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lege, were acquiring the site of New College at Oxford. On
I September, 1373, he was already maintaining a school at Win-
chester. He then made an agreement with Mr. Richard of
Herton, grammarian (gramaticus), that for ten years he should
teach and instruct in the art of grammar the poor scholars
whom the bishop maintains and will maintain at his own cost,
the bishop undertaking to find another fit person to help him ;
in other words, an usher or assistant master. Herton was not
to take any other boys to be taught without leave of the
bishop. If ill, or during a single visit to the Court of Rome,
he was allowed leave of absence, finding, however, a substi-
tute. In 1376, when Wykeham had been convicted (wrong-
fully) of misfeasance in the chancellorship, and deprived of the
temporalities of the bishopric, he " brake up " his household,
" sending also to Oxford, where upon alms and for God's sake


he found seventy scholars, that they should depart and remove
every one to their friends, for he could no longer help or find
them ". Having been restored, he obtained a bull of Pope Urban
VI, dated I June, 1378 the erection of colleges being a matter
of papal prerogative for the foundation of" a college of seventy
poor scholars, clerks, to live college-wise and study grammar
(gramaticalibus) near the city of Winchester", words which
suggest that the site had already been selected. Wykeham
having " for several (j)luribus) years of his life, from the goods
given him by God, supplied the necessaries of life to scholars
studying grammar in the same city ", for their better mainten-
ance had asked for the appropriation of the church of Down-
ton, near Salisbury, in his patronage, with which he was thereby
authorized to endow the college. The Bishop of Rochester
was directed to act on the bull as soon as the endowment
of the college had been settled.

On 26 November, 1379, Wykeham founded Seinte Marie
College of Wynchestre in Oxenford, then and now commonly
called New College, the buildings of which were formally
entered on 14 April, 1386. Meanwhile lands were bought for
the endowment of Winchester, the site of the college, a mes-
suage and five acres of land in the [Bishop's] Soke outside the
city from the priory, and two messuages from private owners.
On 20 October, 1382, he sealed the foundation charter oi
" Seinte Marie College of Wynchestre ", to consist of " seventy
poor and needy scholars, clerks, living college-wise therein and
studying and becoming proficient in grammaticals or the art,
faculty or science of grammar", the corporate body being
the "Warden and Scholars Clerks", i.e. scholar-clerks. A
warden, Thomas of Cranley, S.T.B., a fellow of Merton, and
afterwards warden of New College and Archbishop of Dublin,
was appointed, and seventy scholars admitted. The school
was at first held in the parish of St. John's-on-the-Hill, whence
scholars were regularly sent on in their turn to New College.
Only on 28 March, 1394, were the present buildings entered.

The Charter stated that the founder had already founded
a perpetual college of seventy poor scholars clerks to study
theology, canon and civil law and arts in the University of
Oxford. But experience had shown that grammar was the
foundation, gate, and source of all the other liberal arts, and




that students in the other arts often fell into peril through lack
of good teaching and sufficient learning in grammar. There
were also many poor scholars who through want of money
lacked the means of continuing and becoming proficient in
grammar. For these reasons and to assist poor grammar
students to pass on to the other faculties he founded the

Winchester College was of course ; no new invention or un-
precedented foundation. The statutes of the college, which
now exist only in a revised version issued in 1400, show
clearly that they were largely modelled on those of Merton
and Queen's Colleges ; the more immediate model being the
Royal College of Navarre at Paris, founded by Joan, Queen of
France and Navarre, in 1304, for seventy scholars, twenty in
grammar, thirty in arts, and twenty in theology. Both models
were improved on.

The French queen had assigned a separate building within
the precinct of her college for the grammar scholars : and this
was then perhaps the most flourishing part of the establish-
ment, being crowded with paying scholars or commoners, many
of noble and even royal birth, who flooded over into adjoining
houses. Wykeham made his grammar scholars as numerous
as his university scholars, and established them as a separate
college with separate endowments, not as a part of the same
college, though under its visitatorial authority, nor even at Ox-
ford, but at Winchester, where he himself had been at school.
As in the Navarre College, the grammar scholars were to be
promoted in their turn to be artist scholars, only instead of
passing merely from one part of the college to another, they
left Winchester for Oxford.

The chief novelty of Winchester College was in the first
place the scale of the foundation. The school of Winchester,
which with its scholars, choristers and commoners numbered
ninety-six, was not only eight times larger than the schools
attached to Merton and Queen's Colleges, but was larger than
the whole number of the fellows in all the colleges at Oxford
put together. The second and most important novelty was that
Wykeham made his school a separate and distinct foundation,
independent of, though connected with, the Oxford College.
Others had erected collegiate churches for university students.


He erected one for schoolboys. The old collegiate churches
had kept grammar schools, and flourishing grammar schools,
but they were, though inseparable accidents, still accidents.
In the new collegiate churches at the university, called colleges,
growing scholars were substituted for grown priests, and study
for psalm singing as the essence of the institution, but the school-
boys remained an accident, and a rather unimportant accident.
In Winchester College the accident became the essence. The
corporate name of " warden and scholars, clerks " stamped the
school and the schoolboys as the aim and object of the founda-
tion. The collegiate church form was afterwards adopted, the
fellows occupying the place of canons, but instead of the boys
being subordinate to the fellows, the fellows were subsidiary
to the boys. For the first time a school was established as a
sovereign and independent corporation existing by and for
itself, self-centred and self-governed.

From the early years of the nineteenth century it has often
been asserted that by Wykeham's poor and needy scholars
was meant poor children of the working classes or the gutter
poor. This is quite untenable. The labouring classes were
then serfs, ascripti glebae, passing on the sale of an estate to
the purchaser. In order to prevent their escaping from this
condition by the avenue of learning, it was customary to fine,
and fine heavily, those villeins or natives who sent their sons
to school without leave from the lord. Thus, on 26 January,
1295, Walter, son of Reginald the carpenter, presented by the
manorial jury of Hemingford Abbotts, Hunts, for being ordained
without leave, appeared before the lord, the Abbot of Ramsey,
and by special grace was licensed to attend school and take
all orders, without being reclaimed as a serf, on condition of
saying ten psalters (i.e. the whole of the psalms through ten
times) for the soul of the late Abbot William. But he was
charged nevertheless IDS. fine, or some .40, for this special
favour. A striking commentary this on the supposed zeal of
monks for education, and an emphatic disproof that the great
Abbey of Ramsey, at all events, kept a school for its tenants
and subjects. In 1344 the fine of 33. 4d., or some two months'
pay of a skilled craftsman, was inflicted on a villein at Cog-
geshall in Essex for sending his son to school without licence.
The earliest mention of Harrow in connexion with education




is in 1384, when seizing of a horse by way of distraint on
a villein of the Rectory manor of Harrow who had sent his
son out of the manor to school without licence. The fourteenth-
century manor rolls all over the country are dotted with fines
for sending boys, ad scolas clericales, to schools to become
clerks. Not until the statute of apprentices in 1406 was this
restriction removed. So much for the negative side.

Positively, a vow of poverty was laid down in the statutes.
Every scholar had to swear : "IN. (Name), admitted to the col-
lege of St Mary near Winchester, swear that I have nothing
whereby I know I can spend beyond five marks a year ". Five
marks was the limit of value of church livings for exemption from
paying taxes to the Pope or for the support of Papal nuncios.
In the diocese of Winchester there were sixty-seven livings be-
low that value. It meant 3 6s. 8d. a year, whereas the pay
of a skilled artisan was i 6s. 8d. a year at the outside.
Further, Wykeham, like Merton, was careful to provide for his
own relations going to the school as scholars, and actually sent
his nephew, Thomas Wykeham, to whom he gave Broughton
Castle and estates, which have made the Wykehams and Wyke-
ham-Fiennes among the magnates of the land ever since, to
be a scholar first at Winchester and then at New College.
Would he have put him and the young " noblemen " who
came as commoners, who included the Uvedales or Udalls,
lords of the very village of Wykeham in which he was born, to
herd with the sons of serfs or the gutter poor of Winchester ?
In the earliest list of scholars preserved, that for 1394, is one
ffarington of the family of that name in Lancashire, whose
uncle or other near relative when he came to visit him at the
college brought with him a staff of four servants. Of the first
list of eleven commoners, who had to pay for their reception,
and who were by statute "young noblemen," no less than
half passed on into college as scholars, one of them Cranleigh
a relation no doubt of the Warden and Archbishop. So
far as they can be traced the scholars appointed in Wykeham's
own lifetime were scions of county families, and relations of
judges and Chancery officials, who corresponded to the bar and
the higher civil service of the present day. The poor whom
Wykeham wished to help were, as he says, those who had
means enough to send their sons to grammar schools, but


not enough to send them on to the universities ; the younger
sons of lords and squires, the landed gentry and farmers
in the country, the burgesses and traders in the towns. The
notion that the endowments of Winchester or any other school
before Christ's Hospital, which was for foundlings and the gutter
pauper, have been perverted from the patrimony of the poor into
an appanage of the rich, will not bear investigation.

The provenance of the first master appointed by Wykeham,
John Melton, is not known. The second, Thomas of Romsey,
appointed in 1394, has been traced, through researches as to
Sussex schools, as master of Chichester Cathedral Grammar
School, receiving presents under the will of the chancellor of
that church in 1385. Winchester several times, before the
Reformation and after, returned the compliment by sending
on masters from Winchester to Chichester School, which,
owing to Bishop Story having in 1 502 annexed a canonry or
prebend to the mastership, is now called the Prebendal School.

The success of Wykeham' s school was remarkable. It
is not too much to say that in the two generations after Wyke-
ham Wykehamists ran both Church and State and Education.
The Yorkist revolution broke their succession and introduced
Yorkists to power and place instead. But they in their turn
imitated Wykeham, and when the Lancastrian rose flourished
again under the Tudors, Wykehamists again took the lead.

Wykeham had some rather humble imitators at the time.
Katharine, Lady Berkeley, in her foundation of Wotton-under-
Edge Grammar School, on 20 October, 1384, followed the word-
ing of Wykeham as to grammar being the foundation of the
liberal arts and information in it being defeated by want of
means, and therefore for the exaltation of holy mother
church and so on founded her school. But it was only for a
master " to teach and receive kindly all scholars whosoever,
howsoever and whencesoever coming for instruction . . .
without exacting, claiming or receiving any benefit or gain
for his pains ", except the rents and profits of the land given
at the foundation, and two poor scholar-clerks living college-
wise therein, who were to be pupil-teachers. This was
exactly imitated in the so-called College of Bredgar, Kent,
founded by Master Robert Bredgar and other subscribers on
7 April, 1393, f r a master and two pupil-teacher scholars from




seven to twenty-five years old, and two boy-scholars in the
almonry at Canterbury. When one of them could read well,
sing, construe and make twenty-four verses in one day on
a single subject, he was to be allowed to celebrate with the
master in Bredgar Church. For the rest of the time he was to
attend study reading, song, grammar and the other liberal
sciences. The two almonry scholars were by a deed of
3 April, 1398, duly planted in the Almonry of Canterbury
Cathedral Priory ; of which anon.

The most considerable foundation following on Wykeham's,
was that of the College of St. Peter and Paul at Maidstone,
founded by William Courtney, Archbishop of Canterbury,
under licence of 2 August, 1396. He took over existing
institutions, annexing bodily the Hospital of St. Peter and St.
Paul, and converting Maidstone parish church into a collegiate
church and to it appropriating the endowments of four parish
churches. A school had existed there before, as in 1304
Master Ralph, the scolemaistre, had been, with sixty-three
others, including Alexander le Chapelayn of Detling, released
from Maidstone prison to come up for judgment if called on,
for abetting and aiding the death of William Detling and
harbouring persons charged with it. The school was now
taken over by the college, which had among its later masters
William Grocyn, the first " Grecian " in England. On the
dissolution of the college, the school resumed its independent
existence, the town council buying the right to keep a school
from Edward VI.

Schools which first make their appearance in extant records,
during the second half of the fourteenth century, are numerous.
A school at Dunham, Notts, which formed a prebend or estate
of one of the canons of Southwell Minster, is known from a
conveyance in 1351 of lands "which belonged to Robert le
Taillour, formerly master of the grammar school of Dunham ".

Abingdon Grammar School, now called Roysse's school
from an Elizabethan benefactor, was in 1372 the subject of
a dispute between the rector of St. Nicholas and the vicar of
St. Helen's, as to which of them should minister and receive
the emoluments for doing so, to " the master of the grammar
school of Abendon and his servants, and the scholars living
with him " and others. The dispute was settled by the Bishop


of Salisbury in favour of the rector of St. Nicholas, the church
just outside the abbey gates and just opposite St. John's
Hospital, in which the school was held from 1561 to 1870.
Master Thomas Weston, magister scolarum of Abingdon, occurs
in deeds of the Holy Cross Hospital, and in accounts of the
abbey, to whom he paid rent for his house, from 1388 to 1415.

At Crofton, Yorkshire, a grammar school is mentioned in
Duchy of Lancaster records in 1373.

In 1382 a college, originally founded at Raveningham in
Norfolk, was moved by Sir John Walters of Norwich, knight,
to Mettingham Castle. The foundation of the collegiate church
with its twelve canons or fellows, included, as usual, provision
for education. But at first boys were sent for their education
to Beccles. This school was not new when, in 1396, the
Chamberlain of Bury St Edmund's Abbey, to which the
manor and church belonged, appointed Master Reginald, lector
and chaplain, to hold the school at pleasure, proclaiming at
the same time that no one else was to presume to open a
school there. The college in 1403 paid 53. for the board of
Richard Clerkys at Beccles for two months and four days, i.e.
at the rate of 7d. a week, and for the scolage or school fees of
Richard and another boy, is. 6d., i.e. 2d. a week. A pair of
shoes each cost 4d. Was a pair of galaches for the clerks of
St. Nicholas, at 8d., a pair of goloshes to keep their feet dry ?
Three years later 6d. a week only was paid for the board
of John Melton, with scolage at 2d. a week. He continued
to attend school at Beccles till ordained deacon and priest
in 1412.

A considerable crop of chantries which were also free
grammar schools sprung up in Essex to replace the learned
clerks who had perished in the plagues. Thus at Braintree,
"a grete and popullus and a market towne" where the St.
John Baptist priest taught a grammar school in 1548, the first
appointment of such a priest by the Bishop of London took
place on 8 September, 1364.

At Bocking the chantry priest of Doreward's chantry
founded and endowed under licences to William Doreward in
1369 and John Doreward his son in 1392, in 1548 taught chil-
dren to read and write. Being elementary only this school
was not continued. Bocking had to wait till 1642 for a new
elementary school.


Chelmsford Grammar School, continued by the Chantry
Commissioners in 1548, and now figuring as one of Edward
VI's schools, was founded in 1375 by Sir John Mountney,
knight, who endowed a priest to sing in the chapel of Our
Lady and also to teach a grammar school there, while the
usher was paid by the Morrow Mass or Corpus Christi Gild.

The Gild or Brotherhood of the Assumption of the Virgin
in St. Peter's Church, Maldon, from 1388 maintained a chap-
lain who was also schoolmaster. In 1407 the borough court
records show John Scovill, the master, being sued by a towns-
man on an agreement to pay him half the fees coming from
the grammar boys: while on 20 November, 1420, the then
master John Trewardyn, who was also an attorney in the
borough court, sued for his school fees (scolagium] of 1 2d. for
teaching a boy from Midsummer to Michaelmas ; or, at the
not very extravagant rate of id. a week.

A Trinity Gild was founded at Rayleigh under licence of
i February, 1389, and its priest was to sing mass, help to
serve the cure, and teach a " fre Scole," which school was duly
kept and continued in 1548. But as the endowment was
confiscated and a salary of 10 only paid, the school, in spite
of a small additional endowment given in 1 640, long ago be-
came merely elementary.

At Coggeshall a chantry was founded in 1 392, the priest
of which taught school in 1 548, and was continued as master.
A later master, William Flower, was burnt under Queen Mary
for heresy, 24 April, 1555. At Great Baddow a "Coggeshall
Priest", endowed under licence of 1392, and the incumbent
of a later chantry founded by Thomas Kille, butler to King
Henry V, was master and usher of a grammar school.

The year 1394 saw licences granted for two chantry
schools, one founded at Cockermouth by Henry Percy, Earl
of Northumberland, the other at Bromyard in Herefordshire,
where on a salary of 3 95. nd. in 1548, John Bustenall
" teachith chyldern and doth brynge up vertuously in redyng,
wrythynge and in gramer".

In 1 394 John of Hee, i.e. Hemingborough, Prior of Durham,
as Ordinary of the spirituality of the Blessed Cuthbert in York-
shire, appointed a master to the Grammar School of Heming-
borough. The church there was made collegiate in 1426 with


a Provost and three canons or prebendaries, when probably the
school passed under their care.

There were no doubt many other gild and chantry schools,
of this date, but the licences and charters rarely mentioned the
schools as part of their objects, the licence not being required
for them, even when the school was really the main object of
the foundation.



THE Almonry at Canterbury, mentioned above in
connexion with the Bredgar Exhibition foundation,
was the earliest specimen of a new addition to the
monasteries, at this time the only contribution by them to
lay education. The Almoner, Elemosinarius or eleemosynary
officer, alms-giver, was one of the " obedientiaries ", or officers,
of most, if not all, monasteries. It was his duty to distribute
the broken meats from the monks' meals at the gate of the
monastery every day, and on certain days to distribute doles
in money or kind among the poor, often as many as 1000
receiving a penny each. At the beginning of the fourteenth
century a movement sprung up in connexion with the great
increase in the worship of the Virgin Mary, for the establish-
ment of choristers in the Lady Chapels of the monastic
churches, and special provision had to be made for their hous-
ing and education. As the Almoner's chamber, or house,
was, for the convenient performance of his duties, always by
the outer-gate of the monastery, and he came in contact with
the outside lay world, on him naturally devolved the cus-
tody and care of the boys, who thus became inmates of the
monasteries, in total defiance of strict monastic rules and prin-
ciples. In providing board, lodging, and, eventually, teaching
for their choristers, the monasteries were, however, only fol-
lowing the example of the great secular churches, which had
begun, more than a century earlier, to establish separate en-
dowments and common houses, colleges as they were some-
times called, as at Lincoln, for the choristers. In earlier days
the choristers were merely imported to sing in the choir, and
either lived at home or were lodged in the houses of the resi-
dent canons, who had to feed them and look after them.



St. Paul's seems to have been the earliest cathedral by
which separate provision for housing them was made ; a statute
dating from the deanery of Ralph de Diceto, between 1 1 80
and 1 200, ordering that, "as the boys of the almonry ought
to live on alms, they are to sit on the ground in the canons'
houses, not with the vicars at table", the resident canons
on certain days having to entertain the choir-singers, both
vicars choral and choir-boys at dinner. The reason was as-
signed, "lest they become uppish and when they go back to
the almonry despise the food there and blame their master".
A later statute made in 1263, ordered the Almoner, be-
sides distributing alms in the method ordained by those who
gave endowments for the purpose, and burying gratis poor
people and beggars who died in or near the churchyard, to
have " daily with him eight boys fit for the service of the
Church, whom he is to have instructed either by himself or
by another master in matters pertaining to the service of the
Church and in literature (i.e. grammar), and good behaviour,
taking no payment for the same ".

These almonry boys were the choir-boys, who learnt sing-
ing in the choir school, which the precentor had to maintain.
As the fourteenth century Almoner records, against himself,
in his register : " If the almoner does not keep a clerk to teach
the choristers grammar, the schoolmaster of St. Paul's claims
5s. a year for teaching them, though he ought to demand
nothing for them, because he keeps the school for them, as
the treasurer of St. Paul's once alleged before the dean and
chapter is to be found in ancient documents". The attempt
thus made by the Treasurer to make the grammar school
into a choir school thus early is curious. The allegation
that the grammar school was kept >for the choristers is
historically untrue, though it is probably true that the choristers
ought to have been'admitted free to it. At Beverley, in 1312,
when the grammar schoolmaster wished to make all choristers
beyond seven, the original number who attended the grammar
school, pay fees, the succentor, the song schoolmaster, con-
tended that he was bound to teach all the choristers free. After

Online LibraryArthur Francis LeachThe schools of medieval England → online text (page 21 of 39)