Something about Caius College, Cambridge

Gonville & Caius College, known as Caius and pronounced keys was founded in 1348 by Edmund Gonville, the Rector of Terrington St Clement in Norfolk.   The first name was thus Goville Hall and it was dedicated to the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Caius College, along with Pembroke, Corpus Christi, and Trinity Hall were all founded within a decade of one another.   Many believe this proliferation of colleges came about due to the plague or the Black Death of 1348 which took the lives of many learned men, thus these colleges are often attributed “plague colleges”, established to cultivate a new generation of educated men.

Three parcels of land for the college was purchased by Gonville on March 5th 1347. In January 1348 King Edward III granted the right to establish and endow a Hall.  Edmund Gonville did not  have the resources necessary to properly endow the college and following his death in the summer of 1351, the Bishop of Norwich, William Batemen took control of the finances, and brought in further endowment.  The College remained under-endowed until 1557 when a former student named John Keys, who spelled his name Caius on legal documents, stepped in from his successful City of London medical practice.  He offered to re-found his alma mater as Gonville and Caius College.  In 1558 Dr. Caius was elected Master.

Dr. Caius substantially increased the endowment during his tenure as Master through additional land purchases by use of his own funds and donations.  Upon part of the land donated by Dr. Caius today sits Tree Court as shown in the photo below. Upon his death in 1573, he was buried in the College Chapel.

Tree Court

Today, March 31st, 2018, six porters from the college shall serve as pall bearers for the funeral of world-renowned scientist Dr. Stephen Hawking.  Hawking was educated at Caius and it served as his academic home for over 52 years.

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Because its blessings are abused, Must gold be censure, cursed, accused? E’en virtue’s self by knaves is made, A cloak to carry on the trade.

— Gay