Mrs. Cawley and Jane Austen

MrsCawleysHome In the spring of 1783 Jane Austen went to Oxford with her cousin Jane Cooper and her sister Cassandra Austen to be taught by a Mrs. Cawley. Jane was seven, her cousin twelve and her sister ten. At this time Jane's eldest brother James was at St John's and her mother's uncle Theophilus Leigh was Master of Balliol. Mrs Cawley's first Brasenose home



Later that year Mrs. Cawley took the girls down to Southampton, where Jane and Cassandra went down with a 'putrid fever'; Jane is supposed to have been in grave danger. Mrs. Cawley did not notify the Austens or the Coopers, but Jane Cooper did. Mrs. Austen and Mrs. Cooper went down to Southampton to take the girls home. Subsequently Mrs. Cooper caught the infection and she died in October 1783.

PrincipalsHouse Mrs. Ann Cawley (1736-1787) was the widow of Ralph Cawley, who was Principal of Brasenose 1770-1777; they had no children. She would have lived with her husband in the Principal's Lodge. At first this was in the Old Quadrangle overlooking Radcliffe Square, but in 1771 they moved to a new house adapted from existing College property on the High Street. When Ralph Cawley died in 1777 his widow would have had to vacate this house. Under the terms of her husband's will she received his chariot and three horses, and all his household furniture and goods, excepting his books, bookcases and manuscripts. His money went to a sister, a brother, and nephews and nieces. The Principal's house on the High Street (taken just before its demolition in 1886/7)

Mrs. Cawley, who is described in one source as 'stiff and formal', was a family connection of the Austens; her brother was married to Jane's mother's sister.

An article about Mrs. Cawley entitled Mrs. Cawley and Brasenose College was published in The Jane Austen Society Report for 2003 and The Brazen Nose volume 38 (2003/04).


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