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Mathematics at TCD 1592-1992

years of
by T. D. Spearman

Trinity College - the early years

The charter granted by Queen Elizabeth in 1592 came without any supporting endowment or capital grant and the first task of the new College and University was to raise money and to establis for itself a regular source of income. The city of Dublin, through its Lord Mayor and aldermen had granted the College its site consisting of the lands and buildings of the former monastery of All Hallowes. The buildings were in a ruinous condition having been neglected for some 50 years since the suppression of the monastery by Henry VIII. Within a short time £2,000 had been subscribed, enabling new buildings to be erected in the form of a single quadrangle which included the Hall and Chapel, a Library and a Regent House, as well as residential accommodation for the Scholars, Fellows and Provost, and the supporting domestic offices. The first students were admitted in 1594 and in that year the Queen agreed to an endowment of £100 a year to the College. The income of the College was gradually increased from that level, chiefly by grants of lands in various parts of the country. In 1596 the total College income was £278.19.4; by 1601 this had become £566.8.4 and by 1613 it had risen to about £1100. The minutes of the City Council dated
`the Fourth Friday after December 1590'
have the following entry:
`Forasmuch as there is in this Assembly by certayne well-disposed persons petition preferred, declaring many good and effectual persuaciouns to move our furtherance for setting up and erecting a Collage for the bringing up of yeouth to learning, whereof we, having a good lyking, do, so farr as in us lyeth, hereby agree and order that the scite of Allhallowes and the parkes thereof shalbe wholly gyven for the erection of a collage there; and withall we require that we may have conference with the perferrers of the said peticion to conclude how the same shalbe fynished.'
The granting to the College of the Monastery of All Hallowes. A hundred years ago in the trecentenary commemoration volume Mahaffy wrote that `the modest gift of the Corporation of Dublin, consisting of 28 acres of derelict land partly invaded by the sea, has become a splendid property, in money value not less than 10,000 a-year, in convenience and dignity to the College perfectly inestimable.' Mahaffy's words apply equally well today - only the money value would need to be altered; it too has become `perfectly inestimable'
The size of the College, in terms of the numbers of Scholars and Fellows, was determined by the income. In 1613 Provost Temple put forward the following scheme, which was subsequently adopted and which formed the basis on which the College developed. He proposed that in addition to the Provost there should be 7 Senior Fellows and 9 Junior Fellows. The Provost would be paid a salary of £100, the Senior Fellows £8 and the Junior Fellows £3 each. There would be 30 native Scholars paid £3 each and 40 other Scholars who, although not paid a salary, would have their Commons provided. The salaries of various other officers and staff, together with the kitchen and buttery allowance for the Fellows and Scholars brought the total projected annual expenditure to £1095.10.8.

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