Welcome to 12 Objects - a 450th Anniversary digital exhibition series which tells Jesus College’s rich and vibrant story through some of the objects in our collection. Curated by a range of experts led by Helen Morag Fellow Professor Paulina Kewes and College Archivist Dr Robin Darwall-Smith, this series will bring to life the stories of the people who have made the Jesus community what it is today. Each month we will announce a new object, tell you about it's history and hear from one of our expert curators.
Object 2 - Charles I Watch (1630s)
By Dr Felicity Heal, Emeritus Fellow
This watch, likely made by the royal watchmaker Edward East in the 1630s, is one of the smallest treasures in the College's collection. It is also one of the most mysterious. Donated to College by our great 17th century Principal Leoline Jenkins, we don't know for certain who owned it prior to him. However, it has long been conjectured that it was part of the possessions of Henrietta Maria, wife to Charles I. Was this one of the watch-loving King's many timepieces? And what does it reveal about Leoline Jenkins? Dr Felicity Heal reveals what we know about this beautiful timepiece, and introduces us to another item from our collection with links to Charles I. Watch here.
Object 1 - The First Two Charters of Jesus College
By Dr Norman Jones
The First Charter of Jesus College is written on a single sheet of sheepskin vellum, measuring 24 by 35 inches (or 615 by 885 mm), by a professional scribe in the Queen’s Chancery. Granted by Elizabeth I on June 27 1571, it declared the incorporation of ‘Jhesus Colledge within ye City and University of Oxforth of Quene Elizabethes foundation.’ It named its first Principal, David Lewis, its eight fellows, and eight scholars. The fellows were mostly Welsh lawyers; the scholars had nothing to do with Oxford and never matriculated. It recognized Hugh Price as making the founding gift of £60 in annual rents (only about £15,000 in modern money) though it did not name him as founder. It declared the object of the foundation to be to fight against 'heresies and impieties' (i.e. Catholicism) and to produce scholars of 'true Christian' (i.e. Protestant) theology; and it mentioned nothing about serving the Welsh nation.
The £60 endowment was too small and very hard to collect, even though Price augmented the first gift with 60 Marks [about £15,700] cash and his books when he made his will. The committee appointed in the charter to write the foundation statutes did not do its job, either. Consequently, Jesus had to be re-chartered in 1589. The Queen named a new committee to draft the College statutes and doubled the amount of property the College could hold in ‘dead hands’ (i.e. 'mortmain', which stipulates that assets may not be sold). It gave Jesus the stability needed to prosper, though it would have to be re-chartered one more time.
Listen to Norman talking in more detail about the story of the Charter here.
Read a partial translation of the Charter here.