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

After much belated scene-shifting and furniture-finding made necessary by magisterial mal-administration the Confraternity embarked upon its 317th meeting. The day was the sixteenth before the Kalends of February [16th Jan 1955]; the place, Frater Smail’s rooms. The meeting began decorously if tardily with the celebration of the sacred rites and initiative of two new fratres. [A note reads: fratres: N. G. GARSON and J. A. REEVES] When the Magister had managed to find a seat, the minutes of the 316th meeting were read and approved. Fratres Marland and McCabe, no doubt to vary the monotony of their customary notes of excuse, submitted a joint apology for absence, pleading dramatic circumstances. Since the circumstances were for once defined they were for once accepted. Frater Harland entered an apology which the Magister found in his pigeon-hole some hours after the closing rites had been performed. Whether this was yet another example of magisterial ineptitude or of fraternal sleight of hand will probably never be known. What is certain is that Frater Fenn-Smith did not submit a written apology at all, thereby incurring a severe and unanimous vote of censure.

Those fratres who had neither apologised or were absent soon had causes for self-congratulation. In Beales’ paper on “Garibaldi in London 1846” was an exact model of what such a paper ought to be. We can scarcely do better justice to its wit and scholarship than to re-echo Fr Smail when he said that although the Confraternity had come to expect papers of a high standard of papers, he could not remember even heaving heard a better.

At the outset Garibaldi could be but dimly discerned through clouds of incense: he was the centre of a cult. Italians worshipped him; Shaftesbury thought he had something in common with Solomon; and Cavour sent his ambassador in London a lock of Garibaldi’s hair. The details of Garibaldi’s arrival in London are clear enough and were picturesquely described by the speaker: his arrival at Mine Elims where there was an improvised station, but as yet no goods depot; his progress through the streets, so slow that he covered only three miles in five hours; the procession which included contingents from the Temperance Association, the Working Men’s Association and the Duke of Sutherland’s fire brigade.

The reasons for Garibaldi’s coming are less clear, however. To Parliament he spoke of his health, his war wound, and [on] the advice of his English friends, he assured the Prime Minister that he could undertake no new revolutions for the present. It was planned as a private visit, but the fact that at least thirty provincial towns wanted Garibaldi to address them persuaded Parliament that the government must not fall too far behind. Palmerston could not forget ignore the effect the visit would have on his relations with France – already strained over the question of Schleswig-Holstein and Stanfeld’s implication with Mazzini in the plot to kill Napoleon III – or on his relations with Victor Emmanuel, yet he continued to regard the welcome accorded to Garibaldi as a personal welcome. He probably decided to let things take their course.

Why then did Garibaldi go? The initiative seems to have come from the Sutherlands and the Seeleys who found that in their role of host to a hero they had overreached themselves. Gladstone was called upon to employ his tact and Gladstone’s lack of tact did the rest. Garibaldi was steered silently out of the country by the Sutherlands while the reception committees en route waited in vain.

The Chamberlain of London thought the visit “stirred again the altar fires of liberty” and the men who led the protests at Garibaldi’s departure let the agitation for parliamentary reform two years later. But Garibaldi himself never spoke of his visit to London again. It had carved indeed a sorry epitaph: he came, he saw, he was asked to leave.

After presenting so successful an amalgam of erudition and entertainment, Frater Beales clearly deserved the highest of Confraternal honours. He was accordingly socked. And if a piece of stale bread was substituted for the more customary senatorial mess of pottage, and is the Latin formula of admission was not grammatically exact, the ceremony was nevertheless impressive.

S M Andrews (Magisterial Rotulorum)
John M M Bell (Princeps)


Record of the proceedings of the august Senate of the Confraternitas Historica held at its meeting in Y3 on the sixteenth day before the February Kalends [16th Jan 1955].

Fratres present: Fr J. M. M Bell, Princeps; Fr S. M. Andrews, Magister Rotulorum; Fr S. L. Kohn, Pontifex Maximus; Fr B. J. Roud, Caeremonarius; Fr J. Binns, Fabricius; and Fr J. F. Hemmings, Comes Sacri Thesauri.

The minutes of meeting held on the December Kalends were read and approved.


12. Roll of Fratres (II)

The Comes reported that he had been unable to get parchment form paternal sources and that he would therefore try the Sidney Street stationers.


13. The Magister sought senatorial approval for the following tentative arrangements regarding the hospitality which the Senate proposed to offer to Socii Honorabilis after the Guest Meeting on St Valentine’s Day:

a. Mulled Beaujolais would be prepared by Mr Barrett
b. Eight bottles would be needed to provide an average of two glasses per person.
c. The cost of Beaujolais was nine shillings per bottle; the cost of the other ingredients would be negligible

The Magister was authorised to confirm these arrangements.


14. Subscription rate for fratres joining after Christmas

On a proposition of the Caeremonarius it was unanimously resolved that fratres admitted to the Confraternity after Christmas in any academic year should be required to pay only half the normal subscription.

S M Andrews (Magister Rotulorum)
John M M Bell (Princeps)

The Annual Banquet of the Confraternity was held according to custom on the third day before the Kalends of February [19th Jan 1955] and some hours after sunset. This, the 318th meeting, was an evening to be remembered, but hardly to be described. It was undoubtedly as numerical success: six fellows and twenty-three younger fratres assembled to drink sherry in the congenial if crowded quarters of the Caeremonarius. Such preliminaries did not long deter fratres from the main purpose of the evening which was to eat and drink. This they did in the cloistered seclusion of the Blundell Room, though the atmosphere of the cloister was not noticeable persuasive. The Confraternal commissariat combined with the kitchens to provide a meal calculated to satisfy the demands of most fratres – and for the insatiable there were cheese fritters.

The speeches saw some departure from precedent. The princeps had excused himself from what most regarded as the duty, but he as the privilege, of proposing the health of the Lady Frances Sidney. Through this default the task fell to the Magister who by judicious arrangement of his card indexes succeeded in talking long enough to convey the impression that he had made a speech. Fr Casey replying for the Foundress, pleaded that he had prepared two speeches and then proceeded to continue with characteristic ease and wit. By the time the Pontifex rose – was it perhaps somewhat unsteadily? – to his feet, the cloisters had merged into a very happy background. It was probably unintentional that the Pontifex, who also had two speeches ready, delivered the one he had meant to give at the Bumps Supper, but fratres found the pontifical performance significant if sensational. The toast proposed by the Pontifex had been to the Lady Clio, and Fr Beales in reply combined humour with some ostensibly complimentary remarks references to members of the Senate. As one of the socii honorabilis remarked to the Magister: it would have been difficult to imagine four speeches less alike.

The port circulated at table was supplemented by senatorial port in Y3 where other fratres, somewhat rashly it was thought and afterwards seen, boasted beer. Some fratres had risen from beds of ‘flu to attend the Banquet and behold a miraculous transformation was seen: for fratres who had arrived feeling ill went away cured, while many who had come feeling fit, left feeling indescribably ill.

S M Andrews (Magister Rotulorum)
John M M Bell (Princeps)

This is the record of a meeting that can scarcely be said to have taken place, but which for purposes of chronology must be called the 319th. On the sixteenth day before the Kalends of March [13th Feb 1955], being also the feast of St Valentine and the feast of the foundation of the College, a pretty scene was enacted in Z6. In the absence of the Magister – indeed in the absence of all but the Princeps, the Pontifex and the Caeremonarius – the initiation of frater Stevenson took place. This thing was thus done in a corner to quieten the nervous disposition of Fr Stevenson who does not like kneeling in public and shrinks from shaking hands. What else may have been done at this meeting the Magister does not know as he was not there.

S M Andrews (Magister Rotulorum)
John M M Bell (Princeps)

What would have been the 319th meeting, held later on the evening of the sixteenth day before the March Kalends [13th Feb 1955], thus became the 320th. Apologies for absence were received from Fr Lehmberg who was speaking at the English Speaking Union in London and from Fr Fenn-Smith who had preparing a speech for a forthcoming supervision. After the celebration of the sacred rites in the secrecy of Z6, fratres joined their guests in the Blundell Room to hear Mr G. Gallagher of Trinity address the Annual Guest Meeting of the Confraternity. His subject was “The Palm Oil Ruffians” and the title gave an accurate clue to the content and spirit of the paper.

The speaker began by sketching the nineteenth century back-cloth against which the ruffians played their parts: the atmosphere of mystery in which the African lands were still shrouded; the Victorian taste for making snap judgments; the philanthropic passion of the anti-slavery movement. Mr Gallagher explained that he was interested in the consequences rather than the causes of the philanthropic enthusiasm and in the failure of the humanitarians to answer the question: “what of the emancipated slave when he has stopped singing?”

The abolition of slavery left the slave traders with ships and West African contacts but no cargo. The Industrial Revolution quickly came to the rescue with soap: the existence of palm oil in West Africa provided what the speaker called “a tailor-made answer to the slave-traders’ prayers.” The prospect of profits was encouraging enough: oil costing £10 to £12 a ton could be sold in Liverpool for £40 to £50 a ton. By 1830 a group of about six firms was importing 10,000 tons a year. In an effort to preserve the monopoly a curtain of secrecy was drawn over the workings of the trade and its difficulties and dangers were emphasized. Secrecy helped profits but impaired public relations: rumours that the oil trade concealed a revived traffic in slaves were not denied and were therefore believed. The speaker found no evidence to confirm such a belief.

The failure of the traders he attributed to the coming of the consul and the coming of the steam-ship. The long line of credit and the pursuit of too few middle-men by too many ships meant that violence was endemic in the trade and violence eventually provoked consular actions. Meanwhile the regular steamship service appealed to the interlopers and by 1855 small men – many of them emancipated slaves already tired of singing – started to send oil to England by steamship. The consequent clashes between great men and small, vividly described by the speaker, provoked the government first into writing stiff letters and eventually into granting to the consuls magisterial power backed by the navy.

Mr Gallagher saw the story as an illustration of the truth that ethical principles are no substitute for a colonial policy. The West Africa of the day was not painted red one anyone’s map, yet the navy policed its shores, the palm oil ruffians controlled its trade, and the consuls controlled enforced its law and order. Had it then come to this? Were the palm oil traders in last analysis to be found cast in unexpected role of empire builders?

The speaker dealt deftly with a barrage of questions and the appreciation of a delighted audience was unequivocally expressed in the volumes of its applause.

But the evening did not end with the shouting. The guest speaker and several socii honorabilis repaired to Z6 to take wine with the Senate. The Magister, who was on this occasion the ministering angel, had sadly miscalculated the senatorial capacity for a mulled Beaujolais, and he was ultimately forced to go out into the highways and byways of South Court to dragoon fratres of the humbler sort into drinking. Happily the lurid post-Banquet scenes were not re-enacted and when the closing rites were performed the celebrations were sufficiently free from inebriation to invoke Clio and not Bacchus.

S M Andrews (Magister Rotulorum)
John M M Bell (Princeps)


Record of the proceedings of the august Senate of the Confraternitas Historica at its meeting in Y3 on the sacred last day before the Kalends of March [28th Feb 1955].

Fratres present: Fr J. M. M. Bell, Princeps; Fr S. M. Andrews, Magister Rotulorum; Fr S. L. Kohn, Pontifex Maximus; Fr B. J. Roud, Caeremonarius; Fr J. Binns, Fabricius; Fr J. F. Hemmings, Comes.

15. The minutes of the meeting held on the sixteenth day before the February Kalends were read and approved.


16. There were no matters arising.


17. The Princeps reminded fratres of the terms of the encyclical letter which had been circulated among all members of the Senate and which drew attention to certain grave breaches off the customs and laws of the Confraternitas Historica, committed some wittingly and some unwittingly, and namely:

a. Few fratres had not yet signed the sacred scroll, contrary to Article I section (d).
b. The Magister Rotulorum had not informed Fr Ballantyne of the time and place of meetings of the Senate in derogation of his due rights as an ex-tribune (Article IV section (b)).
c. The duly elected tribunes had not yet taken the tribunicial oath, contrary to Article IV section (b).
d. A supplementary meeting was had been held on the sixteenth day before the Kalends of March to induct Fr Stevenson without the Magister Rotulorum being informed so that he might give due public notice (Article VI section (b1).
e. The closing rites of the authorised meeting on the sixteenth day before the Kalends of March had been read in the presence of one who was not a member of the Confraternity, contrary to Article VI section (e).
f. The Princeps, the Pontifex Maximus and the Magister Rotulorum had not yet issued any changes, contrary to Article VII sections (a), (b).
g. Dinner jackets had not been worn within living memory except at the Annual Banquet, contrary to Article VIII (b).
h. Certain senators had been seen without their red sash of office at meetings of the Confraternity (Article VIII section (c))
i. The Pontifex Maximus was had been without his cape when celebrating the scared rites on the sixteenth day before the Kalends of March, contrary to Article VIII section (d)

18. All members of the Senate present having given informal expression to of their contribution the following resolution was adopted neme contra nemine contradicente:

An Act of Oblivion and Indemnity in which is incorporated a Declaration of Indulgence

I. We, the Princeps and Senate of the Confraternitas Historica Dominae Franciscae Comitis Sussexiae, meeting this last day before the Kalends of March, the sixth day of Lent and the vigil of the feats of St David in the forty-fifth years of the Confraternity, do, by virtue of the powers inhered to use by our Sacred Constitution, issue this Act of Indemnity and Oblivion for all and any past offences committed by both us and our predecessors in office, wittingly and unwittingly against the laws and customs of our brotherhood.

II. Likewise by the use of our unquestioned power to create and abrogate the Laws we do also hereby issue a Declaration of Indulgence both to ourselves and our immediate successors which shall be held to made null, void and of no effect the following provisions if the Custumal confirmed by the Senate on the sixth day before the Nones of May in the thirty-first year of the Confraternity, namely Article IV sections (b) and (f); Article VII sections (a) and (b); Article VIII section (b).

III. Realising, however, that such indulgence must by its nature be only temporary and of short duration, we do hereby authorise and requires that a Commission be created and set up as soon as possible, and at the latest within twelve months of the promulgation of this Act and Declaration, to revise the existing laws and customs of the Confraternity and to prepare a definitive codex to replace that lost in the twenty-ninth year of the Confraternity.

IV. This commission shall comprise certain members of the Senate as it shall then be constituted and an equal number of Patres Conscripti.

19. It was further resolved that the Princeps should inform all fratres, at the next meeting of the Confraternity, of the promulgation of this Act and Declaration.

S M Andrews (Magister Rotulorum)
John M M Bell (Princeps)

It was a large and representative assembly that gathered in Y3 for the 321st meeting on the last day before the Kalends of March [28th Feb 1955] in the 45th year of the Confraternity to here Fr Roud on “Philip, Elizabeth and the Four Foot Bed.” The size and diversity of the audience was less the product of duly displayed magisterial missive than of the Caeremonarius’s own carefully conducted publicity campaign. The methods of the K stair-case central office were nothing if not thorough: among his hearers Fr Roud had prudently included his disciplinary father, his directory of studies and his tutor. This paper was not to be read in a corner or written on walls.

Some fratres were not the dupes of publicity. Indeed propaganda was wasted on them: attracted by the paper’s suggestive title they had resolved to come in any case. Others were not to be enticed at any cost. The Magister’s reading of a long succession of accumulated minutes – at an accelerated pace prompted by the jaundiced gaze of an impatient Caeremonarius – was followed by the hearing of apologies for absence. Fr Webb substituted what can only be called a well documented paper for his presence; Fr Harland was busy producing rabbits (or was it essays?) out of hats; Fr Rutt had yet many pages to write on mercantilism; Fr Parkinson pleaded work, weariness and Woking golf-course; Fr Sergeant was less explicit and left room for the suspicion that he would have done better to have heard the paper. The inevitable climax was reached with the customary vote of censure upon the customary absentees – Fratres Fenn-Smith, Marland and McCabe. But the spirit in which the vote was passed was ominous as well as unanimous. Here was a hint that even confraternal patient might be taxed beyond endurance, that the Confraternity would not always chide, that the censure was not the only weapon in its armoury.

While the less phlegmatic fratres were mentally re-animating certain long disused constitutional processes, another principal pronouncement passed into precedent. The Princeps told fratres of the Act of Indemnity and Declaration of Indulgence which had been passed by the Senate earlier that evening in order to absolve its members and their immediate from divers breaches of the laws and customs of the Confraternity committed by themselves and by their immediate predecessors. More than this the Princeps would not divulge, but with the Roud Report waiting to the read, fratres did not show their customary concern for constitutional propriety and by their silence condoned principial reticence.

The Caeremonarius began decorously enough with a scrupulously exact list of acknowledgements, with a touching dedication to Miss Lindsay (“without whose inspiration this paper might never have been written”), and with an apology for what the speaker himself admitted had the colours of an essay in muck-racking.

The speaker permitted himself little diversion from his main theme. The three chief characters in the drama remained in the fore-ground throughout: Philip V of Spain whose misfortune was to inherit a sensual disposition yoked with a scrupulous conscience; Elizabeth Fannese whose confidence in her own power was such that even before she met the king she was able to oust Madame des Ursins who had controlled Philip’s first wife; and the third person in the trinity, the four foot bed – so called, it seems, because it was four foot wide, though the dimensions referred to us is by no means certain.

Having depicted in minute detail the daily routine of their eccentric Catholic Majesties, who did everything together even to the extent of contriving similar illnesses, the speaker focussed attention on Philip’s illness. This he described in every grotesque particular. All such evidences, fratres learned, were essential to an appreciation of the diagnosis which was to form the climax of the study. Fr Roud had heard professional opinion on the nature of Philip’s illness: Dr Munro’s diagnosis of schizophrenia was had been confirmed by Dr Casey; on the medical side Dr Green had been less emphatic: all that he was prepared to say was that it sounded as if Philip had rickets.

If some of the speaker’s sources could scarcely have been more modern, others were traditional and historical, boasting impressive Spanish titles which the speaker, perhaps very wisely, did not see fit to translate. The true character of Fr Roud’s paper must in fact remain problematical. Was it pornographic history or historical pornography? Or was it what it claimed to be: a serious, scholarly and psychological study in historical setting? The debate continues.

S M Andrews (Magister Rotulorum)
John M M Bell (Princeps)

Cromwell night was marked by the 322nd meeting of the Confraternity on the sixth day before the Nones of Mat [1st May 1955] in the 45th year of the confraternal calendar. After the celebration of the scared rites in Z6, fratres repaired to the Lodge where the Master was kind enough to speak on the last fifty years in [on] the history of the College.

The Master described the Cambridge of 1905 which he had entered as a freshman: the problems of furnishing in a world that as yet knew not Zaden Lilley; the them characteristics of bedders, baths and butters; the segregation of years in Hall; the complexities of courtesy calls on second and third year men; the primitive equipment of the college kitchen – so very like that of the best contemporary London clubs; the Sunday habits of dark suits, academical dress and afternoon grinds; the hey-day of smoking-concerts and chaperons.

Sidney of 1905, with its few fellows and seventy-five undergraduates, was, it seems, by no means the smallest Cambridge college. Magdalene could boast only forty. Nor was Sidney of that era so unskilful at sport: the scores were as large – even larger – but the rules were reversed. Although delphiniums then grew where the boats are now housed, the Boat Club already existed and in 1910 broken up and burned down the College Chemistry Laboratories in post-bump-supper exuberance.

Fratres listened entranced to the exploits of the man on K – even then, it seems, a noisy staircase – who rolled store jams and tin baths down the stairs; to the real reason why Garden Court was even built; to the exciting Sussex Street story; and to the epic struggle with the Brigade of Guards over the question of ties.

All there and many such charmingly inconsequential chapters of College history were re-told to the evident delight of the large number of fratres and socii honorabilis present. And we must record our thanks to the Master for ensuring that drink was as plentiful as laughter.

S M Andrews (Magister Rotulorum)
John M M Bell (Princeps)


Record of the processing of the august Senate of the Confraternity at its meeting in Z6 at noon on the eight day before the Ideas of Junes [5th June 1955].

Fratres present: Fr J. M. M. Bell, Princeps; Fr S. M. Andrews, Magister Rotulorum: Fr J. Binns, Fabricius.

20. The minutes of the meeting held on the last day before the Kalends of March were read and approved.


21. The following officers for the academic year 1955, 56 were proposed en bloc by the Princeps, seconded by the Magister and unanimously elected en bloc, the Caeremonarius, the Fabricius and the Pontifex Maximums seconding proxy votes.

Princeps: Fr S. M. Andrews
Magister Rotulorum: Fr J. M. Sergeant
Pontifex Maximus: Fr J. F. Hemmings
Caeremonarius: Fr J. Binns
Fabricius: Fr J. A. Wood
Comes Sacri Thesauri: Fr J. Faux



22. The Princeps expressed his thanks to members of the Senate for their support during his term of office, and passed onto them the congratulations of Frater Smail who had described the year as a very successful one

23. It was resolved that the Act of Indemnity and Declaration of Indulgence be properly promulgated at the next full meeting of the Confraternity.

S M Andrews (Magister Rotulorum)
John M M Bell (Princeps)


Record of the proceedings of the august Senate of the Confraternity at its meeting in H4 at 10 a.m. on the fifth day before the Ides of June [8th June 1955].

Fratres Present:

Fr. S. M. Andrews: Princeps
Fr. J. M. Sergeant: Magister Rotulorum
Fr. J. Binns: Caeremonarius
Fr. J. A. Wood: Fabricius
Fr. J. Faux: Comes Sacri Thesauri

24. The minutes of the meeting held on the eight day before the Idea of June were read and approved.

25. The meeting was graced with the presence of the returning Pontifex Maximus for a few minutes since it was the imitation of the Princeps to have the incoming Pontifex Maximus ordained according to the rite of the sacred constitution. The incoming Pontifex did not arrive and Fr S. L. Kohn was apologetically released.

26. The Constitutional Commission:

The Princeps expressed a strange desire that research should be made into the sacred constitution for the purpose of revising the same and of clarifying the duties of the confraternal affairs, some of which had fallen into XXX. The Princeps further suggested that the Commission should take the following form and adopt the following methods:

a. It should consist of a chairman (The Princeps) and two assistants, preferably members of the Senate who would be coming up for the Long Vac term.
b. Its methods should be those of reference to past records, and to the sacred constitution and to encyclopaedic memories of doc. Hon. R. G. Smail, Doc. Hon. D. Thomson and Doc. Hon. D. E. D. Beales.

There being no dissentient voice the proposal was adopted and Fratres J Binns and J. A. Wood were commissioned as assistants to the Chairman.

27. Pastoral Charges:

The Princeps announced that it was his intention to review the practice of delivering pastoral charges by the appropriate members of the Senate at specific times in the confraternal years. These were:

The Princeps – beginning of Michaelmas term
The Pontifex Maximus – beginning of Lent tern
The Comes Sacri Thesauri – at the end of the Lent Michaelmas term

It was further suggested that the Pastoral Charge of the Comes Sacri Thesauri should take the form of a statement of account. The proposals were accepted with one dissentient voice, that of the Comes who maintained that he had as yet no accounts about which he could make attachments.

28. Finance:

The Princeps proposed that the Comes Sacri Thesauri should make good his deficiency of accounts by returning to his predecessor in that office. The proposal was unanimously adopted. The Princeps further suggested that the rates payable for beverages consumed at Confraternal meetings should be fixed and clarified. The proposal was unanimously adopted and the sums placed on the Comes.

29. Recruiting:

On the proposal of the Princeps he and the Magister Rotulorum undertook to conduct a recruiting campaign among freshmen at the beginning of the academic year. There was no dissentient voice.

30. The Confraternal Programme:

The compilation of the Confraternal Programme for the 46th Confraternal year was presented by the Princeps under three headings:

a. The number of meetings – it was decided that three meetings should be held in each of the two terms of active confraternal existence with the addition of the Annual Banquet during the Lent term.

b. Speakers – the Princeps made it known that through the good affairs of Doc. Hon. R. G. Smail, L. F. Ashford Esq. Had declared his willingness to read a paper to the Confraternity during the Michaelmas term. It was unanimously agreed that the Rev. Professor M. G. Knowles should be invited to speak at the Guest Meeting to be held in the Lent term. Other The remaining meeting were to be addressed by other illustrious servants of our sacred muse.

c. Dates – the following dates were suggested and agree:

Michaelmas term: 24 Oct., 14 & 28 Nov. ‘55
Lent term: 16 Jan., 13 & 27 Feb. ‘56
It was further agreed that the Annual Banquet should be held on the 28 Jan. ’56.
The Senate unanimously and thankfully agreed to leave the final arrangements of the programme in the capable hands of the Princeps.

31. There being no other business the august Senate adjourned at noon, a little perplexed by its unanimity.

J. M. Sergeant (Magister Rotulorum)
S. M. Andrews (Princeps)


Record of the proceedings of the august Senate of the Confraternity at its meeting held in Y10 at 1.30 pm on the fifteenth day before the Kalends of November [17th Oct 1955] in the 46th year of the Confraternity.

Fratres Present

Fr. S. M. Andrews: Princeps
Fr. J. F. Hemmings: Pontifex Maximus
Fr. J. M. Sergeant: Magister Rotulorum
Fr. J Binns: Caeremonarius
Fr. J. Faux: Comes
Fr. J. A. Wood: Fabricius

32. The minutes of the meeting held on the fifth day before the Ides o June were read and approved


a. It was agreed that the fiction of the pontifical succession should be maintained for the current Confraternal year but that the appropriate rites for the ordination of next year’s Pontifex and the institution of next year’s Magister should be conducted on Cromwell Night.

b. In connection with the constitutional commission it was announced by the Princeps that the reading of most records was nearly complete. The Princeps undertook, with unanimous approval, to correlate all the information so discovered and to prepare a draft constitution for submission to Frater R. G. Smail and D. Thomson.

c. In response to a request from the Fabricius for a definition of his duties, it was agreed that they should consist of responsibility for the beverages consumed at regular meetings of the Confraternity and for the catering arrangements for the annual banquet. A half-strangled protest from Fr. Wood brought forth an offer from the Caeremonarius to assist in the latter duty in the light of his previous experience.

d. The Princeps confirmed that pastoral charges would be delivered as stipulated as stated at the last meeting of the Senate, adding the reply of the Magister to the Princeps’ charge. There was one dissentient voice to this return to constitutional practice.

e. A certain amount of rearrangement of the proposed programme for the Lent tern was occasioned by senatorial insufficiency regarding the dates of term. Recklessly abandoning Christian tradition in the interests [of] desirability it was decided that:

i. Meetings should be held on 23 January, 13 February and 27 February.
ii. The Rev. Prof. M. C Knowles should speak at the Guest Meeting on 13 Bef.
iii. Mr. Passant should speak at either the first or last meetings and that the Magister should contact him.
iv. Fr. Reeves should speak at the meeting left thus speakerless.
v. The Banquet should be held on 4 Feb. and that the Magister should contact the Bursar.


[A note reads: It was further agreed that, to facilitate the financial statement, the old Comes should provided his successor with a statement which should include a list of deficient subscriptions. The Comes should then liquidate the deficiency of subscriptions by whatever methods he chooses. The Princeps impressed a strong preference for methods clothed in legitimacy.]

a. The constitutional commission had revealed that Fratres could not resign from the Confraternity, the only means of escape being expulsion after non-attendance at three successive meetings; and that the offices of Caeremonarius, Fabricius and Comes should be subject to plebeian election. These revelations called the case of Fratres Parkinson and Webb V the Confraternity into question in view of their resignation at the end of the last confraternal year. It was revealed that the Magister should contact them with a view to conciliation.

b. The administration of the first meeting of the term was considered and the following allotment of duties agreed upon to stand in perpetuity:

i. Chair by the Magister and Caeremonarius.
ii. Ordering of coffee by the Fabricius.
iii. The collection of coffee by the Pontifex and Princeps.
iv. The ordering and collection of other beverages by the Fabricius assisted by the Comes.
v. The coffee to be financed by an additional charge to be made on subscription.

J. M. Sergeant (Magister Rotulorum)
S. M. Andrews (Princeps)

On the evening of the ninth day before the Kalends of November [23rd Oct 1955] a large number of Fratres gathered in Y3 for the 323rd meeting of the Confraternity, a meeting which, scared begun, nearly dissolved in mirth. It says much for Fratres’ claim to further extend their worship of our muse, that they come in such large numbers in response to a magisterial notice which looked suspiciously like a railway time-table. With the Senate clambering over the multitude of chairs assembled for the occasion, the sacred opening rites were celebrated, the Pontifex displaying a degree of skill and dignity in reading Latin which his predecessor perhaps lacked.

Next on the agenda and, strangely enough, next to be dealt with was the initiation of new Fratres. All went smoothly until one of the candidates for admission applied his strong individualism in his answers to the customary pontifical questions. The Princeps disapproved, the Caeremonarius edged towards his spear, the Magister shifted uncomfortably form foot to foot, the Pontifex himself in his pontifical robe which Fratres at large thoroughly approved of a situation which nearly amounted to rebellion. But finally the Frater in question, as those who succeeded him, submitted to the ceremony of admission with a dignity befitting the occasion. When the last was admitted, hands were clammy but Fratres were none the less pleased to receive seven new Fratres into the Confraternity. [A note reads: Fratres: Fr. A. J. BUTCHER; Fr. E. D. STEELE; Fr. D. A. BARRASS; Fr. F. G. MURPHY; Fr. D. F. SANDERS; Fr. D. J. SLIMMON; Fr. G. WARNER]

The meeting contrived with a reading of the minutes of the last two meetings which were accepted as true records because none of the Fratres present could remember what had happened anyway. Frater Garson did however find occasion to lodge vigorous protests against disparaging references in the minutes of the 321st meeting to the inhabitants of K staircase. He was assured that such refinements were not of internal application; but many Fratres felt that Frater Garson’s protests, which hitherto supported by fact, would have to be proved beyond doubt during the current year. The verdict waits – and hastens. There were no notes of apology for absence, but two absentees in protestation: Fratres Webb and Parkinson accordingly incurred a unanimous vote of censure.

The pontifical pastoral charge which followed was infused with the spirit of historical writing and moral precepts which should accompany our efforts at communion with our muse. But some Fratres’ faces were chanced to cloud on being exhorted to sobriety and diligence. If any spirit may be ascribed to the Magisterial reply it was that of subversion; which perhaps overshadowed the protestation of full support contained in it.

It was during the last recorded proceedings that Fratres began to suspect a surreptitious propaganda campaign, when imminent Socii Honorabilis arrived, including providentially the Dean. Did the Princeps suspect that there might be a question on paroxysms?

A short party game which involved changes chairs turned the Princeps into Fr. S. M. Andrews who read a paper on “Methodism and Manners 1750, 1850.” A record of the content of this excellent paper cannot be made here, not, at least, a record that will do justice: should Fratres wish to remind themselves of its content they should apply to the Princeps, who has, it appears a profusion of copies. The speaker, moving with judicious ease within his subject, gave Fratres a balanced, analytical and exhausted insight into the man behind Methodism and the ramification of Methodism over a period of 100 years. The unfortunate action of Frater Firth on having the room after the Pontifex had started [was] that the high quality of the paper would be indicated by the questions asked, [this] did not prevent the excellence of the paper having proved by numerous questions. Yes, a question on paroxysms was inimitable.

One or two examples of Principial tactlessness or perhaps more fairly, the Principial sense of humour was forthcoming. Frater Marland was called upon to make a protestation of Wesley’s that he could see no biblical prohibition of long XXX while Frater McCabe was called upon to denounce idlemen, a denunciation which could not be proved over especially when he caught the eye of his Supervisor.

The meeting closed with Fratres elevated and instructed by the paper, for which we thank Fr. Andrews, and entertained by the proceedings. The one Frater who muttered something about “cheap dramatics” en connection with the efforts of Fratres McCabe and Marland is now ashamed. The sacred closing rites were XXX at 10:30pm

J. M. Sergeant (Magister Rotulorum)
S. M. Andrews (Princeps)

The 324th meeting of the Confraternity was held in Y3 at 8.30 pm on the eighteenth day before the Kalends of December [13th Nov 1955]. All Fratres were clothed in the traditional confraternal attire, indeed the solemness of fraternal suiting was refined only by the undimmed brilliance of Frater Butcher’s shirt front. Frater Butcher had appeared in dinner jacket, apparently attempting to revive former sartorial practices of the Confraternity.

After the opening rites had been celebrated with due solemnity, the lights were dimmed for the initiation of Frater Hopkin. The ceremony over, the Fabricius, deputising for the absent Magister, was called upon, was called upon to reach letters of apology for absence. The first from the Magister, assured fratres that their interests would be well looked after, and their images well-placed during his visit to Epsom. The Princeps hastened to explain the true nature of the visit. Frater Bennett pleaded to a prior arrangement and Frater Harland a committee in the Pentach Club. It was resolved that Fr. Bennett be requested to be more complicit about his engagements while fratres could see no reason why a member of the Pentach Club could not split his personality and be present at two meetings at once. The last apology, typed upon the notepaper of the Cambridge University Musical Comedy Club came jointly from Fratres Marland and McCabe. It seems that they had not recovered from their exhausting efforts at the previous meeting and as, further mitigation, put forward the plea that their essays were longer this term. Fratres amazed and delighted to hear that any essays were being produced were being produced at all, let along increased in length, were shocked into accepting their apology. A vote of censure was passed on Fratres Fenn-Smith, Parkinson and Webb, all of whom had failed to explain their absence.

The minutes of the 323rd meeting were read rather haltingly by the Fabricius who pleaded inability to read the Magister’s calligraphy. The minutes provoked much discussion and an immediate vote of censure on the Magister for the illegibility of his handwriting. At last a provisional principial signature was appended to the minutes on conditions that the Magister should produce satisfactory explanation of his use of the “subversive” in relation to his own activities at the 322nd meeting.

The principial enquiry for other business moved Frater Butcher to ask whether, in their enlightened age, beverages other than beer or cider might not be provided. Being asked to name his addition to the usual suspects he pronounced the word “Claret”. On the reaction of Fr. Hemmings the matter was referred to the Senate for consideration and the Fabricius was requested to render a statement of probable cost of the next meeting.

All business done, the Princeps introduced the speaker of the evening, Fr. Ashford, a former member of the Confraternity Pontifex Maximus. Contrary to custom Fr. Ashford began with an account of his sources and had even progressed at least five words into his paper before the frantic gestures of the thirsty Fratres could persuade the Princeps to interject a plea that Fr. Ashford should halt for a moment to allow the distributing of beverages.

The inner man satisfied, Fr. Ashford read his paper on “The Problem of the Poor in the Borough of Chipping Wycombe in the C17.” The Paper was short, but revealed in its compiler an immense knowledge of the internal politics of the Borough in question. That great fraternal interest was aroused by this paper there is no doubt – questions were numerous and rapid in succession to the last.

The meeting was efficiently ended by the celebration of the closing rites but many fratres stayed until a late hour discussing with Fr. Ashford.

J. M. Sergeant (Magister Rotulorum)
S. M. Andrews (Princeps)


Record of the proceedings of the august Senate of the Confraternity at its meeting held in Y10 at 1.30pm on the tenth day before the Kalends of December [21st Nov 1955] in the 46th year of the Confraternity.

Fratres Present:

Fr. S. M. Andrews – Princeps
Fr. J. F. Hemmings – Pontifex Maximus
Fr. J. M. Sergeant – Magister Rotulorum
Fr. J. Binns – Caeremonarius
Fr. J. Faure – Comes
Fr. J. A. Wood – Fabricius

35. The minutes of the meeting held on the fifteenth day before the Kalends of November were read and approved.

Matters Arising:

36. The Programme for the Lent term, following the news of Fr. Passant’s inability to come and read a paper, it was decided to ask Fratres Reeves and Lehmberg to read papers on the first and last meetings of the term respectively.

37. Despite the Princeps’ announcements that the sacrilegious departure from precedent in finding the Annual Banquet date according to an academic rather than a Historian calendar had worked a protest from Fr. Smail, it was resolve to shorten the meeting by leaving the dates as they already were.

38. The Rev. Prof. M. G. Knowles had confirmed his ability to speak at the Guest Meeting and had disclosed a title for his paper; this was: “The Last prior of Worcester: William More, 1518-35.”

39. With regard to the Constitutional Commission it was announced by the Princeps that there were large quantities of yellowing, dust-coloured and out-of-date documents in a cupboard in Fr Smail’s room. Spurred on by the hope of discovering the last constitution, all except the Caeremonarius (who said he would be going down and would therefore be useless) affirmed to help in an attempt at sorting and sifting these documents.

40. The Comes plaintively announced that Fr. McCabe was proving to be a problem for the reason that he was two terms in arrears with the subscription. Apparently whenever the Comes remembered this deficit Fr. McCabe was either penniless or not available, whenever Comes saw Fr. McCabe spending money the debt was forgotten and Fr. McCabe never thought about the problem unless provoked.

41. The Princeps briefed the Comes on the form his Budget should take when announced at the first meeting of the Lent term. He was agreed that the statement of account contained in the Budget should be circulated before the Budget announcements.

Other Business:

42. In view of the liberality of Fr. Beales it was at first agreed to consume rum punch at the last meeting of the Michaelmas term. But august Senators’ consciousnesses proved too active in resisting an attempt to reduce a young Don to penury. The prohibitive cost of rum punch transformed our festive beverage into mulled claret.

43. It was agreed albeit reluctantly by the tight-fisted Magister, that the Senate should provide Claret at one meeting during the Lent term and again at the Guest Meeting and port at the Banquet.

44. Still on the subject of Claret it was agreed that such a beverage could be provided at ordinary meetings of the Confraternity provided Fratres were prepared, in syndicates, to consume quantities which could be measured in terms of “the bottle” or “the half-bottle.”

45. There being no other business the meeting closed and the Fabricius left the room – worried about Claret.

J. M. Sergeant (Magister Rotulorum)
S. M. Andres (Princeps)

On the fourth day before the Kalends of December at 8.15 in the evening [27th Nov 1955], Fratres gathered in Y3 for the 325th meeting of the Confraternity, little suspecting that the length of the meeting would place an undue strain on even the most strongly constituted. First, two initiations, carried out with due solemnity in the hushing twilight afore table-lamp. Our two new Fratres [A note reads: A.S.D. GRAHAM; C.G.N. ROBERTS] being welcomed, the Princeps opened the business of the meeting by announcing to an incredulous audience that the number of those present was in fact one greater than most Fratres thought. Frater Smail was on his sick-bed and listening to proceeding through an open door. The Princeps and Fratres at last gave their unstinted approbation of Fr. Smail’s conduct – did someone go so far as to stamp while applauding?

Second, for the benefit of new Fratres the Princeps reminded the Confraternity that, at the first meeting of the Lent term, it would be their duty to elect two Tribunes. Fratres stared long at the most heavily built of their number. Many must have felt that, as the Tribunes’ main task was liaison between the Confraternal body and the Senate, then such a duty should carry as much weight as possible. Last the Princeps asked for a vote of thanks to Fr. Beales for his generosity in making it possible for fratres to drink mulled claret at such low cost later in the evening. There was no dissentient voice, though a few voices were hesitant, their owners being under the impression that the claret was entirely free.

The Magister was called upon to read the minutes of the 324th meeting. This he did with an unwonted composure and calm, as it he had never been present at the 324th meeting and had not compiled the minutes he was reading: – this was in fact the case. After a corrective concerning the apology for absence written by Fratres Marland and McCabe the minutes were accepted.

Some business arose from the minutes. The Magister had to defend the accuracy of the 323rd meeting. A stunned silence followed during which Fratres found themselves wondering what exactly the Magister had defended. The silence was broken only by the lugubrious voice of Fr. Garson suggesting that a little conciseness might have helped. The defence was, however, accepted.

Notes of apology were read. Frater Butcher, while regretfully abandoning Confraternal Claret, had a gastronomically more enticing carving in stone at Trinity. In the case of Fr. Rutt it was felt that a phrase like “previous engagement” could cover a multitude of sins against our muse, and that he should be more precise in future.

Last came a letter, the scope of which was wide, but the purport of which was obscure. When it had been read one thing became clear – that the writer was reading for the Tripos paper in Modern Constitutional History. Whether Fratres Parkinson and Webb, whose signatures appeared at the bottom of the missive, were trying to explain away their absence or the Confraternity remained obscure. While not accepted as a letter of apology for absence it was agreed that it did uncover an aggrieved attitude which had been apparent since the beginning of the Confraternal year. A lengthy discussion resolved in the following resolution being passed unanimously:


1. That Fratres Parkinson and Webb have some ground for their grievance which the Confraternity recognises but at the same time regrets the mode of their expression of that grievance, and that Fratres Parkinson and Webb be invited to put their case to the Confraternity orally at the first meeting of the Lent tern.
2. That the Princeps should shall report on the correct election provided for members of the Senate as soon as the word Interim Report of the Constitutional Commission should shall be complete.

Four Fratres were missing. Jazz, news launching; vigorous support of the Pentach Club and a pending supervision had proved too much for Frater Harland who was in bed. Although he sent no letter of apology the Confraternity in its magnanimity did not censure dim. In his absence it was moved that his excellence as a magician should be put to the test at the Annual Banquet. Behind this there was a clouded intention. First to see whether his time spent at the Pentach Club was well spent. Second to divine the centre of Confraternal sobriety, since no two companions have ever pulled two rabbits out of two hats simultaneously.

The Cambridge Musical Comedy Club, it appeared, had been out of notepaper, which had fratres Marland and McCabe to lapse into silence about their absence. Equally silent and absent was Fr. Fenn-Smith. The last three were unanimously and severely censured.

The Caeremonarius worried Fratres by his momentary absence from the room during these last proceedings. As speaker for the evening it was felt he ought to stay. His return enabled the meeting to continue with a paper entitled: “Cortes-Quetzlcoatl.” Fratres were relieved when Fr. Binns announced his intention of abandoning most of the Mexican vocabulary, both to care [for] fraternal listening and to reduce the excessive mobility of his own epiglottis. There followed a story which was at once fascinating and fantastic. Fr. Binns kept his audience in rapt attention from the time he painted a vivid background to the time when Cortes left as a man pursued and stripped of his mistaken duty. Our speaker’s ovation at the end of his paper and the quick succession of interested questioners amply testified to the appeal and popularity of his story. We are indebted to Fr. Binns for a fascinating climax to a very long meeting.

The meeting closed and Fratres dispersed near midnight. It was revealed later that only a question from the unseen listener made on Frater realise the uselessness of his exercise of a poetic mind in parodying a famous poem, the refrain of which had become during the course of the meeting:

“Frater, art thou sleeping there within?”

J. M. Sergeant (Magister Rotulorum)
S. M. Andres (Princeps)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s