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1645, an d November i6th, 1646. It does not appear whether
any application was made to St. John's College to elect
a new Head Master. If such an application were made,
the college, no doubt, declined to recognise Chaloner's place
as vacant. Among the Corporation orders copied by Mr.
Godolphin Edwards there is one, belonging to the municipal
year 1645-46, to the effect that Mr. Richard Pigott be
confirmed as chief schoolmaster and appointed catechist.
This gentleman was a Master of Arts of Christ's College,

1 Dr. James Betton^ second son of Richard Betton, Esq. . of Shrewsbury and
Berwick, was promoted from the accidence school on January 23rd, 159!-, and
graduated B.A. at Queen's College, Cambridge, in 1608 ; elected fellow in 1611 ;
Treasurer, 1620-1622; curate of St. Mary's, Shrewsbury, June, 1632. On
returning to Shrewsbury after its capture he indignantly tore out of the parish
register the entries made in his absence. (OwEN and BLAKEWAY.) The entries
are certainly missing from the beginning of September, 1642, to the end of June,
1643. The parish clerk subsequently entered several names of persons who had
been buried during this interval, and appended a note that their names with many
others were torn out when the town was taken. Dr. Betton became Rector
of Worthen in 1645. He was buried at St. Mary's in 1665. In 1619 he gave
books to the school library, and is described in the register as M.A. and fellow of
Queen's College.


Cambridge, and, though not a native of Shrewsbury, nor
educated at the school, he appears to have been connected
with the town by marriage. Whoever invited him originally
to come to Shrewsbury, his appointment had no further
show of legality than that which could be given to it by
this Corporation order. The first mention of Mr. Pigott's
name in the school accounts occurs under the year beginning
November I7th, 1646. But the new administration of the
school was by no means acceptable to all the inhabitants
of Shrewsbury, and a private school was set up in the town,
in rivalry of the Grammar School, by a clergyman named
Scofield. 1 Chaloner too carried away with him the esteem
and confidence of many of the loyalists who would, under
ordinary circumstances, have sent their sons to Shrewsbury
School ; and his educational work in Shropshire, Stafford-
shire, and Wales during the next eighteen years seems to
belong rightly to the history of Shrewsbury.

1 See the Life of Corbet Owen in WOOD'S At hen. Oxon.


Thomas Chaloner's Wanderings, 1644-1662.

FOR eighteen years after the capture of Shrewsbury and
his own expulsion from the head-mastership of the
school Chaloner led the life of a wanderer, pitching his tent
sometimes in Shropshire, sometimes in Staffordshire, and
sometimes in North Wales ; l but wherever he might fix his
home the result was always the same, a crowd of pupils
gathered round him and a flourishing school was at once
established. Certainly the loyalist schoolmaster met mis-
fortune with courage. Within a few weeks of the capture of
the town he had already started a school at Ryton, near
Baschurch. But for some reason or other he did not like
the locality, and after trying it for seven months he shifted
his quarters to a place called Newnes, near Ellesmere. A
journey to London soon followed, undertaken in the hope of
coming to some terms with the ruling authorities. Chaloner's
object was attained, but at a heavy cost both to his purse
and his conscience. " Conditiones admisi (he mournfully
says) et rei et conscientiae meae perquam graves." He was
obliged, in fact, to pay a composition of 60, and with as
few grimaces as possible to swallow the covenant. Feeling
tolerably safe from further interference Chaloner now ven-
tured to take a more suitable house, which, like his former
abode, was in the neighbourhood of Ellesmere. This house
bore the very appropriate name of Birchall or Birch Hall, 2

1 Chaloner carried away with him from Shrewsbury the school register, and
from his notes and memoranda on its blank pages the various details of his life
and adventures during these eighteen years are gathered.

a Gough mentions Birch Hall in his History of Middle.
M 161


which the new tenant was pleased to latinise as ydes Betu-
lienses. At Birch Hall Chaloner opened school on April 6th,
1646, comparing himself on the occasion to Dionysius,
" Syracusis exulans Corinthi tyrannidem molior." His work
began under sad circumstances. Two days after the school
was opened he lost his little daughter Mary, the second whom
he had christened by that name. But the school rapidly
attained respectable numbers. Probably most of his Ryton 1
pupils accompanied Chaloner to Birch Hall. Others rapidly
followed, and before long his school attained respectable
numbers. Sir Thomas Wolrych, of Dudmaston, sent five
of his sons to Birch Hall, two of whom had previously been
at school at Shrewsbury. Three sons of Lord Kilmorey and
one of Sir Richard Lee were also there, and in five months
Chaloner had entered ninety-eight boys. The names of
Kynaston, Bromhall, Bostock, Hanmer, Middleton, and
Berkeley are all found in the Birch Hall register, and the
school bills of two boys named Pope, the contents of which
are of some little interest as showing current prices, are
among Chaloner's memoranda. Ovid's Epistles, it seems, cost
is. 6d. ; Tully's Offices, is. 2d., and a grammar, is. ; while
the boys had to pay from is. ^d. to 2s. for shoes, from is. %d.
to is. lod. for stockings, and $d. for a pair of gloves.
Coined money was probably scarce in Shropshire at this
time, for we find boys' school fees occasionally paid in malt.
But Chaloner's scholastic career at Birch Hall, though pros-
perous, was only prolonged for a few months. At the
beginning of February, 164^, Sir John Corbet, Bart, of
Adderley, one of the members of Parliament for Shropshire,
appointed him to the head-mastership of Market Drayton
Grammar School, and, at the same time, procured for him
from Parliament a dispensation which would allow him to
hold the position. Chaloner began work at Drayton with
apparently excellent prospects of success. His reputation as
a teacher, the number of boys who followed him from Birch

1 Collins states the number of Ryton boys who followed Chaloner to Birch
Hall to have been forty-four. But there is nothing in Chaloner's diary or lists to
show what the number really was. As a matter of fact only two of the Birch
Hall boys are definitely stated to have been at Ryton.


Hall to Market Drayton, and his superiority in point of
energy and industry to his predecessors, gave rise at once to
a general expectation that under his management the " faded
glories of the school" would be revived. Unfortunately,
however, there were, as Chaloner tells us, two great difficul-
ties in his way. The first of these was pecuniary. Though
quite unable to afford it he was obliged to pay .10 to Mr.
Cudworth, the retiring Head Master. But the other difficulty
was of a far more serious character. Twenty days' work had
hardly been accomplished at Drayton when "that most
accursed Committee of Delegates for Shropshire," 1 to use
poor Chaloner's indignant language, deprived him of his
mastership. Many influential friends interceded for him, but
in vain. The Committee continued "implacable and in-
exorable," and Chaloner was compelled to obey their
"tyrannical mandate" and go. But "divine clemency," as
he gratefully acknowledges, did not desert him.

Almost immediately after his ejection from Market
Drayton he was offered the head-mastership of Hawarden
School in Flintshire. Thither he plodded in the last days
of February, or the beginning of March, in unusually
severe weather for the time of year, "per nives, per bene
longum iter," accompanied by a little band of twelve pupils,
who would not desert him. Two of them were his sons,
John and David. His eldest son, Thomas, had started for
Cambridge on September 22nd, 1646, while Chaloner was
still at Birch Hall. By March igth, 164!-, he was well
at work in his new home at Hawarden, though at first
he was by no means contented with his position. The
boys with whom he had to deal were for the most part
of a lower class than those to whom he had hitherto been
accustomed, and he complains that he was obliged to
teach them the very rudiments of English. 2 But, as usual,
Chaloner's fame rapidly spread abroad, and in a short time
gentlemen's sons came in considerable numbers to Hawarden

1 " The Committee for Scandalous and Plundered Ministers."

2 " Magna illic puerorum infimae sortis multitude, qui prima vernaculae linguse
rudimenta discebant, ingratam mihi creabant molestiam."


School. 1 In three months' time he had entered 150 boys,
and he speaks in warm terms of his pupils' abilities, as well
as of their affection for him. 2 To illustrate their powers he
mentions a performance they gave of Plautus's comedy of
The Captives, and alludes to the verse-contests into which
they entered with the boys of the neighbouring school of
Chester. But a more terrible enemy than " the Committee
of Delegates " was at hand. The Plague came to Hawarden.
The school was at once broken up, and on June 28th, 1647,
the boys set off homewards. 3 Whether or not this step was
taken soon enough to save the rest does not appear ; but one
boy, at any rate, went home only to die. His name was
William Barlow. 4 He had taken a prominent part in the
representation of The Captives, and is described by Chaloner
as a boy of extraordinary ability. Once again was our
unlucky schoolmaster obliged to break ground in a new
place, and he seems to have lost but little time in effecting
his migration, for early in July we find him beginning work
at Overton, another Flintshire town. Twenty-two of his
Hawarden boys, most of whom had been at Birch Hall as
well, soon made their way to Overton, and by the following
February Chaloner was able to make out a class-list of fifty-
eight boys, ten of whom boarded in his own house. But
he appears to have regarded Overton merely as a stop-gap,
having set his heart on the head-mastership of Wrexham
Grammar School. Consequently he was both disappointed
and indignant when he failed to obtain the post. Someone
of influence, probably the Major-General of the district,
appears to have promised support which he failed to give.
Chaloner describes himself as having been " taken in by the

fair speeches of the accursed M ." 5

The Wrexham electors too, who rejected him, do not

1 " Magna generosiorum quoque multitude statim illuc confluxit."

2 " Nusquam aut doctiores aut mei amantiores discipulos sensi."

3 Fifty-seven of the Hawarden boys are registered as extranei.

4 Chaloner gives the names of twenty-two boys, of whom William Barlow
was one, who, with about 130 others, left Hawarden at this time "pro timore

5 " Deceptus blandiloquentia rov Karapdrov M."


escape scot-free. He stigmatises them as Cobblers?* It is to
be feared that Chaloner's temper was not improving. But
he had domestic troubles to worry him at the time as well as
those from without. Mrs. Chaloner did not get on with an
assistant master of her husband's, named David Peirce, and,
to make matters worse, Chaloner thought his wife in the
wrong. 2 In the end Peirce had to go, and Chaloner
generously paid his expenses for some time at Cambridge,
hoping, as he says, " arnicas a/moi/Bas" It was on Michaelmas-
day, 1648, that David Peirce set off for Cambridge, and
Chaloner's own stay at Overton lasted very little longer.
His last entry is dated October 2Oth, 1648, and in the
following February we find him setting to work again in the
neighbourhood of Stone in Staffordshire.

The Overton school-keeping had lasted just nineteen
months, during which time Chaloner would appear from his
register to have had ninety-six pupils, of whom thirty-four
boarded in his house. But it is probable that he really had
many more boys to teach than this while he was at Overton,
for he speaks in his diary of "the incredible multitude of
gentlemen's sons" who came to him there, 3 and it is plain
that his entries were written down in a very irregular fashion.
These constant changes and troubles did not prevent Chaloner
from making a new beginning at Stone in high spirits. His
register opens with a pun. 4 Thirty-seven boys were entered
on February 6th, the first school- day; and in less than a
month Chaloner had sixty names on his lists. By June 28th,
1650, this number was increased to 154. And the names
of many of the boys sound familiarly in our ears. Cottons,
from Combermere, Wolryches, from Dudmaston, Leightons,
Bromhalls, Dods, Eytons, Whitmores, Bagnalls, Herberts,
Lutwiches, Vernons, Duttons, Salisburys, Vaughans, and
Breretons are all to be found among them. But, somehow

1 " Repudiatus a sutoribus Wrexamiensibus."

2 ' ' Hypodidasculum Davidem Peirce quern nimium iniquiter ab uxore mea
tractatum misi ad Cantabrigiam, ibique pro tempore meis sumptibus alo, sperans
arnicas dftoipas."

3 " Ad locum incredibilis generosorum confluxit multitudo."

4 " Feb. 6. Deo favente auspicamur Traidayibyeiv ev ry


or other, Chaloner got discontented with his life at Stone; 1
and soon after June, 1650, he gave up school work altogether,
and engaged himself as domestic tutor in the family of Sir
John Puleston, of Emrall, one of whose sons appears to have
been at school under him, both at Overton and Stone. Here
he continued three years, and they do not seem to have been
happy years. His pupils he describes as " boys of very small
ability." Then he did not like the subordinate position which
he held ; he had been so long a ruler that any form of servi-
tude had become utterly distasteful to him. His thoughts
naturally turned much at this time to the old, happy days at
Shrewsbury, to the friends with whom he had so long been
on intimate terms, and to the pleasant companions whom he
used to meet at " the Sextry." It was while living at Emrall
that Chaloner penned those lists of his old friends, of which
mention has been made on earlier pages. Under these cir-
cumstances it is not surprising that, when the head-master-
ship of Ruthin School was offered him in August, 1653, he
gladly welcomed the prospect of a return to the more inde-
pendent position of a schoolmaster. But his mind was a little
troubled by the laughing comments of his enemies, as well as
by the friendly hints of those more favourably disposed
towards him, that these frequent changes of his betokened
a roving disposition. His friends, he tells us, were beginning
to speak of him as " lapis mobilis, cui nullus adhaereat
muscus." His customary buoyant spirits, however, had quite
returned when he entered on his new career on August iQth,
1653, at Ruthin. He makes jocular notes on the names
of the boys as he enters them on his list, bracketing together
three brothers as "a three-branched Green," occasionally
entering a boy as a " Petty," a name, by-the-by, which used
to be given, and probably is still given, to boys in the
lowest form at Charterhouse, and describing a Lloyd of
Fenecke as " one more country boor." In one place he
records with evident satisfaction that some boys had brought
him a gold Jacobus, and others a " Charles on horseback,"

1 His wife seems to have died about this time, and her loss had probably some-
thing to do with his change of life.


and elsewhere he calls a boy " Charles's Horseman," no doubt
because his entrance fee was paid with a crown of Charles
the First His neighbours, too, he found friendly and hospit-
able ; perhaps they were too hospitable, for in Chaloner's
diary 1 for January, 165!, there is a somewhat suggestive
entry for a certain Tuesday, " Repetita potatio, renovata
pcenitentia." And alas ! the very next day we read, " Plas-y-
Ward convivabar ; etsi sobrius, tamen aegriuscule." Per-
secutions and disappointments, domestic troubles and an
unsettled life had, it is to be feared, caused his convivial
tastes to develope into something like habits of excess. We
will hope, at any rate, that Edward Thelwall, the eldest son
of the squire of Plas-y-Ward, who was one of Chaloner's
boys at Ruthin, was not at home during his master's visits.

About this time Chaloner's mind was seriously disturbed
by family troubles. His daughter Muriel had become
acquainted with a man named John Lloyd, whom Chaloner
describes as a wapacrrj/uLo^ by which, we may suppose, he
means an adventurer, and the father had to go off suddenly,
two days after his convivial entertainment at Plas-y-Ward,
to Wrexham, where the girl and her sister were staying, in
order to prevent a hasty marriage, or, at least, a betrothal.
His son Sam also had got into debt, and this was a source
of worry to him nearly all the time he lived at Ruthin.
But the school flourished ; and, during the three years of
Chaloner's mastership, he entered no less than 245 boys.
One might have hoped that here at last our wandering
schoolmaster would be left in peace. But this was not to
be. In the early part of November, 1655, the Lord Pro-
tector issued an edict, prohibiting, under heavy penalties,

1 Chaloner's self-analysing little diary, which is here quoted, only lasts for
a week. The entries run thus :

1. Sabbatum afflicton to be chosen rather than sin.

2. Non est intelligens, non est^ qui deum quserit.

3. Repetita potatio, renovata pcenitentia.

4. Plas-y-Ward convivabar ; etsi sobrius, tn regriuscule.

5. Nonnihil legi, oravi, meditatus sum.

6. Anxius ne Muriel se perditu iret, Wrexham jam profectus, illinc earn cm
sorore abduxi mcerens, ne forte, me inscio, hoi sese Trapacnj/io) desponsaret.

7. Initinere domu versus, in salutandis amicis abyt hie dies.


any preacher, schoolmaster, or fellow of a college, who had
at any time aided the Royal cause by fighting, or preaching,
or in any other way, and had in consequence been ejected
from his office, from ever hereafter discharging similar

The Major-General of the North Wales district, instigated
thereto by the spiteful whispers of Chaloner's enemies at
Wrexham, proceeded to set the edict in force against him,
and no entries are to be found in the Ruthin register between
October 8th, 1655, and March ist, 165^. At this time, sad
to relate, Muriel Chaloner was married to John Lloyd, the
Parasemus. Not that her father had altered his mind as to
the character of the man. He speaks of his unacceptable
son-in-law as silly 1 and worthless, 2 and adds that he was
50 in debt at the time of his marriage. Nothing but the
pecuniary straits to which he was reduced by his suspension
from his Ruthin mastership would have induced Chaloner to
allow the marriage. So he tells us in his diary ; but still he
managed to give his daughter 120 as her dowry, though
the gift was of little use; for in six months all the money,
to Chaloner's bitter indignation, had vanished, without leaving
his futile son-in-law a single farthing to buy himself " the
halter which his vices deserved." In the meantime poor
Chaloner had got into further trouble with the puritan
authorities, in consequence of some rash expressions of
which he made use in a funeral sermon. He confesses that
he had been imprudent in the matter ; and doubtless his
sarcasm must have been somewhat biting to those of his
puritan neighbours who were able to understand it.

Chaloner's dead friend seems to have refused to subscribe
the covenant, and Chaloner argued in his sermon that he
ought not altogether to be condemned on that account,
seeing that noisy disputes should never be allowed to arise
about things accessory or indifferent so long as faith in
matters fundamental were retained. He then went on to
tell a story about James I., intended to illustrate the honesty
of his friend's line of conduct. One day, in a facetious

1 Vecors. 2 Futilis.


humour, the King declared that he saw a star in the heavens,
it being broad daylight at the time.

Shortly afterwards one of his courtiers, who was standing
near, moved by the continued assertions of the King, declared
that he also saw the star. " See, there it is," he said, " how
brightly it shines ! " Others then joined in, and declared
that they also could see the star. But there was one by-
stander who did not scruple to deny that the star was visible
to him. " I have," he said, " no such far-seeing eyes ; I see no
star." " Sayest thou so ? " answered the King. " Thou art an
honest and a truthful man, but these others are ready to
affirm or deny anything to win favour."

Then the preacher went on to apply his story. " I do not
deny, for my part, that a new reformation star has risen in
our ecclesiastical hemisphere. But if anyone from blindness
or dimness of sight should fail to see this star, and should
ingenuously acknowledge that he could not see it, he would
be, in my opinion, a far honester man than those time-servers
who, in full sail for promotion, exclaim impudently enough,
' The star, the star ! ' when perhaps they can see nothing of
the kind."

A journey to London, and an interview with the Lord
Protector, led to the Ruthin question being left entirely to
the discretion of the Major-General of the district Uncertain
as to what might ultimately be his fate, his mind swayed
alternately by hopes and fears, Chaloner set off homeward,
and had nearly reached Whitchurch, in Shropshire, when an
accident happened to him, which he describes in an amusing

His mare stumbled, and having thrown him in the mud,
fell with her whole weight upon the lower part of his
body. He was able, he says, "to cry aloud and bewail
his sins," but not to free himself " from the jaws of so
imminent a death," and it would have been all over with
him had not a maidservant opportunely come to his aid.
How she helped him he does not mention, but the danger
from which he escaped was (in his own mind at least) con-
siderable ; for he notes in his diary that his "daily thanks are


due to God his Saviour, especially at half-past nine o'clock
on Sunday," the time at which the accident seems to have
happened. Without further misadventure Chaloner reached
home, and the Major-General, apparently, being gracious,
reassembled his scholars and resumed work at Ruthin.

But another change was at hand. Mr. William Adams,
citizen and haberdasher of London, had recently founded
a Grammar School at Newport in Shropshire, and wished
Chaloner to be its first Head Master. Cromwell's assent to the
arrangement was obtained by the intercession of Mr. Thomas
Gilbert, 1 Rector of Edgmond, an assistant Commissioner for
the "ejection of scandalous ministers and schoolmasters,"
and a man of great influence at the time in ecclesiastical
matters. From Chaloner's diary it appears that he started
from Ruthin for Newport on July 24th, 1656, intending to
return on the 26th, and, as no further entries occur in his
Ruthin register after this date, we may assume that it marks
approximately the time of his appointment.

But it was not till January /th, 165^, that Newport School
was formally opened. In the meantime Chaloner had been
in great pecuniary difficulties. His children were nearly all
grown up, but they were still for the most part dependent on
him, and he found great difficulty in providing them even with
the necessaries of life. He had paid off his son Sam's debts
on October nth, 1654; but fresh debts had been incurred
before the family left Ruthin. Another son, David, 2 for
whom a post had been obtained in London, after holding
it only for a year, had recently returned home "with a bad
grace," and with no fruit to show for the 20 which he had
expended. In these money difficulties Chaloner's thoughts

1 Thomas Gilbert was a son of Mr. William Gilbert, of Frees, in Shropshire.
He matriculated at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, November I3th, 1629, as pleb. fil.
of Salop, aged sixteen. B.A., 1623 ; M.A., 1638 ; B.D., 1648 ; Chaplain of
Magdalen College, 1656-60; Vicar of St. Lawrence, Reading, 1647-50; Rector
of Edgmond, 1649; ejected, 1662. (FOSTER'S Alumni Oxon.)

2 David Chaloner was baptised at St. Mary's, Shrewsbury, March I5th, 163?,
and was at school under his father at Hawarden, Overton, Stone, and Newport.
After giving him two years more schooling his father sent him to Jesus College,
Cambridge, where he was admitted sizar June 7th, 1658.


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