Furnished with officers

arms of Stokys
Coat of arms of Matthew Stokys (1514-1591), esquire bedell 1557-85 and registrary 1558-91; the hand brandishes a bedell’s mace

Besides a corporate head, the early scholars soon needed other representatives to speak and act for them. The first two were proctors, responsible for examinations and graduations, keeping accounts, negotiating trading standards with the town and supervising ceremonial. The latter duties were soon shared with bedells, while a chaplain assumed the care of valuables. From the sixteenth century, the vice-chancellor acted permanently as proxy for the non-resident chancellor, a registrary enrolled students and recorded governing body decisions, an orator wrote letters and addresses and a librarian took on the burgeoning book collection.

Although some offices have become redundant, others remain essential to university operations. The taxors and gaugers, supervisors of weights and measures, disappeared in the mid-nineteenth century, but the vice-chancellor is the chief executive officer, proctors are the embodiment of discipline and the registrary heads the central administration. The modern, diverse university employs around 4000 men and women in supporting roles.

Officers in all their variety are most visible in the pomp of the Congregation at which honorary degrees are awarded.

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Array of officials and members in academical dress, 1748 (Views.x.5.45)Cartoon from Gradus ad Cantabrigiam (1824) (Cam.c.824.80)

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