Arthur Francis Leach.

The schools of medieval England online

. (page 19 of 39)
Online LibraryArthur Francis LeachThe schools of medieval England → online text (page 19 of 39)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

of gilds established without the royal licence) in the town of
Kelks, also within the liberty of Beverley. Walter of Kelsay
was to warn him in the same way, but he was allowed only
three days' grace if disobedient, and was to be excommunicated
in his school, with a crowd of people standing round, as op-
portunity offered. Yet another rival schoolmaster appeared
in Geoffrey of Sancton who kept a notoriously adulterine
school in the territory of Beverley itself, and when summoned
before the chapter induced the Provost to summon Master
Thomas of Brumpton (sic), the rector of Beverley School, be-
fore him in a personal action about 12 March 1304-5. Later


in the year Geoffrey of Sancton, being warned to desist from
keeping the school, refused and was excommunicated, and
when he sought to bring an action against the schoolmaster
as such was refused a hearing. The Official Principal of the
Court of the Archbishop (who happened also to be a canon of
Beverley) was therefore asked on 1 3 December to cause him
to be boycotted, " to avoid him and cause others to avoid him,
until, excluded from common intercourse, suffused with shame
he may be inclined to the grace of humility and the issue of
reconciliation ". This seems to have been effective as, on 22
January, 1305-6, the chapter told one of their vicars that they
had given Geoffrey absolution and directed him to give solemn
notice of the fact in the processions held in the minster. But
on 9 March, 1305-6, Robert of Dalton was again directed to
be warned against keeping school at Dalton to the loss and
grievance of the rector of the school and against the most
ancient and immemorial custom of that church. It was not
till 6 November following that he was absolved. Meanwhile
the master of Beverley School had changed, the Chancellor of
the minster having on 30 September, 1306, solemnly collated
Master Robert -of Bolton to the Grammar School of Bever-
ley (scolas Beverlacenses gramaticales) then vacant, and to his
collation belonging, to hold for three years. Master Robert,
having presented a testimonial from the Vice-Chancellor,
Master Richard of Aston, and the University of Cambridge
under their seal, that he had duly acted as a regent Master of
Arts and been of good behaviour, was then admitted and sworn
to be obedient to the chapter and faithfully rule the school
and do all else which the laudable and approved customs of the
school and church required, and was inducted into the corporal
possession of the school. Two years later the chapter de-
cided that the schoolmaster was bound to keep the school
in repair himself, but the chapter was to rebuild it if it was
destroyed in any way. On 5 May, 1312, a dispute between
the master of the Grammar School, then Master Roger of
Sutton, and the Succentor of the minster came before the
chapter. The master refused to admit more than seven choristers
to the school and wished to make all choristers beyond that,
the ancient statutable number of choristers as it had been of
canons, pay fees (salarium). The chapter, after having made


full inquiry of the seniors of the church, having regard to the
ancient customs of the church and school, decreed that the
number of choristers in the school was not to be restricted,
but that all of them should be admitted quit and free (liberi)
as regards the master, who should not exact any pay from
them ; but they granted an injunction to restrain the Succentor
from admitting boys to wear the habit of choristers in choir in
fraud of the schoolmaster.

At St. Alban's at this time, probably in consequence of some
similar competition, we find some highly illuminating statutes.
About 1286 Master Richard of Nantes gave a new school
and master's house on Hokerhill in the town of St. Alban's
to the scholars and their successors (as if they were a corporate
body) for the use of poor scholars for a grammar school there
to be held and kept freely and quietly for ever ; in trust that
" whoever shall be master of the scholars of the said school for
the time being shall take no fees (contribucionem) from the
sixteen poorest scholars of the said school, but the same six-
teen poorest scholars shall, as regards the master aforesaid,
be wholly quit of all fees ; but the rest of the scholars
shall pay fees to the aforesaid master according to ancient
custom." The fees were probably 4d. a term, if the pay-
ments for the Merton College Grammar School boys may
be cited as evidence.

On 1 6 September, 1309, new statutes were made for the
school, in consequence, no doubt, of some dispute. They were
" issued with the unanimous consent of the Master and all the
Bachelors ", and were confirmed with the seal of the Official (i.e.
the official principal or chief ecclesiastical judge of the liberty)
of St. Alban's, and reduced to a "Public Instrument" by
"William Henrison of St. Alban's, Public Notary". The
statutes run in the name of the master himself, who is de-
scribed as " by lawful prescription competent judge of the
rights of the Grammar School of St. Alban's ".

" In the name of God. Amen. The master forbids any-
one hereafter to enter the school, unless his name has been
placed on the Master's Register (tnatriculd). If he does, he
shall be turned out and not enjoy the privileges of the

The next two clauses forbid any assault on or annoyance

\KIKW~! tf nrv cynn^niir tins scticut . irA ? m
* nr par, SftfTsrAfjnSt flffta f Sum 3t

rata tcttRho *
atent a. ,vt pcftanlffmUmnMic
tfintr mcis.Jt^mtulno tfcni.1

set i mfhciamcwtf 1 ficr

Site ^ctifli ^i|ni ttt err
vt ^ ^ios iiiiatnnfls6ittt^y imli
ni ffn^ia t ^^ cojmrf . viiif" c -

ntfi (9n^tti

N mfi 5titJtiltnn^ i .1? rH tf
cvfiwttlficmi ?tott)ttK t


HKIT. MUS. MS. KOVAL,'6 E. VI., f. 54!


by a scholar to another scholar in school or out, or to a lay-
man or other licentiate, or running about the streets or squares
without reasonable cause, on pain of punishment in the one
case at the will of the master, and in the other " by the master
as Ordinary (a magistro ex ordinarid] ".

" Also if a scholar, on account of any fault however con-
tracted, is rebellious or otherwise absents himself maliciously,
he ought to be summoned in due form of law and canonically
corrected by the master ; and if he do not appear, his goods
may be sequestered by the master, the secular arm being
specially called in for this if necessary."

The next article forbids carrying arms in school or out " on
pain of excommunication, which we hereby pronounce (quam
hits scriptis proferimus) ".

" Also the master forbids on pain of excommunication, which
we hereby pronounce, any one hereafter, clerk or layman or other
or bachelor of whatever condition or estate or by whatever
name or dignity he may be called, laying violent hands on the
scholars of the said master in any way, or defaming them, on
pain above noted." " Also if a scholar strike his fellow in
school or out, or get in a rage or make a noise, his hood
shall be taken by the hostiarius and he shall be brought be-
fore the Vice-monitor and chastised by him. Also it is decreed
(statutuni) that the usher or his under-usher (subhostiarius) shall
always sit by the door, and not let two or three scholars go
out at once, unless for lawful and necessary cause ; and if
after three warnings to do their office they do it not, the fourth
time they shall be deprived by the master."

It is probable that the under-usher was a prefect and not a
master. For at Winchester, besides the second master who
was currently called Hostiarius as late as 1863, there was a
prefect also called Ostiarius, whose scab or seat (scabelluni) was
by the door, and on it a boy going out used to put up a roll
or slip of paper with his name and veniam exeundi petit
on it.

"Also the master forbids on pain of excommunication the
bachelors to rage in school or make a noise ; and if after three
warnings they will not stop, they shall be deprived."

The next articles of the statutes also concern the bachelors,
and very interesting they are :


" The master, on pain of excommunication hereby pro-
nounced, forbids anyone henceforth to take or attempt to take
a bachelor's place, except such as have studied in a Univer-
sity or can prove their status by legal proof. Also if anyone
wishes to ascend to the degree of bachelor he must take a
proverb from the master and make verses, letters, and a rhyme
(versus, litteras, rithmum) on it and read them publicly in
school (in scolis) unless the master shall graciously relax any
of these requirements, and must offer 6d. or more according
to his means on the Sunday of St. Nicholas (i.e. the Sunday
after 6 December) ; otherwise they shall not enjoy the privi-
leges of bachelors. Potations and other customs of this sort
are to remain in full strength. Also the master prohibits any-
one, bachelor or other, whoever he may be, to keep a seat in
school, without license, on pain of excommunication, unless
he has first been examined by those whom the master [has
deputed] to examine him in grammar rules, and he shall have
been ready publicly to answer in school on them and other
matters brought forward against him, and have done it."

It is perfectly obvious, therefore, that the bachelors are not
(as suggested by the Rolls editor) ushers or masters but pupils,
schoolboys of a larger growth, who had either taken the degree
of bachelor in a university or were ready to take it in the
school on due examination. At Lincoln not only did the
poor clerks, young men of from eighteen to twenty, attend
the Grammar School, but even the vicars-choral, already
deacons and priests. There is therefore nothing surprising
in finding bachelors attending the school at St. Alban's. At
Beverley, a far more important town than St. Alban's, as a
great seaport occupying the position that Hull occupies
now, and the minster of which was in effect the cathedral
church of the East Riding, degrees of bachelors in grammar
were conferred, for in 1338 we find a declaratory statute
settling how many pairs of gloves the " bachelor newly created
in the Grammar School " had to give and to whom, and
this was made after due inquiry into what the " ancient
custom " was, and confirmed by the promulgation of sentence of
excommunication against all who infringed it.

At St. Alban's the bachelors performed recognized func-
tions in the school much like those of the modern prefect or


monitor. " The master inhibits on pain of excommunication
that any person or persons shall lay rash hands or attempt any
evil against the masters of the said school ; and, if they do,
while still under sentence of excommunication, they shall re-
ceive salutary chastisement (disciplinam) in the school from all
the bachelors, unless satisfaction shall have been first made to
God and the Church."

It is highly probable that it is from the " tunding " or
" tanning ", the power of the stick, thus exercised by them
that they derived their name of bachelors. The old explana-
tion of bacca-laureat, adorned with the berry of the laurel wreath,
has nothing to recommend it.

Lastly, the master " if he wishes to avoid condign venge-
ance " is to choose two discreet bachelors and commit to
them the administration of St. Nicholas' chest, they taking an
oath to administer it for the use of the school and to render
true accounts. " And if any scholar, even though a beggar, if
his status duly appears, stands before the master, he may
take the twelve candles from St. Nicholas' chest for a funeral
or obit " if he return them safely. When St. Nicholas' chest
was opened in 1325, we are told that it contained inter alia
besides the statutes, " two mitres and an episcopal staff (baculus
episcopalis) and two wax candles weighing less than two
pounds". So that here as elsewhere the boy-bishop's cere-
monies were duly performed.

On June 17 the statutes made by the schoolmaster were
inspected and confirmed by Hugh [of Eversdone] the abbot.
He added another very important statute :

" We will and grant that the master for the time being may
control, unnerve \eneruat\ destroy, and root out all adulterine
schools within our territory or jurisdiction ; inhibiting on pain
of excommunication, which we hereby promulgate, any one
from attempting or rashly presuming to keep any schools
within our aforesaid jurisdiction, without the will and assent of
the master of our grammar school ; and to the master we, by
these presents, commit and grant the inquisition, summoning,
examination or production of witnesses, absolution and execu-
tion of his sentences in all causes affecting all and every the
said statutes and privileges granted him as aforesaid, and all
contracts with and defamations of any of his scholars, with the


power of canonical coercion. And all and singular contradict-
ing or resisting the said statutes and privileges or contravening
them or our confirmation, if they have been first warned by
the master, we excommunicate by our present authority."

" Brother John Passevant, archdeacon of the monastery of
St. Alban ", also confirmed the statutes, and " seeing the burdens
imposed on the master of our Grammar School of St. Alban's,
and that their (sic) privileges and functions are thin and weak,
that he may among new grievances feel that a new remedy has
been found, grants the jurisdiction of the master over the causes
and actions of his scholars and bachelors, and also of laymen
and of all others who injure the scholars and bachelors of the
said master or make contracts with them or defame them
or lay rashly violent hands upon them ". He adds a rather
quaint power to " compel all the tenants in our jurisdiction
to attend his own school, inhibiting also on pain of excom-
munication every one from attempting, or presuming to set up
or keep any school within our aforesaid jurisdiction, without the
will and assent of the master of the said school ".

At Warwick about 1316 a somewhat similar contest took
place which the dean and chapter of the collegiate church
settled by directing that the grammar master should have the
Donatists those learning the rudiments of grammar in Dona-
tus' Ars Minor or primer as well as scholars in grammar
or dialectics, while the music or song school master might keep
those learning their first letters, the psalter, music, and song.

In a document at Bury St. Edmunds the "adulterine"
school keeper is called "a seductor rather than a doctor" of
the misguided pupils. It shows the superior position occupied
by the grammar master that while the grammar master en-
forced his own monopoly, in the case of the song schools and
their masters the sacrist was left to assert his jurisdiction over
those who " dared to teach boys their psalters and singing ", or
as it was phrased in the fifteenth century, in 1426, "reading
or singing " without the licence of the Douze gild or gild of
twelve parish clerks or priests, in the liberty; while in 1370
the phrase used was " without the licence of the song school

At Canterbury, as we saw, the schoolmaster occupied a
position quite independent of the monastery, being appointed


by the archbishop himself and exercising jurisdiction, with
power of excommunication, just as the Chancellor of Oxford
did, at first under the Bishop of Lincoln, and afterwards inde-
pendently of the bishop directly from the Pope.

On ii March, 1310-11 Archbishop Winchelsey " collated "
Master John Everard to the school and invested him presenti-
aliter in person. A series of documents, preserved among
the monastic archives of Canterbury, show him the hero of a
large number of fights to establish his jurisdiction.

The first case was against Richard Atte Halle or de Aula,
as he is alternatively called. Hall was alleged to have as-
saulted John Plummer or " Le Plomer ", who is described as
usher (pstiarii) and scholar. He was either a pupil-teacher,
acting as usher or second master, or perhaps more probably a
prefect in the school, who performed the duties of doorkeeper.
The assault is said in one of the documents to have been com-
mitted in St. Elphege's or Alphage's church, perhaps then it-
self the school. Hall, being cited by Everard to appear in the
school and answer to the charge, did not appear and was ex-
communicated. Everard, as rector of the school of the city of
Canterbury, addressed on 1 7 December, 1311, a writ to the
Dean of Canterbury (i.e. the Dean of Christianity or city dean,
corresponding to the rural dean in the county, for the Chapter
of Canterbury being the monks of the cathedral priory, there
was then no Dean of Canterbury in our sense) to request him
to publish the excommunication in all churches in the deanery
and to summon Hall to appear on Wednesday after St. Hilary,
1 5 January. The Dean of Canterbury, however, demurred to
publishing the sentence on the ground that he was not satis-
fied that the master had jurisdiction to pass it. Thereupon
Everard went to the commissary-general of the Court of Can-
terbury at Canterbury, who sent a mandate on 1 3 January,
1311-12 to the dean, stating that Everard had shown him the
register of the proceedings and ordered the dean to proclaim
the excommunication and summon Hall to appear before him-
self in Christ Church, the cathedral, on the first law day after
the Purification of the Virgin, which was 2 February. But the
dean still refused to move, though he had been shown the com-
mission of Archbishop Peckham of 21 March, 1291, before
quoted, arguing that the words as had been of old accustomed


" were of doubtful import ". The commissary therefore held
an inquiry with a jury of clerics and laymen, who found that
for forty years and upwards the masters of the school and
scholars of Canterbury had been in the habit of summoning by
their usher to appear in the school all in the city of Canter-
bury who in any way offended against their scholars ; punish-
ing those who appeared and suspending and excommunicating
those who did not appear, and committing the execution of
the sentence to the dean. After this finding, on 8 February,
1312, the dean published the sentence. On 5 December, 1312,
the Archbishop issued his writ to certify that Hall had been
duly excommunicated, but "in contempt of the Keys of the
Church " remained obdurate. This was the prelude to a writ
for the committal of the excommunicate to prison. Next day,
however, Hall procured a writ from the Crown, addressed to
the Sheriff of Kent, to attach the commissary, Everard and
Plummer, for proceeding in. Court Christian, after a writ of pro-
hibition had been issued from the Court of King's Bench,
and directing the sheriff not to execute the writ for the arrest
of Hall.

Next year Everard complained to the archbishop that Hall
was still defiant, and though excommunicated had received the
Sacrament and had intercourse with both clerks and laymen.
This brought matters to a head. On 8 May, 1313, two years
and a half after the proceedings commenced, an official of the
Archdeacon of Canterbury informs the Dean of Canterbury
that he had heard from the rector of St. Elphege, William of
O[a]re, that he had absolved Hall, now described as a clerk, in
form of law from the excommunication, and asked the dean to
publish the absolution. Hall must therefore have submitted.
The records of two other cases tied up with this show that
Everard thenceforward exercised his jurisdiction unquestioned.
On Saturday after All Souls' Day (2 Nov.), 1314, Thomas
of Birchwood, a scholar of the school, was summoned for
hindering the vice-monitor and scholars in their common
learning, and assaulting Master Walter the vice-monitor a week
before when he wished to teach him and duly correct him.
Birchwood admitted the assault. The master took the evi-
dence of the bachelors and others in the school, who swore to
the facts. The case was adjourned for satisfaction to be made.


Again on Monday after 3 May, 1315, Roger the lime
burner (le lym burner) was summoned for assaulting a scholar
named William Bor. He was suspended from going to church
and the case adjourned for him to make his peace. On Mon-
day after St. Mildred's Day in the same year a woman, Jane
Modi, was summoned for assaulting a scholar, Stephen of Bor-
sted, and the case was adjourned to Saturday for sentence, in
the hope of peace being made between the parties.

Some six years afterwards, the next master, Ralph of Wal-
tham, asserted his jurisdiction to inspect the school of St.
Martin's, said to be the oldest church in England, a peculiar
of the archbishop's outside the city of Canterbury, chiefly with
a view of se'eing whether it admitted grammar scholars to
the prejudice of his own described as the city school.

The rector of St. Martin's, who had the appointment of the
schoolmaster, and John of Bucwell, the schoolmaster, appealed
to the archbishop. Under a commission from him dated
3 January, 1321-22, the commissary of the Court of Canterbury
held an inquiry by a jury of sixteen, nine rectors and vicars of
Canterbury and seven laymen. They found on their own
knowledge and on the evidence of witnesses as to ancient cus-
tom, that the school of St. Martin's ought only to have thirteen
grammar scholars, and that the Canterbury master was accus-
tomed to visit St. Martin's school in person or by deputy,
and that when the usher or submonitor of the school visited
St. Martin's to see what the number was, all the scholars
above the number of thirteen hid themselves. But they said
that there was no limit in the number in St. Martin's school
learning the alphabet, psalter, or singing. The commissary
gave judgment in accordance with this finding. An appeal
to the Pope was lodged, and on 26 October, 1323, the case
was stayed and the Canterbury master was summoned to
appear before the Official of the Court of Canterbury in St.
Mary Aldermary's Church, London. The examiner-general,
however, of the Court found that the appellants had not proved
their case, and on 20 March, 1323-24, the commissary of Can-
terbury was informed that he could proceed to execute his
sentence. St. Martin's was therefore in fact permitted only as
an elementary school, with an Upper Division of a single
class of thirteen grammar scholars.


A striking proof of the ubiquity of grammar schools at
this time is seen in the appointment by the Dean and Chapter
of Lincoln on one day, 15 June, 1327, of masters to no less
than six schools in the county. The appointment only ap-
pears by accident. The dean and two canons sitting "in a
certain low room (bassa camera) below the dean's chapel in
his house, discussing the collation of the Grammar Schools in
the County of Lincoln which were vacant, through the vacancy
of the Chancellorship of the said Church of Lincoln thereby in
their hands, and as to the persons to be admitted to such
schools ; Finally they conferred the Grammar School of Barton
on William of Gurney, the School of Partenay (Partney) on John
of Upton, the School of Grimsby on William of Coleston, the
School of Horncastle on John of Beverley, the School of St.
Botolph (i.e. Boston) on Robert of Muston, and the School of
Graham (Grantham) on Walter Pigot, clerks, from Michaelmas,
1329, to the same feast next year, in such name as above
and by way of charity ; expressly granting that they and each
of them should be inducted into the bodily possession of the
said schools in accordance with their respective collations".

In the following year the dean and one of the canons
met in the dean's drawing-room (solarid) on 29 May, and
called the six masters before them and continued them for an-
other year, and did the same in 1331, on which occasion it
was noted that the master of yet another school, Stamford, was
absent without sending any excuse. Nevertheless, all were
reappointed and so continued to 1335, when a new Chancellor
having come into office, the notices of the schools cease. As
we have already seen, there was also a school at Louth, but
Louth, being a prebend, the prebendary of Louth himself
appointed and the Chancellor and chapter had no jurisdiction
except during a vacancy.

In 1309 and again in 1334 we find the chapter appointing
during such a vacancy to the Grammar School of Strubby,

Online LibraryArthur Francis LeachThe schools of medieval England → online text (page 19 of 39)