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Charters, deeds and statutes of Bedford College

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0505 BC GB100-110
Held at: Royal Holloway, University of London
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Full title: Charters, deeds and statutes of Bedford College
Date(s): 1849-1985
Level of description: Subfonds of Bedford College
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Extent: 5 boxes or 0.05 cubic metres
Name of creator(s): Bedford College
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The original management structure of Bedford College was decided upon during 1849 by several provisional committees set up for the purpose, and comprised a Board, a Council with executive powers, a Ladies Committee and a Professors Committee. The College existed as a corporate body from 24 Sep 1849, when the last meeting of the provisional General Committee took place, though the Board never formally adopted the draft constitution. During the years 1863 to 1868, no legal charter for Bedford College existed, and though several drafts were made, the various sections of the College management failed to agree on a final version.

In 1868, Bedford College, on the insistence of the Reid Trustees, came under the control of a Committee of Management that framed a new Constitution, which came into effect in 1869. The College was incorporated as an Association under the Board of Trade, with Articles of Association setting out a new management structure consisting of a body of Members termed 'The College', which replaced The Board, and a new Council elected from amongst the Members of The College. The Articles also provided for a Board of Studies, formed of the Professors of Bedford College, and a Council of Lady Visitors. The Memorandum of Association set out the objects of the College, namely to provide a liberal education for young ladies, and also provided that no person would be ineligible to any office on religious grounds.

In 1891, two Extraordinary Meetings of The College agreed upon changes in the by-laws order to increase the Council from ten to twenty members and raise the membership of The College to two hundred. In 1895 the by-laws were again revised, this time allowing for the greater representation of the Staff in the management of Bedford College, and the creation of a Board of Education possessing wide advisory powers in educational matters. The Articles of Association and the by-laws were further altered in 1902, to allow the Principal and Staff representatives the position of assessors on the Council.

In 1907 it was decided to apply to the Privy Council for a Royal Charter to take the place of the Deed of Incorporation under the Board of Trade. A draft Charter and Statutes was drawn up, providing for a system of management that was the same in outline as that already existing: the Members of The College became the Governors, the composition of the Council was altered to include representatives of the University of London, the London County Council, and the teaching Staff, an Academic Board was instituted, and the title 'Bedford College for Women, University of London' was formally established. The draft was approved by the Council and Staff, and was adopted by a Special Meeting of The College in Oct 1908. Royal Assent for this new chartered body was received in Jan 1909.

Various amendments were made to the charter in the years leading up to 1985, most notably the removal of 'for Women' from the name of the College in 1952, and alterations to allow for the admittance of men in 1965.

Due to financial and accommodation pressures, the decision was made in 1982 to merge with Royal Holloway College at Egham, and the Bedford College Charter was revoked on 1 Aug 1985.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers relating to the foundation of Bedford College, comprising a Declaration of Trust, 28 Jul 1849, between Elizabeth Jesser Reid and Hensleigh Wedgwood, Erasmus Darwin and Thomas Henry Farrer, settling the sum of £1000 for the purpose of setting up Bedford College, with a later addition in 1850 promising a further £500; the will of Mrs Reid dated 4 Aug 1860, setting up the Reid Trust, with a codicil dated 14 May 1866. Correspondence and papers, 1881-1909, relating to the alteration of the Constitution of Bedford College, including pamphlets containing the By-Laws, 1871, and Memoranda and Articles, 1881 and 1896; Special Resolution Certificate, 1891, altering the constitution of the Bedford College Council; Notice of an Extraordinary General Meeting, 1896; memoranda, correspondence and minutes, 1901-1902 and 1907, concerning the alteration of the Articles and Statutes to allow greater representation of the teaching staff of the College, including correspondence with the Board of Trade, and a memorandum on the subject by Erasmus Darwin, Honorary Treasurer of the Council; memoranda and draft By-Laws and Articles, 1907-1909, by the Staff and others concerning the change in composition of the Council to allow staff representation and the constitution of the Academic Board. Papers, 1908-1913, relating to the gaining of a Royal Charter for Bedford College, including copy minutes of a meeting of the Sub-Committee on the Charter, Mar 1908; typescript drafts of proposed petitions for a Royal Charter written by R J Mure for the Council, May 1908; proofs of draft petitions and draft Royal Charter, 1908, several annotated by Professor Hills; memorandum containing recommendations from the Staff to the Council concerning the draft Charter, May 1908; correspondence with the Privy Council, Jul 1908-Jan 1909, mainly concerning amendments to the draft Charter, including the official Royal letter of agreement, Jan 1909; correspondence with the Board of Trade relating to the liquidation of Bedford College as a Company, 1909; papers and correspondence regarding modifications to the Charter, 1910-1911, including draft petitions and Supplemental Charters; correspondence with the Earl Marshal concerning the Grant of Arms to the College, 1913. Printed pamphlets, 1909-1985, containing the Charter of Incorporation and Statutes of Bedford College, with all alterations up to1985, with typed copies of the above noting all changes to particular Articles, Statutes and By-Laws, and printed copies of By-Laws. Correspondence relating to research on the College Arms, 1916-1961. Correspondence regarding instructions as to the correct days on which to fly the College Flag, 1963 and 1977. Illuminated bound Fellows Book, listing the names and positions of all Bedford College Fellows, 1928-1985. Correspondence concerning attempts by Bedford College to obtain a photograph of the Bedford College Founders Book by Edward Johnston held in the British Library, 1980-1981. Correspondence between Bedford College and Messrs F Sangorski and G Sutcliffe, Bookbinders, regarding the making of a Visitors Book for the College, 1959, and the writing of new pages for it, 1959-[1985]. Boxed Supplemental Charters with seals, 1957, 1965, and 1975. Boxed Charter of Grant of Arms to Bedford College, 1913.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The papers are arranged in files according to subject.

Conditions governing access:

Open to all registered users of the Royal Holloway, University of London Archives.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies may be supplied, subject to the condition of the original. Requests to publish original material should be directed to the College Archivist.

Finding aids:

'A catalogue of the Archives of Bedford College (University of London), 1849-1985' by Claire Gobbi Daunton and Elizabeth Bennett, 1987.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The papers were transferred from the Bedford College Archives when the College merged with Royal Holloway in 1985.

Immediate source of acquisition:

See Archival history.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Secretary's papers including material relating to revisions to the Charter, Statutes and by-laws of Bedford College, 1939-1970 (BC AR385/6/1-13), are also held in the Royal Holloway, University of London Archives.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

A history of Bedford College for Women, 1849-1937 (Oxford University Press, London, 1939), by Dame Margaret Jansen Tuke; Educating women: a pictorial history of Bedford College, University of London, 1849-1985 (Alma Publishers, Surrey, 1991), by Dr Linna Bentley.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with general International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Mar 2000

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