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A college in Selwyn’s honor - 1882

A partial view of Selwyn College. "Selwyn College Old Court, Cambridge, UK - Diliff" by Diliff - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons


George Selwyn was a Church of England bishop, the first primate of New Zealand, and the organizer of missions in Melanesia. He learned Maori while sailing to New Zealand and was able to preach in that language when he landed there. He ended his days back home as bishop of Lichfield, England. His character and hard work were so impressive that after his death several schools were named for him, including Selwyn College, Cambridge. On this day 13 September 1882 Queen Victoria issued the school its charter.


“VICTORIA, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Queen, Defender of the Faith, To ALL TO WHOM these presents shall come, GREETING.

“WHEREAS … Our said Petitioners desired that the said proposed College should be a permanent Memorial of the said George Augustus Selwyn, and should bear the impress of his self-denying character and convictions, and should aim at training young men in simple and religious habits according to the principles of the Church of England. And that Our said Petitioners were assured that the objects of the said undertaking would be more certainly and securely attained if it were protected by Our Royal sanction by means of Our Charter of Incorporation. Our said Petitioners therefore most humbly supplicated Us to grant to them…Our Royal Charter of Incorporation, for the purpose of constituting them and their successors a Corporation for the purpose of more effectually carrying on and conducting the said undertaking, under such regulations and restrictions, and with such powers as to Us might seem right and expedient. Now KNOW YE that We, taking the premises into Our Royal consideration, of Our especial grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion have granted, constituted, and appointed, and by these presents for Us, Our heirs, and successors, do grant, constitute, and appoint as follows (that is to say) :

1. That for the purpose of establishing, carrying on, and maintaining a College at Cambridge, to be called ‘Selwyn College’ ….

3. The Archbishop of Canterbury for the time being shall, by virtue of his office, be Visitor of the College, with power to visit and originate inquiry as often as to him shall seem meet.

4. The Master shall always be a Clerk in Holy Orders….

[here followed many legal points regarding elections, duties of master, finances, etc…]

In Witness thereof We have caused  these Our Letters to be made Patent. Witness Ourself at Our Palace at Westminster, the thirteenth day of September, in the forty-sixth year of Our Reign. 


Charter of Selwyn College.

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