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Dr. James in 1800, that this institution dates from the early
days of his head-mastership. The fixed time for the annual
festival appears to have been shortly before the summer
holidays. Dr. Butler is said to have taken much trouble with
the speeches, training the selected boys for some time before
the appointed day. Dr. Samuel Parr was present on more
than one Speech Day, sitting in the place of honour next to
the Head Master, with his pipe in his mouth and his spittoon
before him, and occasionally signifying his approval by
quietly tapping two fingers of one hand on the palm of the
other, an amount of applause which Dr. Butler took care
to assure the boys meant a great deal from so great a man.
Of the proceedings on one of these Speech Days, the last
indeed at which Dr. Butler presided, a detailed account has
been preserved, which shows that the chief incidents of

Life and Letters, vol. i. p. 300.
2 See Add. MSS. Brit. Mus., 34,586. The date of the letter, which is in fact
a sort of postscript to one from her father, is March 9th, 1826. It is further in-
teresting as indicating the climax of prosperity attained by Shrewsbury in Dr.
Butler's time. He had already three boarding-houses of his own, and Miss
Butler had just been to see the new boarding-house which Mr. Iliff had recently


Speech Day were then as now, the delivery of the speeches,
the distribution of prizes, and a luncheon to conclude. 1 A
far more popular school festival than this was the play which
appears to have been performed annually at Christmas time
in the later years of Dr. Butler's head-mastership. The per-
formance took place in the upper school-room, which was fitted
up for the occasion as a theatre, scenes, wings, and other pro-
perties being lent by the manager of the Shrewsbury Theatre.
The usual programme consisted of a play of Shakespeare
and a farce. The guests included the trustees and as many
of the gentlemen of Shrewsbury and the neighbourhood as
could be accommodated in the room. The performance was
generally concluded by an epilogue, written by one of the
masters, and spoken by one of the actors. On one occasion
Garrick's farce of The Lying Valet had just been given, and
the boy who had played the part of " Kitty Pry " came on the
stage again to deliver the epilogue. It had been arranged,
without Dr. Butler's knowledge, that one of the audience was
to take a small part in the introduction of the epilogue, and
accordingly, immediately on " Kitty's " entrance, a boy, who
was seated close behind the Doctor, rose and saluted her
with the words

" What ! Kitty Pry again upon her legs ! "

Scandalised at what he thought to be an audacious interrup-
tion, the Head Master turned round in boiling wrath upon
the speaker, and was hardly appeased when " Kitty," not in
the least disconcerted, replied in her pertest tone, " None of
your himperance, young man, I begs," though no one
laughed more heartily than the Doctor when he perceived
his mistake. 2

A curious school ceremony, which originated at Shrews-
bury in Dr. Butler's time and has continued to exist down to
the present day, was known as " Hall Election." At the
beginning of each half-year certain officers of the Halls were
elected by universal suffrage. Among them were "the Lord

1 See COLLINS'S Public Schools.

2 Ibid. There are still Salopians living who remember this performance,
which took place at Christmas, 1826.


High Constable," who was charged in some undefined way
with the general maintenance of order; a " Hall Constable"; 1
and two " Hall Criers " whose chief business was to read out
at meal times the names of "douls" 2 on duty for cricket,
football, or the service of " Head-room," descriptions of lost
articles, and various other notices. Each proclamation began
in due form with " O yes ! O yes ! " and ended with " God
save the King," coupled with a somewhat strong expression
of feeling with regard to "the Radicals," which the staunchest
Salopian Conservatives may be excused for hoping is no longer
to be heard in Shrewsbury Halls. The excitement at these
elections is said to have been very great, strenuous exertions
which often resulted in a general scrimmage being neces-
sary in order to bring up supporters to the poll and to keep
back opponents. The main object of the rival parties was
naturally to secure the least burdensome offices for their own
friends. 3 The successful candidates had afterwards to mount
on a table and return thanks amidst a shower of books and
crusts and anything else that came to hand, and were finally
inaugurated by being tossed in a blanket. The pelting and
blanket tossing came to an end in Dr. Kennedy's time, a
half-holiday being given on the express condition that these
disagreeable accessories of the Election should be given up. 4

Few of Dr. Butler's pupils are now living, but many of
them have written or spoken of their school-days, and all
seem to agree that their life at Shrewsbury was rough
"almost Spartan" Bishop Eraser called it, "in the fewness

1 The Lord High Constable, whose duties were purely honorary, was always a
praepostor. The Hall Constable had to preside at "boxing and singing," and had
the general management of Hall affairs.

2 Douls and douling iorfags and fagging are expressions peculiar to Shrewsbury
School. The name Skytes (S/cv0dt), by which day boys are called, is another piece
of Shrewsbury Greek slang. The latter term must be of comparatively modern
origin. Mr. Paley (1826-1833) says that day boys were called Snobs in his time.

3 The office most sought after was probably that of postman. Two postmen
were elected, whose duty it was in alternate weeks to collect the letters in " Top
Schools" at 8.30 p.m. The discharge of this duty gave the postman a grand
opportunity for a series of social amenities towards friends seated in various parts
of " Top Schools." The office least in request was that of Hall scavenger.

4 See COLLINS'S Public Schools.


of its comforts and the hardness of its discipline/' 1 A single
bed, though in the latter part of Dr. Butler's time most boys
seem to have had it, 2 was charged for as " an extra." Thick
dry toast and a basin of skim milk were provided for break-
fast, and supper consisted of bread and cheese with milk and
water or small beer. At both meals, however, boys were
allowed to procure, at their own or their parents' expense,
tea, coffee, butter, cakes, etc., and those who could not indulge
in these luxuries used to toast their cheese and mull their
beer with the aid of spices and sugar. 3 Dinner seems to
have been fairly good, although, as we have seen, the boys
were sometimes so dissatisfied with the quantity or the
quality of the food provided for them as to break out into
open rebellion. It must be borne in mind that boys have
always from time immemorial found something to grumble
about in their food, and there is no reason to suppose that
Shrewsbury boys had more cause for grumbling than other
schoolboys of their generation. Though delighted to keep
up the traditional joke that the letters S.B. over the stone
gate in front of the Head Master's house were a sort of
public-house sign of " Stale bread, sour beer, salt butter, and
stinking beef, sold by Samuel Butler," modern listeners
cannot but feel that the mouths of their Old Salopian
brethren are watering when they recall the memory of the
roast goose on Michaelmas-day, the unlimited pancakes on
Shrove Tuesday, and the pork pies, of which every boarder
had one given him shortly before Christmas, but which had
often been bought up long before that time by boys who had
not been too extravagant with their pocket money. 4

1 In his sermon preached in St. Mary's at the opening of the new school
buildings on Kingsland.

2 It is so stated by Mr. Collins. But Mr. F. A. Paley, who was at school from
1826 to 1833, only leaving three years before Dr. Butler's resignation, describes
his bedroom when he first went to school as sixteen feet square, with one window
and five double beds. Nor does he speak of any improvement being made in this
respect during his time.

3 "Adventures of a Schoolboy," Dolman's Magazine, vol. vi.

4 See a letter from the Rev. Edgar Montagu to Mr. Samuel Butler, printed
in the Shrewsbury Chronicle in January, 1897.


Rough as the Shrewsbury life was rougher, perhaps, than
that of collegers at Eton or Winchester in the early part
of this century there is no doubt that many old Salopians
of Butler's time looked back with feelings of pleasure to
their school-days.

Frederick Jackson, who left school in 1814, refers a few
months afterwards to his old haunts as " scenes of happi-
ness." 1 The Rev. F. E. Gretton, who had a long experience
of Shrewsbury, having remained there from 1814 to 1822,
although freely allowing, when he let his mind dwell upon
his school life after an interval of more than forty years,
that it was by no means "a rosewater life," that he got
more raps on the knuckles and kicks on the shins than
he liked, and that he might have run away if he had known
the road home, or drowned himself in the Severn if the
water had not been so cold, boldly asserted that on the
whole his school time had been " the oasis " of his past
life. 2

Bullying seems to have prevailed to a considerable extent
at Shrewsbury, taking varying forms in accordance with the
varying occurrences of the passing hour. When Russian
knouting was the topic of the day small boys had to strip
in the wash-room and be knouted. When the Assize time
came round the little fellows went in fear and trembling
lest they should be hung in imitation. Blankets were
always available for tossing, and occasionally, when a suffi-
cient supply of the Doctor's disused birch twigs could be
collected, the long-lie on Sunday mornings was utilised by
the bigger boys in making a humble imitation of the
Doctor's flogging operations, the douls having to kneel at
their bedsides and be birched. 3

Dr. Butler meddled, we may be sure, as little in the matter
of bullying as he did in the matter of fighting. He trusted
to the interference of the praepostors when the small boys
had more bullying than was good for them. This was part

1 Butlers Life and Letters, vol. i. p. 106.

2 Memory's Harkback, 1808-1858, by the Rev. F. E. GRETTON.

3 See Mr. Montagu's letter referred to above.


of the monitorial system, the establishment of which in
English public schools was practically his work. Schoolboys,
in his view, should be governed as much as possible by their
peers. To anyone inquiring about such matters of Old
Salopians the almost invariable answer has ever been, "We
were left pretty much to ourselves." 1 But if ever cases of
bullying came formally before him Dr. Butler was severe
enough on the bullies. He was very angry, for example,
when he found that some of the bigger boys had caused
douls to excavate a hole in the hillside of the ball court,
the diameter of which increased slowly with the depth until
two or three little boys could be enclosed. The bullies
would then seal up the aperture by sitting upon it, and
so turn the excavation into a "black hole of Calcutta." 2
Boys ran away now and then, but the number of these
runaways does not seem exceptionally large. 3 Public school
life is, generally speaking, an example in a small way of the
principle of "the survival of the fittest," and sensitive,
nervous, and timid boys often have a bad time of it. But
Shrewsbury men, trained under Dr. Butler, seem to have
possessed, as a rule, characteristics which were probably
due in great measure to the influences and traditions of
their school life, rough and Spartan-like as it may have
been independence of thought, freedom from party feeling,
and self-reliance as distinguished from self-confidence.

An Old Salopian, still living, has cited, not unaptly,
" Jimmy Fraser, Bishop of Manchester, carrying his own
bag," and "Charles Darwin pressing his own views, but
always, to the last, with the healthy feeling that he might

1 It is evident that Dr. Butler did not approve of his house masters interfering
much with the boys out of school hours. The Rev. Arthur Willis, who was for
some years house master in Bromfield's hall, and who is described by Dr. Butler
as "a disciplinarian," and ' ' undeviating " in his "attention to the boys, both
in and out of school" (Life and Letters, vol. ii. p. 137), is declared by an
Old Salopian still living, who was for some years in that hall, to have left the
boys, during the winter, from 4.30 p.m., when they were locked in, till 9 p.m.,
when they went to bed, entirely to themselves.

2 See Mr. Montagu's letter before quoted.

3 The number of runaways can be easily reckoned up from Dr. Butler's register
of admissions.


be wrong," as examples of some of these characteristics. 1
It is interesting to know that Dr. Butler, although during
the last ten years of his head -mastership he had three
boarding-houses of his own, each capable of accommodating
about fifty boys, realized that this monopolizing system was
not calculated to further the ultimate interests of the school,
and privately expressed his opinion to the master of St.
John's College that it would be better for his successor to
leave two of the three houses in the hands of assistant
masters. 2

A few words may be said as to the arrangements made for
teaching the different forms at the time when the school was
at its fullest. Throughout his career Dr. Butler appears to
have taken the sixth form, and, for some of his lessons, the
upper fifth also, in the room on the ground floor where the
honour boards were originally placed. In the big room on
the second floor, known in later days as " Top Schools," three
separate forms were taught 3 The second and third forms
were taken by Mr. Jeudwine, at the end of the room furthest
from the tower staircase ; then, in the middle, came the Rev.
John Young with the upper fourth form ; thirdly, at the other
end, the Rev. J. M. Wakefield taught the upper division of
the lower fifth. The lower division of the same form was
taken by the Rev. Thomas Butler in a room in a house
adjoining the inner ball court, and PifFs 4 room was imme-
diately below this. Mr. Iliff's school-room was, as has been
previously mentioned, in Bromfield's hall. The only school-
room on the first floor was occupied by Mr. Willis, with the
lower fourth.

Dr. Butler seems, as a general rule, to have administered
his floggings in his own school-room, though his study was
occasionally the scene of the operation. 5 The block was

1 See Mr. Montagu's letter before quoted.

2 Butlers Life and Letters, vol ii. p. 127.

3 " Top Schools " was originally divided into three rooms by partitions, adorned
with carved work, in which were folding doors. But these partitions had been
removed before the days of which we are speaking. (CARLISLE'S Grammar Schools. )

4 Mr. J. Smith) universally known as "Piff," was the writing master.

5 See "Adventures of a Schoolboy," Dolman's Magazine , vol. vii.


kept in a small closet in the former room, known as "the
Black Hole," where boys were sometimes locked up for an
hour or two as a punishment. But the " Black Hole " was,
after a time, pulled down, and then another closet in Top
Schools took its place as an occasional prison, and was known
among the boys by the same name. 1 It stood in the south-
east corner of the long room, and was about 4 feet square by
7| feet in height. The material of which it was composed
was oak panelling, which probably formed part of one of the
partitions, adorned with carved work, which originally divided
Top Schools into three rooms. The top of the closet was
surmounted externally by a bold cornice. Internally it was
covered in by flat iron rods about half an inch broad, and a
quarter of an inch apart. 2

It is said that while this prison was in use boys were some-
times forgotten, and that on one occasion two boys would
have remained there all night had not one of them made his
escape by breaking the lock and letting himself down by a
water-pipe into the court below. 3 It is evident that there
was, during most of Dr. Butler's time, another closet also, at
the tower end of Top Schools, in which Mr. Jeudwine used
when necessary to administer corporal punishment to the
boys of the lower school. But this closet was done away with
when the tower was undergoing repairs, and in a letter which
Mr. Jeudwine wrote in September, 1835, he somewhat plain-
tively explained that he was no longer able " to use the rod,"
since Mr. Rowland had neglected to restore the cupboard
when the repairs of the tower were completed. 4

1 See COLLINS'S Public Schools.

2 Dr. Calvert thinks that this lock-up cupboard may have been made from a
kind of gallery which, according to tradition, used to fill up the greater part of
the south end of the room. He believes also that it was altogether removed at
the time of the visit of the Archaeological Institute to Shrewsbury in 1855, when
the room was converted during the summer holidays into a temporary museum.

3 See COLLINS'S Public Schools.

* Add. MSS. Brit. Mus., 34,589.


HEAD MASTER 1836 1866


Benjamin Hall Kennedy, D.D., 1836-1866.

THE new Head Master, Dr. Benjamin Hall Kennedy,
was the eldest son of the Rev. Rann Kennedy, second
master of King Edward's School, Birmingham, and Incum-
bent of St. Paul's Church in the same town. He was born
on November 6th, 1804, at Summer Hill, near Birmingham.
Mr. Rann Kennedy is described as a man of earnest and
enthusiastic disposition and of high literary attainments, who
possessed, among other acquirements, a remarkable know-
ledge of English poetry. 1 Up to the time he was fourteen
years old young Kennedy was educated in his father's house
or at Birmingham School, but in February, 1819, he was
sent to Shrewsbury.

Even at this early age the boy seems to have been imbued
with a real love of learning and that passionate admiration
of poetry which distinguished him through life. Under the
influence of Dr. Butler's teaching, Kennedy's powers rapidly
developed. In less than two years, and before he attained
the age of sixteen, he was head boy of the sixth form. 2 In

1 See Diet, of Nat. Biog. (RANN KENNEDY). In conjunction with his second
son, Charles Rann Kennedy, he translated the poems of Virgil into blank verse in
1849. The book was dedicated to Prince Albert. The translation is literal and
good. Most of the sJLncid was translated by the son. Mr. Rann Kennedy had
four sons, of whom three were Senior Classics, and the fourth, who was himself a
university prizeman, was father of a Senior Classic, the present Mr. Justice

2 It is stated in the Life and Letters of Dr. Samuel Butler, vol. i. p. 40,
that B. H. Kennedy was between four and five years a boarder in Mr. Jeudwine's
house. This must be a mistake. There is absolute proof in the Butler papers
(Add. MSS. Brit. Mus., 34,585) that Kennedy was a praepostor in Dr. Butler's
house in October, 1821, two years before he left school, and no living member of
Dr. Kennedy's family can remember to have ever heard him speak of having
boarded in Mr. Jeudwine's house at all.



October, 1823, he went into residence at St. John's College,
Cambridge, having left school at the preceding midsummer.
By this time, independently of the work done under Dr.
Butler's superintendence, Kennedy had got through an
immense amount of " private reading," which included " all
Thucydides, all Tacitus, all Sophocles and ^Eschylus, much
Aristophanes, Pindar, Herodotus, Demosthenes, and Plato,
besides Cicero." 1 "Private reading" was a practice which
Dr. Butler was continually recommending to the Shrewsbury
boys, and his brilliant young pupil had so thoroughly taken
this recommendation to heart that he was anxious at first to
leave school six months earlier than he did so as to have
more time to devote to it. 2

Of Kennedy's remarkable successes at Cambridge mention
has already been made. But his university life, happily for
himself, was by no means that of a mere bookworm. Soon
after he went up to college he became a member of a society
known as "the Apostles." With some of this apostolic
band, and notably with John Sterling and Frederic Denison
Maurice, he formed an intimate friendship. Other friends of
Kennedy, in what Lord Lytton calls "that brilliant under-
graduate world," were Bulwer Lytton, William Mackworth
Praed, Alexander Cockburn, Christopher Wordsworth, Charles
Buller, and William Selwyn. Bulwer Lytton describes him
in his undergraduate days as " an ardent, enthusiastic youth
from Shrewsbury, a young giant in learning." 3

Writing to Dr. Butler in the course of his first term,
Kennedy tells him that he has become acquainted with
Praed and Townshend and Ord, the leading spirits of the
Union Debating Society, and has been repeatedly invited to
join it, but that owing to his kind advice he has resisted the
temptation. 4 It is probable that the writer had somewhat
misunderstood Dr. Butler's meaning, and that his sage and
kindly master lost no time in correcting the misunderstanding,

1 Butler s Life and Letters, vol. i. p. 253.

2 Add. MSS. Brit. Mus., 34,585.

3 Diet, of Nat. Biog., B. H. KENNEDY.

4 Butler's Life and Letters, vol. i. p. 259.


for not long afterwards Kennedy began to take an active
part in the Union debates, and in 1825 he was elected
President of the Society. To the practice in speaking, which
his connection with the Union gave him, he owed, doubtless,
much of the ready utterance, the well-balanced sentences,
and the skilful modulation of voice which made him such a
brilliant and effective speaker in after years. 1

At first when Kennedy had taken his degree he thought of
reading for the Bar. But his fellowship at St. John's did not
come so soon as he had hoped, and in the course of 1827 he
made up his mind to accept an assistant mastership at
Shrewsbury for a year, partly with the view of occupying his
time usefully until he obtained his fellowship, and partly in
order to oblige Dr. Butler by temporarily filling a place
which the Head Master desired to keep open till his son,
" Tom Butler," had taken his degree. 2 The proposed arrange-
ment was carried out, though for a time it seemed likely that
Kennedy's candidature for the head-mastership of Rugby,
which became vacant in September, 1827, by the resignation
of Dr. Wooll, might render it impossible. 3

Dr. Arnold, however, was chosen for Rugby, and Mr.
Kennedy was able to go to Shrewsbury about October I4th
and to remain there for a year, as he had originally proposed.
In March, 1828, he was elected fellow of St. John's College,
and in the following October he went into residence at
Cambridge, where he remained two years, acting as a
classical lecturer in his college, and reading with private
pupils. Among his pupils at this time were William
Cavendish, afterwards Duke of Devonshire and Chancellor
of the University, Charles Merivale, afterwards Dean of Ely,

1 The Rev. E. M. Cope thought Dr. Kennedy to be the best speaker he had
ever heard. (See Classical Review for May, 1889.)

2 Butler's Life and Letters, vol. i. p. 330. Mr. Kennedy was spending the
long vacation at Paignton, in Devonshire, when he arranged with Dr. Butler that
he would go to Shrewsbury as a master for a year. He and Mr. William
Hopkins, the celebrated mathematical tutor and geologist, had a joint reading
party at Paignton. One of their pupils was Henry Philpott, afterwards Bishop
of Worcester.

3 Ibid., vol. i. p. 331.


and Richard Shilleto. In 1829 Mr. Kennedy was ordained

deacon, and in the following year priest. In March, 1830,

he acted as an examiner at Harrow School, and it was

probably at this time that he accepted Dr. Longley 's offer

of an assistant mastership, together with the charge of the

Grove House, one of the best boarding-houses connected

with the school. At any rate, we find him early in June

at work at Harrow and comfortably settled in the Grove

House. 1 Here Mr. Kennedy remained for six years, during

which time he is said to have "exercised a remarkable

intellectual influence " in the school. 2 There seems no doubt

indeed that he might have succeeded Dr. Longley as Head

Master of Harrow in 1836 had he not preferred on the

whole to return in a similar capacity to his own old school

Online LibraryGeorge William FisherAnnals of Shrewsbury School → online text (page 32 of 56)