General introductions to Brasenose and its history

Brasenose College was founded in 1509 by Sir Richard Sutton, a Lawyer, and William Smyth, the Bishop of Lincoln. The best introductions to the College's long and detailed history include:

  • Oxford University College Histories: Brasenose [John Buchan, London, Routledge/Thoemmes, 1898]
  • Brasenose Quatercentenary Monographs [Blackwells 1909 and Oxford Historical Society volumes LII-LV 1909-1910]
  • Victoria History of the Counties of England: Oxfordshire [volume III pp. 207-219]
  • Brasenose: The Biography of an Oxford College [J. Mordaunt-Crook, OUP, 2008]
  • Brazen Nose Magazine [published annually since 1909]

Family History and biographical information

If you are researching your family history or looking for information about students or fellows of the College please see our pages about College members and Famous Brasenose Names.

College Buildings

The earliest buildings at Brasenose date from medieval times, and the archives can be particuarly helpful to architectural historians. For more information please see our pages about the College buildings.

College Estates and Advowsons

Since its foundation in 1509 Brasenose has owned over two hundred estates or smaller properties in some twenty counties throughout England. Please see our pages about College Estates to find out what type of information we hold about particular places and properties. This includes more information about the manorial documents held by the College.

First and Second World Wars

Please visit our page Brasenose during the wars, which also gives further information about the war memorials in College.

College Staff

Before the twentieth century many staff members who were regarded traditionally as quintessential College servants, like the scouts, were often employed by the students themselves rather than the College.  This means that where they do appear in the records they are usually recorded under job title instead of individual name. After the First World War the servants become more visible and records of their social as well as working activities can be found.  College Servants' sporting and other clubs were particularly prevalent in the inter-war period. The records, which mention servants by name are:

  • Occasional bills and accounts for servants' wages from 1650
  • Records of servants' salaries 1867-1916; 1900-1916 available here
  • Minutes and papers of the Brasenose Servants' Volunteer Fire Brigade 1890-1953
  • Records of the Brasenose College Servants Amalgamated Clubs 1930s-1950s
  • The Brazen Nose (the College magazine, 1909 onwards) records the activities of the Servants' Clubs and sometimes includes references to individual staff on leaving.
  • First World War Roll of Service 1914-1915

College Benefactors

The list of benefactions bestowed upon the College begin with those of the two Founders, William Smyth and Sir Richard Sutton. Other historical benefactors include:

  • Hugh Oldham
  • Elizabeth Morley
  • John Claymond
  • Humphrey Ogle
  • Alexander Nowell and Queen Elizabeth I
  • John Lord Mordaunt
  • Joyce Frankland
  • Samuel Radcliffe
  • Sarah Alston, Duchess of Somerset
  • William Hulme

For more information about benefactors and benefactions a useful source is the Brasenose Quatercentenary Monographs, Vol IV, 'An Account of the Benefactions Bestowed upon the College' by A. J. Butler (Blackwell, Oxford, 1909)

The Visitor

The Visitor acted as a College’s outside arbiter; the Visitor of Brasenose is the Bishop of Lincoln. Until the reform of the University in the 19th century the Visitor was often called upon to deal with disputes over interpretation of the statutes and College matters. The Archive holds correspondence relating to matters brought before the following Visitors:

  • Barlow, William (Bishop of Lincoln 1608-1613)
  • Winniffe, Thomas (Bishop of Lincoln 1641-1654)
  • Fuller, William (Bishop of Lincoln 1667-1675)
  • Barlow, Thomas (Bishop of Lincoln 1675-1691)
  • Tenison, Thomas (Bishop of Lincoln 1691-1695)
  • Gardiner, James (Bishop of Lincoln 1695-1705)
  • Wake, William (Bishop of Lincoln 1705-1716)
  • Gibson, Edmund (Bishop of Lincoln 1716-1723)
  • Reynolds, Richard (Bishop of Lincoln 1723-1743)
  • Thomas, John (Bishop of Lincoln 1744-1761)
  • Green, John (Bishop of Lincoln 1761-1779)
  • Pretyman, George (later Pretyman Tomline) (Bishop of Lincoln 1787-1820)
  • Pelham, George (Bishop of Lincoln 1820-1827)
  • Kaye, John (Bishop of Lincoln 1827-1853)
  • Wordsworth, Christopher (Bishop of Lincoln 1869-1885)
  • King, Edward (Bishop of Lincoln 1885-1910)
  • Hicks, Edward (Bishop of Lincoln 1910-1919)
  • Swayne, William (Bishop of Lincoln 1919-1932)
  • Hicks, Frederick (Bishop of Lincoln 1932-1942)