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literature, i.e. Latin, at any school they pleased. Hence we
no longer find in the Manorial Court Rolls, as in the fourteenth
century, the villeins being fined for sending their sons to
school without the lord's leave ; a notable social and educa-
tional advance.

A curiously modern difficulty appears in an incident which
took place at Lincoln at this time. In spite of all attempts
to give choristers a good school education, a difficulty has
always arisen in satisfying the conflicting demands of song
and grammar, and reconciling the necessary attendance of
the choristers at choir practice and choir, with the ordinary
grammar-school hours. It was summed up in a famous jest
over a similar difficulty as to choral scholars at New College
about 1860, that it was impossible to find men " et cantare
pares et respondere parati ", able to sing and also pass respon-

In December, 1406, the Dean and Chapter of Lincoln solved
it by starting a separate grammar school for the choristers.
They appointed two masters, one of the " General Grammar
School of the city " and another of " the grammar school of the
college of choristers " . This formal appointment of a choristers'
schoolmaster as a rival to the master of the ancient school
produced friction. So in January, 1407, the chapter ordered
that the choristers and the commoners with them (commentates,
boarders in their house) should go down to the General Grammar
School as in times past. But a week later they agreed that
the master of the choristers and their teacher might admit
commoners and might teach relations and boys of the canons
in the school freely, but that boys from outside he was on



in atiimapafftoiuim nott^ct^ca
Iwntur coium qutfttttt miiocc
admodum ncc itnttx ammfy fn
ftc ntt ccdtnt ttoctf-Qjiouim mr



BRIT. MUS. MS. BURNEY 275 f., 176 b.


no account to admit or to teach. This admission of other
than choristers was an innovation, resented by the city, the
grammar schoolmaster and the chancellor of the cathedral,
who appointed him. Eventually a compromise was recorded
in a Chapter Act of 12 February, 1406-7, which ordained
that the teachers of the choristers were to be at liberty " to
teach grammar to the commoners with them, also to the
relations of the canons and vicars of the church, or those
living at their expense and charity, or dwelling in their
family, on every day and time at which lessons are given . . .
on condition that once in each school-term they are bound
to go down at the ordinary and accustomed hour to the
general school under its own master, and at these times to
be under the teaching and chastisement of its master". The
actual result was that the two schools competed with each other
until, in 1 560, they were re-united as one school in the dis-
solved Grey Friars' house, then converted into a school-house.
By a concordat, 18 January, 1583-4, under which the chapter
appointed and paid the master, and the city the usher, the
bishop covenanted to allow " no other gramer schole " in the
city or for three miles round.

A reported case in the Common Pleas in 1410, shows
what a demand there was for schools at the time.

We saw that the government of Gloucester School and
the exclusive right to appoint the masters and maintain the
monopoly of the school had been handed over to the Prior of
Llanthony. This seems to have been a cause of continual
dissatisfaction. Entries in the diocesan registers of the
Bishop of Worcester show that he was called on in 1287
and in 1380 to enforce the monopoly of the authorized master,
while in 1 340 the priory had to obtain from the Crown a new
confirmation of the school to them. In 1410 another attack
on this monopoly was made by " Thomas More, that was
Scolemaster atte Hereford " who had set up a grammar school
(scolas gramaticales, a typical use of the plural schools for a
single school) in Gloucester, close by the authorized grammar
school. So the Prior for himself, and the master and usher,
John Hamlyn and Richard Darcy, for themselves, brought
actions of trespass on the case, their count being that " whereas
the collation to Gloucester Grammar School belonged to the


Prior of Llanthony, and the Prior had made collation to them
to have the governance of the said school and to inform
children and others . . . the defendant had set up a scole in the
same town, by which, whereas the plaintiffs used to make of
a child 35. 4d. or 35. a quarter now they could only take scarce
1 2d., to their damage ", which they assessed at 40.

The argument turned on two points, first, whether, though
there was undoubted damage, there was any wrong, as keeping
school was not a matter of heritable property, like keeping a
market. " The teaching of children is a virtuous and charit-
able thing, and beneficial to the people and is not punishable."
Secondly, whether there was not free trade in schools, as it
was unreasonable that a master should be disturbed in keeping
a school where he pleased. Eventually neither point was
decided, a demurrer being allowed on the ground that " the
teaching and informing of children is a spiritual matter (chose
tspirituef)" and therefore for the ecclesiastical courts, and not
triable in the King's Court. It is interesting to note that the
Richard Darcy of this case passed on to be head master of
Winchester College, from 1418 to 1424 ; a sign that there was
no marked line drawn between the great collegiate schools and
the principal grammar schools. On his retirement the then
master of Gloucester Grammar School, Richard Davy, was
invited to Winchester as a candidate for the head mastership,
and though an old Wykehamist was preferred to him, received
the large solatium for his expenses of 6s. 8d. for himself and a
shilling for his clerk.

It is possible that the real gravamen in the Gloucester case
was that Thomas More was suspected of Lollardry. One of
the constitutions of Archbishop Arundel in Convocation in
1408 provided that, " because what a cask holds when it is
new it tastes of when it is old ", no schoolmasters or anyone
teaching boys in arts or grammar or instructing anyone in the
primitive sciences (grammar, rhetoric, and logic), should dare
to meddle with teaching the faith or the sacraments of the altar
or even with expounding scripture except the plain text, or
allow his scholars to dispute on them. In 1414 the Statute
of Lollards gave all justices power to hold inquisitions into
Lollard schools, conventicles, congregations and confederacies.
But whether there ever were any Lollard schools, except in

Ivriaor toils [m d




the sense of conventicles to preach Lollard doctrines, seems
open to doubt.

A rather pathetic example of the essential connexion of
collegiate churches with education is seen in the beautiful little
church built on the picturesque tongue of land, surrounded on
all sides by river and marsh, which gave its name to Tong
in Staffordshire. Here Isabel, wife of Fulk of Pembridge,
" chivaler ", provided in the near neighbourhood of the castle for
a warden and four secular chaplains or fellows, two clerks, and
thirteen poor almsfolk. The whole endowment only amounted
to 4$ a year, of which the almshouse took 20. The statutes
of the college, made 9 March, 1410, are fortunately preserved,
or it might well have been doubted whether so small an
establishment would maintain a school in such a small and
unimportant place as Tong was and is. But it is duly pro-
vided that one of the chaplains, or, if a chaplain cannot be
found, one of the clerks of the college, competently instructed
in reading, singing and grammar, should be appointed by the
warden and saner (sam'or), which was construed in effect as
senior part of the college, diligently to instruct the clerks and
other ministers of the college, and beside them the youths
of the town and of neighbouring towns. The schoolmaster's
stipend was not very large, being only in fact half a mark a
year beyond his pay as chaplain or fellow. The warden
received 6 145. 9d. ; the other fellows 2 135. 4d. ; the
schoolmaster, the second person in the college, 3 ; a sum
augmented no doubt by the voluntary offerings on Shrove
Tuesday and Christmas, which custom made obligatory.

At his native place, Middleton in Lancashire, the Palatine
Earl and Bishop of Durham, ex-Chancellor of England, Thomas
Langley, founded a grammar school in 1412, which, owing
to its having been re-founded and re-endowed by one of its
pre-Reformation pupils, Alexander Nowel, afterwards Dean
of St. Paul's and Principal of Brasenose College, has been
usually reckoned as an Elizabethan foundation.

Another work of the same bishop, in re-organizing and
endowing the schools of his own episcopal city, has also been
wrongly assigned to others, his own agents. He built a
grammar school and song school side by side on the Palace
Green between his castle and his cathedral, which under two


letters patent of 13 June, 1414, granted by him in the dual
capacity of temporal lord and spiritual pastor, were next day
founded and endowed by his two chaplains who have been
thereupon mistaken by careless historians for the real founders.
Each master was to teach and instruct all willing to learn or
study under him, the poor indeed freely for the love of God,
if they or their parents humbly ask it, but taking from those
who by themselves or their friends were willing to pay, the
moderate fees accustomed to be paid irr other grammar or song
schools. The bishop's accounts show that he maintained
exhibitions not only in this school but also thence to the Uni-
versity ; e.g. in 1419 one William son of John Ingleby, study-
ing at Oxford, received 2 1 33. 4d. for maintenance there, ad
exhibicionem suam.

If Henry IV's reign was troubled within the realm, Henry
V's was troubled without. Yet to the hero of Agincourt is
assigned by John Rows the Warwick historian, a design for a
"noble college" at Oxford, in which there should be "deep
research in the Seven Sciences", to be endowed out of the
Alien Priories, finally suppressed at this time. Rows asserts
that he had himself in his youth seen the Ordinance for this
college, but had forgotten its provisions.

The King's good intentions were partly carried out in the
foundation of a nobleman who was almost a prince of the
blood, the College of St. John the Baptist at Stoke-next-
Clare, by Edmund, Earl of March and Ulster, Lord of Wigmore
and of Clare, in Suffolk. By deed of 19 May, 1415, he re-
converted an alien priory, which had been a college of secular
clerks till 1089, again into a college of a dean and six canons,
eight vicars choral, and five choristers with an income of
close on 400 a year. Statutes made 25 January, 1422, ordained
a schoolmaster to teach the boys of the college reading, plain
song, and descant. In 1537, Matthew Parker, the future
archbishop, when dean, built a new grammar school, in which
the tenants' children and young gentlemen were taught gram-
mar, and " other exercises " ; he increased the choristers to
thirteen, and provided university exhibitions for them. We
find John Crosier, clerk, " scoolemaster " of the " Free Scoole",
receiving pay at the high rate of 10 a year. School and
college were destroyed by Edward VI.


A great college founded or projected by a nearer prince
of the blood, Edmund, Duke of York, was translated from his
Castle of Fotheringhay by Edward, Duke of York, killed at
Agincourt, under patents of 1412 and 1415, to the Parish
Church. The establishment included a master and twelve
fellows, eight clerks, and thirteen choristers. The statutes
made on the translation, largely taken from those of Winchester
and New College, provided that for the diligent and continuous
information of the clerks, choristers, and other poor boys of
the said college, and the manifold proficiency and speedy
advancement of the same, the Master, Precentor and three
senior fellows should depute one of the fellows to celebrate
specially for the founder and teach the choristers grammar at
a salary of 1 2 marks (8) ; while a song master was to receive
2. When the college was dissolved, the Chantry Commis-
sioners in 1548 said that "a free school had been kept in
Fotheringhay, which is now dissolved ; it was therefore ex*-
pedient that there was a new erected in the town of Oundle ",
three miles away. In fact the school was continued at Fother-
inghay and throve until 1814, when the master, becoming
vicar, taught no more, but appointed an elementary teacher
as his deputy, and elementary it has since remained.

More interesting than the foundation of great lords and
ladies, as showing the spread of educational activity in the
middle and commercial classes, is the development of schools
in connexion with the gilds. As typical of this we may
take notice of the development of Stratford-on-Avon school,
which, recovered from the despoiling hands of Edward VI and
therefore wrongly dubbed by his name, gave Shakespeare the
opportunity of sharpening his wits in the acquisition of his
little Latin and less Greek. The school existed as we saw in
1295, and was almost certainly conducted by or in connexion
with the College of the Trinity by the old church. The busi-
ness of the town had in the fifteenth century shifted away from
there southwards towards where the " birth-place " now is, and
the school followed the business.

Three existing gilds in connexion with the old church were
in 1400 consolidated as the Gild of the Holy Cross, and removed
to the beautiful gild chapel in the new town, which still forms
one of its main ornaments, and in its gild hall hard by, the



townsmen and the brethren, who were recruited from all over
England and Wales, feasted at the hands of many cooks.

In the first account of the consolidated gild, from Michael-
mas 1401-2 to Michaelmas 1402-3, appears: "received of
John Scolmayster for a chamber, by the year 6s. 8d.," and
among the "allowances " is " 2od. for rent of a new chambre
in the Hall which John Scolemayster held fora quarter ". The
schoolmaster is referred to again in 1412-13, when the account
contains an allowance of " 43. for the rent of St. Mary's house
in the Oldetown which the master and aldermen [of the gild]
pardoned to the schoolmaster yearly as long as he wished to
teach children and keep school in it ". St. Mary's house was
the gild hall of St. Mary's Gild, and was in Church Street
by Trinity Church in the Old Town. This allowance con-
tinued till 1417. The school was then moved. A new
schoolhouse, the present picturesque Latin School in the
new town by the gild hall, was built in 1426-7 at a cost of
g 173. il^d. A magnificent feast was given at its opening,
at which the Bishop of Worcester was present ; seven cooks,
with four assistants, preparing the dinner, which included a
swan, venison, herons, geese, fowls, capons, rabbits, pigs,
mutton and marrow bones.

There was at first no separate endowment for the
school, though there are frequent entries of the masters being
admitted members of the gild without, or at a reduced, en-
trance fee. One of these, Richard Fox, B.A., B.C.L., ad-
mitted in 1477-8, seems to have been no less a person than
the future Prime Minister of Henry VII and founder of Corpus
Christi College, Oxford. The first step towards its separate en-
dowment was taken 6 October, 1456, when John Webbe, alias
Jolyf, and his wife delivered to Master Thomas Jolyf, chaplain,
probably the master, and the Vicar of Snitterfield, ex-master,
and others certain lands, to hold according to their deed.
Whether the deed gave the lands to Thomas Jolyf, no doubt
their son, personally or in trust for the school does not appear.
Probably, as in other cases, the Wars of the Roses stayed the
proceedings. At length by deed of 7 July, 1482, Master
Thomas Jolyffe gave " all his lands " to the master, warden
and proctors of the gild to " find a priest fit and able in learn-
ing to teach grammar freely to all the scholars coming to him


to school in the said town, taking nothing from his scholars
for his teaching ". The said priest was to be admitted one of
the five priests of the gild at the next vacancy, receiving 8
stipend till admission and 10 after. Twice a week the
" grammar priest " and his scholars were to sing the anthem
of St. Mary, and then say De Profundis for Jolyffe's soul.
The first appointment of a schoolmaster under the new terms
was made on 24 June, 1482, when the gild granted "a priestly
service" to William Smyth, clerk, on the condition that he
would conduct a free grammar school.

Among other schools first mentioned, though certainly not
first founded in Henry V's reign, is Darlington, which had
certainly been maintained by the collegiate church there since
the thirteenth century, and now appears in a payment by the
Almoner of Durham Priory, of 145. to the schoolmaster coming
from Darlington to teach the boys of Durham during a vacancy
in the mastership. In 1417 is found a bequest to Master
Roger, Master of Bruton, by Richard Bruton, Canon of Wells,
thus ante-dating Bruton school a century before its usually re-
puted foundation under Henry VIII. The school and chantry
in St. Mary's Chapel at Worsborough, Yorkshire, was founded
in 1418 by Sir Robert Rockley. In 1420 occurs the earliest
evidence of the school at Henley-on-Thame (commonly at-
tributed to James I, who chartered it in 1604), in the election
of Robert Symon, Scolemayster, as clerk of the " cominalte" or
Town Clerk. It is noteworthy that John Longland, last
Bishop of Lincoln before the Reformation, was at this school,
a commentary on Lily's Grammar for the use of Henley
School being dedicated to him in 1532.

When we pass to the reign of Henry VI educational
activity took two directions, the orthodox and unorthodox, or
rather the sacerdotal and the anti-sacerdotal. In 1423 occurs
the first mention of Buckingham Grammar School, which must
have existed long before, in the very large rent of 4od. or
1 35. 4d. a year paid by the schoolmaster for his house to John
Barton the elder, Recorder of London; while John Barton
junior, his brother, re-endowed a chantry at Thornton in
Buckinghamshire by his will in 1443, the "prieste to teache
the children of the said towne " and to give for the livery of
six poor children, to every of them 45.


At Stourbridge, Worcestershire, the service of the Trinity
was founded in 1430 by subscription to maintain a stipendiary
priest, who, as found in 1548, "hath always used and yett
dothe vse to kepe a scoole ".

A distinctly anti-sacerdotal tendency appears, however, in
the first known school founded by a London citizen, that of
Sevenoaks, provided by William Sevenoaks, grocer, of London,
by will of 4 July, 1432, by which he gave the vicar and church-
wardens lands in London to provide " a master, an honest
man, sufficiently advanced and expert in the science of
grammar and a Bachelor of Arts, but by no means in holy
orders, to keep a grammar school in Sevenoaks, and to teach
and instruct all boys whatsoever coming there for learning,
taking nothing of them or their parents or friends for teaching
them ". It may be merely that he did not want the school-
master to be wasting his time in performing masses for the
dead as a chantry priest, or holding a living and neglecting his
school. But the provision has a distinctly Renaissance ring
about it as putting education before religion. A noticeable
feature about the schoolmasters of the fifteenth century, also
pointing in the anti-monastic and anti-sacerdotal direction, is
the large number of instances of married men among them.
Thus we find in 1421 Ralph Strode, schoolmaster in the city
of Winchester, and Diana his wife suing William Coventre
of North Okebourne, Wilts, Esquire, for 405., probably for
boarding fees for his son. At York the epitaphs or wills
of three successive masters of St. Peter's School, Gilbert
Pynchebeck, died 1457, Roger Lewsay, died June, 1465, and
John Hamundson, died July, 1472, show that they had

The example set by Sevenoaks was quickly followed and
improved upon. A mercer, John Abbott, on 19 June, 1443,
not only founded a free school, but made a city company,
his own " mistere " of the mercers, trustees of it, giving them
lands in London for a master to teach libere et quiete, free and
quit of all charges, at Farnynghoe, now Farthinghoe in
Northamptonshire. He thus anticipated by sixty-seven years
the supposed innovation of Colet in entrusting his new endow-
ment for St. Paul's to the same Company, because, " while
there was no absolute certainty in human affairs, he found less


corruption in a body of married laymen like the Mercers, than
in any other order or degree of mankind ".

We are not aware of any other City Company being made
trustees of a school at this time. The Wars of the Roses put
a stop to progress. But, to anticipate a little, as soon as
things had quieted down again, we find on 20 March, 1487-
8, Sir Edmund Shaa (Shaw) "cytezen and goldsmyth and
alderman and late mayer of the citee of London " by his will
directing a " lyvelode ", enough land to provide a livelihood,
to be bought by his executors to be " amortisyd (i.e. put in
mortmain) unto his felliship of the craft of goldsmythes " to
provide amongst other things for finding two honest priests,
the one to pray for his soul at Longdendale, and the other " a
discrete man and connyng in gramer and able of connyng to
teche grammer and pray for his soul in Stopford (Stockport)
church" and "kepe a gramer scole contynually, and that he
frely without any wages or salarye asking or taking of any
person except onely by salarye here under specified, shall
teache all maner persons' children and other that wode com
to him to lerne as well of the said town as of other townes
thereabout the science of gramer . . . into the time that
they be covenably instruct in gramer after thair capaciteys
that God will give them ". The salary specified was jio a
year, the Longdendale priest being merely a chantry priest,
only getting 4. 6s. 8d. a year out of the " lyvelihood " of
17 to be provided. The company made the executors in
fact provide a livelihood of 40 a year so as to secure them
against "empties" and other deficits, and the school was in
working order with Sir John Randal, " prist and scolmaister ",
by 1492.

Incited perhaps by this example, in 1502 Sir John Percy-
vale, Merchant Taylor and ex-Lord Mayor, founded a " Fre
Gramer Scole" at Maxfeld (Macclesfield), also in Cheshire,
" fast by which he was born ", " for gentilmen's sons and other
gude men's children of the towne and centre thereabouts".
It was made a free school, free from tuition fees, expressly,
because " God of his habundant grace hath sent and daily
sendeth to the inhabitaunts there copyous plentie of children "
but not plenty of money to maintain them, while "right
fewe techers and scolemaisters ben in that contre, wherebye


many children for lacke of such techyng and draught in connyng
fall to idlenes and so consequently live disolutely all their
dayes ". He did not make his own Company but seventeen
local laymen trustees.

Another goldsmith and Lord Mayor, Sir Bartholomew
Read, in founding a school at Cromer, 9 October, 1505,
imitated Shaw by making the Goldsmiths' Company the
governing body, and copied Percyvale in saying that for a
salary of .10 the priest was to " kepe a fre gramer scole "
for gentlemen's sons and good men's children and especially
poor men's children of the said town and of the country
thereabouts. How highly he thought of his foundation
may be gauged by his directing the company to choose
the priest-schoolmaster with the advice of the Provost of
King's College, Cambridge, or of Eton College, and that he
should be a master graduate or a good grammarian " especially
such as had been brought up in the college of Eton or of
Winchester, if such might be had ". The company proved
hard stepfathers ; for they still in 1820 paid only .10 a year
to the master. They had long ceased to consult the Provost

Online LibraryArthur Francis LeachThe schools of medieval England → online text (page 24 of 39)