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Nicholas ' pence ' (the offerings on the boy-bishop's day) " a
striking testimony to the prevalence of those two customs.

Another college of the same kind was founded at Tatter-
shall in Lincolnshire by Sir Ralph Cromwell, an ancestor of
Thomas Cromwell, the hammer of the monks, under licence
of 14 July, 1439, with a warden and six fellows, priests, six
clerks, six choristers and thirteen alms folk and the very large
income of 536 a year. Here the grammar master had 9 a
year, while the organist and master of the choristers had 4,
and each of ten choristers received 3 6s. 8d. a year.

A striking manifestation of the new humanist spirit is
seen in the Letters Patent granted in 1439, giving leave to
William Byngham, rector of St. John Zachary in London, to
found the College of God's House in Cambridge, at first an
annex to Clare Hall, and afterwards incorporated with Christ's


College. In his petition for the licence Bingham had said
that he had found no less than seventy grammar schools,
formerly flourishing, over the east part of the way leading
from Hampton [on-Thames] to Coventry and so forth no
farther north than Ripon, that were occupied all at once
within fifty years past, now fallen into abeyance for lack of
proper teachers, " so great scarstee of maistres of Gramer ".
He therefore asked for leave to found a College of a master
and twenty-four scholars for the training of grammar school-
masters who were to issue thence to teach school all over the
country the first secondary-school training-college on record.
In the patent the importance of the classics was insisted on, not
merely as in the days of Wykeham and the foundation of Win-
chester because grammar was the key which unlocked the
Holy Scriptures and was the gate to the liberal sciences "and
theology the mistress of all ", but because " it was necessary in
dealing with law and other difficult matters of state and also
the means of mutual communication and conversation between
us and strangers and foreigners ".

Here spoke the citizen of London and the man of the
modern world.

It is probable that as Henry imitated Chicheley in adding
an almshouse or Bedehouse to his college, he also meant by
the original charter to make the master a part of the governing
body. He imitated Chicheley also in endowing his college
with the alien priories confiscated to the Crown by his father
and great-grandfather. A good many of them had been sold
or leased to great persons, and Henry had, just as much as
William of Wykeham and Chicheley, to buy them for his
college; the first instalment being given on 5 March, 1440-1.

In 1441, Henry visited Winchester to see the working of
the school, and, as a result, seems to have resolved to depart
from the Higham Ferrers precedent and remodel his founda-
tion on a larger scale and more closely after the fashion of
Winchester. He took William Waynflete, who had been head
master of Winchester for eleven years, away from Winchester
at Michaelmas, 1441, and made him provost. A Winchester
scholar, William Westbury, was brought from New College to
be head master in 1442. New statutes were made for Eton
and the Cambridge college on 10 July, 1443 ; and five scholars,



one ex -scholar and one commoner of Winchester were admitted
among the first eleven scholars of Eton, by way of giving it a
good start on approved Public School lines. So large a part
did Winchester play at Eton that the first three provosts,
twelve out of the first twenty-five head masters and eight of the
ushers or second masters, and probably a good many more,
came from Winchester. The new statutes amounted to a com-
plete new scheme. They brought the two colleges of Eton
and King's into the same organic connexion which existed
between Winchester and New College. Each college was
enlarged to the same size as Winchester and New College, i.e.
to a provost and seventy scholars, besides the ten fellows,
while there were also added commoners (commensales\ who
were to be sons of noblemen or special friends of the college,
only their number was doubled, being twenty instead of ten as
at Winchester, and thirteen outside scholars of the kind known
afterwards as servitors, who got their education and board in
return for acting as servants to the fellows and head master.
Henceforth, King's College, Cambridge, was to be exclusively
manned from, and to be the Visitor of, the " College Roiall "
of Eton.

Perhaps the most striking proof of Henry's regard for his
foundation was his issue on 3 June, 1446, of a signed warrant,
by which he recited his grant to the college that " it might
always have in its precinct a public and general grammar
school" the first time the term public school was used of
Eton " and that the same school as it surpases all other such
grammar schools whatsoever of our kingdom in the affluence
of its endowment and the pre-excellence of its foundation, so
it may excel all other grammar schools, as it ought, in the
prerogative of its name, and be named therefore the King's
General School, and be called the lady, mother and mistress of
all other grammar schools : and we have granted to it further
that it shall not be lawful for any one of whatsoever authority
he may be at any time to presume to teach, set up or found
any such public grammar school in the town of Windsor or
elsewhere within the space often English miles from our said
Royal College". To ordinary conceptions of a public school
as a different and superior order of creation to a grammar
school this " bill " is illuminating. The extravagant self-as-

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sertiveness and boastfulness of this language, contrasted with the
somewhat pettifogging conclusion of the establishment of a
legal monopoly for ten miles round, as if this lady, mother and
mistress of all grammar schools, with the largest endowment
in the kingdom, could not maintain its superiority without the
forcible extinction of rivals ; the remarkable invasion of ecclesi-
astical jurisdiction, to which alone the grants and still more
the enforcement of the monopoly of endowed schools belonged,
surely show that Henry was already suffering from megalo-
mania. The curious thing is that this bill, though delivered
to the chancellor in the usual way for execution, that is
for issue as letters patent, does not appear on the Patent
Roll. To megalomania point also the enormous sums spent,
chiefly out of the Duchy of Lancaster, on building and re-
building, on an ever-increasing scale, the college and par-
ticularly the church of Eton, with the deliberate intention of
making it larger than New College chapel, and finally than
Salisbury Cathedral. Though a gorgeously illuminated Act
of Parliament in 1447 confirmed all its possessions, the college
remained unfinished when, in 1452, Henry first became insane.
During the Wars of the Roses a great part of the Eton en-
dowment was taken away by Edward IV, and in 1463, by Papal
Bull, the College was annexed to St. George's, Windsor, and
for some four or five years the school, if it did not cease alto-
gether, received no fresh scholars. In 1467 it was restored by
the efforts of Westbury and Waynflete, then Bishop of Win-
chester, with Edward IV as founder instead of Henry VI,
though in the days of the Tudors Henry VI was reinstated.
The revenues were so diminished that the provost only got
.30 a year instead of 75, and the head master 10 instead
ofi6, and there were only seven fellows instead of ten.
This perhaps hastened rather than retarded the development
of the school into a great public school for the upper classes
and the aristocracy, who, while paying nothing for their edu-
cation, paid large sums for boarding in the houses of the
fellows, and in the town of Eton, whence they came to be
called Oppidans. As at Winchester, so at Eton, the " poor and
needy" scholars were scions from the first of the noble classes
and the country gentry, relations of judges and civil serv-
ants and well-to-do people ; and the labouring classes were


expressly made ineligible by the proviso that no villein nati-
vus or illegitimate was to be admitted. As early as 1479
a young Paston, of the family of the Paston letters, was an
Oppidan, and in 1529 Richard Lord Grey of Ruthyn, probably
a commoner, died at the school.

The earliest indication of the number of the Oppidans,
who, rather than the scholars, have made the school famous,
is in the will of Provost Lupton, provost from 1504, dated 23
February, 1 540, by which he gave to " a hundredth children
of the town ", i.e. oppidans, " 4d. a piece ", the " three score and
ten children of the college", i.e. scholars and " queresters ",
receiving double that sum. Most of the college buildings and the
whole of the great quadrangle, except the chapel, were built by
him or in his time, including, in 1504, "Long Chamber", in
which all the seventy scholars slept in one long room, instead
of being divided, as in the original buildings, into seven
chambers. Indeed, except the chancel of the chapel, the
hall, and the underpart of three sides of the cloister quad-
rangle there is nothing of Henry VI's building now visible at

Contemporaneously with the foundation of Eton another
school, which for 200 years was the chief school of Lon-
don, was in progress St. Anthony's School. The credit
of this foundation is due to Henry VI and his Wykehamical
advisers. It has, however, never been given them owing to the
erroneous account of its origin by one of the most famous of
its "old boys", John Stow, who in his Survey of London
attributed the school to the original foundation in 1231 of the
Hospital of St. Anthony in Threadneedle Street, in which it
was placed. This Hospital was founded as a cell to the great
St. Anthony's Hospital of Vienne, for the cure of St. Anthony's
fire, a terrible form of erysipelas due to ergotism, arising it
is surmised, from the use of bad rye as bread. The English hos-
pital was almost entirely maintained by a system of touting
for donations and subscriptions all over England which would
do no discredit to a modern London hospital, and was in the
hands of the Brethren of St. Anthony, an order of regular
or monastic canons, under a Preceptor, not a teacher but a
governor. A large part of the collections went to the mother-
house abroad. As an Alien Priory it was seized in the reign of


Edward III and in 1377 was separated from the foreign house
and made immediately dependent on the Pope. From 1385
secular preceptors were appointed, and its conversion into
a secular hospital, practically an almshouse St. Anthony's
fire having long been quenched in England was legally sanc-
tioned by a Papal bull in 1441.

John Carpenter, Provost of Oriel at Oxford from 1425,
had become master of St. Anthony's in 1434, the dates given
in the Dictionary of National Biography are wrong. He was
concerned in the foundation of Eton, and it is probably to
his initiative that St. Anthony's school was due. He ob-
tained, in 1441, from the Bishop of London the appropriation
to the Hospital of the church of St. Bennet Fink next door
to it, in order that the revenues of the rectory, worth sixteen
marks a year, might be applied to the maintenance of "a
master or fit Informer in the faculty of grammar, ... to keep
a grammar school (i'egere scolas gramaticales] in the pre-
cinct of the hospital or some fit house close by, to teach, in-
struct and inform gratis all boys and others whatsoever wishing
to learn and become scholars (scolatizare] ".

A song school was also established with a tavern as its
endowment to pay John Bennet, clerk, eight marks a year and
four yards of cloth of gentlemen's suit for teaching singing.
The grammar schoolmaster received ;i6a year, the same as
the master of Eton, and there was an usher and twelve
" children ", six of whom seem to have been choristers and six
grammar scholars. All these had board, lodging and clothing
as well. In 1451 the school was brought into connexion with
the university by the grant of lands to Oriel College, " for
the exhibition of certain poor scholars in St. Mary's Hall ", a
dependency of that college according to ordinances to be
made by Carpenter. The ordinances have disappeared. But
the accounts of St. Anthony's and Oriel College show that
scholars were duly taken from St. Anthony's School.

There is extant a letter from William Selling, Prior of Can-
terbury, to Thomas Bourchier, Cardinal- Archbishop of Canter-
bury, in 1472. " Please it your good fatherhood to have in
knowledge that, according to your commandment, I have pro-
vided for a Schoolmaster for your ' Gramerscole ' in Canter-
bury, the which hath lately taught grammar at Winchester and


S. Anthony's in London, that as I trust to God shall so guide
him that it shall be worship and pleasure to your lordship and
profit and increase to them that he shall have in governance ".
As Archbishop Bourchier's own nephew, the heir to the
Earldom of Essex, was a commoner at Winchester College,
this reference to the master of St. Anthony's as having been
also a master at Winchester, probably usher or second master
there, shows that St. Anthony's School already stood high in
reputation. Dean Colet and Sir Thomas More are claimed
to have been educated in it.

Stow, born about 1525, tells us in a passage which is
a locus classicus in the history of schools that, in his youth,
which, for this purpose, we may take to be from 1532-4, the
arguing of the schoolboys as to the principles of grammar of
which Fitzstephen wrote, was still continued :

" For I myself in my youth have yearly seen on the
eve of S. Bartholomew the Apostle, the scholars of divers
grammar schools repair unto the churchyard of S. Bar-
tholomew, the Priory in Smithfield, where, upon a bank,
boarded about under a tree, some one scholar hath stepped up,
and there hath apposed and answered, till he were by some
better scholar overcome and put down, and then the over-
comer, taking the place, did like as the first, and in the end
the best opposers and answerers had rewards ; which I ob-
served not but it made both good schoolmasters and also good
scholars diligently against such times to prepare themselves
for the obtaining of this garland. I remember there repaired
to these exercises amongst others the Masters and scholars
of the free schools of St. Paul's of London, of St. Peter's
of Westminster, of St. Thomas Aeon Hospital and of St.
Anthony's Hospital ; whereof the last named commonly pre-
sented the best scholars and had the prize in those days."

It is very doubtful whether Stow's memory was accurate
when he brought scholars from Westminster and the Mercers'
School to St. Bartholomew's before its dissolution. However
that may be, Stow goes on :

"This Priory of S. Bartholomew being surrendered to
Henry VIII these disputations of scholars in that place sur-
ceased ; and were again, only for a year or twain, in the reign
of Edward VI, renewed in the cloister of Christ's Hospital,


when the best scholars, then still of S. Anthony's school, how-
soever the same be now fallen both in number and estimation,
were rewarded with bows and arrows of silver given to them
by Sir Martin Bowes, goldsmith."

Under Elizabeth, on Stow's own showing : " Neverthe-
less however the encouragement failed. The schollers of
Paules meeting with them of S. Anthonies, would call them
Anthonie pigs and they againe would call the other pigeons
of Paules, because many pigeons were bred in Paules church,
and Saint Anthonie was always figured with a pig following
him, and, mindfull of the former usage, did for a long
season disorderly in\ the open streete provoke one another
with Salve tu quoque ! placet tibi mecum disputare. Placet.
And so proceeding from this to questions in grammar, they
usually fall from wordes to blows, with their satchels full of
bookes, many times in great heaps that they troubled the streets
and passengers ; so that finally they were restrained, with the
decay of St. Anthonies schole." Yet as late as 1560 a church
brief was issued on its behalf by Queen Elizabeth for collec-
tions in support of " its ijc. (200) scolers and pur men " who
" praye upon ther knise tweys euery daye for the Quenes
estate and the realeme of Englande ", and " the scolers found
in Oryall College within the Uneversite of Oxforde ". It is
expressly repeated that the " Scoleres of the grammer schole "
are " comunly to the nomber of towe hundreth ".

Strype, in his edition of Stow a century later, gives further
evidence :

" This school kept equal credit with that of Paul's : both
which had the greatest reputation in the city in former times.

"I meet with a merry retainer at Queen Elizabeth's Court,
giving an account of the great entertainment she had in her
progress anno 1575 at Kenil worth Castle by the Earl of

" I went to school forsooth both at Polles and also at S.
Antonies ! In the 5th forme, past ^Esop's fables, I wiz read
Terence, Vos ist haec intro auferte, and began with my Virgil
Tityre tu patulae. I could my Rules : and could consterue and
pars with the best of them."

Strype tells us also how this school used to go in proces-
sion : " Thus I find in the year 1 562 on the 1 5th day of Sep-


tember there set out from Mile End 200 children of this S.
Anthonies School, all well be-seen, and so along through Al-
gate down Cornhill to the Stocks and so to the Freer Austins
with streamers and flags and drums beating. And after, every
child went home to their fathers and friends." This Septem-
ber outing was an old custom in schools. It was for a nut
gathering. It appears in the accounts of St. Anthony's on 3
September, 1510, when "a sporting day in the cuntre " cost
the hospital 1 8d., the almsmen and choristers being entertained
at home for yd. William Malim mentions it as one of the
Eton holidays in 1 560. The drums and flags strongly sug-
gest the Eton "montem". As late as 1711 "nutting-money"
was one of the regular payments exacted from Winchester
scholars to be expended on an outing in the woods, gathering

Stow's story of the suppression of the street-shows of the
scholars is borne out by the curious injunction issued by the
Lord Mayor on 20 August, 1561 :

" Item yt was agreyd that precepts shall forthewith be made
to every one of my maisters the Aldermen for the stayinge of
all skolemaysters and teacher of youthe within this cytye from
makynge of eny more musters or commen and open shewes
of theyr skollers, within the said cyttye or without, in ryche ap-
parrell or otherwyse, eyther on horseback or on foote, upon
payne of imprysonment".

An illustration of the humanist or Lollard spirit of London
may be found in the attempts now made to free it from the
monopoly of the three ancient schools. During the Lollard
period, at the end of Richard II 's reign, this had been tried in
vain. It was met by a petition presented to the King in Parlia-
ment in 1393 by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of
London, the Dean of St. Martin's-le-Grand, and the Chancellor
of St. Paul's, to assert the privileges of the three old schools,
both in London and in the suburbs, and to put down " certain
strangers, feigning themselves Masters of Grammar, not suffici-
ently learned in that faculty, who, against law and custom, hold
general Schools of Grammar, in deceit and fraud of children,
to the great prejudice of your lieges and of the jurisdiction of
Holy Church ". The petitioners say that the three masters of the
schools of St. Paul's, of the Arches, and St. Martin's " had pro-


ceeded against the said strange masters in Court Christian, who
had gone to the secular courts for an inhibition ". The secular
court in question was the Mayor's Court. So the petitioners
asked for letters under the Privy Seal directed to the Mayor and
Aldermen to command them, that, " as well in consideration
of the king's interest in the case by reason of his Free Chapel
(St Martin's-le-Grand) as of the prejudice to the archbishop,
bishop, and others before-mentioned, they do nothing to stay
the proceedings in the ecclesiastical court ". Thus, the attempt
of the City Corporation to interfere with the exclusive jurisdic-
tion of the ecclesiastical courts over schools and to break the
monopoly of the three schools failed.

In Henry V's time, however, the Crown itself broke in on
the monopoly by sending to Roger Keston, master of the
grammar school at Cornhill, in 1419, Master Walter House, one
of the King's wards, the Treasury paying for his board, teach-
ing and maintenance from Michaelmas to 18 July following,
4 us. 6|d., or about 2s. 2d. a week.

The foundation of St. Anthony's School making a further
breach in the monopoly must have provoked further agitation.
An interesting attempt at making the famous Hospital of St.
Bartholomew, like that of St. Anthony's, a partly educational
establishment is to be found in the will of John Stafford, chap-
lain, 9 September, 1444, by which he gave lands near Paul's
wharf to the Master and Brethren, on condition of making
certain payments to his relations, and to find a chantry priest
at the altar of St Nicholas, who, besides his chantry pay, was
to receive 335. 4d. more for teaching boys grammar and song ;
poor children, and especially the founder's kin, to be taught
free. It is said that the Hospital records show no trace of
this school, which, even if the Hospital desired it, might have
been refused as infringing the monopoly of the old schools.
For in 1446 a writ of Privy Seal, addressed to the Chancellor,
stated that the Archbishop and the Bishop of London, " con-
sidering the great abusions that have been of long tyme with-
inne our citee of London that many and divers persons not
sufficiently instruct in gramer presumynge to holde comune
[i.e. public] grammer scoles, in greet deceipte as well unto
theire scolers as unto the frendes that fynde them to scole,"
had " of their greet wisdome set and ordeigned 5 scoles of


gramer and no moo ". The five were the three ancient ones,
with St. Dunstan's-in-the-East and St. Anthony's. The Chan-
cellor was accordingly ordered to issue letters patent to com-
mand all liege subjects not to "treble nor empeche the maisters
of the said scoles, but rather helpe and assiste them inasmoch
as in them is". Letters patent issued accordingly three days
later. Next year, however, 1447, a petition was presented to
Parliament by the parsons of four London churches : Allhallows
the Great; St. Andrew's, Holborn ; St. Peter's, Cornhill, and
St. Mary's, Colechurch the latter of whom was also Master
of the Hospital of St. Thomas of Aeon, now the Mercers' Hall
for leave to establish permanent grammar schools in their
respective parishes, under the patronage and government of the
parson for the time being. The preamble to their petition is
extremely interesting, both as demonstrating beyond all doubt
that St. Paul's School was not a mere choir-boys' school, and
also as showing how widespread was, or had been, the provision
for secondary education. They refer to " the great number of
grammar schools that some time were in divers parts of the
realm, besides those that were in London, and how few be in
these days, and the great hurt that is caused of this, not only
in the spiritual part of the Church, where oftentimes it appeareth
too openly in some persons with great shame, but also in the
temporal part, to whom also it is full expedient to have com-
petent knowledge for many causes. . . . The City of London
is the common concourse of this land, wherein is great multi-
tude of young people, not only born and brought forth in the
same city, but also of many other parts of this land, some for
lack of schoolmasters in their own country for to be informed
of grammar there, and some for the great alms of lords,
merchants, and others, which is in London more plenteously
done than in other places of this realm to such poor creatures
as never should have been brought to so great virtue and
cunning as they have, had it not been by means of the alms

Online LibraryArthur Francis LeachThe schools of medieval England → online text (page 26 of 39)