Papers of Thomas Caius (or Keys) (Master 1561-72)

Thomas Caius (originally known as Thomas Kay or Key) was originally a Fellow of All Souls College.


He was admitted there in 1525, and became arts dean in 1533 and arts bursar in 1537-1538 and 1540-1542. He was elected Scribe of the University in 1534, but dismissed from there for negligence in 1552. A pluralist, Caius was Master of Ewelme Hospital, Oxon., from 1549, Rector of Steeple Langford, Wilts., from 1551, Rector of Newington, Oxon., from 1561, Canon of Salisbury and Prebendary of Stratton from 1560, and Rector of Tredington, Worcs., from 1563.

Caius had been proposed as a Master for University College by the King’s Commissioners in 1551, on the resignation of Richard Salvin, but the Fellows refused to accept him, and elected George Ellison instead. Caius was finally elected Master in 1561, and remained here until his death in 1572 (see further, Robin Darwall-Smith, A History of University College, Oxford (Oxford, 2008), pp, 101 and 104-8)

Caius was one of the more learned men in Oxford at this time; he was unusual in knowing Greek, and he wrote several works, including a defence of the antiquity of Oxford, which was presented to Queen Elizabeth I on her visit to Oxford in 1566. His will (in the Public Record Office) apparently includes a very detailed account of the furnishings of the Master’s Lodgings at this time.

The only items specifically about Caius in the Archives of University College are a document connected with his appointment as Rector of Tredington, some Bonds from 1570 and a gift of land.

Catalogued in October 1996.



UC:MA21/L1/1    19 Oct 1563
        NOTE: The original document is badly stained and almost completely illegible, so that the best source for its contents is Smith’s transcript on UC:AR2/MS1/10 p. 49.
        Formal appointment from Edwin [Sandys], Bishop of Worcester, to Master Thomas Key, M.A., appointing him rector of Tredington, in the diocese of Worcester.
        Language: Latin.


UC:MA21/L2/1    28 Sep 12 Eliz I (1570)
        1.    a) John Lutor of Banbury, Oxon., Glover.
            b) Robert Phypps of Stokton, Warks., Yeoman.
            c) Richard Curry of Shongborowe, Warks., Yeoman.
        2.    Thomas Keye, of University College, Oxford, Clerk.
        Comments: 1 are bound to repay 2 £10 by 29 Sep 1571.

UC:MA21/L2/2    28 Sep 12 Eliz I (1570)
        Parties: All as in L2/1 above.
        Comments: 1 are this time bound to repay 2 £15 by 29 Sep 1572.

UC:MA21/L2/3    28 Sep 12 Eliz I (1570)
        1.    All as in L2/1 above.
        2.    Robert Grenaker of University College, Oxford.
        Comments: 1 are bound to 2 to pay him £9 by 25 Mar next.

UC:MA21/L2/4    28 Sep 12 Eliz I (1570)
        Parties: All as in L2/3 above.
        Comments: 1 are bound to pay 2 £10 by 29 Sep 1571.

UC:MA21/L2/5    28 Sep 12 Eliz I (1570)
        Parties: All as in L2/3 above.
        Comments: 1 are bound to pay 2 £6 by 29 Sep 1572.


UC:MA21/1D/1     n.d. (mid 16th cent.?)
        Draft Gift.
        1.    Edward Key, Citizen and Slater of London.
        2.    Thomas Key of Oxford, Brother of 1.
        Property: All 1's rights to the Manor of Marsh Gibbon, Bucks., and some lands leased to him by the Master and Brothers of the Alms House at Ewelme, Bucks. (Sic; recte Oxon.?)
        Comments: The draft breaks off at the sealing clause, and is thus undated.
        Language: English.