A datum about the First World War

I was looking up Harold Macmillan, born in 1894, and the prime minister of Great Britain from 1957-1963, at Wikipedia, and came upon this:

Of the 28 freshmen who started at [Balliol College, Oxford] with Macmillan, only he and one other survived [the Great War].

- end of initial entry -

Beth M. writes:

Wouldn’t Balliol College have had a much bigger intake each year than 28 boys? An undergraduate degree there only takes three years, and I thought that each of the colleges traditionally housed about 300 to 400 students. If 28 was a typical intake at that time, then Balliol’s total enrollment in that era would have been fewer than 90. That doesn’t seem possible.

LA replies:

I wondered about that too, but there are numerous colleges at Oxford, and I suppose that some of them are very small.

However, Balliol is not one of them. According to its website, Balliol currently has just under 400 undergraduate students. Could it have been one quarter of that size in 1914?

The Balliol website has an e-mail link for the college archivist to whom questions of this nature may be sent, so I’ve sent her an inquiry.

James P. writes:

You can find the Balliol College Register for 1832-1914 here.

Macmillan is on page 416. I count 58 men in the class of 1912. The previous classes look to be about the same size.

LA replies:

Just before getting your e-mail I received a reply from the Balliol archivist. She sent me a link to the college registers for 1900 to 1950. But I would have had to search around in it and figure out the numbers. So what you’ve done is very helpful.

Andrew B. writes:

“Wouldn’t Balliol College have had a much bigger intake each year than 28 boys?”

Balliol enrolls no boys. The attendants of Balliol are referred to as Balliol Men.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 24, 2012 11:05 AM | Send

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