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than he held himself to be. Accordingly, on August 1st,
the Bailiffs wrote to the master and seniors of St. John's
College to signify the vacancy. 2 There can be no doubt
that the school enjoyed a very high reputation at the time
of Lawrence's resignation. Lawrence himself describes it as
"a nursery of learning, an ornament to the town, and a
singular benefit to the whole commonwealth"; the Bailiffs
call it "the special ornament of the town and treasure of
the country adjoining," and tell the authorities of St. John's
College that " all gentlemen in these parts are very desirous
to have their children here trained up in learning." And the
college joins in the chorus of praise. 3

But Camden's testimony and that of the Dean and Chapter
of Hereford, to which reference has already been made, are
of greater weight, as coming from persons unconnected with
Shrewsbury or its school. Lawrence was comparatively a
young man when he resigned, and he lived for many years
afterwards in retirement at Wem. It is to be feared that
in his old age he fell into poverty. An order appears in
the Corporation Accounts for 1602, that "Master Thomas
Lawrence, sometime Head Schoolmaster, being grown poor,

1 The letter is given both by Hotchkis and Blakeway.

2 See History of St. John's College.

3 The college answer is dated September 2oth, 1583.


shall be allowed $ and 50^. in hand out of the Corporation
estate for his great and painful diligence in procuring good
order in the Free Grammar School." 1 Although the school
revenues at the time of Lawrence's resignation were con-
siderable, he had received but a small stipend until the
expiration of the lease of the Chirbury tithes in 1578.
For six years, as he reminded the Bailiffs in his farewell
letter, he was only paid 20 marks per annum, and then,
for the next four years, only 20. So it was only for
five years out of his twelve years' head-mastership that
he received the full stipend of 40 appointed by the
ordinances. Under such circumstances he could not well
make any provision for his future support while he was at
Shrewsbury. This he points out to the Bailiffs in his letter.
" Post tot tantosque exantlatos labores/' he writes,

" Quid pretii sperare licet ? quae dona reporto ?
Nil : nil : nee superest quicquam, quo vivere possum,
Quod superest aevi, si quid superesse volunt di."

On such grounds Lawrence considered he might reasonably
and conscientiously ask for "one yeare's wages at least" on
his resignation. 2 But no compulsion was to be applied to his
successor beyond their " worships' persuasions." Lawrence,
however, although his suggestion is modestly made, adds
with some shrewdness that the Bailiffs' "careful or unkind
dealing " with him would very shortly be reported by him to
certain persons " of honour " and " others of great worship."
Lawrence lived to enjoy his annuity of $ for eighteen years. 3
He was buried at Wem, January 23rd, i6-g-.

Mr. Leonard Hotchkis, the antiquarian Head Master of
Shrewsbury in the eighteenth century, has preserved for us

1 See OWEN'S History of Shrewsbury.

2 Meighen, Gittins, and other masters were in later days pensioned out of
school funds on their retirement. But it does not seem to have occurred, either
to the Bailiffs or Lawrence, that, under Ordinance XVI., anything could be
done for him except to provide a substitute who would teach in one of the lower
schools, and receive half Lawrence's stipend. Counsel subsequently took a different
view of this ordinance.

3 See Blakeway MS.


interesting forms of Morning and Evening Prayer, which he
says were in use at Shrewsbury School before the office of
catechist was founded. He copied them, he tells us, from
an old book of Admittances or of Memoranda which was
formerly in Chaloner's possession. As early as 1603 it was
directed by a Corporation Order that 6 i$s. ^d. should be
paid out of the school funds to a minister, who should read
prayers and catechise the scholars in the " Scholars' Chapel "
in St. Mary's Church. Up to the time of the consecration
of the school chapel in 1617 the curate of St. Mary seems
generally to have acted as catechist. But in that year the
Rev. John Foorde was appointed to the office at a stipend
of 20 per annum ; and from that time the catechist was
a recognized school official, the duties and stipend being, as
a rule, assigned to the Head Master. If, therefore, Hotchkis's
account of these prayers be correct, they were, at any rate,
in use early in the seventeenth century, and may possibly
have been drawn up by Lawrence for daily use in school
after the framing of the ordinances in 1577.


" To thank the Lord our God it is

A good and comely thing,
And to Thy Name, O Thou most high,
Due praise aloud to sing,

Thy loving kindness forth to show

When first appears the light,
And to declare Thy faithfulness

With pleasure every night.

For through Thy works, Lord, Thou hast made

Our souls right glad to be,
And in Thy works we will triumph,

Which have been wrought by Thee ;

Lord, let Thy Grace and Glory stand

On us Thy servants thus,
Confirm the works we take in hand,

Lord, prosper them and us.


" I believe in God, &c.

"O blessed Father, we give Thee most humble and hearty thanks for
Thy manifold blessings both spiritual and temporal which Thou hast
plentifully bestowed upon us from the beginning of our lives to this
present day : But namely that Thou hast vouchsafed mercifully to
preserve us this night last past from all the maliciousness of our ghostly
enemy the devil. And now, blessed Father, as the night with its dark-
ness is past, and the day with its light is come, and goeth on to the joy
of all living creatures : so likewise now cause the spiritual light of the
glorious Gospel of Christ, which is the lively image of Thee our God,
to shine in our hearts, that we may behold Thee, our Heavenly Father,
in Him, and that we Thy children, through this blessed light, being
delivered from all dark ignorance and heavy sluggishness, may be made
apt vessels for Thy Holy Spirit to dwell in. So plant in us, good Father,
the fear of Thy Name and knowledge of Thy Will, that we, Thy poor
children, acknowledging ourselves to be miserable sinners, may neverthe-
less be made pure and holy by the righteousness and death of Thy only
and natural Son Jesus Christ our eldest brother. And grant that we so
proceed in good learning and manners, that, as we daily grow through
Thy goodness in years and stature of body, so we may daily increase
both in wisdom and favour before Thee our heavenly Father and before
men, through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom, with Thee and the Holy
Spirit, be all honour and glory both now and for ever. Amen.

" Our Father, which art in heaven, &c.
" The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, &c.

" I believe in God the Father, &c.

" O most merciful Father and gracious God, without whose help all
those studies, and all those things which we have learned this day, are
but vain ; bless, we beseech Thee, the labours of our Teachers, and
the endeavours of us Thy tender children, and so plentifully water the
same with the dew of Thy heavenly Grace, that, as we daily grow
through Thy goodness in godliness, knowledge and understanding, at
the last we may become fit instruments for Thy Church and Common-
wealth. Give us Grace, O Heavenly Father, to use all those studies
and all those things which we have learned this day in Thy fear, to
Thy honour and glory, the comfort of our Parents and the edifying of
our Brethren. Forgive us, O Lord, all the faults which we have this
day committed either by negligence, slothfulness, or any other way.
And endue us daily more and more with godliness, knowledge and
understanding, and inflame our minds with earnestness and cheerfulness


to obtain the same. Teach us true obedience to Thee in all powers
and ordinances appointed under Thee, and finally as Thou hast made
this day prosperous unto us, so by Thy mighty protection save us this
night from all perils and dangers, and especially from our ghostly
enemy the devil, who, like a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom
he may devour, which of ourselves we cannot resist, but being made
strong by faith in Thee, to Whom, both sleeping and waking, we
commend ourselves this night and evermore. Amen.

"God save the Church Universal, and bring us all to the unity of
Christ in truth. God save the King, Queen and Realm, and send us
peace through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."


John Meighen, M.A., Head Master, 1583-1635.

WHEN Lawrence resigned his post in July, 1583, the
Bailiffs were willing that Mr. John Baker, the second
master, should succeed him, being of opinion that he was
possessed of all the qualifications required by the ordinances
for such promotion ; but, as Baker "utterly refused" to accept
their proposal, " requesting that a more sufficient person "
should be obtained by the recommendation of the master and
fellows of St. John's College, the Bailiffs wrote to them
on August 1st, announcing the vacancy, and begging the
college " to elect and send " a new master in Lawrence's
place, signifying at the same time that they would disallow
the college choice, which, under the ordinances, they had the
right to do, if "a younger or more insufficient man than
Mr. Baker " were sent 1 After some deliberation the master
and fellows selected Mr. John Mehen, 2 M.A., a graduate of
their own college, who was duly qualified, as a scholar of
Shrewsbury School, the son of a burgess, and a Master of
Arts of more than two years' standing, to be Head Master.
In their letter of commendation, dated September 2Oth, they
tell the Bailiffs that they have "no fear "that Meighen "could
be disallowed." They regarded him, with the exception of
one man 3 "who refused to deal therein," as the best man

1 See BAKER'S Hist, of St. John's College, vol. i. p. 419.

2 The name seems to have been spelt indifferently Meghyn, Mehen, Meyghen,
and Meighen. The Head Master signed his name John Meyghen for a year or
two, but subsequently changed the y into an i.

3 This was probably either Richard Webster or Richard Harries. Both of them
were natives of Shrewsbury, educated at the school, and fellows of St. John's



available for the post, and described him as industrious " in
the study of good learning," "well affected" in religion, of
" honest conversation " and " discreet behaviour " during his
whole time at college, and " well approved ... in the good
government of youth and their due order of teaching." With
more years they doubted not that he would be as successful
as his predecessors. 1 The Bailiffs were sensible enough not
to insist on their condition that the new master should be an
older man than John Baker, and formally admitted Meighen
to the head-mastership on October 1st, 1583.

According to Blakeway, the new Head Master was the son
of Richard Meighen, a tanner of Shrewsbury. Two boys of
his name were at Shrewsbury School in Ashton's time, both
of whom were oppidans. The first, John Meyghyn, was
entered in 1563, and placed in the 8th class. The second,
whose name is written John Mehen, was entered in 1566, and
placed in the same class. It is quite certain, therefore, that
these entries must refer to different boys. Which of the two
is to be identified with the future Head Master must remain
doubtful. We know that he graduated B.A. at St. John's
College, Cambridge, in January, 157!-, and M.A. in 1581, and
must therefore have been eleven years at school if he entered
in 1563. This is unlikely, and the balance of probability
seems in favour of the later entry, especially as the spelling
of the name agrees with that adopted by the college in the
letter of nomination. Probably Meighen was about twenty-
six years old when he began work in 1583. Like his
predecessor, Thomas Lawrence, he was not in Holy Orders.
He filled, indeed, the office of churchwarden of St. Mary's in
I599- 2 The new Head Master found the school well filled
with boys, the numbers at the time of his admission,
excluding those in the Accidence School, being 271.
Lawrence's tone in his farewell letter to the Bailiffs is
that of a thoroughly wearied man, and it is probable that
the reins of discipline were somewhat relaxed in the latter
part of his time; for, on October 4th, the day of the

1 See BAKER'S Hist, of St. John's College, vol. i. p. 419.

2 Hotchkis MSS.


municipal elections, the outgoing Bailiffs thought it necessary
to issue a proclamation that " no scholars, boys, nor prentices,
should that night go abroad to disquiet the town with
unreasonable noises, fightings, and disorders." The notice
had the desired effect, and "all things proceeded quietly,
and ended in good time and in good order." 1 About this
time it was arranged, mainly for the advantage of Shrewsbury
schoolboys, that St. Mary's bell should toll every day, at
1 1 o'clock in the morning and 5 o'clock in the afternoon. 2

The first year of Meighen's head-mastership was noticeable
for the visit of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, accom-
panied by Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, his stepson, and
Lord North, to Shrewsbury. The reception given them had
almost a state character. 3 The "Worshipful of the shire,"
the Bailiffs, and Aldermen in their scarlet gowns, "the
companies of the occupations of the town," and the scholars
of the Free School, " in comely and seemly order," awaited
the arrival of the honoured visitors at the upper end of the
Wyle Cop. Here, in accordance with the Shrewsbury
custom, orations were addressed to Lord Leicester by
certain selected boys, partly in prose and partly in verse.
Thomas Sidney, 4 Lord Leicester's nephew, was naturally one
of the orators. Edward Higgons, 5 a nephew of Mr. George
Higgons, one of the Bailiffs for the year, and Richard Horde, 6

1 Taylor MS.

3 PHILLIPS'S History of Shrewsbury.

3 Taylor MS. The date of the visit was May 25th, 1584.

4 For what little is known of Thomas Sidney see Chapter III.

5 Edward Higgons was probably a son of Mr. Ralph Higgons, younger brother
of the Bailiff. Owen and Blakeway fall into the curious error of calling him the
second son of Mr. George Higgons, two of whose sons Richard and George
were at school in 1562. If his second son was named Edward he must have
died before 1562, for in that year Edward, son of Mr. George Higgons,
was baptised at St. Julian's on October 26th. This latter Edward can hardly
have been at school in 1584 at the mature age of 22. So, unless Mr. George
Higgons had a third son named Edward, both elder ones having died, he cannot
have been father of the schoolboy of 1584.

6 Richard Horde was fifth son of John Horde, Esq., of Horde's Park, Bridg-
north. He entered Shrewsbury School in 1577. In 1593 he was elected fellow
of St. John's College. Subsequently he took holy orders, and had a living
in Essex.


a Bridgnorth boy, who became afterwards a fellow of St.
John's College, Cambridge, were the others.

Thomas Sidney's speech consisted chiefly of a graceful
acknowledgment of the " loving entertainment " he had
received from all classes in Shrewsbury, and a humble
entreaty to his uncle "to give the Bailiffs and all the rest
thanks in his behalf."

The other orations were couched in very flowery language,
and were elaborate panegyrics of Leicester. They spoke
of " the noble stock " from which he sprang, and of which he
was " the chiefest flower in flourishing " ; of the valour of his
" arts and attempts," and the " triumphant end " to which he
brought them ; of the high esteem in which he was held
by " the prince " for his " wisdom and politic counsel " in
preventing foreign princes, and revealing both "domestical
and foreign traitors," and wound up with a prayer that the
Almighty would give " Nestor's years " to " his honour."

At the close of the speeches the whole party proceeded
to " Master Onslow's Place," 1 which had been furnished for
the occasion by Mr. Leighton, 2 of Watelsborough, and there
the Bailiffs presented to Lord Leicester a standing cup
of silver gilt containing 20 in angels, a hogshead of wine,
and banqueting dishes to the value of^io. All these gifts
" his honour . . . thankfully received."

The next morning Leicester visited the school, 3 and had
once more to listen to "sundry orations." The chronicler
adds that before leaving he gratified the masters with
"sundry rewards." Then came service at St. Mary's and
" an excellent sermon " by " Master Tomkys." 4

1 The Council House.

2 Better known as Sir Edward Leighton. He was not knighted till about 1590.
Mr. Thomas Leighton, Sir Edward's grandfather, Sheriff of Shropshire in 1495,
married Elizabeth, daughter of Walter Devereux, Lord Ferrers ; so that there
was relationship between the Leightons and Robert, Earl of Essex.

8 See Taylor MS. There is an entry in the school accounts for the year from
November i6th, 1583, of 2s. $d. paid for cleaning the school on the occasion
of Lord Leicester's visit.

4 The Rev. John Tomkys, a native of Staffordshire, was appointed Curate
of St. Mary's and Public Preacher in 1582. He was still holding these offices on
February i5th, 159^, when he received a licence from the Rev. Andrew Dager,


After dinner the Earl took his departure from Shrewsbury,
proceeding homeward by Oswestry, Denbigh, and Chester.

Two years afterwards the young Earl of Essex again
visited the town. The account of his reception is interesting,
as containing the only record of England's time-honoured
institution of archery in connection with the school. 1

Later on in the same year occurred another of these
pageants which occupied so noticeable a place in the school
life of the sixteenth century, and in which the compiler
of the Taylor MS. seems to have taken such delight. The
particular form which the military display took upon this
occasion was a reflection of the anxiety which was then
so widely prevalent in England about the plots which public
rumour was continually attributing to the papists to assassi-
nate Elizabeth and place Mary Queen of Scots upon the
throne. 2 The scene of this pageant was the Quarry, or,
as it was then called, "Behind the Walls." It is the last
recorded in the Taylor MS. There is indeed but little to be
found bearing upon school matters among the remaining
incidents which are there related. The chronicle itself came
to an end in 1604, probably owing to the death of the

Meighen's head-mastership lasted more than fifty years,

Minister of St. Alkmond's to " eat flesh in Lent, on the ground of sickness." He
died June 23rd, 1592. The chronicler speaks of him as "a famous learned
man." He seems to have been in great favour with the Shrewsbury puritans.
(OWEN and BLAKEWAY'S History of Shrewsbury.}

1 "This yeare and the xxvth daye of maye Lord Robert devereux, yonge
Earle of Essex, cam from master leightons of wattilsborowe, throughe the towne
of Shreusberie, before whom was made soondrie oracons by the scollars of the
free scoole, and, standing in battle raye, w th bowes and arrows, at hys passadge
through the castlegate, reioysyd at the sight of them giving them greate rewards
w'he harty thancks " Taylor MS. , 1 585.

2 " This yeare and the 8 daye of September beinge thursdaye the scollars of the
free scoole in shrewsberie made a triumphe in warlicke man> in a feeld there
callyd behinde the walls against the pope's army and other rebells whom they
trivmphantly vanquished to the greate reioysinge of the beholders departinge
from the filld throughe the towne victoriously towards the Castell there beinge
over the towne where they w l he soownde of trompet dromme and shoutes sowndid
owt their victry w'he greate fyers mad and thankfull psalmes most joyfully soonge
to god in the comfortable hearinge of all the towne w l he ioyfull and harty
thanksgivinge. " Taylor MS.


and he lived to see most of the objects accomplished which
the ordinances as to the disposal of the stock remnant con-
templated. Houses were provided for the second and third
masters ; a library and a gallery were built, and the former
was furnished with books ; a country house was built at
Grinshill, a few miles away from Shrewsbury, to which the
masters and boys might resort in time of plague or sickness.
The school-house at Shrewsbury, which was of timber, was
taken down and entirely rebuilt of white freestone ; a chapel
also, adjoining the school-rooms, was completed and conse-
crated. 1 Many changes naturally took place in the staff of
masters during Meighen's time. Richard Atkys, the third
master, died on July 2ist, 1587, after twenty-six years'
service, and " was burried in the Scholler's Chappell, in St.
Marie's Churche, the next day after beyng Saturnday in the
morning, all the schollers of the whole schole goyng before
the herse to the churche and the rest of the schoolem rs then
remaininge followinge, next after his children, before the
magistrates." 2 On August ist the Bailiffs wrote to St.
John's College to notify the vacancy, suggesting in their
letter the appointment of William Bailly, B.A., of St. John's
College, who was the " legitimate son of Mr. John Bailly,
gentleman, a free burgess of Shrewsbury." 3 The college
elected Mr. Bailly on August Qth, and on August 23rd

1 See STOW'S Chronicle of England, augmented by Edward Howes (London,
1631), OWEN'S Arms of the Bailiffs, and OWEN and BLAKEWAY'S Shrewsbury.

2 See school register. Richard Atkys was in holy orders, and appears to have
held the cure of Sutton Church, where his name is cut in full on the reading desk,
" Richarde Atkis. 3. Scholemaster. 1582." The account of his death and burial
in the school register was very inaccurately copied in COLLINS'S Public Schools,
there being no less than six mistakes in transcribing. The worst error was in
taking Saturnday for Palm Sunday. The time of year, July, should have made
such a mistake impossible. Unfortunately all these errors have since been re-
produced verbatim elsewhere.

3 For the letters as to the vacancy and election see BAKER'S Hist, of St. John's
College and the school account-book. The new master's name seems to have been
spelt indifferently Bailly, Bailey, and Baylie. He was entered at school as a boy
in November, 1580, and graduated B.A. in 1586. According to Phillips he was in
holy orders. He was formally admitted third master on August 3ist, and the
customary banquet was held in " the lower chamber next to the accidence
school, within the school court." School register.


the Bishop of Lichfield and Coventry formally expressed his

In the following year, on November I2th, Roger Kent, who
had been master of the Accidence School since its first founda-
tion, about 1577, died, and was buried next day in St. Mary's
Church, with much the same formalities as Richard Atkys. 1

No provision had been made in the ordinances as to the
manner in which the Accidence master was to be elected,
and in consequence there was some delay in the appointment
of his successor. But on January 23rd, 1 58f, Mr. Ralph Jones 2
was formally " admitted teacher of the Accidence School,"
Meighen and the Bailiffs having wisely agreed to make a
joint election. 3 The next change in the staff was consequent
on the resignation of Mr. William Bailey, the third master,
on October 3Oth, 1594. The Bailiffs wrote on the following
day to the college authorities to notify the vacancy, and
recommended Ralph Gittins, B.A., a scholar of St. John's
College and duly qualified under the ordinances, to their
notice. On November 1 5th the master and seniors wrote to
say that they had elected Ralph Gittins to the third-master-
ship, " having experience of his good conversation."* Ralph
Gittins' career at Shrewsbury, which did not finally close till
1638, will be dealt with in a subsequent chapter, in which
also will be found some account of the other changes in
the magisterial staff up to the time of Meighen's resigna-
tion. From time to time notes occur in the school register
in Meighen's handwriting of money received by him for the

1 1588. "In this yeare on the xii th day of November between the houres of
one and two of the clocke in the afternoone, Roger Kent, late schoolem 1 " of the
fourth or accidence schoole dep'ted this life. And was buried in the Scholers'
chapell in St. Marie's Churche the next day after beyinge Wednesday in the

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