious lecture rooms, take up the members of the middle and lower classes, educate them, and leave them members of the middle and poorer classes still". Cambridge and Oxford, on the other hand, "take the same classes, and by their system …[of examinations and awards] … raise them to the rank of that best of aristocracies, the aristocracy of respect, of influence, and of power". He was replying to criticisms from the Scot, Lyon Playfair ( a self-styled "outer barbarian") that Oxford University had an annual income of £400,000 compared to £23,000 for Edinburgh, "and yet the number of their students is almost equal". Parliamentary Debates, 230, 6 July 1876, cols 1081, 1068-71.

9. Moultrie, i, pp. viii, ii, xxxi-iii; Corrie, p. 114.

10. The Marquis of Huntly was so badly beaten that one witness assumed he was dead. Although the local magistrates condemned the assault as "gross", they angered student opinion by imposing a derisory fine of ten shillings upon his assailant. Cambridge Chronicle, 10, 17 Nov. 1866.

11. 31/10/71. (the Archbishop was supported by 77 votes to 30); 3/2/85 ("the condition of the Scotch crofters calls for an instant and radical reform of the rights possessed by landed proprietors", opposed by W.F. Scott but carried by 70 votes to 54); 15/7 /02; 10/7/11.

12. G. Williams, Renewal and Reformation: Wales c. 1415-1642 (1993 ed.), p. 434.

13. Cunich et al., History of Magdalene, p. 85.

14. L. &. H. Fowler, comps, Cambridge Commemorated, pp. 70-1.

15. Morgan, Wales: Rebirth of a Nation, p. 100.

16. P. Hollis, Eton: A History (1960), p. 232.

17. "His Welsh intonation was most attractive", Birkett recalled of Evans. Cradock, p. 103.

18. 11/3/09; 28/1/13; 18/10/04.

19. E.Longford, Wellington: Years of the Sword (1971 ed.), p. 171.

20. Moody and Beckett, Queen's Belfast, i, pp. xlii-xliv.

21. Gray and Brittain, History of Jesus, pp. 174-6.

22. Bourne, Palmerston: The Early Years, p. 15.

23. J. Pope-Hennessy, Monckton Milnes: The Years of Promise 1809-1851 (1949), p. 18.

24. Bristed, p. 281, recorded another case, from the eighteen-forties, of an Irish Protestant student who went over to Rome "leaving an Orange father to bewail his untimely fate".

25. T.F.R. McDonnell was President in 1898; M.F.J. McDonnell in 1904. R.F. Foster, Charles Stewart Parnell: The Man and his Family (1979), pp. 54-64.

26. DNB, "Lynch, Thomas Kerr".

27. Gr,2 May 1914, p. 279.

28. L. & H. Fowler, comps, Cambridge Commemorated, p. 173.

29. Rom1, p. 48.

30. Rom1, p. 72.

31. Rom2, p. 127; Rom1, p. x. In 1859, the Queen's University in Ireland, representing the Colleges at Belfast, Cork and Galway, requested the same privilege, that its graduates be admitted to Cambridge degrees "ad eundem". The application was refused, since "Dublin [i.e. Trinity College] does not recognise these Queen's degrees any more than we recognise the degrees of the London University". Rom3, p. 337. As late as the nineteen-sixties, Cambridge staff with London doctorates were still sometimes formally referred to (if male) as "Mr".

32. Catholic Cambridge, pp. 100-124 (esp. p. 120) and cf. Brooke, pp. 388-91.

33. Catholic Cambridge, pp. 104-5; Rom3, p. 112 (9 Aug. 1863, presumably a reference to migrant harvest workers).

34. Catholic Cambridge, pp. 106-7. Oxford had lost twice as many converts to Rome.

35. Catholic Cambridge, p. 114-15. Protestant Cambridge delighted in the story that the benefactor was the widow of a man who had made his money from the manufacture of dolls' eyes. When it was falsely reported that the Union had voted in favour of an Irish Catholic university in 1889, Anglican opinion in Cambridge was quick to see "the first manifestation of the machinations of the new cathedral". Oxf. Mag., 23 Oct 1889, p. 29. The first official recognition of the Hills Road Catholic church was probably in June 1902, when the Vice-Chancellor gave formal notice of a requiem mass for Lord Acton. There was a respectable turn-out of official Cambridge, but H.M. Butler "was about the only Anglican parson" among the mourners. Fifoot, ed., Letters of Maitland, p. 246.

36. Catholic Cambridge, pp. 100, 134; Rom1, p. 70.

37. Magdalene became less welcoming to Catholics as the nineteenth century progressed, and declined to admit the future Regius Professor, Lord Acton, nephew of the Cardinal. But arguably he became a better historian through missing Cambridge. Cf. Cunich et al., History of Magdalene, p. 204; Brooke, pp. 405-6. Christ's was also open to Catholics. EVC, p. 83n.

38. Rom2, p, 180. F.A. Paley later returned to Cambridge and worked as a coach (i.e. free-lance tutor, " a crammer for the Classical Tripos") between 1860 and 1874, when he became a Professor at Manning's unsuccessful Catholic University in Kensington. Rom3, p. 435.

39. Gray and Brittain, History of Jesus, p. 165.

40. 22/4 /45. Lord Bernard Howard was the younger son of the 13th Duke of Norfolk (who briefly seceded from the Catholic Church in protest against the re-establishment of the hierarchy in 1851). Lord Bernard had been a member of the Speculative Society at Edinburgh. He died in December 1846, shortly before his 21st birthday. For the Synod of Thurles and the Queen's Colleges (an issue that divided the Irish bishops), E. Larkin, Making of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland 1850-1860 (1980), pp. 27-57.

41. Gavin Souter, Lion and Kangaroo (1976 ), p. 206. The governor-general of Australia, Sir Ronald Munro-Ferguson, thought Strickland "obsessed by petty personal ambition" and barely sane.

42. 21/11/86. D. Cannadine, Aspects of Aristocracy: Grandeur and Decline in Modern Britain (1994), pp. 109-29.

43. Catholic Cambridge, pp. 121-2.

44. Catholic Cambridge, p. 123.

45. Johnson, pp. 27-8, L-G, p. 175. After the First World War, the University's Catholic community rented a house in Round Church Street from the Union for use as a chapel prior to the acquisition of Fisher House.

46. Annual Report, 1851, p. 127.

47. 26/5/29; 3/12 /44; 4 /3/62; 8/12/74; 10/5/98. The 1829 discussion of the Jesuits was "but a poor debate" which "did not last more than half an hour". Thackeray, p. 80. Venn, usually so helpful, offers no information on Seyyid Ben-Yusuf.

48. MB2, Easter Term 1825 (no pagination).

49. MB2, report received 5 Dec. 1825.

50. MB3, report by R. Hutt, 14 Nov. 1826, fo. 53.

51. MB3, letter from M. Boylan, Johnstown [Drogheda], 4 Nov. 1826, fos. 71-2.

52. MB4, fos 6-7.

53. MB3, M. Boylan to J. Jordan, Johnstown, 4 Jan. 1827, fos 86-7.

54. 6/4/24; 26/4-3/5/25. Boylan spoke tenth out of eleven in criticism of English rule in Ireland (before 1800) on 23/11/24.

55. 19-26/3/33. Sir Thomas Redington failed to persuade Cullen to accept the post of Visitor at Queen's College Belfast. E. Larkin, The Making of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, 1850-1860, pp. 37-8.

56. 5/3/39. Trollope made Phineas a member of the debating society at Trinity College Dublin. Like Phineas, Ball was Under-Secretary for Colonies. Like Phineas, he took an interest in the development of the Canadian prairies, and was largely responsible for the despatch of the expedition under Captain John Palliser in 1857. Ball was a founder of the Alpine Club. Plantagenet Palliser first appears in The Small House at Allington, written in 1862 at about the time Trollope became a member.

57. J.A.Venn, comp., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Part ii, iv (1951), pp. 499-500.

58. DNB, "Murphy, Robert".

59. 4/2/90; 10/6/ 90.

60. C.H.Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, i (1892), p. 181.

61. C.H. Cooper, Annals of Cambridge, iii (1895), p. 644.

62. Cambridge University Library, James Stephen Papers, MS7349/1, James Stephen to James Fitzjames Stephen (aged 7), 2 Dec. 1836.

63. Merivale, p. 314.

64. Whewell, pp. 173, 177 (8 May 1835). It is noteworthy that when Whewell revisited Ireland in 1857, he does not seem to have been so struck by poverty (p. 496). This may perhaps be explained by the fact that he passed much of his visit at Malahide Castle.

65. Rom1, p. 97 (28 Feb. 1836).

66. Corrie, pp. 50-2.

67. Corrie, pp. 122-31.

68. Corrie, pp. 72-3, 89.

69. Kingsley, Charles Kingsley (1883 ed.), p. 236. In 1866, Kingsley wrote that "some races, e.g. the Irish Celts, seem quite unfitted for self-government … because they regard freedom and law … merely as weapons to be used for their own private interests and passions". (p. 278). In 1861, G.O. Trevelyan went to Mayo as part of a "reading party" (a group of students who based themselves in a remote location to engage in energetic recreation and intensive study). "The accommodation was miserable, even for an Irish wilderness" and they were confined to their "porous cottage" by heavy rain. However, the capacity of the stranded undergraduates to empathise with the Mayo peasantry was considerably diminished by the fact that they had each brought "a hamper from Fortnum and Mason". Jebb, Life of Jebb, p. 53.

70. G.F. Lewis, ed., Letters of the Right Hon. George Cornewall Lewis, Bart., to Various Friends (1870), pp. 40-41.

71. R. Hyam, Britain's Imperial Century 1815-1914 (1976 ed.), p. 88.

72. CR, 14 March 1907, pp. 327-8.

73. Cradock, p. 145; Gr, 6 May 1890, p. 298

75. CR, 25 Nov. 1897, p. 112. The most that can be said in defence of this sentiment, which was surely unsavoury even at the time, is that it was not original. It can be traced to the medieval historian, E.A. Freeman, who had visited the United States in 1881. "Very many approved when I suggested that the best remedy for whatever was amiss would be if every Irishman should kill a negro [sic] and be hanged for it." Freeman's opinion was unpopular in Rhode Island, which had abolished the death penalty, while some of his hosts objected "that if there were no Irish and no negroes, they would not be able to get any domestic servants". E.A. Freeman, Some Impressions of the United States (1883). The publication of Freeman's biography in 1895 may have drawn further attention to the remark. W.R.W. Stephens, The Life and Letters of Edward A. Freeman (2 vols, 1895), ii, p. 242. Perhaps unexpectedly, Freeman supported Home Rule in 1886, on the unusual but probably accurate assessment that it would create "a real Imperial relation which was not before" by removing Irish MPs from Westminster. "I should have thought one main object of the whole thing was to get rid of them." (ii, p. 346). I am obliged to Owen Dudley Edwards for this identification.

76. R.W. Pfaff, Montague Rhodes James (1980), p. 99. Henry Bradshaw, University Librarian, from 1867 to 1886, was a notable figure in Celtic scholarship.

77. A.M. Sullivan, The New Ireland (1884 ed.), p. 42.