A demyship is a form of scholarship at Magdalen College, Oxford. It is derived from demi-socii or half-fellows, being historically entitled to half the allowance awarded to Fellows. The allowance is now, however, a token award of £200 per year. "Demy" and "demies" are pronounced to rhyme with "deny" and "surmise", rather than "semi(s)". Whilst Magdalen is unique amongst Oxbridge colleges in using the term Demies, Merton College, Oxford is similarly unique in designating their scholars "postmasters".
When the college was founded in 1458 by William of Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, the Founder ordained that in addition to forty senior scholars, or Fellows, there should be 'thirty poor scholars, commonly called Demies, of good morals and dispositions fully equipped for study'. Recipients are still admitted to the college's Foundation. Whilst the original provision was for 30 scholars, in line with most colleges this number has increased to more than twice that in most years.
Demies are entitled to attend certain ceremonies and dinners. Most notably, all demies and scholars attend the annual Restoration Dinner on 25 October, held annually to commemorate the Restoration of the President and Fellows in 1688. Demies and scholars also receive a token sum of money, usually 10p, at the giving of Claymond's Dole' each year, in a service to commemorate the gift to the college of former President John Claymond (1507–16).
The ceremony for admission of new Demies is conducted in the President's lodgings immediately before the Restoration Dinner each year. All current Demies observe the ceremony; one by one, each Demy-elect kneels and the President says :
'Tu dabis fidem te statuta et ordinationes huius Collegii quatenus ad te spectant bene ac fideliter observaturum (observaturam) esse?'
(Will you faithfully and fully observe the statutes and regulations of this college in so far as they apply to you?)
The Demy-elect then says :
The President then admits him or her to his or her Demyship with the words:
'Ego auctoritate Praesidis et sociorum admitto te scholarem in annos insequentes.'
(By the authority of the President and fellows I admit you as a scholar for the years to come)
The Demy then rises and shakes hands with the President and each current Demy, each of whom greets the new Demy with the traditional Magdalen words 'I wish you joy'.