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The Rede Lectures take their origin from an endowment left to the University by Sir Robert Rede, Lord Chief Justice of the Common Pleas 1506-19, a member of Buckingham College and later a Fellow of the King’s Hall. With this endowment Sir Robert’s executors bought an annuity of 20 marks (£13 6s 8d) from the abbot of convent of Waltham Holy Cross. The annuity was to be paid to the Master and Fellows of Jesus College who bound themselves to pay £4 annually to each of three persons who were to lecture on Humanity, Logic and Philosophy. Probably this represents the establishment of a fixed stipend for the ‘ordinary’ lecturers already in existence. They were to lecture to all the University without fees and in mid-term were to pray publicly for the soul of Sir Robert and of his wife, for whom the University also performed annual exequies. The lecturers, being normally elected on 11 June, St Barnabas' Day, were commonly known as the 'Barnaby Lecturers'. Appointed at the same time, but from an earlier date, were lecturers in mathematics who, for convenience, are listed here also. The names of early lecturers survive only randomly, but there are more to be found than here appear, but it is apparent that they often held office for more than one year.

By the mid-nineteenth century the lectures had fallen into desuetude and a new Statute was drafted, and approved by the Queen in Council on 6 April 1858, whereby a single reader/lecturer was appointed annually to give a single lecture. Appointment is by the Vice-Chancellor. Further details, as to titles, current posts, etc., of the Rede Lecturers after 1858 can be found in the Historical Register and its supplements. For lists of Rede Lecturers and of Barnaby Lecturers go to http://