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throne of Canterbury, it is certain that he was educated like
the most learned clerk. Under John Skelton, Bernard Andre,
and others he received the best grammar school, song school,
and university education of the day, in Latin, literature, rhe-
toric, dialectic, and music, besides knowing French, Italian, and
Spanish. Hence it was that he became the excellent speaker
and writer, the eminent theologian and the expert musician he
is admitted to have been. Hence his zeal for learning and for
education. No king ever showed more desire to promote
learning and learned men, and none was more impressed and
desirous of impressing on others the advantages, or did more
for the advancement of education. Whether in the statutes of
the realm or in the ordinances and statutes of the many founda-
tions of his time, he was never tired of expatiating on the
necessity of education and the benefit that educated men were
to church and commonwealth.

The reign of Henry VIII has a far better title than that
of his son to be regarded as an era of educational development,
though it has no more title than the latter to be regarded as
the starting-point of an entirely new system of schools or
of any great educational advance. The notion that it was,
seems to have been chiefly derived from Samuel Knight's Life
of Colet, published in 1724, in which a most exaggerated ac-
count is given of Colet's supposed foundation, really only a
re-endowment, of St. Paul's School. Colet's foundation is not
really a product of Henry VIII's reign at all. He tells us

277



278 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

himself that he " in the year A.D. 1 508 began to edify in the
East end of the churchyard of Paul's a schoolhouse of stone
for children to be taught, free, to the number of 153 ". The
whole design was therefore made and its execution begun in
the reign of Henry VII ; though it is of course true that the
endowment and legal foundation were given and completed in
1510 to 1512 under Henry VIII. But in everything he did
in regard to the school, Colet followed, and did not set, a
fashion. His new school he placed only a few yards north-
ward of the old school, which as we saw was placed there about
1 1 1 1. He obtained the royal licence in mortmain for a school
in the Churchyard, 6 June, 1510, and on 27 July he, as Dean,
with the Chapter granted William Lily, of Magdalen College,
Oxford, then appointed first master of the " New School of St.
Pauls ", all the privileges of the master of the old school, in-
cluding a stall in the choir, and " took him into their bosom ".
On 28 March, 1511, he got the Chapter to join him in con-
veying to trustees for the new school, the old school, " lately
called Poules schole ", and three shops underneath it, and on
the same day the Chancellor of St. Paul's released to the same
trustees all his rights over the old school ; while the same day
the Dean and Chapter conveyed to the same>trustees the land
on which the new school and master's house were built.
Colet also asked the Pope for a transfer of all the rights and
privileges of the old to the new school. In July, 1511, Colet
granted a large amount of land in Buckinghamshire and some
property in London, being his whole inherited patrimony, to the
Mercers' Company, of which he was a member, for the " con-
tinuation of a certain school in the cemetery of St. Paul's church".
On 10 June, 1512, the three trustees bargained and sold the
two school buildings, the old and the new, to Colet, who the
same day made his will giving them to the Mercers' Company,
in trust for "the newe scole at Poules ". On 17 June, 1512,
he produced to the company his "Boke of Ordinances
of the Scole of Poules " under which they were to act as
governors, and on 27 July the company took possession of
the schools and the foundation was legally complete, or, as
Colet puts it, he " in the yere of our lord a thousand fyve
hundreth and twelff, full accomplisshed and fynysshed the
same scole and mansion in every poynt ". These first



HENRY VIII AND THE SCHOOLS 279

statutes are not extant, having been superseded by a new
edition on 18 June, 1518. The steps of this foundation have
been particularized because the school was represented as an
entirely new foundation, with no connexion with the old
school, which was represented as having disappeared, whereas
Colet himself told the Pope in asking for a Bull to place his
new school in the position of the old one that the old one was
going on " though of no importance ". He was careful to
place the new school exactly in the position of the old, ex-
cept that the Mercers were substituted for the Dean and
Chapter and the Chancellor of St. Paul's as governors. Nor
was Colet, as was also represented, making a new departure
in entrusting the school to a lay body of governors and that
a city company, for, as we have seen, there had been a con-
stant stream of schools with city companies as governors from
1443 at least.

A great deal has been made of the curriculum laid down
in Colet's Statutes and particularly of the mention of Greek
and the lay head master, as showing that Colet did initiate a
new educational movement, if not a new system of schools.
As for the lay head master, the novelty of that is sufficiently
refuted by William Sevenoak's foundation at Sevenoaks in
1432, that the master should by no means be in holy orders, by
the fact of there being three successive lay head masters of
York Cathedral Grammar School in the same century, and by
the provision in several foundations of Obits at Winchester
College by which the head master, was paid less for his
attendance at the Obit if he was a layman than if he was
a priest. As to the curriculum, or as Colet expressed it,
" What shalbe taught ", he laid down none. " What shalbe
taught it passith my wit to devyse and determyn in
particuler ". But "in generall " he would they were taught
" all way in good litterature with laten and greke and goode
auctors such as have the veray Romayne eliquence joyned
withe wisdome, specially Cristyn auctours that wrote theyre
wysdome with clene and chast laten other in verse or in prose ".
For he says his great aim is to increase knowledge and " good
Cristen lyffand maners " conduct and character being with
him, as with his predecessors, the first object. So he puts first
the English catechism, which he had himself written, then



280 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

Erasmus's Institute of a Christian, and then " other auctoures
Christian ", and reels off the names of those Latin Christian
poets of the third to the fifth centuries, Lactantius and the
rest, mentioned in Alcuin's School Library at York, adding
Baptista Mantuanus, the friar who, only some twenty years
before, wrote Eclogues in imitation of the great Mantuan,
Virgil, intended to supersede those of his predecessors because
they were chaste and Christian. He was still used as a school-
book in Shakespeare's time, who makes Sir Hugh Evans quote
the good old Mantuan. Colet adds such other authors as
most conduce to true Latin speaking, and goes on to abuse
" all Latin adulterate " which " ignorant blynde folis " brought
into this world and poisoned the old Latin speech and the
" varay Roman tongue ". But he shows his incapacity as a
critic of the very Roman tongue, by speaking of its being used
by Cicero and Terence and Virgil, as well as St. Jerome and
" seint Austen ". This was, however, not progress but re-
action ; it was not promoting humanism, but reverting to
theological prepossessions.

It is true he adds such other authors " as shalbe thoughte
convenyent and most to purpose unto the true laten spech ".
Finally he says, in a passage which has made the statute
world-famous, " that fylthynesse and all such abusyon which
the later blynde worlde brought in, which more ratheyr may
be callid blotterature thenne litterature I utterly abbanysh and
exclude oute of this scole ".

As we have shown, there is reason to believe that both
Winchester and Eton had taught Greek before this. The odd
thing is that there is some reason to suppose that Greek was
not taught at St. Paul's after this, or at least not after Lily's
time. For, while copious efforts in Greek appear in the verses
with which Winchester saluted Edward VI and with which
Winchester and Eton saluted Elizabeth, the only Pauline effort
of the same kind preserved, which greeted Elizabeth on her
entry into London in 1560 or 1570 the date is disputed are
much less in quantity and contain no Greek, but only
Latin.

The fame of Colet's re-foundation was really due to its
transferring the government of the oldest and most famous
school of the city and the cathedral from the Dean and



HENRY VIII AND THE SCHOOLS 281

Chapter to a city company of lay and married men ; to its
being made by far the largest free school in the city, for a hun-
dred and fifty-three boys instead of only twenty-five at the
Mercers' own school, or twelve at St. Anthony's ; to its being
the richest, and, above all, to the encomiums of Erasmus, who
boomed it, as the German reformers a few years afterwards
boomed the similar re-foundation of Strassburg School by
Sturm.

A great many of the other schools credited to Henry
VII I's time were, like Colet's, not new foundations but
revivals, augmentations or conversions into free schools of
old schools which were not free. It may be strongly sus-
pected that this was the case with Wolverhampton Grammar
School, for the erection of which Sir Stephen Jenyns,
Merchant Taylor and ex-Lord Mayor, had obtained a
charter on 22 September, 1511, having previously bought the
ground " for the education of boys and youths in good manners
and literature and for the better maintenance of a master and
usher of the same". It is impossible to believe that the
ancient collegiate church of Wolverharapton of Saxon founda-
tion had not, like Warwick and other ancient collegiate
churches, kept a grammar school, though probably its endow-
ment was some anciently fixed payment of 2 a year or so,
and therefore inadequate for the sixteenth century and free
education.

So when we find the " scolemaster " at Stafford, reckoned as
but denied by the inhabitants to be a chantry in the collegiate
church of St. Mary there (which church is said in the certificate
at its dissolution to have been founded by King John but in
fact appears in Domesday), we may feel sure that the scole-
master-chantry was a later and additional endowment of the
school always maintained by the college.

Similarly with the Morrow Mass-priest and Schoolmaster
at Tarn worth in the chapel of St. George in the collegiate
church of St. Edith "founded by King Edgar", whose duty
was "to teche a free scole", the endowment of 12 los. 3^d.
must have been a comparatively recent one in substitution
for, or in augmentation of that of the foundation grammar
school.

The same remark applies to another school, of some fame



282 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

because it was founded by Henry VIII. 's own grandmother,
the Lady Margaret Tudor, who instituted the first free theolo-
gical lectures at Oxford and Cambridge through the Lady
Margaret Professors of Divinity, that of Wimborne Minster,
Dorset. This was to be a free grammar school for all and
singular coming there to be instructed in grammar, to be
taught freely and gratis in the form and manner and at all
and singular such times as is, was or shall be used in the
Grammar School at Eton or Winchester, and the master was to
be appointed by the master and fellows of Christ's, her
College at Cambridge. But though the ordinances for it were
made by Bishops Fox of Winchester and Fisher of Rochester
on 12 March, 2 Henry VIII., i.e. 1511 (not 1509 or 1510 as
the Endowed Schools Commissioners said) the licence for it
had been given by Henry VII in 1497, and the endowment
granted 3 February, 1504. Nor can we suppose that this
ancient Saxon collegiate church had not always maintained a
grammar school in some form. The Lady Margaret merely
created a new chantry which is returned in the valuation of
1535 as the " Scole maisters chauntrey " and annexed it to
the schoolmaster's office permanently. She was in fact
only doing permanently and by a new foundation what the
Chapter of Southwell did in the same year 1504. The pay
of the grammar schoolmaster there from the college was only
2 a year, having been settled at that in the twelfth century
or thereabouts. So when St. Cuthbert's, the richest of the
fifteen chantries in the minster, which had been founded by
Archbishop Booth in 1479, fell vacant on 3 December, 1504,
and the senior vicar choral asked to be given it by customary
right, the Chapter answered that his petition was just, but re-
quested him to abandon it this time for the public benefit and
his own, so that they might present a fit chaplain able to teach
the grammar school. Finally he acceded to their request,
whereupon they instituted, invested and installed Sir William
Babyngton, who then of his own free will and not under com-
pulsion swore on the holy gospels that he would undergo the
charge of teaching the grammar school the whole time that he
held the chantry. This he held for at least thirty-six years,
until the surrender of the college to Henry VIII in 1540, to
be refounded by Act of Parliament in 1543.



HENRY VIII AND THE SCHOOLS 283

Oddly enough when Southwell Minster was again dissolved
under the Chantries Act in 1 548, the school being continued
with a payment of 10 a year charged on the Crown re-
venues of Notts this chantry endowment was in 1553 an-
nexed to Guildford Grammar School, then refounded, one of
the schools quoted by Mr. Mullinger in the Cambridge Modern
History in 1910, in teeth of the evidence, as one of Edward
VI's creations where no school had been before. In fact
Guildford Grammar School is the earliest school endowed under
Henry VIII, for founded it probably was not. But by will of
3 November, 1509, Robert Bekyngham, citizen and grocer of
London, gave all his lands in Bromley and Newington " to make
a fre scole in the towne of Guildford or other works and deeds
of charitie". By deed of 4 May, 1512, the lands in Bromley
were conveyed for that purpose, the appointment of the master
being vested in the mayor and four "of his most sadd and
discreete brethren ", and the school was established. Master
Nicholas Elyott appeared as master in 1520. The only com-
plete account of the old school endowment, preserved among
the Corporation Records for 1545, shows an income of
8 155. 6d. of which only half was derived from Bekingham's
Bromley lands, the rest from lands in Guildford, possibly the
endowment of the previous school which must have existed
there. By patent of 27 January, 1553, Edward VI, refounded
the school and gave his name to it, and, by way of endowment
two rent charges which formed the endowments of a chantry
at Stoke d'Abernon and the Southwell chantry above men-
tioned. Under Mary, Archbishop Heath, being chancellor,
recovered the Southwell chantry for Southwell Minster, then
re-established, by forgery, making five distinct erasures and
additions on the rolls in his custody. By Act of Parliament
under Elizabeth, when Heath was deposed, St. Cuthbert's
chantry endowment was restored to Guildford school. Being
unfortunately a fixed rent charge on the manor of Battersea it
has not proved of much value in later times. Its chequered
career is a striking instance of the Edwardian School founda-
tions, so-called, robbing Peter to pay Paul, and of the looseness
of historians in dealing with them.

Another school, which dates from the first year of Henry
VIII, though commonly attributed to Queen Elizabeth, who



284 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

gave it only a new charter, is Blackburn Grammar School,
Lancashire. A deed in English of 4 April, 1514, states that
the church reves (churchwardens) and parochyens had bought
(in the first year of King Henry, according to a later bill in
Chancery) lands for an " honest, seculer prest, and no reguler,
sufficiently lerned in gramer and playn song, if any such can
be gettyn, that shall kape contenually a Free Gramer Scole ".
To the lands so bought by the parishioners, the Earl of Derby
contributed a piece of land worth 143. a year, in consideration
of which he was by the deed called founder and patron, and
given the appointment of the chantry-priest-schoolmaster. A
rather remarkable provision was that if a man sufficiently
learned to teach grammar could not be found, at least one who
could keep a Free Song School should be put in.

The next two schools credited to Henry VIII's reign, those
of Lewes and Nottingham in 1512, were certainly not wholly
new creations. We have seen that the school at Lewes was
flourishing in the thirteenth century. So when Agnes Morley,
widow, made her wills on 20 November, 1 5 1 1, and 24 May, 1512,
giving a scolehouse, and a rent charge of 20, which she had
bought 1 6 December, 1508, for a " scole maister and usher
to the use and performacion of a fre scole ", the master to be
" a prest able to teche gramer having no cure of souls or other
lette whereby he might draw his attendaunce from the said
scole " she was augmenting and perhaps freeing, not founding,
a school de novo.

The same was the case with Nottingham Grammar
School, similarly endowed as a free school by Agnes Mellers,
" wydowe and vowesse " under licence of 22 November, 1512, by
deed dated 2 February, 1512-3, with strict injunctions against
either master or usher having or using "any potacions,
cocke-fight or drinking with his or their wiffe at wiffes' hoost
or hoostices, but onely twise in the yere, nor take any other
giftes or avayles whereby the scbolers or their frendes should
be charged ". This school as we saw appears in records of
the Archbishop, of Southwell Minster, and of the borough of
Nottingham from the thirteenth century, though struggling
with debt and rival schoolmasters, through insufficient endow-
ment.

In like manner at Bruton in Somerset, endowed by



HENRY VIII AND THE SCHOOLS 285

Richard Fitzjames, Bishop of London, and his nephew the
Lord Chief Justice, by deed of 27 September, 1519. There
are clear indications ,of a school before, in wills of 1417, 1507
and 1515. Yet this is one of the schools usually quoted as
a product of the generosity of Edward VI, because he restored
the old endowment in 1550.

Another school, that of Saffron Walden in Essex of some
note in educational history, since it had been claimed through
an egregious blunder as the first school in England in which
Greek was taught, and by another blunder its supposed
curriculum was quoted as the earliest known has been attri-
buted to Henry VIII as founded in 1525 by Dame Johane Brad-
bury, sister and heir of the Vicar of Walden, John Leche, and
by the Trinity Gild, itself founded by Henry VIII in 1514.
The dates are correct enough as far as they go. John Leche
did in fact by deed of 3 December, 1517, give lands to the
Trinity Gild, in order 'that when they could find 10 a year
their second " preest shall be a profound gramarion to the
intent that he may teche gramar within the towne after the
fourme of the scole of Wynchestre or of Eton ". A new school-
house was built by Leche and his sister. The gild was not,
however, founded by him or by Henry VIII. It existed before
1389, when in the return made into Chancery in consequence of
the panic about gilds due to the peasants' revolt, it is stated to
have been begun by John Rote, William Haveryll and others
to find fifty torches to be burnt in honour of the Trinity at
the elevation of the host on Sundays and feast days and a
priest at the Trinity altar in the parish church. It had
then no endowment but was maintained by yearly subscrip-
tions. There were two other gilds, the Corpus Christi Gild,
founded in 1377, which had an endowment of i a year in
land, and All Saints' Gild.

On 23 December, 1423, Sir John Bernard and William
Brynge, chaplains, were summoned before John Hatfield, abbot
of Walden, to show why and on what authority they practised
the exercise of teaching small boys of Walden, and instructing
them in the alphabet, the graces and other higher books, with-
out asking or obtaining leave from the abbot, though they had
previously been reproved for their presumption in doing this,
and though according to the statutes and customs of the



286 THE SCHOOLS OF MEDIEVAL ENGLAND

monastery the faculty of granting and conferring schools on
grammar masters in the town of Walden and preferring masters
to such schools belonged wholly and solely to the abbot and
convent. The two chaplains confessed their offence and sub-
mitted themselves to the abbot, who interdicted them from
teaching any boys of Walden in the alphabet or graces or
other higher books. But eventually on the instance of the
approved and more substantial men of Walden then present
who wished their boys to be taught the alphabet, the chaplains
were allowed to teach one boy of each inhabitant the alphabet
and graces but no higher books. The " graces " in question
were the graces before and after meat, usually included with
the alphabet in primers and horn-books. They were not the
graces taught by a master in deportment, though a certain
learned lady was barely prevented from alleging this as an
instance of the progress of civilization and manners among the
lower middle class in the towns of the fifteenth century. Still
less was the licence one to teach the Greek alphabet as Lord
Braybrooke stated in his History of Audley End, reading alpha-
beticis graecis for alphabetis et graciis and claiming Saffron
Walden as the first school in England to teach Greek, nearly
half a century before the first lecture in Greek given at Oxford.
The licence granted to the chaplains, who were no doubt
the chantry priests of two of the three gilds, was a limited
licence, confining them to the function of a song or elementary
schoolmaster, to teach reading and singing only, and intended
to prevent their poaching on the preserve of the grammar
schoolmaster, whose existence was guessed from the record
of this incident. It is now capable of exact demonstration,
thanks to the researches of Mr. E. and Mr. C. H. Emson.
The transcripts by the former from the records, till now tossed
in dust and confusion in the room over the church porch,
show Walter scolemayster witnessing a deed in 1401 and a
Walter, clerk of Walden, a grantee with others, evidently as a
trustee of land in Walden, while a croft conveyed in 1407 is de-
scribed as abutting on a messuage of Walter, scolemayster, and
others. He is probably the same person who in 1416, 1418,
1425, 1436 and 1440, appears as Walter Payn of Walden,
scolemaister, in 1431 as scolemeaster, and in 1447 as Walter
Payn of Walden, scolmayster, deceased. Walter Payn then



HENRY VIII AND THE SCHOOLS 287

was the master who in 1423 instigated the abbot to suppress
the chantry priests who were trespassing on his domain of
grammar. Nor was he the first of his tribe. In the Walden
Abbey chartulary of the fourteenth century there appears as
witness of many deeds from December, 1317, to 20 April,
1337, Master Reginald of the school (de scolis and de scola) or,
as he is more usually called, Reginald Schoolmaster (magister
scotarum)ofWa.\dQn; while in the municipal records from 1342
to 1345 the same person apparently appears as Reginald of
Crek, probably Creyk, Norfolk, schoolmaster of Walden. It
is probable that both of them drew the deeds they witnessed,
as was certainly the case with James Rogerson, described in a
deed of 6 July, 1511, in which with a number of others he
was grantee of land in the market-place, as " instructor of the
grammar school and notary public ".

The so-called foundation of the Trinity Gild in 1514 was
a consolidation of the three old gilds and augmentation by
" Master Leche " who in the earliest extant account of the
gild, for the year 1546-7, is called the founder. Master
Leche's gift for the school had partly failed through defect of
title, so his sister by deed of 18 May, 1525, substituted a rent
charge of 12 a year out of the manor of Willinghall Spain,
belonging to Walden Abbey, which she bought from the
abbey, for the original gift much to the loss of the school
in the result as the fixed rent has remained fixed while the
rent of the original lands would have grown with the growth
of riches.

Master Leche having directed his school "use" to be
that of Winchester and Eton, the alderman obtained from
the masters there, a statement of their curricula, copies of
which were entered in the alderman's, now the mayor's book.



Online LibraryArthur Francis LeachThe schools of medieval England → online text (page 28 of 39)