A herbert letter in records of the vice chancellor’s court: George herbert’s servants at cambridge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the aid of Jacqueline Cox, keeper of Cambridge’s University Archives, I have discovered a letter of George Herbert, dated April 24, 1620, to James Tabor, registrary of the University of Cambridge. The letter exists in a file of the vice chancellor’s court records of 1616–20, the bulk of which are dated 1619–20. In this period, the vice chancellor presided over the university court and heard cases affecting scholars and “privileged persons.” One common request to the vice chancellor’s court was to grant the title of “privileged person” to “scholar’s servants” of gentlemen, of heads of colleges, and of other dignitaries of the university (Herbert having become orator on January 21, 1620). The granting of the title of “privileged person” to a scholar’s servant gave the petitioner the right to retain the servant at Cambridge. George Herbert’s letter of April 24, 1620, is a request to University Registrary James Tabor to admit “Ed. Parrat” as a scholar’s servant. This letter provides new light on Herbert’s seriousness in undertaking the oratorship in 1620. The letter and entries in the Act Book’s “Register of Admissions to Privilege” show that Herbert maintained scholar’s servants throughout his time as orator, including late in 1626. The documents invite further consideration of his career at Cambridge, as well investigation of the lives of servants there.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)432-446
Number of pages15
JournalModern Philology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


Dive into the research topics of 'A herbert letter in records of the vice chancellor’s court: George herbert’s servants at cambridge'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this