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The Eton College register, 1753-1790 online

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The Ballanlyne Press,

Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co. Ltd.

Colchester, London and Eton.





: );> i ':^.K^C

/ saw there a succession of hoys using the same
recreations^ and questionless possessed with the same
thoughts that then possessed me. Thus one generation
succeeds another^ both in their lives, recreations, hopes,
fears, and death.

Sir Henry Wotton.


Nearly sixty years have passed since the late Mr. H. E.
Chetwynd-Stapylton published the first instalment of
his well-known Eton School Lists which covered, when
completed, the period from 1791 to 1892. Though
the number of books dealing with Eton which have
been produced in the intervening years has not been
small, no attempt has been made to issue an earlier
biographical register of Etonians. Nor need this fact
call for any great surprise. Mr. Stapylton had taken
the date 1791 as his starting-point for the very sound
reason that this was the first year in which it had
occurred to anyone at Eton — and we owe the idea to
William Hexter, the ingenious writing-master of the
day — to put into print the School-list which was
annually compiled at Election time. By a curious
coincidence, too, the earliest entrance-books known in
Mr. Stapylton's time to exist were those of Dr. Heath,
who became headmaster at the end of that same year.
Thus, in the absence of printed school lists and
entrance-books, the task of editing a register was
none too easy.

Yet an earlier register was certainly to be desired,
if Eton were not to fall behind other schools in this
respect. Before, however, such a work could be under-
taken, it was necessary to see if sufficient foundations
existed upon which to build it. From direct sources
in print little help could be gained. It is true that,
with the usual enterprise of an Eton bookseller,
Joseph Pote had compiled and published his Registrum
Regale in 1774, of which a later edition, edited by his
grandson, Edward Pote Williams, appeared in 1847 ;
it is true too that Thomas Harwood had published



his Alu7nni Etovcnses in 1797,^ yet notwithstanding the
comprehensive title of that work, like the Registrum
Regale it included only the biographies of such scholars
as had proceeded from Eton to King's College, Cam-
bridge. To a very slight extent these books had been
supplemented by Creasy's Biographies of Eminent
Etonians (1850), Jesse's Memoirs of Celebrated Etonians
(1875), and Mr. A. C. Benson's Fasti Etonenses (1899).
The valuable biographical notices contained in Mr.
Lionel Cust's Eton College Portraits (191 2) were not yet
in existence when the editing of the present Register
was begun.

More assistance was, however, to be derived from
manuscript sources. In the first place there existed
in duplicate, in the possession of the Provosts of Eton
College, and King's College, Cambridge, respectively,
a MS. register of Admissions to the foundation at Eton
dating from 1661. In addition to the christian names of
the scholars, this volume gave the date of their baptism
and the parish in which it took place. Secondly, there
had survived a considerable number of MS. school-lists,
some in the possession of Eton College, and others in
the hands of various private owners. Of these Mr.
Stapylton, after taking copies of all those to which he
could gain access, had finally bequeathed his collection
of transcripts to the Library at Eton College. As a
rule these Hsts contained nothing but the bare surnames
of boys.

A preliminary step before compiling any register was
to complete as far as possible the collection of MS.
school-lists before 1791. Several years passed in a search
for such lists — a search which, if tedious in the main,
had its occasional moments of compensation, when, for
instance, it was possible to claim for Eton a list of
1706 lying in the British Museum and long attributed
to Westminster School. The result of my search for
these hsts was published in 1907. I had been able

* 'Although excellent in design this volume was somewhat carelessly
executed, and is without an index. The biographical particulars are
meagre." — Dictionary of National Biography, sub ' Harwood.'



to bring together a complete series of annual lists, with
the exception of one year, from 1753 to 1790, and a fair
number of earlier lists, which were, however, by no
means for consecutive years. It was, therefore, not
very difficult to decide that any contemplated register
should embrace the years from 1753 to 1790, for which
period it would include practically all who had been
at the school, except some few boys who had stayed
for only a half or two ; whereas had I attempted to take
it further back the register must have been far less

With the period of the register thus fixed, my next
step was to arrange in alphabetical order all the names
contained in the lists, adding the years during which
they appeared therein. This task, which was carried
out for me by Mr. Murison, the Corrector of the Eton
College Press, was laborious, but on the whole easy,
owing to the fact that boys usually retained the same
relative positions in the school ; yet it had its occasional
difficulties when boys changed their names while at
school, or after being oppidans became collegers, or
when there were many boys of the same name. For
instance, it has proved an almost impossible task to
disentangle the various boys of the name of Smith,
though I have had better fortune with the owners of
the names of Brown and Jones.

Accordingly, I found myself confronted with some
three thousand surnames, which all needed to be
identified before it was possible to give any notes on the
subsequent careers of their possessors. For, out of the
three thousand, only the names of boys with titles and of
the collegers offered any obvious means of identification.

Fortunately certain discoveries had been made,
since my work began, which tended to make this part of
the task less difficult than at one time seemed likely.
In the first place, while looking through the shelves
of the College Library I had come across — possibly
discovered, for no one seemed aware of its existence — •
a parchment-covered volume containing, with other
information, a list of names which proved to be those



of the boys admitted by Dr. Barnard, headmaster,
between the years 1754 and 1765. In addition to the
surname, Dr. Barnard gave, as a rule, the christian
name, the date of entry, the name of the dame, and
the amount of the entrance fee. This discovery made
the task of identifying some iioo boys much easier
than had previously seemed probable. Still the ease
was only comparative, and varied largely with the
name. For instance, while it might be fairly easy to
identify Thomas Watkinson Payler, it was obviously
far more difficult to be certain about a boy named John
Jones or William Smith. Unfortunately, too, even
headmasters sometimes nod, and Dr. Barnard not
only at times entered the christian name wrongly, but
now and then forgot to enter any christian name at
all, and it is an annoying fact that he was particularly
careless in the case of the family of Smith, for out
of twelve Smiths, in five cases he gave no christian

Unluckily the discovery of Dr. Barnard's entrance-
book was not followed up by that of the entrance-
books of his two successors, Dr. Foster and Dr. Davies.
That they must have existed one can hardly doubt,
but they may have been regarded as the headmaster's
private property, and for that reason never have been
placed among the archives of the College.-^

Another discovery, not quite so important as the
first, has now to be recorded. In addition to the
MS. Register of Admissions to College, already men-
tioned, a collection of rolls of paper was brought to
my notice by the present Bursar, which proved to be the
certificates of baptism deposited by each successful
candidate for election to a scholarship at Eton College
with the object of proving that he was of statutory age.
These certificates, which were copies from the parish
registers, contained in nearly every case, in addition to
the facts given in the MS. Register of Scholars, the name

^ That Dr. Foster's Admission Book was extant in 1849 seems possible
from a note appended to Lord Wellesley's name in Dr. Butler's Harrow
School Lists published in that year. The note says : ' At the death of Dr.
Sumner, 1771, he quitted Harrow for Eton, where his admission is briefly
noted, "Lord Wellesley, Third Form, 1771."'



(and often the status) of the father and sometimes even
the maiden name of the mother.

To identify the remainder of the boys who had
not been admitted under Barnard, or been upon the
foundation, or possessed a title, it was necessary to
search in more indirect quarters. One very valuable
source of information lay in the Registers of Admissions
at several of the colleges at Cambridge, where it has
been the custom to record the schools from which the
undergraduates came. These registers had been pub-
lished in the case of Gonville and Caius College and
of St. John's College (down to 1767) before I began
my work, while those for Christ's College, Peterhouse,
and Trinity College have appeared in more recent
years. Moreover, in every case except the last, full
biographies of the names recorded have been compiled
wherever possible. By this means, as I most gratefully
acknowledge, I have been provided in many cases with
a short cut to all I wanted, and for selfish if for no
other reasons I can only regret that the largest and
richest foundation of all has hitherto taken the least
trouble in following up the careers of its alumni.

With regard to the other Cambridge colleges, by the
kindness of the various authorities I have been able
to search the registers at Sidney Sussex College,
which also gives the schools of its undergraduates,
and of Emmanuel College, Clare College, and Trinity
Hall, which record them for short periods, while the
late Master of Magdalene College, Dr. S. A. Donaldson,
sent me a list of the Etonians from his register.

Yet another college, or rather university, which
records under the admission of its members the schools
at which they were educated, is Trinity College, Dublin,
and through the kindness of Mr. T. U. Sadleir I have
been furnished with a list of such Etonians as are to
be found in its register.

Unfortunately no similar custom prevailed at
Oxford, and there is thus far less certainty in identifying
Etonians who proceeded to that university.

Further means of identification are to be found
by searching through the columns of the Dictionary of



National Biography for instances where the subject is
said to have been educated at Eton ; and through the
Eton Parish Register for boys who died while at the
school, and were buried there. Again, considerable
help has been afforded by notes appended to the names
on some of the old school-lists. Thus the list,
printed in the Gentle?nan*s Magazine of January 1832,
for the year 1 781, though attributed to 1779-80, con-
tains some very valuable notes. Many notes, too,
are to be found in the MS. collection of lists for 1762
to 1769, belonging to Mr. G. E. Lloyd-Baker, as
well as a few in the Roll for 1769 belonging to Sir
William Portal, and in that for 1765 belonging to the
late Mr. V. F. Tufnell. Nor must Stapylton's Eton
School Lists be forgotten in the cases of boys who
overlap into his period.

Another source deserving mention is the lists of
Stewards of the Eton Anniversary, a function which
flourished from 1787 onwards. The initials prefixed to
the names as advertised in the public press of the day
often assist in identifying their owners. Then, again,
a fair sprinkling of Etonians is to be discovered in
such works as Nichols' Literary Anecdotes of the
Eighteenth Century, and in his Illustrations of the
Literary History ; in Angelo's Reminiscences, and his
Pic-nic (the preface of which provides us with the
interesting identification of Repkombe) ; in the * Eton
Characters ' to be found in the World newspaper for
1787; and in the rambling preface to G. M. Berkeley's
Poems. In addition there are the chance references
to Etonians to be found in countless Memoirs, and the
details supplied by the living in regard to ancestors
who were at Eton. No source of information is to
be despised. A name cut in the Upper School or
even on the block, or written on the fly-leaf of an
old school-book, if the initials of the christian names
and a date are added, may often establish the identity
of what otherwise would be nothing but a surname.
Again, a bequest in the will of John Ranby, a well-
known surgeon, to his grandson, a boy at Eton, gives



us the christian name of the boy Waring. Unfor-
tunately all clues are not of equal value, and I have
not been able to identify either Power or Llewellyn
on the strength of notes saying that the former was
' an Irish gentleman,' and that the latter ' died in
Wales of a damp bed.'

Thus, in one way or another, it has been found
possible to identify a very large proportion of the
names, and had I stopped with the identification my
task would have been accomplished much more quickly.
But the standard for school and college registers is
constantly rising, and it seemed desirable that an
Eton Register should be at least as complete as that
of any other school. Accordingly I have done my best
to record the careers of all Etonians within the period,
though naturally in many instances I have failed to
find any particulars. For the purpose I have made
great use of such books as Burke's Peerage, Burke's
Landed Gentry, the Admissions to the various Inns of
Court, the Army Lists, and that invaluable treasure-
house of biography, the Gentleman' s Magazine. Nor
has any book been more helpful than that stupendous
achievement, Foster's Alumni Oxonienses. Great is
my regret that the promised volumes of Alumni
Cantahrigienses were not available for my purpose. To
many it will perhaps seem that I have wasted my time
by giving details easily accessible in various publications.
But others, I hope, will excuse me for trying to make
the register as complete in itself as possible.

In the absence of any certainty, I have often in-
dulged in conjecture. According to the laws of chance,
a proportion of these guesses must be wrong, and I can
only claim by way of excuse that, first, I have in
nearly all cases had some reason for the conjecture —
perhaps for instance the boy's father had been at Eton
or his son came to Eton, or the date of matriculation
or admission at the University coincides with that of
his leaving Eton, or he was a subscriber to Musae
Etonenses — and, secondly, that such conjectures are
almost always marked by a ' perhaps ' or a ' probably.'



I cannot pretend that I have observed any particular
proportion in the length of the biographies. I have
not, for instance, attempted full accounts in the case
of men so famous as the Duke of Wellington or Charles
James Fox. Undistinguished men have often been
given longer notices than their merits deserved. Indeed
the length of the notice has often depended more on
the amount of information discoverable than upon
anything else.

A word or two may perhaps be said as to the
arrangement according to which the names appear.

In editing school-lists there are three possible plans :
(i) to keep to the form of the school-list ; (2) to
keep the names in the order in which they appear
in the entrance-books ; (3) to arrange the names
in alphabetical order. The first plan is perhaps the
natural one to adopt where a single list is being
annotated, or where lists are few and far between. It
was adopted by Dr. Butler in his edition of the early
Harrow lists, and also by Mr. Chetwynd-Stapylton in
his Eton College Lists, and by the Old Etonian Asso-
ciation in the registers for which that body has been
responsible. But except for the fact that it is a con-
venient arrangement for enabling one to see what has
happened to boys in one's own remove, it is an un-
satisfactory plan, entailing much repetition of names,
much waste of space, many cross references, an ugly
appearance, and a very complete index. There would
have been no point in following such a plan in the
present register.

The second plan was also out of the question,
owing to the absence of entrance-books for two-thirds
of the period.

There remained therefore the alphabetical plan,
which has at least one advantage, namely that it
renders any full index of names unnecessary.

A dil^culty, however, arises with regard to boys
who afterwards changed their names. For those
who did so while at school, cross references are pro-
vided, and in the case of those who changed them



subsequently, I have done my best to get over the
difficulty by giving supplementary indexes. With re-
ference to the former class it is something of a triumph,
though largely a matter of luck, to have discovered
that the Aldworth of 1 759-1 762 is the same as the
Neville of 1 763-1 767 ; that the Osborne of 1753-54
becomes the Ranby of 1756 to 1760 ; that the Pittman
of 1779-80 is identical with the Coppin of 1781 ; and
the Jefferson of 1782-84 with the Sergison of 1785.

Unfortunately no book of this sort can possibly
claim to be complete, and I am well aware that there
are few persons into whose hands these pages may fall
who will not be able either to supplement or to correct
the information herein contained. Indeed, a further
and more prolonged search in the columns of the
Gentleman's Magazine, in the Army Lists, or among
the Wills at Somerset House would without doubt
have elicited additional details, and it is only by
pleading that I have already spent a considerable
amount of time over the work, and by taking refuge
in that comfortable, if cowardly, French proverb that
le mieux est Vennemi du bien, that I venture to commend
this book with all its faults of commission and omission
to the indulgence of my fellow Etonians.

There remains the pleasant task of attempting to
acknowledge my numerous debts. To begin with, I must
thank Mr. Wasey Sterry for unselfishly placing at my
disposal such biographical notes as he had collected in
the course of his Eton researches, as well as for urging
me to undertake this register. In addition to all the use
that I have made of the Complete Peerage and the
Complete Baronetage of G.E.C., I am deeply indebted
to the Hon. Vicary Gibbs, who is now re-editing the
Peerage^ for looking through my proofs and saving
me from many a blunder ; for such errors as have
subsequently crept in, he is in no way responsible.
Without the continuous and unstinted assistance of
Mr. V. L. Oliver my notes on the many boys of West
Indian connexion would have been sadly deficient.
Similarly my friend the late Colonel W. Gordon McCabe,



the president, and Mr. W. G. Stanard, the secretary of
the Virginia Historical Society, have helped me in every
possible way with regard to the biographies of the
American boys who, coming ' home ' for their education,
chose Eton as their school. I have been fortunate, too,
in being able to draw on the unrivalled stores of the
Rev. A. B. Beaven's knowledge for such Etonians as
sat in Parliament or held any office of State. Mr.
R. F. Scott, the Master of St. John's College, Cambridge,
has furnished me with almost everything I could
want relating to Etonians at his College, while Mr.
T. U. Sadleir has supplied me with notes about those
at Trinity College, Dublin, and Mr. F. L. Clarke with
details about Etonians who proceeded to King's
College, Cambridge.

I am grateful to the Provost and Fellows at Eton
for granting me at all times access to the information
contained in the shelves of the College Library ; also to
the Bursar for bringing to my attention the baptismal
certificates of the Collegers. Further, my thanks are
due to the authorities at the several colleges at
Cambridge who have allowed me to search their registers
of admission ; to Dr. J. Venn and Mr. J. A. Venn for
help in the case of various Etonians afterwards at
Cambridge University; to the Dean of St. George's
Chapel, Windsor, to the Rector of Clewer, and to the
Vicars of Eton and St. Mary's, Slough, for permission
to search their registers ; to Mr. G. E. Lloyd-Baker
for the use of the notes in the early MS. school-lists
in his possession ; to Mr. A. E. Hamilton, of Messrs.
Spottiswoode, Ballantyne & Co., Ltd., for his careful
reading of the proofs for press ; and to Miss A. Brand-
staetter for much clerical and personal assistance.

To the many other correspondents who have helped
in individual cases, I wish to place my thanks on record.


New-Street Square, E.C. :
May 1 92 1,








Provosts ....


Vice-Provosts ....


Fellows . . .




Lower Masters




Extra Masters


Tutors ....


Private Tutors



Fees .....


Dames ....


Eton Chronology 1753-1791


Explanatory Notes .





Index TO Boys who became Peers .


Index to Commoners who changed their

Names ......


General Index





The period covered by the register is full of interest. It is
hardly too much to say that, with the exception of the close
of the sixteenth century, for which we possess Malim's invaluable
Consuetudinarium, it is not till the second half of the eighteenth
century that we are at all familiar with life as it was lived by
the Eton boy. For the seventeenth century we possess little
information beyond the meagre curriculum of Dr. Mountague,
and the few references in the Boyle and the Barrett corre-
spondence. Again, the records for the first half of the eighteenth
century are scanty in the extreme, and scarce exceed the rumours
of a serious rebellion under Dr. George. Horace Walpole, who
might have told us so much, contributes but little to our
enlightenment. Even the two letters recently brought to light,
written while he was a boy at Eton, contain little else than
proofs of the affection which Walpole bore to his mother.^
But in the epoch with which we are dealing the case is very
different, and thanks to the careful and laborious account of
Eton discipline given by Thomas James, thanks to the more
racy hints contained in the Nugae Etonenses, and to the lengthy
characters of Etonians in the World newspaper, as well as
to such Reminiscences as Henry Angelo's, and to numerous
letters still extant, it is not difficult to realise the kind of life
lived by the Etonian of that day. Indeed, the Eton which
emerges in 1790, with its year divided by three regular periods
of holidays, with its complicated time-table constantly upset
by the arrival of a Saint's day, with its system of dames' houses
already beginning to be encroached upon by the assistant
masters, is not so very unlike what the oldest Etonians of to-day
can still remember.

Again, the period is notable for the new position which Eton
assumed among public schools. In 1753, so far as size went,
Eton was running a neck and neck race with her ancient rival,
Westminster. The inspiring personality of Dr. Barnard brought

^ Paget Toynbee, Letters of Horace Walpole, Supplement, vol. i, pp. 3-4.

xix b 2


her numbers up from about 300 to over 500, and though they
fell as low as 250 in 1 775, when they were once more inferior
to those of Westminster and almost surpassed by those of
Harrow, yet under the careful rule of Dr. Davies they soon forged
ahead, and at the end of the century were superior to those of
any other school.

Indeed, the year 1765 may be taken as the high-water mark
of the century. With 522 boys Eton was relatively far larger
than she is to-day, that is to say if we take into account the
population of the British Isles then and now. It is true that her
scholars on the foundation were still limited by the ancient statutes

Online LibraryEton CollegeThe Eton College register, 1753-1790 → online text (page 1 of 52)