Since its foundation in 1509 several benefactions have been bestowed upon the College, which have allowed the academic community here to grow and prosper. These benefactions started with the endowments of the founders, William Smyth (Bishop of Lincoln) and Sir Richard Sutton (Lawyer). Smyth ‘gave the expenses of constituting & building the College’ and also endowed the College with many large estates around England, including property in Oxfordshire and Lincolnshire. Sir Richard Sutton complemented these estates with property at Burrough in Leicestershire, Oxfordshire and the White Hart Inn on the Strand in London.
Throughout the 16th century many more names were added to the list of benefactors, including Hugh Oldham (Bishop of Exeter), John Claymond (President of Corpus Christi College) and Alexander Nowell (Dean of St Paul’s and Principal of Brasenose in 1595). Women also feature on the list, and interestingly some of the largest benefactions were received from women, namely Elizabeth Morley, Queen Elizabeth I and Joyce Frankland. Many of the original papers detailing these benefactions are kept in the archive and offer a brilliant insight into Tudor and Elizabethan philanthropy. These early College benefactors are also remembered through annual dinners or commemorations, and many of their portraits adorn the walls of some rooms in the College.
It is undoubtedly thanks to the founders, along with the early Principals and Fellows that these individuals chose to invest in Brasenose. The philanthropic efforts of William Smyth, for example, could clearly have been developed through his connection to such leading educational patrons as Lady Margaret Beaufort (the mother of King Henry VII). Smyth is thought to have developed a connection with Beaufort during his upbringing close to her home at Knowsley Hall. Beaufort is of course well-known for her leading educational patronage and for being the founder of Christ’s College and St John’s College, Cambridge. However whilst Brasenose owns a portrait of Beaufort, (given by George Hornby, Fellow, in the 19th century) she does not appear to have contributed to the founding of the College directly.
One woman who did give to Brasenose was Joyce Frankland, for whom the Archives hold a large collection of papers relating to her accounts and everyday life. Joyce was the daughter of Robert and Joan Trappes. Her father was a London goldsmith and in 1549 she married her first husband Henry Saxey, a clothworker. After Henry’s death Joyce remarried, this time to another clothworker, William Frankland, but she was to outlive him too. Joyce experienced further tragedy when her only son, William Saxey, died in a horse riding accident in 1581. An acquaintance of Alexander Nowell, Frankland was said by him to have fallen ‘into sorrows uncomfortable, whereof I, being of her acquaintance, having intelligence, did with all speed ride to her house near Hoddesdon to comfort her the best I could, and I found her crying, or rather howling, continually ‘Oh my son, my son!’. And when I could by no comfortable words stay her from that cry and tearing of her hair, God I think, put me in mind at the last to say ‘Comfort yourself good Mrs Frankland, and I will tell you how you shall have 20 good sons to comfort you in these your sorrows … if you would found certain fellowships and scholarships to be bestowed upon studious young men, who should be called Mrs Frankland’s scholars, they would be in love towards you as dear children … and they and their successors after them, being still Mrs Frankland’s scholars, will honour your memory for ever and ever’ (Venn, 3.229).
Nowell’s words seem to have worked and on her death Frankland left a substantial amount of property to Brasenose, mostly in London and the surrounding counties as well as much of her silver collection. The income from the property benefitted the commons of the Principal and Fellows and endowed one fellowship and four scholarships.
Many members of College will be familiar with the portrait of Joyce Frankland which hangs in Hall, and others will also have seen the second portrait which hangs in the SCR. Both of these were left to the College by Frankland in her will. Recently researchers from the National Portrait Gallery in London have been using the Brasenose portraits and archives for research into British artistic practice and patronage between 1540 and 1620. This is just one of many research projects, which the College’s collections are being used for, indicating why we continue to conserve and maintain the collections for generations to come. Please visit the new Library and Archives Flickr site to see a selection of the Joyce Frankland Archives, as well as images of some of the other collections kept by the College.