Dr Stephen Perse
(1548-1615)

Died aged c. 67

Stephen Perse (1548 – 30 September 1615) was an English academic and philanthropist. He was probably educated at Norwich School, and took his B.A. degree at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge in 1569, where he was elected to a fellowship. Ordained in 1573, he was subsequently permitted to change his fellowship to "physick" and took the degree of Doctor of Medicine in 1581. Perse amassed a fortune of around £10,000, probably from profits on business loans. He gave money to the University library, for the establishment of the road now known as Maid’s Causeway, and for the public water supply from the springs at Nine Wells to Cambridge along the stream now known as Hobson’s Conduit. In his will, Perse gave a significant sum of money for the establishment of "a Grammar Free Schoole", and adjoining almhouses for six poor widows. The school was to teach five score scholars born in Cambridge, Barnwell, Chesterton or Trumpington, with some of the boys able to proceed to scholarships at Gonville & Caius College. The Perse School was founded in 1615 at its original site in Free School Lane, Cambridge. His foundation is commemorated by a blue plaque on the site. In 1881, the Perse School for Girls was established, now part of the Stephen Perse Foundation. The grave of Stephen Perse is commemorated by a memorial in the college chapel and he is remembered at the College's annual Perse Feast. His epitaph there reads: Christian surnamde Stephan Perse I hightSole life with God alone, my crowne my lightWith living God eternall life I liveThis now my song: to sole God praise I giveThis epitaph by me Perse was devizdTo none else my thoughts better were comprizd.

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Commemorated on 1 plaque

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Stephen Perse MD 1548-1615 Fellow of Gonville & Caius, physician, financier and philanthropist. Founded by his will upon this site the Free Grammar School that later became the Perse School

Whipple Museum of Science, Free School Lane, Cambridge, United Kingdom where they founded by his will the Free Grammar School that later became the Perse School