1927

[The following entries have been transcribed from the minute books kept in Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.]


The 110th Meeting of the Confraternitas Historica was held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Tuesday, Feb 1 1927, at 8.30 p.m.

The preliminary rites having been observed, Mr H. E. Robson was duly admitted to the Society. The minutes of the previous meeting were read and confirmed. Apologies for absence were announced from Fratres Carroll, Thompson, Air, Reeves and Knox-Shaw. The provisional dates for the term’s meetings were announced as Feb. 15 and March 7, in addition to the Visitors’ Meeting, the date and speaker of which had yet to be settled. In accordance with the constitution of the Society, by which one member of the Senate and the two tribunes resign at the end of the Michaelmas term, the resignation of Fratres Gladstone (Ceremonarius), Fraser and Lancaster were announced. Fr. Gladstone was re-elected to the Senate; Fratres Gage and Stansfield were elected Tribunes, and duly took the Tribunicial Oath. Messrs. Gibson, Thomas, Watson, Rooke, Pulman, [Upward?] & Prideaux were then nominated for membership of the Society. The Princeps Senatus, seconded by Fr. Gladstone, proposed that Fr. Passant, who was out on his proctorial duties, should on his return be admitted to the meeting though he were not apparelled according to the custom of the Society. This was carried nem. con.

After Fr. Gage’s paper on “The Duke of Marlborough” had been announced, Fr. Stansfield called the attention of the Society to the fact that Fr. Youngman was not wearing the official socks of the Confraternitas. Fr. Youngman replied that this was entirely out of order, as the paper had been announced. The Princeps Senatus remarked, however, that the Tribune had doubtless a long memory.

Fr. Gage then read a stimulating and extremely provocative paper on “The Duke of Marlborough”. A vigorous discussion followed, during which Fr. Gage defended his most controversial statements with skill.

After the usual ceremonies, the meeting closed.

H. Maxwell Findlater (Princeps)
A. Rabson (Mag: Rot:)


The 111th Meeting of the Confraternitas Historica was held in Fr. Passant’s rooms on Tuesday, Feb. 15 [1927] at 8.30 p.m.

The meeting opened in the ancient and time-honoured manner, by the offering of prayer to the Muse. Messrs. Gibson and Thomas were then duly admitted. The minutes of the previous meeting were read. The Socius Honorabilis, who made a welcome reappearance in our midst, objected to the use of the word “adjourned” to indicate the closing of the meeting. The mistake was duly corrected. Fr. Youngman also objected to the inclusion in the minutes of the account of an incident touching his conduct, on the ground that the said incident was not among the events of the meeting. He was speedily and convincingly disillusioned by Fr. Passant. The minutes were then signed. In connection with the Visitors’ Meeting, Fr. Passant announced that Dr J. R. Tanner had promised to come on March 1, and would talk on “The Transition from Medieval to Modern History”.

Upon a hint from the Princeps Senatus, Fr. Stansfield arose and, recalling the incident mentioned above, asked why Fr. Youngman had at the previous meeting failed to attire himself in the distinctive regalia of the Confraternitas. Fr. Reeves arose and explained that he had had at the time, seisin of a pair of trousers borrowed from Fr. Youngman, and containing, unknown to himself, the socks of Fr. Youngman, who had perforce to attend the meeting without the said socks. He apologized for the unfortunate occurrence. Fr. Youngman added his own personal apologies, and the Tribunes therefore announced that they were satisfied.

Messrs. Rooke, [Upward?], Prideaux and Watson were then proposed to the Senate for membership.

Fr. Gage, a Tribune, asked the Princeps Senatus whether the Codex Juris contained a law prohibiting or condemning giggling by officers of the Society during the initiation of new fratres. The Princeps Senatus replied that there was no specific ruling on the matter, but considered that such conduct was at no time in keeping with the true spirit of the Confraternitas. Fr. Gage said he was satisfied with the apology of the Princeps Senatus. That officer retorted that his reply, far from being an apology, was an indictment of the conduct of the Tribunes themselves. It was then felt that the matter had proceeded far enough, and it was dropped.

On the motion of Fr. Taylor, seconded by Fr. Gladstone, a vote of thanks was accorded to Fr. Passant for his arduous and successful labours in securing a speaker for the Visitors’ Meeting.

The same frater, feeling even more benevolent and philanthropic than usual – if that were possible – asked when the term’s Budget would be announced. [A note reads: on the ground that it could not be announced at the Visitors’ Meeting.] He was informed that it would be announced at the meeting on March 7th.

The Confraternitas then settled down to enjoy a paper by Fr. Stansfield on “Anglo-Saxon Procedure”. As Fr. Taylor remarked later, it was a far more interesting paper than its title suggested, and indeed, as a lucid exposition of a little-known subject, with fine touches of humour here and there, it could hardly have been bettered. (An exceedingly interesting discussion followed.)

Immediately after the end of the paper, Fr. Findlater begged leave of the Society to retire to rest, in view of his proposed strenuous exertions in the Lents on the following day. His place was taken by Fr. Taylor. Fr. Passant raised the question of the Visitors’ Meeting. It had been agreed that each frater should be allowed two guests, but this would make the number present too great. It was therefore suggested that fratres should limit themselves to one guest each, except for the frater who had already arranged to bring two guests. In spite of a spirited protest from Fr. Rabson that special privileges should not be granted to one frater only, this proposal was carried by a large majority. The rest of the matter was left in the hands of the Senate.

The discussion on the paper then took place and proved exceedingly interesting.

The meeting closed with the usual ceremonies.

H. Maxwell Findlater (Princeps)
A. Rabson (Mag: Rot:)


The 112th Meeting of the Confraternitas was held on Tuesday, March 1 [1927] at 8.15 p.m.

This was the night of the Visitors’ Meeting, and both fratres and guests assembled in Fr. Passant’s room of the sunshine hue, to quaff the “black or white” beverage and to munch chocolate-biscuits, discoursing meanwhile on the usual topical small-talk. It was therefore with difficulty that fratres were shepherded into the “other room” to worship before the Lady Clio and to admit three unusually solemn and awed neophytes, Messrs. Prideaux, Rooke and Watson. This done, the minutes of the previous meeting not having been read, fratres rejoined their guests whose numbers were shortly swelled by the arrival of Miss Jones of Girton College, and Dr. J. R. Tanner, who was to read the paper of the evening.

In due course, therefore, the company invaded the Senior Common Room, very kindly loaned to the Confraternitas for the meeting by the Master and Fellows of the College. Dr. Tanner read an extremely interesting and able paper on “The Transition from Medieval to Modern History”, in which he showed the difficulty of deciding where the former could be said to have merged into the later, but made an excellent case for the end of the 15th century, a time when several movements reached fulfilment and several important events occurred. An interesting discussion followed the paper.

Fr. Passant, in thanking the speaker in the name of the Confraternitas, referred to the long and faithful service Dr. Tanner, now deputy Regius Professor, had rendered to the School of History at Cambridge. The company showed its gratitude to Dr. Tanner in no uncertain manner.

H. Maxwell Findlater (Princeps)
A. Rabson (Mag: Rot)


The 113th meeting of the Confraternitas took place on Monday, March 7 [1927], at 8.30 p.m., in Fr. Passant’s rooms.

There being no new fratres to admit with solemn and mystic rites, the initial ceremonies were followed instead by the induction of the Pontifex Maximus for the coming year. Fr. Rabson, who, receiving the sacred mantle from his predecessor, Fr. Taylor, swore with trembling voice and broken accents to nourish and foster, guard and cherish, the spiritual life of the Confraternitas.

The ordinary business of the evening was then proceeded with. Mr. Pulman was nominated for membership by Fratres Air and Taylor. A prolonged discussion then took place concerning the absences from our midst of fratres who had not made formal apologies and excuses. Fratres were reminded that 100% attendance was expected of them. Particular reference was made to the absence of senior members of the College, only two of whom, Fratres Hackforth & Green, had begged to be excused, and that by the unofficial means of informing Fr. Passant of their inability to attend. A vote of censure was passed nem. con. on Fratres Rooke, Owens, Thomas, Joyce and Reeves for their lack of respect to our Lady Clio.

Fr. Gage, a tribune, drew attention to the fact that Fr. Air had his senatorial band the wrong way round, i.e. over the left shoulder instead of over the right. Fr. Air retorted that there was no rule defining the exact position of the band, but it was held that custom of long ages forbade such innovations as Fr. Air had introduced.

Fr. Stansfield, the other tribune, then proceeded to castigate Fr. Fraser for his failure to wear his Confraternal socks. The offender, far from pleading guilty or even expressing any sort of regret, was very rude to the tribune, and some slight bickering ensued. It was finally decided that on a motion proposed by Fr. Passant and seconded by Fr. Frayer [sic] himself, that the tribunes should inspect the regalia of fratres as they entered the room on the occasion of future meetings.

Fr. Lancaster raised the question of the annual pilgrimage, and suggested Audley End. Fr. Passant said that Audley End had been suggested for at least eight years, but we would try again, and proposed April 25 as the day. After some discussion, April 24 (Sunday) was decided upon.

Fr. Air’s budget was then presented – an eminently readable and amusing statement of the financial plight of the Muse being followed by some less palatable details as to the personal liability of fratres. The budget was accepted nem. con. even by Frater Passant, upon whom the heaviest burden fell, and the Comes was congratulated on his excellent management of the finances of the Confraternitas.

Fr. Carroll then delighted us with a brilliant and fascinating talk on Astronomy, illustrated by many lantern-slides and by a spectroscope. Many questions were put to him and most of them answered. But he could not tell us about the beginning of things. Science, he said, dealt with processes, not origins. And pondering this in our minds, we thanked Fr. Carroll well and truly, and retired to bed at a very late hour.

G. J. Passant (Princeps Senatus)
A. Rabson (Mag: Rot:)


The 114th meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Fr. Passant’s rooms at 8.30 p.m. on Monday the 24th of October 1927.

The Pontifex Maximus being absent, Frater Passant acted both as Pontifex and Princeps. After the ceremony Fr. Pulman was admitted, & the minutes of the last meeting were read. Objection was made to the expressions “snappy back-chat” & “toddle off to bed”, &, after “slight bickering” & “retired”, had been substituted, a vote of censure was passed on Fr. Rabson for using undignified language. Written apologies for absence were then read from the Pontifex Maximus, Fratres Lancaster, Picker, & Gladstone, who with the vice-chancellor, were attending upon the bishop of Adelaide, & from Fratres [Bond?] & Joyce. Fratres the Tutor, the Dean & the Praelector sent oral apologies through the Princeps, which oral apologies were held to be sufficient from a senior member of the Confraternitas. A strong and hearty vote of censure was proposed by Fr. Gage, seconded by Frater Air & passed by 8 to one on Fr. Joyce for wasting the societies [sic] time, metaphorically comparing himself to Prometheus, & having no valid excuse for absence. The society then elected two members to the senate, & appointed two tribunes. Fratres Reeves, Stansfield, Joyce & Robson were proposed & seconded as candidates for the Senate, & Frater Reeves & Robson were elected after keen competition between Fratres Picker, Prideaux, Lancaster, Gage, Stansfield & Joyce, who were all duly proposed & seconded, Fratres Gage & Joyce were elected as tribunes, a second vote having to be employed to decide between Fratres Joyce & Prideaux. During the elections it was ruled, on a question from Fr: Reeves, that a candidate could not vote for himself twice on the same ballot paper. After Fr. Gage had taken the tribunitial oath Mr J.G. Hare was proposed by Fr: Gage & seconded by Fr. Prideaux as a candidate for election to the Confraternitas. Dates (Nov: 7-8 21st) were then fixed for the reading of two more papers, & it was decided to hold the banquet on Saturday November the 26th.

The business on the paper having been completed the Princeps asked the Society if there was anything further to be done before the reading of the paper. There was a furtive look in his eyes, & it was not without reason. Fr. Gage immediately proposed another “hearty” vote of censure – this time upon the Princeps himself, for appearing without his maroon socks. In spite of the Princeps pleading domestic troubles this vote was carried 7-2. Fr. Air then proposed that the Princeps Senatus et Lord-Pontifex Maximus should, as a penance, take off his black offending half-hose & remain barefoot for the evening. Almost before there was time to speak, certainly before there was time for action, the Princeps ruled the motion void, claiming that no seconder could be found for it. Fr: Reeves then proposed a vote of censure on the Magister Rotulorum for omitting the time on his notice warning the Society of the meeting. This omission Fr: Reeves made the excuse for his lamentably late appearance, & Fr. Gibson was admonished by the Princeps not to let it occur again. There the business of the society came to an end, & Fr. Reeves was able to begin his paper on Catherine the Great of Russia, & Here, Fratres Conscripti Fratres, I, Magister Rotulorum, feel I must vindicate myself. Fr: Reeves implied, indeed even asserted, that the notice, that he was to read a paper on Catherine, had been put up before he had been consulted, or even warned that he was to read any paper at all. This implication was untrue, this charge of tyranny, for such it would have been, was foundless. All due precautions had been taken, & I may truly say that I had left nothing undone that ought to have been done. However, this cowardly excuse for an unfinished paper apart, Fr: Reeves amused & enlightened the society with a paper which ranged from Catherines [sic] toes to the crown of the king of England being spared by the Pope, the disestablished abp: of Canterbury, the chief XXX of the Nonconformists, the General of the Salvation army, & Mr Bernard Shaw, from the amoeba to the XXX, & from academic history to the portraiture of Woolsey on his, Fr: Reeves’, woolen [sic] underwear.

Alban Rabson (Pontifex Maximus)
G. J. W. Gibson (Mag. Rot.)


The 115th meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Fr: Passant’s Rooms on Monday November 6th [1927].

After Fr: Rabson had delivered himself of his pastoral address, & the Magister Rotulorum had replied in thanks, the minutes of the last meeting were read. Fr: Joyce objected to the vote of censure moved upon him, in his absence, by Fr: Gage, & proposed that the society should censure Fr. Gage for misleading it. He was seconded by Fr Rooke; but Fr Air opposed the motion, asking whether Fr: Gage could possibly mislead so learned a society. Fr Joyce’s motion was eventually quashed by 8 to 3.

Apologies for absence were then read from Frs Smith, Knox Shaw, Passant, Reeves & Watson which latter had, one supposes, so had his brain turned by the study of ancient political thought, that he wrote his in Latin. A vocal apology through Fr. Joyce from Fr. Gage was the object of a vote of censure by Fr. Air. This was seconded in a loud and eager voice by Fr: Joyce & carried nem con. Fr: Air, who is always a prominent member of what may be termed the opposition, then proposed a ote of censure on Fr: Reeves for not stating the nature of the private business that kept him from the society. This was opposed, as being too inquisitorial, by the Magister Rotulorum who was seconded by Fr: Hacforth [sic]; & the motion of Fr: Air was defeated by 8-3. Fr: Air then proposed a vote of censure on Fr: [XXX] for non-attendance, but no seconder could be found. Thereafter Fr: Air proposed a vote of censure on the Magister Rotulorum for stepping on the Senatorial bench, & for failing to deliver the censures carried in the last meeting. This was seconded by Fr: Picker, & carried by 8-2. A vote of censure, proposed by Fr. Stansfield, & seconded by Fr. Picker was carried upon the Pontifex Maximus for being an accomplice in the crime of Fr. Gibson, who had been seen to smoke while carrying the sacred rolls.

Here the flow of censures abated, & a member was elected to the Senate, in place of Fr Reeves, who was discovered, after his election during the last meeting, to be ineligible, since there was already one ex statue pupiliari [sic] upon the Senate. Fratres Prideaux & Picker were duly proposed & seconded, & Fr: Prideaux was elected. Fratres Hare, the Magister Rotulorum & Joyce were then proposed by Fr. Rabson as the Banquet Committee & accepted nem. con., after which, Fr: Joyce took the tribunitial oath that he was unable, through absence, to take when first appointed. The private business of the society was then brought to a close by the nomination & seconding for membership of Messrs Leeper, Tomson, Bovenizer & Herring, after which Fr. Joyce read the society an excellent paper on Lord Eldon, XXX & Statesman, a man, who having had a predominant influence on the kings & governments of this country for over 40 years, was too little accounted by present historians. The paper provoked an interesting discussion on the morals of his times.

G. J. Passant (Princ. Senatus)
G. J. W. Gibson (Mag. Rot)


The 115th [116th] Meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Fr: Passant’s rooms on Monday, Nov: 21st [1927].

Unhappily the lights could not be lowered for the admission of Fratres Hare, Herring & Tomson, & the consequent loss of solemnity to the mystic rights [sic] was added to be the Pontifex audibly complaining, in the middle of his exhortation, that the Magister Rotulorum was holding the sacred rolls askew.

After the admissions, the Magister read the minutes of the last meeting, & Frater Gladstone complained of the expression “ex-statu pupilari” [sic]. No one could be found to second the motion for the removal, so it stood. Frater Green then claimed that the word “quash” was not worthy of the societies’ [sic] dignity. The Magister, unduly elated that Frater Gladstone’s motion had not taken the form of a vote of censure upon himself, which would undoubtedly have been passed, rose and was about to point out that Milton & the Oxford Dictionary….. but here the Princeps, eager to end the private business, stopped the discussion & ruled the word in order.

So determined was the Princeps to shorten the time taken up by private business that, before the society could pass one single vote of censure, he took upon himself to order the Magister to to reprimand Fratres Joyce, Owens & Reeves for sending only oral apologies for absence, & to rebuke Fr: Prideaux for failing to wear his senatorial band. Thus amid sceens [sic] of unprecedented peace Messrs Leeper, Crompton & Liversage were duly proposed & seconded for election, & the wishes of the Society ascertained on whom Fr: Passant should attempt to get to read a visitors [sic] paper the next term.

The Comes then read a brilliant Budget. The Magister had hoped to see it followed by the flash of incoming silver – the Society owed him 24/- – but he was bitterly disappointed; one frater even asked if he could pay on the installement [sic] system.

Private business was closed by what the Princeps called the Societies [sic] first grave constitutional crisis. Fr: Gage, seconded by Fr: Lancaster, proposed that in future the society should cease to meet in evening dress. A look of profound horror spread across the ample features of the Pontifex Maximus, & while the society was considering the suggestion put forward by Fr. Hare, that it would then have to meet in plus-fours & red stockings, the Princeps asked that the motion might be put off for the consideration of the Senate, for the search of sumptuary laws upon the subject, & for the Society to consider its wishes.

This was allowed, & Fr: Air was then able to read the society a bitter attack upon Columbus couched in an interesting paper on “Discovery”.

E J Passant (Princ. Sen. 30.1.28)


The 117th Meeting of the Confraternitas was held in Pater Passant’s rooms on Saturday, November 26th [1927].

After the opening & closing ceremonies had been duly performed, without stop for private business Patres, Fratres & Guests adjourned to the Hall for the annual banquet.

The feast being ended an act from Watts’ play on Charles I was excellently performed by Fratres Green, Owens, & Watson. Frater Hare is to be congratulated & thanked for the way he organised this piece. Next, Frater Giles, who was one of these old members able to visit us, built us a town of houses made of match boxes, explaining how he had made each building, & giving a very amusing description of the town. The revels were then wound up by Fr: Hare, who disguised as Bacchus, brought in the Loving Cup, after which the more seemly fratres retired to bed. Songs, however, of what has been described as a colloquial character, were, it is feared, still heard issuing from Frater Passant’s rooms at 2 o’clock on Sunday morning, led, it is said, by an exultant but squeaky voice, as of some small elated person.

E. J. Passant (Princ. Sen. 30.1.28)

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