St John’s College, Cambridge by Joseph Murray Ince. Watercolour. Signed and dated 1835.


Quite a few of my forebears studied at Oxford and Cambridge. Many of their names appear in the universities’ lists of their alumni, some in very early lists.

The University of Cambridge was founded in 1209. Oxford is older, with teaching in some form there as long ago as 1096. The University of Oxford developed rapidly from 1167, when King Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.

The earliest ancestor I have found at one of these universities is my fourteenth great grandfather Nicholas Vaux (1460 – 1523). He is listed as an Oxford alumnus. Unfortunately his college and dates of study there are not recorded.

Thomas Vaux (1509 – 1556), Nicholas’s son and my 13th great grandfather, studied at Cambridge university; again, I do not know when or which college.

When I looked at my Champion de Crespigny forebears who attended Cambridge University I found that there did not appear to be any familial loyalty to a college: all of them were at different colleges. My fourth great grandfather Charles Fox Champion Crespigny (1785 – 1875) was at Sidney College. Two of his three sons went to Cambridge. George Blicke Champion de Crespigny (1815 – 1893) went to Trinity Hall in 1832. Philip Robert Champion de Crespigny (1817 – 1889) went to Downing in 1838.

My Mainwaring forebears, by contrast, showed some degree of family loyalty to a particular college. My eighth great grandfather Edward Mainwaring (1635 – 1704) attended Christ’s College Cambridge. His son Edward (1681 – 1738) attended St John’s College Cambridge from 1699. His sons, Edward (1709 – 1795) and Henry (1710 – 1747), both also attended St John’s Cambridge.

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  • retrieved through and googlebooks:
    • Venn, J. A., comp. Alumni Cantabrigienses: A Biographical List of All Known Students, Graduates and Holders of Office at the University of Cambridge, from the Earliest Times to 1900 2 Volume Set also available through Google books Cambridge University Press, 2011
    •  Foster, Joseph. Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford, 1715-1886 and Alumni Oxonienses: The Members of the University of Oxford, 1500-1714. Oxford: Parker and Co., 1888-1892.