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The current Master is Professor Dame Sally Davies DBE, FRS, FMedSci. Formerly, she was Chief Medical Officer for England and Chief Medical Advisor to the UK Government. She was made Dame Commander for services to Medicine in 2009.

Photo by Graham CopeKoga
Professor Dame Sally Davies DBE, FRS, FMedSci

Former Masters

Sir Gregory Winter was Master from 2012 until 30 June 2019. He is a genetic engineer, best known for his research and inventions relating to humanised and human therapeutic antibodies. Sir Gregory was awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, with Professors Frances Arnold and George Smith, for his pioneering work in using phage display for the directed evolution of antibodies, with the aim of producing new pharmaceuticals.

From 2004 to 2012, the Master of Trinity was Professor Martin Rees, Baron Rees of Ludlow, OM, FRS. Professor Rees was appointed to the House of Lords as a non-party-political peer, sitting on the Cross Benches in 2005, in which year he also became President of the Royal Society, a post he held until 2010. He is also Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics in the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge. Among other academic distinctions he holds the honorary title of Astronomer Royal. He is a graduate of Trinity and was previously an Honorary Fellow of the College. Lord Rees remains a Fellow of the College.

Between 1998 and January 2004 the Master of Trinity was Professor Amartya Sen, CH, FBA Professor Sen remains a Fellow of Trinity, and also holds an appointment at Harvard University. Further information about Professor Sen may be obtained from his autobiography, written for the Nobel Foundation on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1998.

Sir Michael Atiyah, OM, FRS, who served as Master between 1990 and 1997 and was formerly also President of the Royal Society, was a Fellow of the College until his death in 2019.

The Office of Master

The Mastership of Trinity is a Crown appointment, made by the monarch on the recommendation of the College. The Master is responsible for superintending the running of the College, and chairs meetings of the College Council and the Governing Body. The executive powers of the office, however, are limited.

Historically, the Master must have held a degree from Cambridge, was usually a member of Trinity College and held office until the age of seventy, although there was provision in the Statutes for him to be continued by the Fellowship until the age of seventy-five.  Recently, the College has decided that the Master should hold office for a fixed term of up to eight years and welcomes applicants from diverse backgrounds. The Master resides in the Master’s Lodge. In modern times Masters have been of high academic distinction.

Masters of Trinity College

  • John Redman (1546–1551)
  • William Bill (1551–1553)
  • John Christopherson (1553–1558)
  • William Bill (1558–1561)
  • Robert Beaumont (1561–1567)
  • John Whitgift (1567–1577)
  • John Still (1577–1593)
  • Thomas Nevile (1593–1615)
  • John Richardson (1615–1625)
  • Leonard Mawe (1625–1629)
  • Samuel Brooke (1629–1631)
  • Thomas Comber (1631–1645)
  • Thomas Hill (1645–1653)
  • John Arrowsmith (1653–1659)
  • John Wilkins (1659–1660)
  • Henry Ferne (1660–1662)
  • John Pearson (1662–1672)
  • Isaac Barrow (1672–1677)
  • John North (1677–1683)
  • John Montagu (1683–1699)
  • Richard Bentley (1700–1742)
  • Robert Smith (1742–1768)
  • John Hinchliffe (1768–1789)
  • Thomas Postlethwaite (1789–1798)
  • William Lort Mansel (1798–1820)
  • Christopher Wordsworth (1820–1841)
  • William Whewell (1841–1866)
  • William Hepworth Thompson (1866–1886)
  • Henry Montagu Butler (1886–1918)
  • Joseph John Thomson (1918–1940)
  • George Macaulay Trevelyan (1940–1951)
  • Edgar Adrian (1951–1965)
  • Richard Austen Butler (1965–1978)
  • Alan Hodgkin (1978–1984)
  • Andrew Huxley (1984–1990)
  • Michael Atiyah (1990–1997)
  • Amartya Sen (1998–2004)
  • Martin Rees (2004–2012)
  • Gregory Winter (2012– 2019)
  • Sally Davies (2019-
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