George William Fisher.

Annals of Shrewsbury School online

. (page 25 of 56)
Online LibraryGeorge William FisherAnnals of Shrewsbury School → online text (page 25 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


from 1584 to 1603 the Taylor MS. is of course a con-
temporary authority of much importance.

Two manuscript volumes of the school accounts, the first
relating to the years from 1578 to 1663 and the second to
those from 1664 to 1797, have been, since 1890, placed in
the school library, and throw much light on the history of
the school, especially in connection with the repeated efforts
made by the Corporation of Shrewsbury to obtain complete
control over the school finances, as well as the right of
appointing the schoolmasters and other officials. 1

Two other manuscripts of great interest to local anti-
9 -quarians are the Herald's Visitation of Shropshire in 1623
and a book commonly known as The Arms of the Bailiffs.
On the right-hand pages of the latter are the illuminated
coats of arms of the Bailiffs of Shrewsbury from 1372 to
1638 and of the Mayors from 1638 to 1724-5, and on the left
we find many brief notes, sometimes relating to historical
events, but more frequently to local matters.

This book was presented to the library in 1668 by Mr.
Joseph Baynes, of Shrewsbury, who tells us in the intro-
duction that the work was commenced by his father-in-law,
Mr. Robert Owen, who was "authorized by the Court
Marshall of England, a Deputy Herald for Salop and
several other adjacent counties."

Robert Owen was admitted at Shrewsbury School in 1571,
and it is improbable that he began his book long before the
end of the sixteenth century. Most likely he is responsible
for the notes up to 1632, the year of his death, and Joseph
Baynes for those between 1632 and 1668. Towards the
close of the eighteenth century various books disappeared
from the school library and others received material damage.

1 From the earlier of these two volumes Dr. Calvert has made copious extracts,
which it is to be hoped will be printed at some future time in the Shropshire
Archaeological Transactions.



THE SCHOOL LIBRARY 247

It was about this time doubtless that some dozen or more
of the illuminated coats of arms were torn out of Robert
Owen's book.

Among the theological manuscripts is a collection of Latin
anthems set to music which ends with three scenes, in
English, of a lost mystery, perhaps one of the Beverley
plays. This fragment, which has been printed in the
Academy and in the Transactions of the Shropshire Arch&o-
logical Society, is thought by Professor Skeat to be the oldest
manuscript example of an English mystery.

Another volume contains the fifth and sixth parts of The
Pricke of Conscience? bound up with some manuscript
sermons, a curious Latin -English version of the Apostles'
Creed in rhyme, and a long bidding prayer, which, from the
mention in it of St. Chad and St. Mary of Coventry, would
seem to have been in use in the diocese of Lichfield and
Coventry. The Apostles' Creed and the Bidding Prayer
have been printed by Dr. Calvert in the Transactions of the
Shropshire Arch&ological Society. The volume itself seems to
have belonged to a parish priest who was still living in 1484.

Another manuscript, which finds a most appropriate home
in a school library, is a very ancient transcript on vellum of
the earliest known Latin-English Dictionary, which is entitled
Medulla Grammatices, and is attributed to Geoffrey the Gram-
marian, friar- preacher of Lynn.

The Ortus Vocabulorum, the first Latin-English Dictionary
printed in England, was based upon this treatise. Of the
rare edition printed by Pynson in 1509 the school possesses
a copy.

Among the rare books in the library the following are
the most noteworthy :

Gower's Confessio Amantis. Caxton. 1483. An extremely fine

copy.
The Opus Grammaticum of Sulpitius. Wynkyn de Worde. 1504.

A unique example.

1 The Pricke of Conscience was a poem written by Richard Rolle, the Hermit
of Hampole, who was born at Thornton, in Yorkshire, in 1290, and died in 1349.
It was printed by Dr. R. Morris in 1863. Tne subjects of the two parts given in
the Shrewsbury MS. are "Doomsday" and "The Pains of Hell."



24 8 SHREWSBURY SCHOOL

Virgil. Mentelin. Strasburg. 1469.!

Collection of Works on Grammar. Stanbridge and Whitinton.

Wynkyn de Worde, 1519-1521.

^milius Probus. (Cornelius Nepos.) N. Jenson. Venice. 1471.
Jacobus Magnus. Sophologium Sapientm. Paris. 1472.
Johannes Salesberiensis. De Nugis Curialium et Vestigiis Philoso-

phorum. Brussels. 1480. (Printed by the Brothers of the

Common Life.)
Nuremberg Chronicle. 1493.
Perottus. Regulae Grammaticales. Louvain. 1486. (A very rare

grammar, with examples in English, evidently printed for the

use of English students in the University of Louvain.)
Palsgrave. Lesclarcissment de la langue Francoyse. Pynson and

Haukyns. 1530.

Tindale. New Testament. Antwerp. 1534.
The Primer of Edward VI. I547- 2

The library also possesses copies of the first edition of
many English books of note, such as Spenser's Faery Queene,
Coryat's Crudities, Bacon's Novum Organum, Hooker's Ecclesi-
astical Polity, Drayton's Polyolbion, the works of Ben Jonson
(first folio edition), Beaumont and Fletcher's plays (first com-
plete edition), and Newton's Principia.

As is frequently the case in old libraries, many volumes
have been found to contain fragments of early books used as
flyleaves or as padding for the bindings. A vellum leaf of a
manuscript copy of the Confessio Amantis, dated 1390; leaves
of Caxton's Game and Play of the Chess, and of Rastell's
Pasty me of People, I529; 3 two copies of a broadside proclama-
tion of Henry VIII., and a broadside ballad about the burn-
ing of Robert Barnes in 1 540,* both the latter being previously

1 The Editio princeps was printed by Sweynheim and Pannartz at Rome in the
same year, 1469.

- A Martin Marprelate tract in the library is interesting on account of its rarity,
as well as of the probability that John Penry himself was educated at Shrewsbury
School. The tract in question was written by one Greenwood on a Cambridge
man named Some, who had written against Penry.

3 Only one perfect copy of Rastell's book is known.

4 John Redman, who was the printer of this ballad, is only known to have put
his name to one, or, at the most, to two books. For its identification, as well as
for the discovery of The Mentelin Virgil, the school is indebted to Mr. E.
Gordon Duff, M.A., of the Spencer- Rylands Library, Manchester. The ballad is
printed in Notes and Queries for October loth, 1896.



THE SCHOOL LIBRARY 249

unknown, have been discovered at Shrewsbury employed in
one or other of these ways.

Special interest attaches to various books in the school
library in consequence of manuscript notes or additions
which have been made by their former owners. A copy of
Hephcestion is annotated (according to Dr. Butler) by Isaac
Casaubon, and there is an edition of Juvenal containing
Scarron's autograph. Ciceronis Epistolce ad Familiares
(Lyons, 1511) is notable as having been in the possession
of Thomas Baker, the historian of St. John's College, and
William Cole, the antiquarian, before it came into the hands
of " Demosthenes Taylor."

A book entitled An Answer to a late book written against
the learned and reverend Doctor Bentley, relating to some
manuscript notes on Callimachus (London, I6Q9), 1 preserves
the handwriting of four great scholars, Dr. John Taylor, Dr.
Samuel Butler, Dr. Martin Routh, and Dr. Samuel Parr.
Then there is a fine copy of the grammatical writings of
Theodore of Gaza, Apollonius and Herodianus, printed by
Aldus in 1495, which appears to have an autograph presenta-
tion by Cuthbert Tunstall, Bishop of London. 2 On eighteen
blank pages at the end of this book Mr. Leonard Hotchkis,
Head Master of Shrewsbury from 1735 to 1754, has written
various notes on Greek grammar.

Shrewsbury volunteers may take some interest again in a
manuscript note in Sir Clement Edmonds's Observations upon
Cczsar's Commentaries, which gives the words of command in
pike and musketry drill in use in the seventeenth century. 3

The library is rich in fine specimens of early bindings.
One good example is the collection of grammatical treatises
printed by Stanbridge and Whitinton, which is bound in
stamped calf, executed at Cambridge. The binding is the
work of Garret Godfrey, who is said by Roger Ascham to

1 The author of these notes seems to have been Solomon Whateley, M.A., of
Magdalen College, Oxford.

2 The inscription at the beginning of the book is " Cuthbertus Londinensis
Episcopus studiosis dono dedit."

3 Sir Clement Edmonds was a Shrewsbury boy and a benefactor to the school
library ; but the book referred to was not included in his gift.



250 SHREWSBURY SCHOOL

have known Erasmus A still better example is of Italian
workmanship. It is an Aristophanes, and bears the device
of a charioteer with the motto op6co$ /ecu JJL*) Xo/a>;. The
binding was executed for Demetrio Canevari (physician to
Pope Urban VII.), the great Italian book collector of the
sixteenth century. The rich ornamentation of the medallions
in gold, silver, and colour is still in good preservation. Other
books bear the arms of Queen Elizabeth, Louis XIV.,
Lomenie de Brienne, De Thou, L'Abbe Bouhier, and other
notable personages.

From the time of Dr. Taylor's great gift down to 1882 the
library of Shrewsbury School met with but few benefactors.
The only considerable bequest during this interval was that
made by Sir Andrew Vincent Corbet, who died in 1855.
Much was done by Dr. Samuel Butler during his head-
mastership to remedy the mischief caused by the want of
care shown for the library in the latter part of the eighteenth
century, and to make its treasures more serviceable to
scholars. Among other things he made a sort of catalogue
of its contents in an interleaved copy of the Bodleian
Catalogue of 1738, in three volumes, by underlining the
names of the books to be found at Shrewsbury, adding the
press marks at the sides, and giving on the blank pages the
names of books in the school library which the Bodleian did
not at that time possess.

Dr. Butler's great edition of jEschylus, his interleaved New
Testament, filled with manuscript notes, and several other
books once belonging to him, were presented to the school
in 1897 by the executors of the late Archdeacon T. B. Lloyd,
his grandson. The interleaved and annotated copy of
Stanley's ALschylus, sent by Dr. Butler for the use of the
printers at the time his own edition was going to press, has
also been given to the library by the daughters of the late
Rev. Thomas Butler.

At the present time the school library is divided between
two rooms in the new school building. One room contains
all the books which were removed to Kingsland from the old
school. The other room is confined to modern books, for



THE SCHOOL LIBRARY 251

the purchase of which several grants of money have been
made by the Governing Body. Many volumes have also been
presented by old Salopians and other friends of the school,
and considerable progress has been made towards the forma-
tion of a good reference library for the use of masters and
upper boys. In this room is also preserved an interesting
relic of one of the most distinguished scholars and greatest
Head Masters Shrewsbury has known. It bears the following
inscription :

Dr. Kennedy's Writing Table

From 1836 to 1889.
Presented to Shrewsbury School

by
M. G. K. and J. E. K.

Besides the rare bindings mentioned, the library also con-
tains specimens of the English binders, Gerard Wausfost
(dr. 1500), Nicholas Speryng (d. 1545-46), and John Reynes
(1 527-44 >)



CHAPTER XIV.

James Atcherley, M.A., Head Master, 1771-1798 Act of Parliament in
1798 Resignation of Masters Appointment of new Head Master.

WHEN Mr. Newling resigned in 1771 his place was
filled by the promotion of the Rev. James Atcherley,
M.A., the second master. The Rev. Thomas Humphries,
M.A., was promoted to the charge of the second school,
and the accidence master, Mr. Samuel Johnson, was nomi-
nated by the college to the third-mastership. The new
accidence master was Mr. John Rowland, 1 son of the Rev.
John Rowland, of Llanduvi Brefi, in Cardiganshire. He was
born about 1745, and probably received his school education
at Shrewsbury. On April 8th, 1767, he matriculated at Jesus
College, Oxford, at the age of twenty-two ; but he seems
subsequently to have migrated to Emmanuel College,
Cambridge, where he graduated B.A. in 1771 and M.A.
in 1785. Mr. Atcherley 2 graduated B.A. at Magdalene
College, Cambridge, in 1753, but did not take his M.A.
degree until he had to qualify himself for the second-
mastership in 1763. Of the twenty-eight years during which
he was Head Master of Shrewsbury there is but little to say.
One change only took place among his colleagues. Mr.
Humphries, the second master, died on October 22nd, 1783,
his place being filled by the promotion of Mr. Samuel
Johnson, and the Rev. James Matthewes, B.A., of Magdalene
College, Cambridge, was appointed third master by the

1 Mr. Rowland was in holy orders when he resigned his mastership in 1798.
He subsequently became Rector of Llangeitho, Cardiganshire, and minister of
Clive, Shropshire. He died in 1816.

3 Mr. Atcktrlcy, after his resignation, became Rector of Lydbury North,
Shropshire, and died at Bridgnorth, March 3rd, 1804. (Gent. Mag., 1804.)

252



JAMES ATCHERLEY 253

master and seniors of St. John's College on November 7th,
1783. A somewhat amusing incident is recorded in con-
nection with this appointment

It appears that Mr. Atcherley had informed the master
of St. John's College that the appointment of Mr. Matthewes
would be acceptable to the Mayor and Corporation as well
as to himself. The instrument of appointment, having been
duly signed and sealed, was sent by the master to Mr.
Matthewes, together with the certificate for the Bishop of
Lichfield and Coventry, so that he, having obtained the
written approval of the Bishop, might present both documents
to the Mayor at the same time. But the Mayor, Mr. John
Oliver, attorney-at-law, who had not long been in office, on
hearing that Mr. Matthewes had received his appointment,
took it into his head that his dignity had been outraged
by the master in failing to inform him of the choice made
by the college, and called a meeting of the Corporation to
consider the matter. The meeting was held at the Guildhall
on November i8th, 1783, and the Town Clerk was instructed
to signify to the master and fellows of St. John's College that
they had been wanting in proper respect to the Mayor in
neglecting to communicate to him the result of their election.
The college answer explains the matter to the Mayor,
who had not understood that the instrument of appointment
was the formal and usual means employed by the college
authorities to inform him of their choice. But the master
and fellows were perhaps unnecessarily severe in expressing
their surprise at the ignorance on which the censure of the
Corporation was founded, and the insolence of the manner
in which it was conveyed. 1 Mr. Atcherley is said to have
been a man of good natural abilities. He published in 1773
a pamphlet, called "A Drapier's Address to the People of
England," advocating the principles of Free Trade, of which
the editor of Bishop Samuel Butler's Life and Letters speaks
favourably. 2 But report says that he was somewhat in-

1 The correspondence has been recently printed in Shrewsbury Notes and
Queries, and is given in the Appendix.

2 Vol. i. p. 21. In future references to this book it will be described as
Butler's Life and Letters.



254 SHREWSBURY SCHOOL

temperate in his habits, and his successor declared in the
early days of his head-mastership that discipline had been
unknown at Shrewsbury School for twenty years. 1 The
traditional story that the favourite amusement of Mr.
Atcherley and one of his colleagues was to practise kicking
at a flitch of bacon hung in the kitchen for the purpose, in
order to see who could kick the highest, 2 seems quite con-
sistent with the absence on their part of any proper notions
of discipline. Blakeway tells us that about 1784 a son of
Mr. Newling, the late Head Master, who was then at
Cambridge, was told that the upper boys were allowed
the free run of the school library, and were thus enabled
not only to tear out the fly-leaves of books to make use of
for their exercises, but to pilfer other things that they found
there. 8 Mr. Atcherley is also said to have been in the habit
of making boys presents of the library books. The room
itself appears to have been used by Mr. Atcherley's servants
for dressing the boys' hair.

Of this fact Dr. Butler and Dr. Parr found convincing
evidence when searching the library for an edition of
Hephczstion, in which Mr. Leonard Hotchkis had made
marginal notes. The book itself had to be thoroughly
cleaned and fumigated with sulphur before Dr. Butler was
able to send it to Mr. Gaisford, who had asked for its loan. 4
Doubtless it was in Mr. Atcherley's time that Owen's Arms
of the Bailiffs and other books were mutilated and some
valuable books were lost. 5 The most serious of all such

1 Butler's Life and Letters, vol. i. p. 20.

2 Ibid., vol. i. p. 21.

3 Blakeway MSS.

4 See Add. MSS. Brit. Mus., 34,583. Dr. Butler describes to Mr. Gaisford
the condition in which he found the book, but does not wish the fact to be
mentioned, not only on account of the loathsomeness of the story, but for
the credit's sake of his predecessor. Dr. Parr told the story to his friend,
Mr. J. Nichols. (See Memoir of Dr. John Taylor, by J. NICHOLS. )

5 One of the notes in OWEN'S Arms of the Bailiffs, containing a eulogy ot
Mr. John Meighen, was copied by Blakeway in full. But several words of this
note, together with the coat of arms on the other side of the page, have long
ago disappeared. As Mr. Blakeway did not reside in Shrewsbury till he was
ordained, in 1793, it seems almost certain that the book in question was mutilated
during the last three or four years of Mr. Atcherley's head-mastership.



JAMES ATCHERLEY 255

losses that Shrewsbury School has suffered is undoubtedly
due to Mr. Atcherley's neglect or carelessness. It is on
record that in Mr. Newling's time there was a large folio
volume containing the admissions to the school made by
himself and his predecessors from 1664, and that, on his
resignation, he handed it over to Mr. Atcherley. But this
invaluable manuscript was missing in Mr. Blakeway's days,
and no traces of it have since been found. 1 Dr. Parr
describes Mr. Atcherley as vulgar and ignorant, but the
Doctor was not altogether a trustworthy authority, and the
Head Master's careless treatment of the valuable school
library would naturally prejudice a book-lover like Parr
against him. 2 One little picture of boy life at Shrewsbury
School in Atcherley's time has been recently discovered,
though, unfortunately, it was painted in the Christmas holi-
days, and not at a time when the regular school work was
going on. Incidentally we learn from it that Irish boys had
begun to come to Shrewsbury in the eighteenth century, and
that they did not as a rule go home when the school broke
up at Christmas. One of these Irish boys, who boarded
with Mr. Johnson, the second master, and had spent his
Christmas at Shrewsbury, wrote to his mother, on December
27th, 1787, giving her an account of some recent incidents
of his holidays. He had dined on Christmas Day with his
aunt, who appears to have resided in the town, and on
another day had watched the company going into the
Assembly Rooms at the Lion Hotel for a grand ball,
given by Mr. Pulteney, 3 who then resided at the Castle, in
honour of his daughter's coming of age. The previous week
had been "the Hunt Week," and the boys had got leave
from Mrs. Johnson to go down town to see the guests
assemble at the Lion for " the Hunt Ball." But the writer
of the letter seems to have gone " out of bounds " without
permission in order to see Miss Pulteney in her birthday

1 Blakeway MSS. Mr. Newling's son was Blakeway's informant.

2 See NICHOLS'S Memoir of Dr. John Taylor.

8 Mr. Pulteney was M.P. for Shrewsbury from 1774 to 1805. He died
June 5th, 1805.



256 SHREWSBURY SCHOOL

ball dress. One day, not long before the letter was written,
the boys had all been sitting over the fire in their hall when
Mrs. Johnson brought in two Irish gentlemen who had come
to ask after some boys named Bourne. It turned out that
the Bournes had gone on a visit into Denbighshire. But one
of the gentlemen asked whether there were any other Irish
boys there. One can fancy the unanimous shout in reply,
"We are all Irish." Then Mrs. Johnson went over their
names, and it soon transpired that one of the gentlemen
knew the writer's father, who was a beneficed clergyman
in Ireland. 1

Of the Shropshire boys whom we know to have been
at school when Atcherley was Head Master several left
Shrewsbury after two or three years' stay for other schools.
Edward Bather, 2 afterwards Archdeacon of Salop in Lich-
field, went to Rugby, and Richard Scott, B.D., 3 Vicar of
Condover and Chaplain-in-Ordinary to the Prince of Wales,
to Harrow, after being for some little time at Shrewsbury
School. The Rev. J. B. Blakeway, M.A., 4 curate and official

1 The letter was first printed in the Salopian, and appeared subsequently in
Shropshire Notes and Queries for May 22nd, 1896.

2 Edward Bather was the son of the Rev. John Bather, of Shrewsbury. He
matriculated at Oriel College, Oxford, on June I5th, 1798, aged eighteen, and
graduated B.A. in 1803 and M.A. in 1808. Vicar of Meole Brace, 1804-1847 ;
Archdeacon of Salop and Prebendary of Lichfield. Married Mary, elder
daughter of Dr. Samuel Butler. Died October 3rd, 1847. Author of Sermons
on the Old Testament and other theological books. (Diet, of Nat. Biog.}

3 Richard Scott, son of the Rev. George Scott, of Brentford, Middlesex.
Matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford, December I7th, 1799, aged nineteen ;
B.A. in 1803 ; M.A. in 1806 ; B.D. in 1825 ; Vicar of Condover, 1807 ; Chaplain-
in-Ordinary to the Prince of Wales, 1808. Died October 6th, 1848. (FOSTER'S
Alumni Oxonienses.}

4 J. B. Blakeway was the eldest son of Joshua Blakeway, Esq. , of Shrewsbury,
and Elizabeth, sister of Matthew Brickdale, Esq., M.P. for Bristol 1780-1784.
He was born June 24th, 1765, and entered Shrewsbury School in 1772 ; removed
to Westminster, 1775; matriculated at Oriel College, Oxford, in 1782; B.A.,
1786 ; M.A., 1795 ; admitted Student of Lincoln's Inn, 1786; called to the Bar,
1789 ; ordained by Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, 1793 ; succeeded his uncle,
the Rev. Edward Blakeway, as curate and official of St. Mary's, Shrewsbury, and
Rector of Neen Savage, Shropshire, in 1795; Rector of Felton, Somerset, the
same year. Married Mary Elizabeth, daughter of Thomas Wilkies, Esq., mer-
chant, of Amsterdam, in 1797. Rector of Kinlet, Salop, in 1800. Resigned
Felton and Kinlet in 1816, and thenceforth lived at the Council House, Shrews-
bury. A good Latin, Greek, French, and Italian scholar, and studied Hebrew



JAMES ATCHERLEY 257

of St. Mary's from 1795 to 1826, the well-known Shropshire
antiquarian, left Shrewsbury for Westminster when he was
little more than ten years old. 1 It is only fair to Mr.
Atcherley to mention that one of his pupils, at any rate, felt
some gratitude for what he had learned at Shrewsbury when
under his care. This was the Rev. Joseph Thomas, 2 who,
when presenting to the school library the works of his father-
in-law, John Parkhurst, M.A., left it on record that his gift was
made " in testimony of respect and gratitude " for the
education which he had received under "the worthy and
Reverend James Atcherley, Head Master." Of one fact
there is unhappily no doubt at all, and that is, that in the
closing years of the eighteenth century Shrewsbury School
had fallen as low as it possibly could, both in numbers and
in reputation. In a letter written by Dr. James, late Head
Master of Rugby, to Mr. Samuel Butler, on January 23rd,
1797, the state of things at Shrewsbury is described as
deplorable. Dr. James, who had been recently staying in
Shropshire, declared that the Head Master of Shrewsbury
School did "absolutely nothing," and that there were only
three or four boys left in the school. 3 By this time many
people of influence, both in Shrewsbury and the neighbour-
hood, had become convinced that unless sweeping measures
were adopted there would be little hope of prosperity ever
returning to Shrewsbury School. Dr. James had heard

in advanced life. (NICHOLS'S Literary Illustrations, voL v.) Joint author with



Online LibraryGeorge William FisherAnnals of Shrewsbury School → online text (page 25 of 56)