‘Advancing the Interests of the College’ (1744–53)

Wilfrid Prest

in William Blackstone

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199550296
Published online January 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780191720925 | DOI:
 ‘Advancing the Interests of the College’ (1744–53)

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Blackstone made major contributions to All Souls while holding various college administrative offices, posts which provided him with both much needed income, as also the psychological satisfaction of imposing order and facilitating ‘improvement’. This chapter covers his role in fitting out and launching the Codrington Library as Oxford's major scholarly resource next after the Bodleian Library itself; his rationalization of college estates and records; his treatise on the college accounts; and his organization of the college's wine cellars. Most important in terms of his own future career and our understanding of his attitudes was a campaign against the statutory preference given to descendants of the college's medieval founder in fellowship elections. Here Blackstone revealed himself as a supporter of the principle of selection based on academic merit, rather than the accident of birth.

Keywords: All Souls; Codrington Library; accounts; improvement; wine; Founder's kin; merit

Chapter.  9984 words. 

Subjects: History of Law

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