On 20 July 1553 John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland, arrived with an army at Cambridge, returning from the venture to capture Mary Tudor (who had proclaimed herself Queen of England). Cambridge had been a stop on the duke’s progress to East Anglia a few days before (welcoming him and Queen Jane’s army with splendour). An eyewitness to all this was the university’s vice-chancellor, Dr. Edwin Sandys, later Bishop of Worcester and of London, and finally Archbishop of York. Dr. Sandys (or Sands) was interviewed sometime in the early 1560s by John Foxe, the famous martyrologist, and this is what he had to say about the duke’s capture and his own narrow escape, as well as the political sea change in the university:
The duke that night retired to Cambridge, and sent for Dr. Sands to go with him to the market-place, to proclaim queen Mary. The duke cast up his cap with others, and so laughed, that the tears ran down his cheeks for grief. He told Dr. Sands, that queen Mary was a merciful woman, and that he doubted not thereof; declaring that he had sent unto her to know her pleasure, and looked for a general pardon. Dr. Sands answered, “My life is not dear unto me, neither have I done or said any thing that urgeth my conscience. For that which I spake of the state, hath instructions warranted by the subscription of sixteen counsellors; neither can speech be treason, neither yet have I spoken further than the word of God and the laws of the realm do warrant me, come of me what God will. But be you assured, you shall never escape death; for if she would save you, those that now shall rule, will kill you.”
That night the guard apprehended the duke, and certain grooms of the stable were as busy with Dr. Sands, as if they would take a prisoner. But sir John Gates, who lay then in Dr. Sands’ house, sharply rebuked them, and drave them away. Dr. Sands, by the advice of sir John Gates, walked in the fields. In the mean time the university, contrary to all order, had met together in consultation, and ordered that Dr. Mouse and Dr. Hatcher should repair to Dr. Sands’ lodging, and fetch away the statute-book of the university, the keys, and such other things that were in his keeping, and so they did: for Dr. Mouse, being an earnest protestant the day before, and one whom Dr. Sands had done much for, was now become a papist, and his great enemy.