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School Bailiff as Lloyd, but his name appears in the school accounts as John
Coyde. An oppidan of that name was at school in 1562. No provision was
made in the ordinances for the appointment of Longdon's successor. But, on the
advice of counsel, it was agreed that the election should rest in the hands of he
Bailiffs and Head Master. (Add. MSS. Brit. Mus., 21,024.) The name of Geo.
Phillips is joined with that of Coyde in the audit of 1598; and after that it
occurs alone. He held office till April loth, 1635.

1 The amount of the School Bailiff's security was doubled in 1613 by decree of
the Court of Chancery.

2 The Exchequer appears to have been a strong-room in the Guildhall, origin-
ally erected in 1490, and used by the municipal authorities for official meetings.
The Corporation records, as well as the school chest, were kept in the Exchequer.
In November, 1613, two burglars effected an entry into the Exchequer and broke
open the school chest, from which they took ^229 TS. 6d. Both were sentenced to
death, but the sentence was only carried out on one, who was hung in the Market
Place. (Hotchkis MSS.}

3 On October 27th, 1573, Ashton told the Bailiffs that "with the first money"
that came in they must buy "an iron chest." (Hotchkis MSS.}


the school chest at their discretion for the repairs of the
school house and the masters' lodgings, as well as for legal,
travelling, and other necessary expenses. For the repairs in
question the School Bailiff was to receive a sum not exceed-
ing 5 at the November audit in each year, 1 rendering an
account the following November of the details of his expendi-
ture during the year.

No more than 10 might be taken out of the school chest
at one time for any purpose without the consent of St. John's
College. 2 The Stock Remanent was intended to accumulate
with the view of:

1. Building two masters' houses.

2. Building a library and gallery.

3. Building a country school-house, to which the masters and

scholars might resort in time of plague or sickness.

4. Founding two scholarships and two fellowships at St.

John's College.

5. Founding other scholarships and fellowships at some

college or colleges in Oxford or Cambridge.

In the case of the scholarships and fellowships first-named,
preference was given by the ordinances :

1. To legitimate sons of burgesses

(a] Natives of the town :

(b) Born in the suburbs or Abbey Foregate.

2. To boys born within the franchises of Shrewsbury.

3. To natives of Chirbury.

4. To natives of the county of Salop.

1 On November i6th, 1587, at the annual audit, the Bailiffs of the year, Geo.
Higgons and William Jones "wold not allowe 5^" to be taken out of the stocke
remanente and to be dd to the bailiff of the schoole w c h was wonte to be done
before according to the ordinances of the schoole." (See school register.)

2 The Bailiffs and Head Master, on March 2Oth, 159^, took the opinion of the
Recorder and two other lawyers as to the charges which might legally be made on
the Stock Remanent, and the purposes for which money might be taken from the
school chest without the consent of St. John's College. On the first point the
ordinances seem clear enough, and the referees content themselves with quoting
the purposes specified in ordinance 8, and adding thereto, necessary repairs at
Chirbury, and in the school chapel at St. Mary's, and the Catechist's salary.
Their advice on the other point seems hardly in accordance with the ordinances.


The election was entrusted to the Master and Seniors of
St. John's College, who, apparently, had the power of rejecting
candidates who were not found "apt and meet for such prefer-
ment." Subject to these provisions and qualifications they
were to choose "the godliest, poorest, and best learned" of the
candidates. 1

No preferential claims are mentioned in the ordinances
in connection with the fellowships to be subsequently
founded at unspecified colleges, but an opinion was given
by the Justices of Assize and the Recorder of Shrewsbury on
June 3Oth, 1623, in answer to questions put to them by the
Bailiffs and Head Master, that all scholarships and fellow-
ships founded out of school funds would be, under the
ordinances, subject to the preferential claims already de-
tailed. 2 The appointment of the curate of St. Mary,
Shrewsbury, rested with the Bailiffs and Head Master.
They were directed to select for the post a graduate educated
at the school, with a preference

(1) To the son of a burgess,

(2) To a native of Chirbury.

In default of " fit " candidates with such preferential claims
the curacy might be given to " any of like sufficiency."

The curate's stipend was fixed at 20, and he was not
allowed to be absent from his cure more than one month
in the year, except on account of sickness or urgent business*
which had to be established to the satisfaction of the Bailiffs
and Head Master. Before proceeding to the election of a
curate the Head Master was duly " sworne to graunte his
voice frelie to hym that he thinketh moste worthye withoute

It was that the consent of the college need not be obtained for any expenditure on
the objects specified above. (Hotchkis MSS.) In the year 1628-29, the Bailiffs
took out of the school chest in separate sums of 10, no less than $oo to be ex-
pended on the new school buildings. There is no reason for doubting that the
money was so expended, but the action of the Bailiffs was a deliberate evasion of
the ordinances.

1 After many delays and much angry correspondence between the college and
Bailiffs, two scholarships were at last founded in September, 1623, although no
scholars were elected till November, 1624.

2 See Add. MSS. Brit. Mus., 21,024.


eyther rewarde, briberie, or other covine fraude, or deceit
whatsoever." 1

Provision was made by the ordinances for four school-
masters, with stipends of 40, 30, 20, and 10 re-
spectively. The Head Master, it was stipulated, must be
a Master of Arts of two years' standing at least, " well able
to make a Latin Verse," and "learned in the Greeke Tongue."
The second master was also to be a Master of Arts
possessing similar qualifications to those required for the
Head Master. For the third master the degree of B.A. was
required. He was also expected to be able to make a Latin
verse. No qualifications are specified for the fourth master,
who was to take charge of the " Accidence School " for
young beginners, which the ordinances directed to be kept
under or near the grammar school.

None of the masters were allowed during their term of
office to take any cure of preaching or ministry in the
church, or practise physic or any other art or profession,
whereby their service in the school should be hindered. 2

No provision was made in the ordinances for the election
of a new accidence master when a vacancy should occur in
the office. Roger Kent, the first accidence master, died on
November I2th, 1588, and his place was left unfilled till
January 23rd, I58f, on which day Mr. Ralph Jones was
" chosen and elected " to succeed him by the Bailiffs and
Head Master. 3 The delay was doubtless occasioned by the
absence of any direction in the ordinances as to the mode
of election. 4 Whenever one of the other masterships fell
vacant the remaining masters were to give notice of the

1 Similar regulations were made for the other school livings. Natives of Chir-
bury had the first preferential claim to its vicarage.

2 This regulation seems to have been almost ignored in the eighteenth century.

3 See school register.

4 Subsequently, in March, 159^, the Bailiffs and Head Master took the
opinion of Thomas Owen, Esq., the Recorder of Shrewsbury, Thomas Egerton,
Esq., Solicitor General, and Thomas Branthwaite, Esq., Reader of Lincoln's Inn,
on this and other matters in doubt, and their decision was that the accidence
master should be elected by the Bailiffs and Head Master, and that two of
the electors, of whom the Head Master was to be one, must agree in their choice.
(Hotchkis MSS.}


vacancy to the Bailiffs, whose duty it was within twenty
days to signify the same to the Master and Fellows of St.
John's College, Cambridge, requesting them to "elect and
send" an "able meet and apt man." In choosing a master,
the college was to be guided by the same order of pre-
ferential claims which has been already specified in the
regulations as to scholarships and fellowships hereafter to
be founded. The Town Bailiffs were to "nominate and
appoint" the man chosen by the college "if they should
think him worthy." But if they had any reasonable cause
for misliking him, they were to signify the cause to the
college authorities, who must then proceed to a new election. 1

The second master, however, might be promoted to the
head -mastership by the Bailiffs with the consent of the
Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry, if he had occupied his post
for two years, and had shown himself qualified for the higher
duties, and the Bailiffs and Head Master were allowed under
similar circumstances to promote the third master. 2

Provision was made for the formal admission of new
masters to their rooms by the Bailiffs, and also for a certain
amount of conviviality upon such occasions.

The appointed school hours were

From Lady Day to All Saints' f 6 a.m. to 1 1 a.m.

Day. \ 12.45 P- m - to 5-3 P- m -

From All Saints' Day to Lady f 7 a ' m ' to TI a ' m '

7 12.45 p.m. to 4.30 p.m.

I (if daylight served). 3

1 The Bailiffs soon began to endeavour to encroach on the college right to
"elect and send" masters. On August 1st, 1587, after informing the college of
the death of Atkys, the third master, they went on to recommend William Bayly,
B.A., as his successor. Similarly, on October 3ist, 1594, they recommended
Ralph Gittins, B.A., to succeed Bayly in the third mastership. Ultimately they
went much further, and claimed "the chiefest stroke" in the selection of new
masters, spending no less than ^300 in 1635-36 in an unsuccessful attempt to
place their own nominee in the office of Head Master. In 1724 the Bailiffs
reasserted their right to appoint masters, basing their claim upon the Charter of
Edward VI., but their election was set aside by the Court of Exchequer, and, on
appeal, by the House of Lords. (See Hotchkis MSS. and Hist, of Si. John's College.}

2 Several instances of such promotions occurred in the I7th and i8th centuries.

3 No candles were allowed to be used in the school for fear of "breeding
disease" or "peril otherwise."


The scholars were summoned by a bell which was rung
a quarter of an hour before each school, 1 and prayers were
said at the beginning of morning lesson and at the end of
evening lesson.

Immediately after prayers the whole school was called
over, the second and third masters taking their turn to call
the roll and say prayers every other week. Every Thursday
was a play day unless a holy day occurred in the week, and
no other play day was allowed except by the consent of the
Bailiffs and at the "earnest request and great entreaty of
some man of honour, or of great worship, credit, or authority." 2
Before going to play on Thursday the scholars of the highest
form had to declaim and play one act of a comedy. The
only games permitted at the school were " shootinge in the
longe bowe," " chesse plaie," running, wrestling, and leaping.
Although the boys were allowed to play their games for
limited stakes, id. a game and 4^. a match, all betting,
" openlie or covertlie," was forbidden ; and offenders against
this regulation were to be " severely punyshed " or else
"expulsed for ever."

The school broke up three times in the year at Christmas,
Easter, and Whitsuntide the duration of the holidays at
these three seasons being respectively 18 days, 12 days, and
9 days.

To each master was allowed 30 days' absence during the
year, over and above the regular vacations ; but only one
could be away at a time. Masters might also absent them-
selves from school, with the approval of the Bailiffs, if called
by urgent business. 3

1 In the school account-book an entry occurs in 1579 of the payment of zos. to
William Benett, parish clerk of St. Mary's, for ringing the bell called the school
bell, which in those days was one of St. Mary's church bells.

2 Among the school records in the Town Hall there is a formal permission,
signed by the Bailiffs, for the boys to play on Tuesday afternoon, May 4th, 1613.
It was granted at the earnest request of the worshipful Mr. Francis Gibbons, M.A.,
and is addressed to Mr. Gittins. The Head Master, Mr. John Meighen, was
doubtless away.

3 Provision was made in the ordinances for the case of a master "infected with
any lothesome, horrible, or contagious disease," or who might, by reason of


All masters, on admission, had to swear that they would
not spoil or defraud the school of any of its property. The
lower masters swore, in addition, that they would not keep
back any of the entrance money. The Head Master had to
swear that he would keep a true register of all scholars
admitted to the school, and render a just account of all
entrance fees received. 1

The dinner hour was 1 1 a.m.

A certain amount of knowledge was required from a boy
before he could be admitted to the Grammar School. He
was expected to be able to write his name, to read English
perfectly, to " have his accidence without the book," to give
" any case of any number of a noun substantive or adjective,"
and " any person of any number of a verb active and passive,"
and to "make a latten by any of the Concordes, the latten
wordes beinge first given him."

The amount of the entrance fee payable on the admission
of a boy depended partly on the father's rank in life, and
partly on his place of residence. If any boy were a week
late in returning to school after the holidays, unless he were
hindered by " sicknes or other urgent cause," the fee had to
be paid over again. 2

"greate age, sicknes, or imbecilitie," be unable to serve. In the former case the
master was to be removed by the Bailiffs, and " charitable relief" was to be given
from school funds. In the latter, he was to pay half his wages to a substitute
during his incapacity, the substitute teaching in one of the lower schools. But a
year's grace was to be given in this case, during which time no diminution was to
be made in salary, and the work was to be done by the other masters with the
help of their scholars.

1 The Bailiffs seem to have been in the habit of requiring the Head Master to
swear to his accounts every year at the audit. But on November i6th, 1609,
Meighen, having discovered that this oath was not enjoined by the ordinances,
informed the Bailiffs that he should take it no longer. It was decreed by the
Court of Chancery in 1613 that the Head Master should in future, at the time of
the audit, take the same oath about leases and expenditure which was required
from the Bailiffs, and should also, when admitted to office, enter into bond and
covenant to keep the ordinances. (See Hotchkis MSS.)

2 If a boy were sent away from school for disobedience or breach of school
rules, it was specified that he should not be received again unless his friends
answered to the two senior masters "for his obedience and good abearing in
all things." In case of his re-admission the entrance fee would have to be
paid over again.


The scale of entrance fees was as follows 1 :

s. d.
A lord's son . . 10 o

A knight's son . . ..68

The heir apparent of a gentleman . .34
Younger sons of gentlemen . ..26

Under these degrees and born outside Shrop-
shire . . ..20
Under these degrees and born in Shropshire . i o
Sons of burgesses dwelling in the town or
liberties of Shrewsbury, or in the Abbey
Foregate (if of ability) . ..04
Sons of other persons there inhabiting . .08

Householders in Shrewsbury and its suburbs were ex-
pected to "cause and see" their children who were at
school, and all other boys who might be " tabled " in
their houses, to, " resorte to theire parishe churche everie
sondaie and holy-day to heare divine service at morning
and evening praier " ; and monitors were appointed by the
Head Master for each church to note any scholars who
misbehaved themselves or were absent from service. In
case of a sermon being preached in any church, all scholars
were to " resorte thither to the hearinge thereof."

The school books in use were

For Latin Prose :

Tully, the Commentaries of Caesar, Sallust, Livy, and
two little books of Dialogues drawn out of Tully's
Offices and Lodovicus Vives by Mr. Thomas Ashton.
For Latin Verse :

Virgil, Ovid, Horace, and Terence.
For Greek :

Greek Grammar of Cleonarde, Greek Testament,
Isocrates, and Xenophon's Cyropczdia.

1 Sums of 3</., 2oT., and id. seem occasionally to have been accepted,
probably on the ground of poverty, for sons of burgesses. In 1580 four boys
are credited with fees of 6d. These may have been sons of oppidans (not
burgesses) who were excused a portion of the &/. fee on the same ground.


It was further provided by the ordinances that if any
difficulty should arise as to their interpretation, it was to
be referred to Mr. Thomas Ashton (during his life), the
Recorder of Shrewsbury, and two lawyers nominated by
the Bailiffs and Head Master. 1 Power was reserved to
Ashton to frame additional ordinances which might be
necessary for the government of the school ; and for these
ordinances the Bailiffs and Head Master were directed to
have due consideration.

It may be seen by these ordinances that have now been
described at some length, that Shrewsbury School was
placed under a kind of threefold government.

The Bailiffs of the town exercised a joint control with the
Head Master over the issue of new leases of school property
and the expenditure of school revenues ; but further security
was taken for their due administration by the institution of
an annual audit of accounts, and the provision that no sum
greater than 10 could be taken out of the school chest at
one time without the express permission of the Master and
Fellows of St. John's College, Cambridge.

In the interests of education Ashton took care that the
election of new masters should be given to a society of
learned men who would be under no temptation to subordi-
nate fitness for magisterial duties to local claims or private
interest. The Head Master too would have a more independent
position, if chosen in this way, than if he were elected by the
Bailiffs, and would consequently be a more efficient guardian
of the school property.

It is not to be doubted that Ashton saw the educational
mischief likely to ensue from the preferential claims by which
the college authorities were fettered in their choice of masters.
But his position was difficult. Under the Charter of Edward
VI., the Bailiffs were intrusted, not only with the appointment
of masters, but with the whole government of the school.

1 By a decree of Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, on June 28th, 1613, the Bailiffs
and Head Master were directed to refer cases of difficulty to the Justices of
Assize and the Recorder. Several instances are recorded of this being done.
(See Hotchkis MSS. , and Add. MSS. Brit. Mus., 21,024.)


They had also the right, subject to the advice of the Bishop
of Lichfield and Coventry, of making statutes and ordinances
for its administration. To deprive them of all voice in the
appointment of masters, and of all share in framing the new
ordinances, would probably have had the effect of making the
Corporation of Shrewsbury hostile, rather than friendly to
the school, and Ashton was too much of a statesman to run
the risk of exasperating a body, the members of which were,
after all, the only persons available to share with the Head
Master the local government of the school. So, while securing
to the college the real choice of the masters, he left to the
Bailiffs the right to "nominate and appoint them," with the
power of exercising a " veto " in any particular case for
" reasonable cause." And, although the indenture of Eliza-
beth expressly reserved to Ashton the power of making
" rules, orders, and constitutions " for the application of the
Great Tithes of Chirbury and other endowments to " the
better maintenance of the Free Grammar School founded
by the late King Edward the Sixth," and other specified
objects and there can be no doubt that the school ordinances
of 157!- were, in the main, Ashton's work he steadily perse-
vered to the end in his fixed resolve to obtain for them the
full assent of the Corporation of Shrewsbury before they
were promulgated. Policy, too, rather than the interests of
education must have influenced Ashton when he gave to
Shrewsbury burgesses preferential claims for their sons, not
only to livings, scholarships, and fellowships, but even to
school masterships. For we find him, on one occasion,
irritated by the apathy shown by the Corporation in the
matter of the ordinances, threatening, in case of further
delay, to take a new course, and "establish the thing more
surelie for learning, though less beneficial for the town here-
after." 1 Surely this is a conclusive proof that Ashton did
not consider local interests altogether conducive to the interests
of learning, and that, in favouring the former, he allowed
policy sometimes to sway his judgment.

In all these cases, however, we find some provision made

1 This threat is to be found in Ashton's letter of May loth, 1576.


in the ordinances to prevent undue abuse of the preferential
claims. Shrewsbury boys, whatever their rights of birth
might be, were not to be elected to school scholarships
and fellowships at Cambridge, unless they were found
" meet and apt for such preferment." Candidates for the
cures of Chirbury and St. Mary might be sons of burgesses
or natives of Chirbury ; but, if the electors did not consider
them to be "fit men," they were to be at liberty to
appoint "any of like sufficiency," any clergyman, in fact,
who possessed the other statutable qualifications of education
at Shrewsbury School, and a degree at one of the uni-
versities. In the case of schoolmasterships, the proviso
that privileged candidates must be "thought worthy of the
place" enabled the college to prevent any serious injury
being done to the school by these preferential claims.
James Brooke, who was elected second master in 1627,
was not even a scholar of Shrewsbury. David Evans,
who was made third master at the same time, though
educated at the school, was neither the son of a burgess
nor a native of Shropshire. And when the college had,
for the second time, to appoint a Head Master, the eminent
man who, after prolonged litigation between the Corporation
of Shrewsbury and St. John's College, ultimately received
the appointment, was neither the son of a burgess nor a
native of Shrewsbury.

On the whole, the form of government which Ashton
instituted for Shrewsbury School seems to have been the
best available under the circumstances. It was essential
that the Bailiffs should have a share in it, both on account
of their position under the Charter of Edward VI., and also,
as the natural guardians of the various rights and privileges
it was thought best to give to the burgesses and other in-
habitants of the town. But the Bailiffs were changed year
by year, and it was important to associate with them, in
the government of the school, someone who occupied a
more permanent position. The best man for such a purpose
would undoubtedly be the Head Master. His interest in
the prosperity of the school would naturally be great ;


presumably, he would be unaffected by local intrigues ;
his influence in the town, too, would be increased by the
co-ordinate authority with the Bailiffs in the government
of the school, which was given to him by the ordinances.
It seems also to have been an act of the soundest policy
in those days to confide the choice of new masters to the
governing body of a great college, fettered though the
electors might be by the preferential claims they were bound
to consider. Ashton's knowledge of the world and business
experience again had taught him the strong probability, as
the surplus revenues of the school gradually accumulated,
that zealous members of the Corporation would look with
greedy eye upon the "Stock Remanent," and desire to

Online LibraryGeorge William FisherAnnals of Shrewsbury School → online text (page 5 of 56)