Catherine Hall

(Important in The Mistaken Wife)

St Catharine’s College, Cambridge was founded in 1473 by Robert Woodlark, the provost of neighbouring King’s College.  Named in honour of the patron saint of learning and scholarship, it was initially known as Katharine (and later Catherine) Hall.  The current name and spelling were adopted in 1860, and members of the College have become jealous of the second ‘a’ in Catharine, which inter alia distinguishes their institution from the much younger foundation at Oxford.  Lowther Yates, the Master whom Mary Finch did not meet when invited to the College to consult ancient manuscripts, held that post from 1779-1799.  His election was controversial and appears to have been the result of the Fellows’ wish to avoid an election by the Crown, which would have resulted if they could not resolve the matter themselves.  Their success on this occasion is rendered more noteworthy by the fact that, from 1790 the Fellowship was embroiled in a series of disputes involving vacancies and elections, some of which went on for nearly 20 years.  Yates was known for the humorous couplet, shouted from a window as he walked to the University Church in what was considered insufficiently formal dress: ‘Gadzoons, Gadzoons, Lowther Yates in pantaloons', so it is perhaps just as well that Mary did not make his acquaintance.