Genealogical and historical information and links for anyone researching their ancestors in England and the British Isles

 Home ==> Information ==> Oxford University

 <== Monarchs

Poets Laureate

Cambridge University Oxford University

Oxford University is the oldest in Britain. The university now has 38 colleges (in 2008 Green and Templeton Colleges merged) (see the list of colleges).

The colleges
Nineteen of these 38 colleges were founded in the 19th and 20th centuries, whilst the other 19 have foundation dates stretching back as early as 1249, the year the oldest college - University College - was founded.

Many of the foundation years given for the colleges don't reflect the fact that they often replaced even more ancient halls of residence, used by students who studied in Oxford before the college system had even developed. These institutions often date back into the 11th century or further.

Oxford University - especially its older established colleges - has seen many of its former students go on to achieve notable things.

No degree
But a successful completion of their studies was not always necessary for former students to achieve success in life. The Poet Laureates
Sir William D'Avenant, Robert Southey and John Betjemen, the poet Percy Shelley and the writers Samuel Johnson and Robert Graves all left Oxford without a degree. A degree also eluded Edward VII, the British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, the founder of the US state of Pennsylvania William Penn and the Elizabethan adventurer Walter Raleigh.

It wasn't until 1879 when Lady Margaret Hall and
Somerville College opened that women were finally admitted to Oxford. Since then graduates have included the first British woman to win a Nobel Prize, Dorothy Hodgkin; Britain's three women Prime Ministers: Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, Liz Truss; the writers Iris Murdoch and Dorothy L. Sayers; India's first woman Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi and the Burmese winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi.

The following list shows the 38 colleges, grouped by the century in which they were founded.

The colleges founded before the 18th century include information on a selection of famous people who have been connected to the college and links to the college website and its history webpage.

The colleges founded since 1700 have links to their websites.

The 38 Oxford Colleges


13th century


University College
Founded: 1249

Balliol College

Founded: c. 1263

Merton College

Founded: 1264

14th century


Exeter College
Founded: 1314

Oriel College

Founded: 1326

Queen's College

Founded: 1341

New College
Founded: 1379

15th century


Lincoln College

Founded: 1427

All Souls College

Founded: 1438

Magdalen College

Founded: 1458

16th century


Brasenose College
Founded: 1509

Corpus Christi Coll.
Founded: 1517

Christ Church

Founded: 1546

St John's College
Founded: 1555

Trinity College
Founded: 1555

Jesus College
Founded: 1571

17th century


Wadham College
Founded: c. 1613

Pembroke College
Founded: 1624

18th century

Worcester College
Founded: 1714

19th century

St Catherine's College
Founded: 1868

Keble College

Founded: 1870

Hertford College

Founded: 1874

Lady Margaret Hall
Founded: 1879

St Anne's College

Founded: 1879

Somerville College

Founded: 1879

Mansfield College

Founded: 1886

St Hugh's College

Founded: 1886

Harris Manchester Coll.

Founded: 1889

St Hilda's College

Founded: 1893

20th century

St Peter's College

Founded: 1929

Nuffield College

Founded: 1937

St Antony's College

Founded: 1950

St Edmund Hall

Founded: 1957

Linacre College

Founded: 1962

St Cross College
Founded: 1965

Wolfson College
Founded: 1965

Kellogg College
Founded: 1990

Green Templeton College
Founded: 2008

16th century
Brasenose College A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Brasenose College was founded on the site of the more ancient Brasenose Hall. The exact date of its founding is unclear but is given as 1509 when stone for its buildings began to be extracted from the quarry at nearby Headington.

Its founders - Sir Richard Sutton and William Smyth, the Bishop of Lincoln - came from north-west England and many of the college's early students came from the counties of Cheshire and Lancashire.


Nobel Prize Winners

William Golding Nobel Prize for Literature, 1983
Undergraduate, 1930-34

Prime Ministers

Henry Addington Prime Minister of Britain, 1801-04
Undergraduate, 1774-78 MA, 1780

David Cameron Prime Minister of Britain, 2010-16
Undergraduate, 1985-88

Writers and Poets

John Buchan Writer
Undergraduate, 1895-99

Corpus Christi College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Corpus Christi College was founded in 1517 by the Bishop of Winchester, Richard Foxe.


Famous People

Reginald Pole Archbishop of Canterbury

Isaiah Berlin Philosopher
Undergraduate, 1928-32
See All Souls College

Writers and Poets

Robert Bridges Poet laureate, 1913-30
Undergraduate, 1863-67

Christ Church

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

In 1525 Cardinal Wolsey began building a new college on the the site of the 9th century St Frideswide's Monastery which he had acquired the previous year. When finished he named it Cardinal's College.

But in 1529 Wolsey fell out with the King and
Henry VIII took over the college, renaming it King Henry VIII's College.

In 1546 it was refounded as Christ Church with its church becoming the cathedral for the new diocese of Oxford.

Thirteen of the college's students have gone on to become British Prime Minister.



William Walton Composer
Undergraduate, 1918-20 No degree

Famous People

John Locke Philosopher
Undergraduate, 1652-56 MA, 1658

John Wesley Founder of Methodism
Undergraduate, 1720-24 MA, 1727
See Lincoln College

Charles Wesley Founder of Methodism
Undergraduate, 1726-30 MA, 1733

William Penn Founder of the US State of Pennsylvania
Undergraduate, 1660-62 No degree


Edward VII King of Britain, 1901-10
Undergraduate, 1859-61 No degree
The future king transferred his studies to Trinity College, Cambridge

Nobel Prize Winners

Albert Einstein Nobel Prize for Physics, 1921
1931-33 (3 short periods)
Einstein accepted a five year research studentship (fellowship) from the college in 1931 but was unable to return after 1933

Martin Ryle Nobel Prize for Physics, 1974
Undergraduate, 1936-39

Prime Ministers

George Grenville Prime Minister of Britain, 1763-65
Undergraduate, 1730-33

Earl of Shelburne Prime Minister of Britain, 1782-83
Undergraduate, 1755-57 No degree

Duke of Portland Prime Minister of Britain, 1783 and 1807-09
Undergraduate, 1755-57 MA

Lord Grenville Prime Minister of Britain, 1806-07
Undergraduate, 1776-80

Earl of Liverpool Prime Minister of Britain, 1812-27
Undergraduate, 1787-90 MA

George Canning Prime Minister of Britain, 1827
Undergraduate, 1787-91 MA, 1794

Robert Peel Prime Minister of Britain, 1834-35 and 1841-46
Undergraduate, 1805-08 MA, 1814

Earl of Derby Prime Minister of Britain, 1852, 1858-59 and 1866-68
Undergraduate, 1817-20 No degree

William Gladstone Prime Minister of Britain, 1868-74, 1880-85, 1886 and 1892-94
Undergraduate, 1828-31

Marquess of Salisbury Prime Minister of Britain, 1885-86, 1886-92 and 1895-1902
Undergraduate, 1847-50 MA, 1853
See All Souls College

Earl of Rosebery Prime Minister of Britain, 1894-95
Undergraduate, 1866-69 No degree

Anthony Eden Prime Minister of Britain, 1955-57
Undergraduate, 1919-22

Alec Douglas-Home Prime Minister of Britain, 1963-64
Undergraduate, 1922-25

Writers and Poets

John Ruskin Writer. Art critic
Undergraduate, 1836-42
Slade Professor of Fine Art, 1869-79

Lewis Carroll Writer
Undergraduate, 1851-54 MA, 1857

Carroll lectured at the college from 1855 until 1881 and continued to live there until his death in 1898

W.H. Auden Writer
Undergraduate, 1925-28
Professor of Poetry, 1956-61

St John's College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

St John's College was founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas White with many of its early students becoming
Anglican clergymen.


Famous People

William Laud Archbishop of Canterbury
Undergraduate, 1589-94 Fellow, 1590-1610
President of the College, 1611-21 Chancellor of Oxford University, 1629-40

Nobel Prize Winners

Lester Pearson Nobel Prize for Peace, 1957 Prime Minister of Canada, 1963-68
Undergraduate, 1920-23 MA, 1925

Prime Ministers

Tony Blair Prime Minister of Britain, 1997-2007
Undergraduate, 1972-75

Writers and Poets

Robert Graves Writer
Undergraduate, 1919-25 No degree
Professor of Poetry, 1961-66

Kingsley Amis Writer
Undergraduate, 1941-42, 1945-47

Philip Larkin Poet
Undergraduate, 1940-43

Trinity College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Trinity College was founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope.

The college stands on the site of the former Durham College, set up for Benedictine monks from the cathedral at Durham in 1286.

This college was closed during the Reformation and had been dedicated to the Trinity, the Virgin and St Cuthbert; from which its present-day name possibly derives.


Nobel Prize Winners

Cyril Hinshelwood Nobel Prize for Chemistry, 1956
Fellow, 1921-37
Professor of Chemistry, 1937-64
See Exeter College

Prime Ministers

Earl of Wilmington Prime Minister of Britain, 1742-43
Undergraduate, 1690

Earl of Chatham Prime Minister of Britain, 1766-68
Undergraduate, 1726-28
No degree

Lord North Prime Minister of Britain, 1770-82
Undergraduate, 1749-50

Writers and Poets

Thomas Warton Poet laureate, 1785-90
Undergraduate, 1744-47 MA, 1750 Fellow, 1752-90
Professor of Poetry, 1757-67 Camden Professor of Ancient History, 1785-90

Jesus College

A selection of famous people who have been connected with the college.

Jesus College was founded in 1571. The only Oxford college to be created during the reign of
Elizabeth I, it replaced White Hall, an academic hall which had existed since the 13th century.

The college was established with the aim of educating the future clergy and for many centuries took many of its students from Wales.


Explorers and Adventurers

T.E. Lawrence Adventurer. Writer
Undergraduate, 1907-10

Prime Ministers

Harold Wilson Prime Minister of Britain, 1964-70 and 1974-76
Undergraduate, 1934-37

See University College

Information Genealogy in England