19th Century

New Court Tree
New Court Tree

The College had already begun to earn the reputation it was to preserve throughout the 19th century of leading the University in movements of reform to meet the changing needs of the times. It fostered the growth of new subjects with extensive support from its endowments. Among its Fellows, later in this century, were to be found many of the leading scholars and scientists of the day; the geologist Adam Sedgwick, the physiologist Michael Foster, the physicists Clerk Maxwell, and Rayleigh; the English historians Macaulay, Acton, and Maitland and the English theologians F.D. Maurice, Lightfoot, Westcott, and Hort. Trinity can also claim its share of 19th century literary figures: Byron, Thackeray, Tennyson, and Fitzgerald were all members of the College.

Looking through Whewell's Court towards
Looking through Whewell’s Court towards

There was much concern at that time of the temptations laid in the way of the young undergraduates, by the fact that most of them had to live in lodgings outside the gates of Trinity. Christopher Wordsworth (younger brother of the poet William Wordsworth and Master of Trinity from 1820 to 1841) addressed this problem by building New Court in 1823. Further accommodation was provided during the Mastership of William Whewell who presided over the construction of Whewell’s Court.

During the 25 years of Whewell’s Mastership, Trinity went from strength to strength and the life of undergraduates and dons was never more vigorous or more varied. During the 20 years of Whewell’s successor,W.H. Thompson, Trinity stood at the forefront of the reform movement in Cambridge. Great changes took place owing to the parliamentary legislation that altered the Statutes of the University and of the College. These reforms are the basis of the system as it exists today