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About Durham University

Royal Charter

Please note that the text of the Royal Charter below is intended for information only. For any legal reference to the text you should refer to the hardcopy available from the University Archives.

A Charter Granted to the University of Durham
June 1, 1837

William the Fourth, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, to all to whom these presents shall come, greeting.

Whereas by an Act passed in the thirty-first year of the Reign of our Royal Predecessor, His Majesty King Henry the Eighth, His Majesty was empowered to establish more Bishopries and Collegial and Cathedral Churches, to the intent, among other purposes, that thereby God’s Word might be better set forth, children brought up in learning, clerks nourished in the Universities, and readers of Greek, Hebrew, and Latin might have good stipend: and His Majesty was also empowered to make Statutes for the Institutions by Letters Patent, under His Great Seal.

And whereas His said Majesty, King Henry the Eighth, by Letters Patent, under the Great Seal, dated the twelfth day of May, in the year of our Lord Christ one thousand five hundred and forty-one, after mentioning, among other inducements, “ut bonorum morum disciplina observetur, juventus in literis liberalibus instituatur, et cetera omnis generis pietatis official illinic exuberantia in omnia vicena loca longe lateque demanent, ad Dei omnipotentis gloriam, et ad subditorum nostrorum cominunem utilatatem, felicitremque”, founded a Cathedral Church at Durham, to consist of one Dean and twelve Prebendaries, and other Ministers:  and His said Majesty ordained that the said Dean and twelve Prebendaries should be one Body Corporate, and have perpetual succession under the name of “The Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral church of Durham, of Christ, and of the Blessed Mary the Virgin” and that they should be governed by certain Statutes to be afterwards given to them. 

And whereas Statutes were afterwards given to the said Cathedral Church one of which is entitled “De pueris grammaticalibus et eorum informatoribus”, by which, after the preface following,  “Ut pietas et bonae literae perpetuo in dicta ecclesia suppullulescant, erescant, floreant, et suo tempore in gloriam Dei et Reipublicae commodum et ornamentum fructificent,”  It is ordained that eighteen poor boys, of good natural parts, should be for ever maintained in the said Church of Durham, but who should not be admitted before they could read, write and understand the rudiments of grammar.  And also that a Master should be chosen, learned in Latin and Greek, of good reputation, sound faith, and pious life, and skilful in the art of teaching, “qui tam octodeeim illos Ecclesiae predicate pueros, quam alios quoscenque grammaticam discendi gratia ad scholam nostrum confluentes, pietate excolat, et bonis literis exornet:”  And also that the Masters of the School should, in teaching, observe such rules, and use such authors and order of teaching, as the said Dean and Chapter, with the consent of the Bishop, should prescribe.

And whereas an Act of Parliament was, on the application of the Dean and Chapter of Durham, passed in the Third Year of our Reign, intituled “An Act to enable the Dean and Chapter of Durham to appropriate part of the property of their Church to the establishment of a University in connection therewith, for the Advancement of Learning,” whereby, after reciting that the Dean and Chapter of Durham were desirous of establishing, in connection with the said Cathedral Church, A University for the advancement of learning, to be under the government of the said Dean and Chapter of Durham, for the time being, subject to the jurisdiction of the Lord Bishop of Durham, for the time being, as Visitor thereof;  And also reciting that the said Dean and Chapter were desirous that a specific portion of the property of the said Cathedral Church should be appropriated and set apart for the purposes of such University, It was enacted that from and after the passing of the said Act, the lands, tenements, and hereditaments therein mentioned or referred to should be, and the same were, thereby vested in the said Dean and Chapter of Durham, and their successors for ever, In trust to apply the rents thereof, and the fines and other profits and proceeds arising therefrom, for the establishment and maintenance of a University for the advancement of learning, in connection with the said Cathedral Church;  such University to consist of such Warden or Principal, of such Professors and Readers, in such branches of learning and sciences, of such Tutors, Students, and other officers and persons, and generally to be established, and instituted, and continued, according to such scheme and regulations as the said Dean and Chapter of Durham, for the time being, should from time to time, by writing under their common seal, with the consent of the Lord Bishop of Durham, for the time being, order and prescribe:  And it was further enacted that the government of the said University, and the order and discipline to be observed therein, according to the scheme and regulations which the said Dean and Chaper of Durham, for the time being, with such consent as aforesaid, were thereinbefore empowered to order and prescribe, should be, and the same were, thereby vested in the said Dean and Chapter of Durham, for the time being, and that the said University should be subject to, and under the jurisdiction of, the Lord Bishop of Durham, for the time being, as visitor thereof.

And whereas the Dean and Chapter of Durham made or passed an Act of Chapter, in writing under their Common Seal, bearing date on or about the fourth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and thirty four, in the words following, that is to say, “It was agreed that in pursuance of an Act of the second year of the reign of his present Majesty, and by and with the consent of the Bishop of Durham, the Academical Institution, or College, or University, established by Act of Chapter, of the twenty-eighth day of September, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-one, be constituted a University in connection with the Cathedral Church of Durham, and under the direction and control of the Dean and Chapter of Durham, as the governors thereof, the Bishop of Durham being the Visitor thereof, and a consenting party to all Acts of the Dean and Chapter, relating to the same University; and that the University of Durham, being under the authority of the Lord Bishop of Durham, as the Visitor thereof and a consenting party to all Acts of the Dean and Chapter of Durham relating to the same and of the Dean and Chapter of Durham as Governors thereof, do consist of a Warden or Principal, a Professor Divinity and Ecclesiastical History, a Professor of Greek and classical Literature, a Professor of Mathematics, Two Censors or Proctors, and of such Readers and Teachers, the same being appointed by the Bishop of Durham and the Dean and Chapter of Durham, and of such Graduates in the several Faculties, and of such Scholars and others, as shall be, from time to time, incorporated by the said University.  Further it was agreed that the Warden, the Professor of Divinity and Ecclesiastical History, and the Professor of Greek and Classical Literature, shall be nominated and appointed, as was settled in the first scheme of the University by the Bishop of Durham, under his seal;  and that the Professor of Mathematics, and the other officers of the University, unless it shall be otherwise provided, shall be nominated by the Dean and Chapter under their seal.

And whereas it hath been represented to us that pursuant to the last recited Act of Chapter of the said Dean and Chapter of Durham, the Venerable Charles Thorp, Doctor of Divinity, now Archdeacon of Durham was appointed Warden of the said University of Durham;  the Reverend Henry Jenkyns, Master of Arts, Professor of Greek and Classical Literature;  the Reverend Temple Chevallier, Bachelor of Divinity, Professor of Mathematics;  and Charles Whitley, Master of Arts, and the Reverend Thomas Williamson Peile, Master of Arts, Proctors in the said University:

And whereas the said Dean and Chapter of Durham being desirous, as it hath been represented unto us, of confirming the said Act of Chapter, made and passed by them on the Fourth day of April, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, and of further exercising the trusts and powers reposed in them by the said recited Act of Parliament of the third year of our Reign did by an Instrument in writing bearing date the Twentieth Day of July, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-five, under their common Seal, with the consent of the Bishop of Durham, and by virtue, and in pursuance of the trusts and powers in the said Act of Parliament, and of every other power enabling them in that behalf, and for the purpose of confirming the said Act of Chapter made and passed on the Fourth Day of April, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, establish the College or University then existing in the City of Durham, a University for the establishment of learning in connection with the said Cathedral Church, and for ever thereafter to continue and be a University by the name of “THE UNIVERSITY OF DURHAM;” and did ordain and prescribe that the same should consist of a Warden, or Principal; a Professor of Divinity and Ecclesiastical History;  a Professor  of Greek and Classical Literature;  a Professor of Mathematics, and two Proctors;  and of such Readers and Teachers, the same being appointed by the Bishop of Durham, and the Dean and Chapter of Durham, respectively;  and of such Graduates in the several Faculties, and of such Scholars and others as should, from time to time, become Members of the said University;  and did, in all other respects, confirm the said of Act of Chapter of the Fourth Day of April, one thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, and all elections and proceedings which had been made, and had pursuant thereto;  And further did ordain, order, and prescribe certain regulations for the better establishment of the said University; and amongst others, the following regulations with respect to the present and future Members of Convocation (that is to say), That the first or present Convocation shall consist of the said Charles Thorp, the Warden, and of such persons as shall have proceeded to the degree of Doctor in any of the three Faculties, or of Master of Arts in any of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin, and shall be Members of the University of Durham;  That the Convocation shall in future consist, besides the original Members, of all persons regularly admitted to the Degrees of Doctor of Divinity, Doctor of Civil Law, Doctor of Medicine, and Master of Arts in the University of Durham, and conforming to the regulations thereof:  and did further ordain, order, and prescribe the following regulation with respect to the admission of Members of the said University, (that is to say), - No one shall be held to be a Member of the University who has not been matriculated, that is, whose name has not been placed on the Register of the University, by the authority of the Warden.

And whereas, during the Vacancy of the See of Durham, the Right Reverend Father in God, John Banks, by Divine permission Bishop of St. David’s, Dean, and the Chapter of Durham, of the Cathedral Church of Christ and Blessed Mary the Virgin, the Founders and Governors of the said University of Durham, and the said Charles Thorp, the Warden of the said University, have presented their petition to us, stating amongst other things, that in addition to the Endowment provided by the lastly- mentioned Act of Parliament certain scholarships have been founded in the said University, and some gifts of money and books have been made thereto;  and also that many students have resorted to the said University, and have become members thereof, and are diligently instructed in the several branches of science and literature; and also that the said Charles Thorp is the present Warden of the said University;  that the said Henry Jenkyns is the present Professor of Greek and Classical Literature;  that the said Temple Chevallier is the present Professor of Mathematics;  that the said Charles Whitley and Thomas Williamson Peile, are the present Proctors;  that the said Charles Thorp, and divers other Doctors and Masters in the several Faculties, to the number of eighty-four, are the present members of Convocation;  that Stafford Brown, Bachelor of Arts of Cambridge, Robert Warwick Furness, John Cundill, and others, to the number of seventy-one, are the present scholars;  and that great part of the said individuals are resident in the said University during the Academical Terms, and actively engaged in their respective duties;  and also that the said petitioners having regard to the Endowment provided for the University of Durham, and the wants of the surrounding district, are assured that, with the blessing of God, it will speedily fulfil the object of its institution, the advancement of learning based on sound religious principles;  but that they are advised that the said University would be better established, and its character and design more clearly and appropriately determined, it its members were incorporated by our Royal Charter;  and have humbly prayed us that we will be graciously pleased to confer upon the said Charles Thorp, and the other members of the said University of Durham, and all persons who shall hereafter be duly admitted members thereof, our Royal Charter and Letters Patent of Incorporation, so that they become and be for ever hereafter one Body Public and Corporate, - Now know ye, that we ever earnestly desiring to support every Institution for the advancement of Religion and Learning, and trusting that the said University of Durham, so established under our Royal sanction, and the authority of our Parliament, may, under the blessing of Almighty God, prove an eminent source of good to our loving subjects, especial Grace, certain knowledge, and mere motion, have granted , constituted, declared and appointed, and by these presents, for us, our heirs, and successors, do grant, constitute, declare, and appoint, that the said Charles Thorp, and all persons who now are, or who shall hereafter be duly admitted, Members of the said university, in pursuance of the before-mentioned regulation, or according to such rules and regulations as may be hereafter made and established by the said Dean and Chapter under their Common Seal, with the consent of the Lord Bishop of Durham for the time being, for the admission of Members thereof, shall be and remain for ever hereafter, one Body Politic and Corporate, under and by the name of  “The Warden, Masters and Scholars of the University of Durham,” and by that name shall and may have perpetual succession, and a Common Seal, with power to break, alter, and make anew such Seal, from time to time, at their will and pleasure; and by that name shall be governed and continued according to the provisions of the said Act of Parliament, made and passed in the third year of our reign; and by that name shall have and enjoy all the property, rights, and privileges which are assured by the said Act to the University therein contemplated and authorised; or are incident to a University established by our Royal Charter.  In Witness whereof,  we have caused these our letters to be made Patent.  Witness Ourself, at our Palace at Westminister, the First Day of June in the seventh year of our Reign.