Universities and university life went in and out of fashion with the English landed elite between the Restoration and the late nineteenth century. There were also distinct shifts in the nature of the experience of university. Oxford and Cambridge changed in terms of the social types, the structure of collegiate and tutorial provisions, and the function of education.1 The prohibition and eventual (temporary) suppression of the Jesuits up to 1773, and the destruction wrought by the Napoleonic wars, ended the system of Catholic higher education exemplified by earlier generations of the Welds and the Huddlestones. The experiences of Thomas Weld’s education on the continent, which were largely negative, helped him found the English Catholic public school at Stonyhurst, Lancashire, in 1794. This, and the repeal of formal prohibitions on Catholics entering universities in 1829, quickly extinguished the distinctive continental (and to some extent cosmopolitan) educational identity of English Catholics. By the early 1830s, fervent Catholics such as Kenelm Digby (2.36) could concern themselves with the injustices of Oxbridge with the same enthusiasm as their Protestant neighbours.
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