18th Century

College Clock and Chapel
College Clock and Chapel

King William III delegated the selection of Montagu’s successor to a Commission of Bishops. In order to restore its discipline and standards of learning they sought a strong administrator and great scholar. The Bishops believed this man to be Richard Bentley, who served as Master from 1700 to 1742. Bentley was chosen for his ability as a scholar and for his fearlessness. However, this period was dominated by his uncompromising, confrontational leadership style, which caused division and feuds not only amongst the members of Trinity but also of the University. Although the influence of Newton remained strong, in the middle years of the 18th century Trinity shared something of the torpor that tranquillised many contemporary institutions. The reversal of this trend began during the Mastership of Thomas Postlethwaite who wisely instituted a new system whereby Fellowship candidates sat for a public examination, instead of being privately examined by each elector. This resulted in a marked improvement in the type of Fellow elected and the next 20 years saw a fundamental revival in the life of the College and the inauguration of one of the most fruitful periods of its history.