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Ince Papers


The Ince Papers comprise letters and documents sent between 1700 and 1704 by the lawyer John Ince to Roger Mander, then Master of Balliol. They are concerned with the benefaction of Sir Thomas Cookes, a wealthy Worcestershire Baronet. This was set out in the will he made in 1697, but which was known about and squabbled over in his lifetime: on his death in 1701 £10000 was given in Trust to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of Worcester, Gloucester, Oxford, and Lichfield, and the  Heads of all Oxford Colleges and Halls, for the  endowment of  a College. Benjamin Woodroffe, Principal of Gloucester Hall, went to great lengths to obtain the benefaction and thereby transform his Hall into an endowed College, but his efforts were legally flawed, and failed. Mander openly used his position as Vice-Chancellor 1700-1702 to promote Balliol as beneficiary, and this was supported by a majority of the Trustees, backed up by Worcestershire clergy and gentry, but this attempt also failed. Gloucester Hall became Worcester College with the help of the legacy a decade later, although Woodroffe’s plan had never been agreed to by Cookes.

The Collection is clearly of fundamental importance to the foundation of Worcester College. It also illustrates the operation of interest and politics in early 18th century England, and incidentally names and involves many Worcestershire gentry and clergy of ca 1700.


The Collection was  withdrawn from the cellar on Staircase III beneath Balliol  Bursary in 1948 by the then Assistant Librarian EV Quinn. He did not catalogue them, but flattened them and recognised their relevance; he drew them to the attention of Dame Lucy Sutherland, who published an article partly  based on them (‘The Foundation of Worcester College, Oxford,’ Oxoniensia, 1979, XLIV, pp.62-80).

She was responsible for the designation of the Collection as the Ince Papers; though convenient to her, the name is misleading; if they were anybody’s Papers they were Mander’s, and they really belonged in Balliol Archives. As she noted, the Papers had “no pagination “. In September 1985, the Collection was transferred to acid-free boxes and briefly re-examined, but without any cataloguing. In 2012 the Collection was revisited. It was in no obvious order at all. In particular the association between the letters and their original enclosures was completely lost: perhaps it had been three centuries previously. Many documents lack an explicit date and arrangement was problematic. Dates given below are modern style, but there were some ambiguities which may not have been resolved correctly.


2 archive boxes

Principal names appearing in the Ince Papers

  • John Baron, Fellow of Balliol; succeeded Mander as Master.
  • Thomas Bouchier, Principal of St Alban Hall.ODNB.
  • Arthuer Charlett, Master of University College.ODNB.
  • Sir Thomas Cookes, 2nd Bt. Died 8 June 1701.ODNB.
  • Sir Edward Dineley of Charlton. His sister Mercy née Dineley was Cookes’s mother.
  • B Freeman, a lawyer, untraced.
  • John Ince. Clearly a lawyer , but a most partisan and devious one. One of his letters was written from Hampstead, and a couple from “Fenchurch Street next Ironmonger’s Hall”. Ince nearly always signed  “Jo Ince “ once just ”John”; he seems to have had access to all the powerful people in London.
  • Roger Mander, Master of Balliol. Vice Chancellor of the University 1700-October 1702. Died 21 December 1704.
  • Sir Edward Northey, Attorney General .ODNB.
  • 2nd Duke of Ormonde, Chancellor of the University. ODNB.
  • Henry Poley, matriculated  Jesus College  Cambridge, MP and Barrister.
  • Benjamin Portlock, Fellow of Trinity College Cambridge, Private Secretary to Ormonde.
  • William Vernon; Cookes’s local lawyer, described by Ince at first as ”Mr Vernon of Gloucestershire a lawyer “ but later as of Worcestershire, “ an able Chancery man & next neighbour to Sir Tho Cookes”.
  • Thomas Winford of Lincoln’s Inn, nephew and executor of Cookes’s Will; aka Sir Thomas Cookes Winford and Sir Thomas Winford Cookes. He was an MP.
  • Benjamin Woodroffe. ODNB.


Ince 1. Research papers about the collection

Ince 1.1. Dame Lucy Sutherland, ‘The Foundation of Worcester College, Oxford’ Oxoniensia, 1979, XLIV,62-80, offprint.

Ince 1.2. TS(cc) of the same, apparently as published, with minor MS annotations, presented by Mrs V Jobling, May 1979.

Ince 1.3. Anon [B Woodroffe], ‘A Letter......’,   Cordeaux & Merry 8664, xerox from Christ Church Library.

Ince 1.4. B Woodroffe, ‘A Sermon preached May 23 1700 at Feckenham...’, xerox from Christ Church Library.

Ince 1.5. ’The Case of Worcester College as presented to the Members of the House of Commons’, printed, xerox from Christ Church Library.  

Ince 1.6. EV Quinn’s notes re other pamphlets etc and notes on provenance etc.

Ince 2. Sir Thomas Cookes’s Will.

Two contemporary extracts .The Will was made 19 Feb 1697 and proved in the PCC.The full version, which is several times as long as the extracts,  is [August 2012] available from the National Archives DocumentsOnline service for  a nominal charge.   

Ince 3. The Failed Bill.

Ince 3.1.The Bill, 30 sheets secured with a twisted parchment strip. Endorsed “n:5.

Ince 3.2. The Case for the proposed Act, beginning as presented to the House of Lords, with marginal comments and the conclusion of the Lords Committee 26 February 1702, passing the matter to the House of Commons, ending with detail of the rejection by the Commons. 9 sheets secured with a twisted parchment strip. Endorsed “n.3”. With  it is  a covering note “Ye Case in Large open Sheete as delivered in ye Lobby”.

Ince 3.3. A petition seeking to be taken into account when the Bill was  read, on behalf of the University in general, a majority of the Trustees), and Balliol College in particular.Three copies, on single sheets in different hands, endorsed “n:6”, “n:6” and “n 13” respectively. The last has written at the bottom in Mander’s hand unsigned “This was sent in in my own name only”.

Ince 3.4. A sheet of notes endorsed “n:10” and “Dr Bouchier’s notes on ye Bill”.

Ince 4. Woodroffe’s Statutes for Worcester College

as annexed to the Bill, 1702.

Ince 5. Woodroffe’s Statutes for Worcester College given the Great Seal,  1698.

Ince 5.1 6 Sheets, begins “Rex omnibus.....”, 2 October  1698. Endorsed “n:6”.
Ince 5.2 19 Sheets, begins “Guliemus tertius....”, 18 November 1698. Endorsed ”n2”.

Ince 6. Woodroffe’s Statutes for Worcester College as approved by the Archbishop et al 1698.

Ince 7. Woodroffe’s Statutes for Worcester College;

Three versions collated; separate documents setting out in great detail the discrepancies and contradictions between three versions of proposed Statutes for Worcester College drawn up by Woodroffe.

Ince 8. Drafts and notes for a response to a printed paper entitled “The Case of Worcester College”.

Anon, nd.

Ince 9. Petition to SirThomas Cookes.

Petition for the benefaction to be given to Balliol signed by 35 Worcestershire clergy, original, nd.

Ince 10. Petitions to the Trustees.

Draft petition pressing the Trustees to act, to  be signed after the Worcestershire Assizes due in August 1704, repeating  a petition dated 14 August 1702 which had been signed at the Worcestershire Assizes, and listing the 40 1702 Worcestershire clergy and gentry signatories.   

Ince 11. Petition to the House of Commons.

Petition seeking to be heard concerning the Bill sent to the Commons by the Lords, signed by 23 Trustees, original, nd.

Ince 12. John Ince’s bill of costs.

1 item.

Ince 13. Schedules of documents.

Many, but not all, of the documents corresponding to these schedules survive elsewhere in the Collection and can be identified by their endorsements.

Ince 13. 1. Documents numbered 1-18 “relating to Dr Woodroffe’s Case”.

Ince 13.2. Documents numbered 1-18 “relating to Sir Thomas Cookes’s Charity”.

Ince 14. Statutes drafted with Balliol as beneficiary.

The consent of the Visitor of Balliol Henry Compton Bishop of London is written in, but the  day and month of 1699 are left blank. 1 item.

Ince 15. Letters by John Ince to Roger Mander, or in a few cases to John Baron.

All are single sheets which had been folded sealed and addressed.The first is dated 20 April 1702 and all were written before Mander’s death on 21 December 1704.

Ince 15.1.April-December 1702, definitely dated or probably dateable. Arranged in date order, 25   letters. 

Ince 15.2. April- October 1702 undated. 6 letters. 

Ince 15.3. 1703 definitely dated. Arranged in date order, 5 letters.

Ince 15.4. 1704. One letter, 19 July 1704.

Ince 15.5. October 1702-1704 undated. 12 letters.

Ince 16. Miscellaneous Letters.

Ince 16.1. Thomas Bouchier to Mander, 18 April 1702.

Ince 16.2. Ince to Arthur Charlett, nd.

Ince 16.3. Edward Dineley to Mander, 22 August 1702 from Charlton. Shortly before Cooke’s death, Cookes (his sister’s son, whom he thought a most unreliable man) had told him he was minded to change his will and direct his charity towards the foundation of workhouses in Worcestershire.

Ince 16.4. Cookes to 2nd Duke of Ormonde, Chancellor of the University, 26 August 1700, contemporaray copy and, on the same sheet, a copy of Ormonde’s responses, nd.

Ince 16.5. Benjamin Portlock, probably to Mander, 10 March 1700 or 1701. Endorsed “n.16”.

Ince 16.6.William Vernon, probably to Ince, 9 July 1702. Endorsed “n.9”.

Ince 16.7. Robert Jackson to Mander, 20 April 1703.Jackson does not appear elsewhere in the Papers.The letter concerns printing arrangements, and he may have been a  printer.

Ince 16.8. Trustees to Thomas  Winford, nd, contemporaray copy, making reference to “your late uncle SirThom:Cookes". Endorsed "Letter to Mr Winford from ye Trustees” and ”n 8”.

Ince 17. Legal Opinions.

Ince 17.1. Papers setting out Questions for Counsel, one of them endorsed “n 15”.

Ince 17.2. Mr Attorney General’s opinion 13 August 1702. Endorsed “n 14”.

Ince 17.3. Henry Poley’s opinion, 2 contemporary copies,  8 August 1702. Endorsed “n 11” and “n:12”.

Ince 17.4. The two above opinions copied into one contemporary document. Endorsed “n:13”.

Ince 17.5. Two contemporary copies of a joint opinion, nd, by Northey and Poley, re St John’s College’s title to the ground on which Gloucester Hall stood.

Ince 17.6. A note from Ince acknowledging receipt of a letter from Baron, nd, quoting a joint opinion of Northey and Poley about the corporate status of Gloucester Hall.

Ince 17.7. Two contemporary copies of an opinion by B Freeman. 4 July 1702.

Ince 18. Miscellaneous papers.

Ince 18.1. “Heads of House present at ye meeting Aug:3:1669”. Recorded as present were “Mr Vicechancellor, Sir Thomas Clayton, Dr Savage, Dr Yate, Dr Barlow, Dr Clayton, Dr Bathurst, Dr Mew, Dr Lamphire, Dr Jenkins”. The names of 13 absentees were also noted. No other information appears on this slip, which is clearly a stray from somewhere.

Ince 18.2. A note by “TB” [Thomas Bouchier], nd.

Ince 18.3. Four scrappy and incomplete items re Woodroffe’s Statutes.

Ince 18.4. The opening fragment of a letter beginning “Sir.  I sent by this morning’s coach .....”.

- John Jones September 1985, augmented and revised September 2012

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