Jesus College

Jesus College was founded in 1571 and its oldest official record is the charter of Queen Elizabeth I. Until the end of the 19th century, the College’s principal function was the education of clergymen and its character was predominantly Welsh.

Governance records survive from 1602, first in the form of College registers and then as Governing Body minutes. Many records are concerned with finance: these include bursars’ accounts from 1631 to 1881 and a nearly unbroken series of battels and buttery books from 1637 to 1947.

There are substantial records of the College’s estates in England and Wales, although, for counties where all property had been sold before 2000, estates records were, in most cases, transferred to the relevant local authority record office.

Records of individual Fellows and students are few and modern admissions registers do not begin until 1882. The correspondence and papers of a number of Principals and Fellows are preserved, as well as minutes and other papers for College societies and clubs. There is a photographic collection, particularly strong in sporting groups.

Other items of interest in the Archives include:

  • 1622 College Statutes
  • 17th and 18th century catalogues and other records of the Library
  • Admissions registers and records from 1882
  • JCR minutes from 1892 (with gaps)
  • A full run of the College Magazine from its beginning in 1912
  • Fresher photographs for almost every year since 1966
  • Plans and drawings of College buildings

A separate collection of printed works by and about Old Members is held in the College Library. Jesus’s best-known alumnus was T.E. Lawrence ‘of Arabia’ (1888–1935). His dissertation on Crusader castles is kept in the College Library, while the Archives hold a small collection of his letters.

Jesus College’s medieval and early modern manuscripts are deposited with the Bodleian Libraries, while modern manuscripts are mostly held in the College Library. Please address enquiries to the College Librarian ( in the first instance.

Enquiries in writing are preferred and access is always by appointment as space for visitors is very limited. Note that the Archives are reached by four flights of stairs: we can offer alternative arrangements on request. Eduroam Wi-Fi is available and photocopying or photography can be arranged.


Archivist:              Dr. Robin Darwall-Smith

Opening hours:    Wednesdays and Thursdays 10.00-1.00 and 2.00-4.30 (by appointment only)

Address:               Jesus College, Turl Street, Oxford OX1 3DW

Phone:                  01865 279761



Further reading

E.G. Hardy, Jesus College (London: F.E. Robinson, 1899)

J.N.L. Baker, ‘Jesus College’, pages 264–279 in H.E. Salter & Mary D. Lobel (editors), The Victoria History of the County of Oxford, Volume 3: The University of Oxford (London: Oxford University Press for the Institute of Historical Research, 1954)

J.N.L. Baker, Jesus College, Oxford, 1571–1971 (Oxford: Jesus College, 1971)

Brigid Allen, ‘The Early History of Jesus College, Oxford, 1571–1603’, Oxoniensia LXIII (1998), pages 105–124

Brigid Allen, Guide to the Archives of Jesus College, Oxford (Oxford: Jesus College, 2003) Available in the Bodleian Libraries and Oxfordshire History Centre.

Felicity Heal (ed.), with Robin Darwall-Smith, Richard Bosworth and Colin Haydon: Jesus College Oxford of Queene Elizabethes Foundation: the First 450 Years (London, 2021).

Jesus College Magazine (1912–1962) & Jesus College Record (1962– ) Available in the Bodleian Libraries and Oxfordshire History Centre, as well as national libraries.