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and burgesses, the fact being that he was originally appointed
by Ashton, and that his place was subsequently specially
confirmed to him in the ordinances.

This letter the Lord Chancellor answered on March /th,
158^-. He evidently had no doubt that the proposal to elect
the School Bailiff by the general voices of the burgesses was
contrary to the spirit of the ordinances. It was an inno-
vation, he said, which he could not like. He added that the
opinion of learned counsel had already been taken on the
matter, and that they were clear that the election should
be made by the Bailiffs and Head Master. He strongly
advised the Bailiffs to " leave off these questions tending
to sedition and contention within the town," and to admit
Coyde to the place " without putting him to further trouble
or charge."

Coyde was ultimately elected on June /th, 1587, the
delay, after the Lord Chancellor had so strongly expressed
his opinion, being probably due to a pressing letter which
arrived soon after from the Council, 1 advocating the claims
of Thomas Browne, draper, who had lived long in Shrews-
bury, and had, " whilst God gave him the means, relieved
a great multitude of poor persons in setting them on work by
the trade he then used of clothing." 2 The advocates of the
burgesses' claims, though giving way at the time, were not
completely satisfied, and recourse was had once more in
March, 159^, to counsels' opinion, 3 which, when given, was,
as might be expected, completely in accordance with that
of Lord Chancellor Bromley. Mr. George Higgons and Mr.

1 This letter, which is dated March i8th, 1586, and signed by Lord Burghley,
Lord Cobham, and Sir Francis Walsingham, is given in the Appendix.

2 This is the same Thomas Browne of whom mention is made in previous

3 See Hotchkis MSS.


William Jones probably belonged to the opposing faction,
and would not acknowledge John Coyde to have been
properly elected School Bailiff.

In 1592 a difficulty arose about the appointment of a new
curate for the church of St. Mary, Shrewsbury. The election
was vested in the hands of the Bailiffs and Head Master,
and they were directed by the ordinances to select "a fit
man . . . brought up in the school and a graduate, being
a burgess's son, or, in default, a native of Chirbury, or, in
default, any of like sufficiency." The Bailiffs desired to
appoint a Mr. Laughton who had not been educated at the
school, and was not the son of a burgess. Meighen does not
seem to have had any personal objection to the candidate ;
but he considered that his appointment would be an infringe-
ment of " the true meaning of the school ordinances/' and
refused his consent, unless the Bailiffs would "take upon
themselves the peril, if any should befall." This the Bailiffs
were unwilling to do, and the matter was brought before " the
Justices of the Shire, assembled together in the Gullet," on
November 28th, 1592.

The Justices, on being assured by the Bailiffs that
the cure had been already offered to divers burgesses'
sons, who had refused, called upon Meighen to give his
consent " to the placing of Mr. Laughton in St. Mary's, or to
show sufficient reason to the contrary," threatening, in case
of his refusal, to join the Bailiffs in a letter of complaint to
the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry. The difficulty was
settled by the Justices making a formal declaration that " in
their consciences they did think" Meighen might give his
consent "without infringing the true meaning of the ordi-
nance," and by their taking on themselves all responsibility
for his so doing. 1

Mr. Laughton resigned in 1 596 ; and on this occasion
there was at least one candidate for the curacy of St. Mary
who had not only statutable qualifications, but also pre-

1 See school register, OWEN and BLAKEWAY'S History of Shrewsbury, and
Extracts from Corporation Orders made by Godolphin Edwardes, Esq., Mayor
in 1729, as given in Shropshire Archceological Society's Transactions.


ferential claims to the post. Andrew Dager, 1 Vicar of St.
Alkmond's, made formal application for the appointment,
drawing attention to the facts that he was a graduate and
the son of a burgess, and had been educated at Shrewsbury
School. But, as William Bright, B.D., of Emmanuel College,
Cambridge, who possessed neither of these local claims, was
chosen, we may conclude that Meighen was by this time
convinced that he and the other electors had more discretion
under the ordinances than he had formerly supposed.

Another source of dispute was the refusal of the Bailiffs
on more occasions than one, when entering on their year
of office, to take the appointed oath " for the true execution
of the school ordinances respecting leases and expenditure."
A case of this sort occurred in 1609. Robert Betton 2 and
John Garbet, the newly-appointed Bailiffs, had declined
to take the oath, and, when pressed by Meighen at the
November audit to comply with the ordinance appointing
this oath, persisted in their refusal. The result was that,
after Meighen's own accounts had been given in, the audit
came to an end, no audit being taken of the School Bailiff's
accounts, and no money paid into the school-chest, which,
upon this occasion, was not even opened. 3 Up to this time
the Bailiffs had required Meighen to swear to his accounts at
every audit. But on this occasion he refused to take the
oath, having found on examination that there was nothing in
the ordinances to justify the Bailiffs in calling upon him
to do so. 3 Certainly the Bailiffs, as a rule, seem to have
dealt with school matters in a somewhat high-handed fashion.
Ignorance of the ordinances could hardly be pleaded in their
defence, as on November I7th in each year they were read
aloud by the Town Clerk in the presence of the Bailiffs,

1 See OWEN and BLAKEWAY. Andrew Dager was entered at Shrewsbury
School early in the year November, ifSc-November, 1581, paying a fee which
shows his father to have been a burgess. He matriculated at St. Mary Hall,
Oxford, in 1585 as pleb. fil. of Salop, and graduated B.A. in January, I59f
He became Vicar of St. Alkmond's in 1593 before he took his degree.

2 Mr. Robert Betton was not present at the audit, but was represented by Mr.
Edward Dun.

3 See school register.


Aldermen, and Common Council. The matter was rectified
on November i6th in the following year, when, the new
Bailiffs having taken their oaths, the School Bailiff's accounts
for both years were duly audited. 1 Another similar refusal
to take the statu table oath occurred in 1624. Mr. John
Studley and Mr. Thomas Matthewes were the Bailiffs, and
they are stated to have had some scruples (religious scruples
it may be presumed) on the subject. The audit was ad-
journed till the following Saturday to give the Bailiffs an
opportunity of consulting Mr. Edward Jones, the Steward
of Shrewsbury. As Meighen makes no further reference to
the matter we may assume that the difficulty was amicably
arranged. 2

But by far the most serious difference which Meighen ever
had with the Bailiffs of Shrewsbury commenced in 1607.
On November 2/th of that year Mr. John Baker, the second
master, died. 3 The school ordinances provided that, if a
vacancy occurred in the second mastership, the third master
was to succeed to the place if he were a Master of Arts,
had served for two years as third master, and were " thought
worthy by the Head Master and Bailiffs."

At this time Mr. Ralph Gittins, 4 M.A., of St. John's
College, Cambridge, son of a Shrewsbury burgess, and " bred
in the school," was third master, having been appointed to

1 In the school account-book the two accounts are given under the year 1610-
1611, and a memorandum is added that the Head Master had refused to join
in the audit of the School Bailiff's accounts on November i6th, 1609, because
the Bailiffs of the town would not take their appointed oath.

2 See school re ister.

3 "In this yeare 1607 on the seven and twentieth day of November beyinge
Friday in the morninge about six of the clocke Mr. John Baker late second
schoolem 1 of the free schoole dep'ted this life and was buried in the scholars
chappell in S* Maries churche on Sunday then next after in the morninge all the
scholars of the whole schoole goyinge before the hearse to churche by two and
two : and the rest of the schoolem rs then remayninge followinge as mourners next
after his children before the magistrates. The hearse was covered with blacke
and some sheetes of verses made by scholars pinned on. Mr. Bright the publicke
preacher of the towne preached the funerall sermon." School register.

4 Ralph Gittins was admitted at Shrewsbury School in 1578 as the son of
a burgess. He was a scholar and B.A. of St. John's College, Cambridge, at the
time he was made third master in 1594.


that office in November, 1594, by the college authorities at
the request of the Bailiffs. On December Qth the Head
Master " pronounced, published, and openly declared" that he
thought Gittins "worthie ... for his skill and diligence"
... to be promoted to " the second roome," and " did also
require the consents of Mr. Jones and Mr. Andrewe Lewys
then bayliffs of the towne." But one Bailiff, Mr. William
Jones, flatly refused his consent, while the other, Mr. Andrew
Lewys, only assented in a doubtful manner. 1 It was
subsequently asserted that the Bailiffs, within twenty days
after receiving notice of the vacancy, reported it to the
master and seniors of St. John's College, in order that they
might make a fresh appointment. But it is very doubtful
whether this assertion was true. No traces of any corre-
spondence on the subject appear either in the college
archives or among the town records, and Meighen expressly
states in the school register that on January 2Oth, i6o|-, the
Bailiffs had taken " no course for supplying of the school."
The almost total absence of dates in the only accounts we
have of the controversy about the second-mastership makes
it a matter of great difficulty to trace its progress. Meighen
says that "some troble" was caused by the disagreement
between him and the Bailiffs, and that " the course of the
school was for a while interrupted, so that it became very
emptie of scholars in comparison of former times." It was
usual for school work to recommence after the Christmas
holidays on January 6th. But the Bailiffs continued firm in
their refusal to allow Ralph Gittins to be promoted, and,
after waiting for a fortnight in the hope that they might
be persuaded to take some fair and reasonable course, the
Head Master, after consultation with his colleagues, resolved
to make the promotions customary at this season, and to
go on with the school work as usual. Ralph Gittins took
charge of the second school ; Ralph Jones, who had been for
some years the accidence master, taught in the third school ;
and Mr. Hugh Spurstow undertook the Accidence School.
This new arrangement commenced on January 2Oth. Gittins

1 See the school register under the year 1607-1608.


seems at the same time to have moved into the second
master's lodgings, Ralph Jones succeeding to those which he
vacated. But the Bailiffs would not allow the masters to
settle matters in their own way without a struggle, and
proceeded to attempt to remove Gittins and Jones from their
lodgings by force. Party spirit, however, ran high in Shrews-
bury, and many of the citizens sided with the schoolmasters.
The school-house is said to have been occupied for four days
and three nights by many women of Shrewsbury, who
effectually resisted all attempts on the part of the Bailiffs to
force an entry. 1 There is no record of the date of these
disturbances. But they must have effectually put an end to
all school work for some time, and, as no admittances are
to be found in the school register between February 24th and
April 4th, we may safely assume that the Bailiffs' attack on
the school-house took place in the early part of March. But,
though foiled at the time, the Bailiffs gained their end
subsequently by getting Gittins summoned before the High
Commission Court as " a dangerous suspected papist." He
was in particular charged with having " harboured in his
chamber one Leach at such time as he preached many points
of popery " in Shrewsbury, and also with having " counte-
nanced and received other persons ill affected to religion."
Overton, who was then Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry,
appears to have been very zealous in repressing all Romanish
tendencies in his diocese, 2 and made no difficulty in granting
a licence to the Bailiffs under his hand and seal to take these
proceedings against Gittins. 8

The fact that Humphrey Leach had been recently sus-
pended from his office of chaplain at Christ Church, Oxford,

1 Alderman William Jones, the Bailiff who refused his assent to Ralph Gittins's
promotion, was a man of considerable influence in the town. He had already
filled the office of Bailiff on four previous occasions, and had shown, when in
office in 1587, in conjunction with Mr. George Higgons, a disposition to set the
school ordinances at defiance.

9 There are several letters from him to Lord Burghley on the subject in the
Lansdowne MSS.

3 Bishop Overton was now, however, at an advanced age, and may have given
the licence without much inquiry. He died in the following year. The fact
that he granted the licence in question is mentioned in the school account-book.


by the pro- Vice- Chancellor, and that the sentence had been
confirmed on appeal by Bancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury,
must inevitably have affected the Archbishop's mind un-
favourably towards Ralph Gittins when his case came before
the High Commission Court. At any rate, he pronounced
Gittins to be " unworthy of the second place in respect of
his wavering and unsteadiness in religion," and subsequently
imprisoned him in the Gate House at Westminster, until he
should find sureties that he would not go "beyond the seas." 1
The Archbishop also suspended Gittins from all teaching.
But the question as to the third master's rights of succes-
sion to the higher room remained undecided. Mr. Andrew
Harding, 2 who had been at Shrewsbury School, and had
recently taken his degree at Oxford, was appointed by
Meighen to take temporary charge of the second school,
with the assent of the Bailiffs and the approbation of the
Archbishop, and apparently a private arrangement was made
between the Head Master and Mr. Harding that the latter
should pay to Ralph Gittins 20 out of the full annual
stipend of 30 which was attached to the second-master-
ship. This arrangement formed subsequently the matter of
a serious accusation against Meighen. But it must be
remembered that Gittins's claims to the second-mastership
had never been set aside by any competent authority, and
that his original position as third master was unchallenged,
although he was for the present suspended from teaching
by the Archbishop's sentence. His case, therefore, was
clearly governed by the school ordinances, which provided
that, when for one cause or another a master was unable
to perform his duties, a temporary substitute should be
appointed, who was to receive half the master's wages.

1 Humphrey Leach, it must be remembered, had " fled beyond the seas " when
his appeal was dismissed by the Archbishop. (See WOOD'S Athen. Oxon.)

2 Attdrew Harding was admitted at Shrewsbury School on June 1st, 1597;
matriculated at Oriel College, Oxford, in 1603, as pleb. fil. of Salop, aged fif-
teen ; B.A. of Hart Hall, January, i6of ; Incumbent of St. Julian's, Shrewsbury,
1635 to 1643, an d may have been appointed to the cure earlier. His name first
occurs in the parish register as minister on April 26th, 1635. He died in March,


Certainly Meighen was indiscreet in insisting that Gittins
should retain two -thirds of his stipend instead of the
statutable half; and the young Oxford graduate does not
seem to have been satisfied with the position, for he soon
resigned his post. He was succeeded by Mr. Moston. 1 This
gentleman was appointed by the Town Bailiffs, and it is
evident that they must have made him some kind of
promise that he should receive a permanent appointment
to the second-mastership; for, on June i8th, 1609, he made
a formal application to the Bailiffs of that year that they
should either admit him to that office or pay him a sum of
30 in compensation. Richard Higgons and John Nicholls
were in office at the time. There is no record of the answer
that they made to this demand. But the Bishop of Lichfield
and Coventry wrote to the Bailiffs in Mr. Moston's favour, 2
and Archbishop Bancroft appears to have issued an order
that he should receive some regular stipend. 3 Mr. Moston
continued to act as Gittins's substitute till May, 1612.

In spite of all these troubles and disturbances there does
not seem to have been any permanent falling off in the
number of scholars. The names of ninety-three boys appear
in the register as having been admitted between November,
1607, and November, 1608 ; and, though the number of
admittances fell in the year 1608-1609 to seventy-five, it
exceeded ninety in each of the four following years.

Mention has been made of the refusal of Mr. John Garbet
and Mr. Robert Betton, the Bailiffs of 1609-1610, to take
the oath appointed for them by the school ordinances, at
the time when they were admitted to office, and again when
called upon to do so by the Head Master at the annual
audit on November i6th, 1609. The result of their refusal

1 One Simon Moston graduated at St. John's College, Cambridge, in 1604,
and he was no doubt the temporary master whose Christian name, Hotchkis tells
us, was Simon.

2 Hotchkis MSS.

3 It is noted in the school account-book that ^10 was taken out of the school
chest on January 27th, 161^, towards the discharge of an "order made by the
late Archbishop of Canterbury, deceased, on the behalf of Mr. Moston, which
was done in the bayliwicke of Mr. William Jones and Mr. Andrew Lewis."


was that no audit was taken of the School Bailiff's accounts,
and no money was paid into the school-chest, which appears
to have remained unopened during the whole of the Bailiffs'
year of office. Their successors, Mr. Thomas Jones and Mr.
Hughe Harris, adopted a more conciliatory course, and took
the customary oath when they were admitted to office on
October 5th, 1610. Some little time afterwards they appear
to have proposed to the Head Master that he should join
them in a formal application to the master and seniors of
St. John's College to elect a new third master. 1 Holding as
he did that Ralph Gittins had an absolute claim to the
second-mastership, Meighen could not reasonably refuse his
assent, and he seems to have offered to go up to Cambridge
with the message at his own expense. His motives in
making this proposal are not difficult to see. An interview
with the college authorities would enable him to explain
fully to them the nature of the differences between him and
the Corporation of Shrewsbury, and would also give him an
opportunity of advocating Mr. Ralph Jones's claims to pro-
motion. But the Bailiffs had special objects to attain, and
insisted on sending their own messenger, Mr. Rowland Jenks.
When Mr. Jenks went to Cambridge is not stated, but he
does not seem to have gone, at any rate, until after the
November audit. 2 His journey was fruitless, for the Bailiffs
had instructed him to urge the college authorities not only
to elect a third master, but to appoint a new second master
as well, a step they were most unlikely to take ; and his
expenses amounted to 10. The Bailiffs appear to have
asked Meighen several times for his key, in order that they

1 This proposal by the Bailiffs would naturally be regarded by Meighen as
practically an acknowledgment on their part that Gittins had been duly appointed
second master, for there was no pretence that he had been deprived of the third -

2 Assuming, which is by no means certain, that the Bailiffs made their proposal
to Meighen soon after they were sworn in on October 5th, their negotiations on
the subject of the application to St. John's College must have occupied some
time. It is evident also from Meighen's account of the audit on November i6th,
given in the school register, that he and the Bailiffs were still at that time on
amicable terms, and this could hardly have been the case had the Bailiffs, in spite
of Meighen's protest, already sent Rowland Jenks to Cambridge.


might take from the school -chest the 10 which had been
expended in sending their messenger to Cambridge. But
Meighen refused to sanction in any way what he considered
the needless expenditure of school funds, he himself having
been willing to make the journey at his own cost.

So matters continued up to January 29th, i6i, on
which day the Bailiffs proceeded to break open the lock in
the school-chest, which could only be opened by the Head
Master's key, and took out the 10 which they wanted for
Mr. Jenks's expenses. Nor did their high-handed proceed-
ings stop here. The school-chest remained open for the rest
of the year, up to November i/th, 1611, and their successors
have left it on record in the school account-book, that in the
course of that year Mr. Jones and Mr. Harris took from
the chest further sums amounting to 30, for which, up to
November i6th, 1612, they had rendered no account. 1

We have seen already that religious animosity lay at the
root of the Gittins controversy. Puritanism had become in
Shrewsbury, as well as in many other towns in England, a
strong influence during the closing years of the i6th century.
In October, 1574, a Commission sat in Shrewsbury, of which
Sir Henry Sidney was president, to enforce the use of the
surplice, and, about the same time, Mr. William Gerard, a
leading member of the Council of the Marches and Justice
of Assize in several Welsh counties, animadverted severely
in a charge which he delivered in Shrewsbury on puritan
presumption. 2 Another similar Commission was at work in
Shrewsbury in 1 584, and the Bishop's Ordinary was sent to the
town in 1589 in consequence of the continued resistance of
some of the clergy to ecclesiastical authority, especially in
the matter of the use of the surplice. 3 In 1581 we hear of a
stone cross, which stood in St. Mary's churchyard, being
pulled down during the night. 4 On May I2th, 1584, the
Corporation of Shrewsbury took upon itself to make an order

1 Under the ordinances no sum in excess of 10 could legally be taken out of
the school-chest without the consent of St. John's College.

2 See the Taylor MS. and Thomas Browne's Letters to Queen Elizabeth in
the Lansdowne MSS., ex. 17.

3 OWEN and BLAKEWAY'S History of Shrewsbury. 4 Taylor MS.


that some stained glass in the north window of St. Mary's
Church, containing "superstitious images and inscriptions,"
should be taken down; and on September i8th in the same
year another order was voted that the stone altar in the
same church should be removed. 1 But the churchwardens of
St. Mary's did not feel inclined to destroy their windows,
and complaints were made against them on this account on
May 6th, I585. 1 Two years later, in May, 1587, the stone
font in St. Chad's Church was destroyed and one of wood
was substituted. The new font, moreover, was placed in the
choir instead of in the old position at the entrance of the
church. But it is evident that strong opponents of these
innovations were to be found in the parish of St. Chad as
well as in that of St. Mary, for we read that by January
2Oth, I58f, another stone font had been procured and put in
the customary place. 2 Another sign of the times, is noted
by the Shrewsbury chronicler, who records that Mr. Thomas
Edwards, one of the Bailiffs for 1599-1600, refused to wear
scarlet or keep the accustomed feasting at Christmas. 3 Ten
years before this, some time during the year 1589, an angry
controversy arose in Shrewsbury about the setting up of
" green trees " and " may poles," and lighting bonfires in
front of the Shermen's Hall and other buildings.

Mr. Tomkys, the curate of St. Mary's parish, who also held
the office of Public Preacher, if he did not originate the strife
about these harmless practices, at any rate fulminated against
them in his sermons. The dispute was renewed in subse-

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