Memorials of the Guild of Merchant Taylors of the Fraternity of St. John the Baptist in the City of London. Originally published by Harrison, London, 1875.
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The Building Of Crosby School In The 17th Century.
At a period when a new School is to be built at Great Crosby, it may be interesting to preserve some record of the building of the old School in the 17th Century.
Shortly after Harrison's death, which has been already referred to (p. 19, note), the Company opened a communication with an ancestor of the present Lord Sefton, Sir Richard Molineux, (fn. 1) with whom the founder had been in communication on the subject of the School shortly before his death. Their letter, taken from the Court Minutes (18th August 1619), was in these words:
"A Lre to Sr Richard Molineux, Knight, the words whereof are these, viz.:—
"Right Woorll Sr,
"Whereas Mr. John Harrison, a brother of our Company lately dec, having in his life tyme as it is well knowne unto yor woorpp a full determinacon for ye building a free grammer schoole in Much Crosby, and as we have heard yor woorpp was a great further of that worke. Now right woorll in that Mr Harrison hath devised unto ye Corporacon of the Company of Mchant Taylors in Lond, five hundreth poundes in money for ye finishinge of the said Schoole, and competent meanes for the continuance thereof for ever. Wee therefore ye Mr and Wardens of that Comp. (having according to the trust in us reposed in performance of the Testators will a determinate purpose to hasten the finishinge of the same), doe humbly intreat yor woorpp that you would be pleased to vouchsafe yor favour and continuance in the going on and finishinge of ye good work as you did in the beginninge. And therein we shall not onely account orselves much bound unto yor woorpp, but wee wilbe ready to doe you any kind office wherein you shall have occation to use us. And in the interrim wee rest yor assured loving friends.
"Muchantailors Hall, the "23rd of August 1619.
"To the Right Woorll and or Worthy good friend Sr Richard Molineux, Knight & Barronet, these be adss.
A similar letter was written to one Mr. Gregory Turner, who, according to the list given in Baines's History of Lancashire of the "Rectors of Sefton," held that office conjointly with Thomas Leigh between 1602 and 1629, but no letter of reply from either has been preserved. Probably after the receipt of these replies the Court decided to accept the trust, for at a subsequent Court in the same month the Will was read, and he having given sufficient in money and lands for the performance thereof, they lovingly and willingly accepted of the said gift, and purposed, God willing, to perform the contents of the said Will, according to the true meaning thereof.
The subsequent entries relating to his estate are as follows:
"A Letter from Mrs Mary Harrison, Widow of the late John Harrison, in behalf of Jno Vickers, late Apprentice to her husband, for a lease a house in Crane Court, lately devised by J. H. to the Company."—[16th December 1619.]
"Ordered that Mr Warden Travers shall collect the rents of the the houses in St Swethin's Lane, and the Old Change and Crane Court, in St Augustine's paresh neere Paules gate lately devised to this Company by Mr John Harrison.
"There was at this Court presented by the executors of Mr. John Harrison, M'chantaylor, deceased, certaine plate given to this Company by his last will and testament, viz.—
"One fayer bason and ewer all guilt weyinge one hundreth and seaventeen oz.
"Also one standing cup wth cover, all guilt, weying fifty oz. eighteene pennyweight.
"Sum total of the weight of the said plate is one hundreth threescore seaven oz. and eighteen pennyweight."—[4th February 1619.]
"A Lease granted to Thomas Brett, of a small tenement in St Swithen's Lane (late in the occupation of Thomas Kelsey, Haberdasher, and lately given unto this Company by the last will and testament of Mr John Harrison, decd), for 21 years at the yearly rent of Seven pounds, and Forty pounds or thereabouts in repayring the said Tenemt."—[17th March 1619.]
And at a Court of the 28th June 1620, they agreed as follows:—
"It was at this Court ordered that a letter under our Mr and Wardens hands shalbe written to Sr Richard Mollineux, Knight, concerning the building of the School in Lanc. according to the Will of Mr John Harrison, dec., wch was accordingly done, the words whereof are these, vizt:—
"'Right Woorll Sir,
"'Right Woorll wee (the Mr and Wardens of the Company of M'chantailors) are sorry we did not knowe of your last being in London untill it was too late, but well understand of your great charge and paynes bestowed on the foundacon of our Schoole, lately devised to us by the last will and testament of our loving brother, Mr John Harrison, deceased, for the wch the whole Company doe acknowledg themselves much bound to your Woorpp in all thankfulness. And doe humbly desire your loving favor and furtherance untill the finishing thereof. Wee have lately received a letter from Mr Harrison at Much Crosbie, wherein he desireth that some course may be taken for more money. It is or desire that no money be wanting for the pformance of the worke. And we are informed by thexcutors of Mr. John Harrison that they have already disbursed Two hundreth and Tenn Pounds and have given order for fifty pounds more, wch they assure us wilbe deli'ed before this letter cometh to your hands. Mr. Harrison doth write in his letter that he will send us an Accompt which wee desire maie be pused and approved of by your Woorpp with the help of Mr Gregory Turner, whom Mr Harrison himselfe had intreated for that business soe to send us a Coppy thereof that wee may give the whole Company satisfaction how farr ye business is effected. And soe with our hearty commendacons remembred to your Woorpp we commit you to God and rest.
"'Your lovinge friends,
"'Merchauntailors Hall, the
"'13th July 1620.
"'Jno Slany, Mr.
"'To the Right Woorll and our worthy friend Sr Richard Mollineux, Knight and Barronett, these be ads.'"
The subsequent entries proceed thus:—
"The Master and Wardens to appoint a trusty messenger [who appears to have been their Clerk] to take a workman with him, and to see what is done for the School in Lancashire, to take an accompt of the money already disbursed, and to have order for further supply of money for the finishing thereof."—[23rd August 1620.]
"Ordered, that the Companys Armes shalbe drawn in parchmt and sent down to Much Crosby, that the freemason there may drawe them in stone, to be sett up in their School there founded by Mr John Harrison, deceased."—[22nd September 1620.]
[An inscription, under date of 1620, is preserved on a brass plate, with the arms of Harrison on the left-hand corner, and of the Company on the right—in Latin and English—in these words:
"In Scholam à Clarissimo Viro Dno Joanne Harrisono Crosbeiæ Magnæ in Agro Lancastrensi, exstructam, quam Dignissimæ Societatis Mercatorum Scissorum apud Londinates fidei ipse Societatis olim insigne Ornamentum curandam Comendavit.
"Anno Domini, 1620.
"Quam jactat Crosbeia, Scholam Phœbiq Sacellum, Debetur meritis, Magne Patrone, Tuis.
Tantus amor patriæ, tantus Virtutis honestæ, Tantus doctrinæ, et relligionis amor.
Pan Phœbo cedit: fit Tityrus ipse Palæmon; Et Corydon artes jam colit ipse bonas.
Est natura Solum : præceptor cultor agelli; Semina, doctrinæ sunt documenta sacræ.
Percipit hinc fructus Ecclesia: percipit indè Publica res tandem: servit utrique Schola.
Crosbeia & meritò nobis nunc Magna vocatur; Magna Schola est patriæ gloria, magnus honos."
"This School, of which Much Crosbey may we boast, Was built by Harrison's charity and cost.
Religion's, Learning's, Virtue's, Countrey's love To this good work his gracious heart did move.
Pan yield's to Phœbus; and Palæmon's part Act's Tityrus, nay Corydon himself learn's Art.
Nature's the Soil : the Tiller of the field The Master is: the seed which fruit doth yield
Are virtuous Documents Welfare and Health Are hence derived to Church and Comonwealth.
Crosbey now Much or Great wee wel may name; For by the School it doth receive great fame."
The present Head Master, to whose conscientious labour the School owes so much, accompanies the copy with this note:—
"Waterloo, "27th February 1875.
"Dear Mr. Clode,
"I enclose you a copy of the inscription on the brass, which is surely worth a footnote! The English rendering, especially the couplet, 'Pan yields to Phœbus,' is, I think, delicious, especially to anyone who knows what 'Pan' is in these parts.
"It was for a long time hidden by the plaster in the School wall. Some Members of the Archaeological Society some years ago paid a visit to the School to inspect the brass, after which it was cleaned and placed in its present position.
"Very truly yours,
"Samuel C. Armour."]
"C. M. Clode, Esq."
"The Comon Clark made relation how forward he found the free School at Much Crosbie, and delivered an estimate of the charge thereof, wch gave this Court good content."—[5th October 1620.]
"A Letter from John Harrison, of Much Crosbie, was at this Court openly read, wherein he desireth to have some aid from London to assist him in his business concerning the School there. Whereupon it is thought fitt to write to that worthy Knight, Sir Richard Mollineux, to entreate his aid and assistance therein, wch was accordingly done, ye words whereof are these:—
"'Right Woorll our Clark hath lately received a letter from John Harrison out of
Lancashire, wherein he writeth that he is very like to taste a dish of hard dealing
at ye hands of John Turner, the freemason, in measuring of his work, and doth
therefore desire some Messenger from us to be an eyewitness of his dealing, and to
take an Accompt how our money is disbursed. Wherein (as heretofore wee have
made bold with your Woorpp, soe now again) wee humbly crave your aide and
assistance yt you would be pleased to appoint your Servant, Mr Hutton, to see
ye measuring of ye School, and to puse John Harrison's Accompt, whose paynes
herein for us shall not be unrewarded. Wee wrote heretofore a few lynes to
Mr Gregory Turner, to be a meanes that his brother might deale favourably and doe
us justice in ye measuring of his work, which wee doubt nott, but yt he will
performe according to our expectation. And thus craving pardon for our boldness
in our many requests for your Woorpps favor and assistance in ye worke wch wee
hope will prove for ye comon good of ye country thereabouts, with our kindest
salutation and best wishes to your Woorpp we take our leave and comitt you to the
protection of the Almighty, resting your loving friends, &c.'
"'21st June 1621.'"
—[20th June 1621.]
"This Court understanding that their School at Much Crosby is not yet covered, and that John Harrison, who hath charge thereof, hath desired to be supplyed with more money. It is at this Court ordered that fifty pounds shalbe assigned to Mr. Pocock [the founder's executor] to be payed unto him, and that a letter under the hands of our Mr and Wardens shall presently be sent unto him for ye speedy covering of the said Schoole, and that he shall with all convenient speed come to London and bring up his accompts with him, as also the contract between the ffremason and himselfe."—[20th August 1621.]
"After our hearty commendacons, &c., Wee have at our last Court considered of your last letter written to our Clark, wherein we perceive a difference between you and ye Mason, who as you write would wrong you in the measuring of the worke, wee doubt not but you know wherein as well as if we sent a Messenger to see. If he have made more windowes than needeth and thereby gayneth, it is now too late to alter that which is done, and he will look to be payed according to the contract made between you and him. Yet wee advise you not to pay him all his money untill we may be satisfied he hath done us noe wronge. Wee have that good opinion of yt worthie Knight, Sr Richard Mollineux, that he will not suffer any workman to abuse us in soe good a work. The Schoole hath been long in hand, and as wee understand by Mr Pocock's man (who was lately there) that it is not yett covered wch we mervaile at. Wee doe therefore give you to understand that it is our ernest desire to have ye Schoole covered before Michaelmas next, for wee conceive it may much wrong ye worke already done if it should lye open this winter. And because you write yt some devise must be taken for more money. And that you should pceive that we are unwilling that the worke should be undone for want thereof. Wee have taken order with Mr Pocock to make over unto you fifty pounds more, wch he hath promesed to doe with all expedicon. And as soon as you have caused the School to be covered wee would have you come up to London and bring your Accompts and the contract between the Mason and yourselfe, that wee may understand how the Benefactor's money is to be bestowed, and how neere the School is finised, it hath been a far more chargeable worke than was expected, and we hope you will prove yourselfe a wise and carefull Steward. And soe wee comit you to God and rest.
"Your loving friends &c."
"Merchant Taylors' Hall, the last day of August 1621."
The school was built by local masons engaged by the founder's kinsman, John Harrison, living at Great Crosby, and the money was supplied by the executors. The cash books of the Company contain no entries whatever of the school building. The Company appear to have placed their main reliance upon the worthy knight.
"Letters directed to Sir Richard Mollineux, Knt., out of Lancashire, were delivered by him to the Common Clark, to acquaint the Company therewith, which were at this Court openly read. And consideration of them being had, the Court doth entreat our Master and Wardens to take some time to confer with the said Sir Richard, to thend that they may better understand how the business is carried concerning the School in Lancashire."—[16th October 1621.]
"And be it remembered that upon Monday the 5th day of Novr, after Dinner, the whole number of assistants then present resorted into the Parlor to appoint auditors to peruse and audit John Harrison's accompts for the money he had disbursed towards the building of the School in Lancashire, he having lately come to London.
"And it was further ordered that our Master and Wardens, or the more part of them, shall be entreated to peruse and audit the accompts of the said John Harrison, and certify the next Court of Assistants what they have done therein."—[5th November 1621.]
"Report being made at this Court by the Com. that had perused John Harrison's accounts for the charge of the School in Lancashire, which account the Com. could not give allowance of by reason he had brought no discharge from the parties that had received divers sums of money, and therefore it may seem doubtful to them whether the parties were satisfied or no. It is therefore ordered and agreed that a letter under our Master and Wardens' hands shall be directed and sent unto two of Sir Richard Mollineux men, to peruse and ratify said Harrison's accounts, which was accordingly done.
"'After our harty commendations, &c. It hath pleased your worthy Knight to acquaint us with your letters directed unto him, whereby wee understand that John Harrison hath refused to yield up an Accompt to you concerning our free School at Much Crosby, since wch tyme he hath been with us at London, and tendered his Accompt which we have pused, and find it came unto us much like his answer made unto you, which we have found fault with him for, and have not given him any allowance thereof untill it be ratified by you, the copie whereof we have sent you under his hand. These are therefere (with the favour and good liking of your honble Knight) to call him before you and to examine his Accompts, and to satisfie yourselves therein that it may be a true accompt, and that all men are payd according as he hath sett downe, for he hath brought noe discharge from such as have by his Accompts received good somes of money as for Timber, Chalkstone, Coles, &c. And whereas there is a difference between John Turner, the Mason, and him about the measuring of the worke, Wee desire that two indifferent men that have skill in that worke, one for us another for him, may agree upon the controversie, and if they cannot, then yourselves to be umpires, and what shall be found coming to him more than he hath received, Wee promise to pay with all expedition, and the like for William Hunt, who is to be payed according to ye measure and rate mentioned in ye contract between John Harrison and himself. It appeth by his Accompt that there is 12l. 4s. 5d. remayning in his hands, whereof he saith that Mr. Gregory Turner hath detayned Eight pounds towards the satisfaction of such money as may grow due unto his brother the mason, he hath also given us notice of Twenty-one pounds thirteen shillings and sixe pence wch he oweth for worke already done, ye particulars whereof wee have sente you written at the latter end of his accompt desiring you, that if you find them due, they maie be payed withall expedicon, wee have so far p'vayled with Sr Richard Mollineux, yor Mr, that he is plesed, and purposeth to write unto you to that effect, yt what money soever you shall disburse there for the schoole charge, shalbe repayed unto him here by us at the sight of your letter, for wee desire yt ye labourer may have his money soe soone as he hath done his worke. There are some things in the Schoole more to be done which John Harrison hath enformed us of, a note whereof wee have sent you herein-closed requesting your order and directions therein, and whatsoever you in your discrecons shall think fit to be done, wee will ratify and allow, and as we are bound to request yor paynes and care herein, soe wee will not be ungratefull in ye requitall thereof, and soe we bid you heartily farewell and rest.
"'24th Nov. 1621.'
"'Your loveing friends, "'Thomas Marsham, Mr.
"'To our loveing friends, Mr. Thomas Hutton, and Mr. William Fazakerley, servants to Honble Sr Richard Mollineux, Knight and Barronett, at his howse at Sefton in Lancasr.'
"And it is ordered that the sd John Harrison shall have 3l. given him for his charges out of Lancashire and back again, our Master to pay the same and have it allowed in his account."—[16th November 1621.]
It being thought that the School was sufficiently advanced that Scholars might be entered, the Court proceeded to appoint a Schoolmaster, thus:
"To this Court came Mr. John Kidd, M.A., to prefer his suit to be School Master of the Company's Grammar School, lately founded in Lancashire by Mr. J. Harrison, Merchant Tailor, whereupon consideration being had that it is now time to provide a Schoolmaster for that place, and hearing so good a report of the honesty, sufficence, and good life and commendation of the said Mr. Kidd, being also recommended to this Court by a letter from Mrs. Harrison, late wife of the said Mr. John Harrison, deceased, have ordered, granted, and agreed that the said Mr. J. Kidd shall be admitted into the place of Head Master in the said School, to have 30l. per annum paid him for his salary, according to the will of the donor, to be paid quarterly, the 1st payment to be made at the feast of St John Baptist next ensuing, and to continue so long as he shall behave himself well, and be found fit for the place, or otherwise during the Company's pleasure."—[13th March 1621.]
The appointment was perhaps premature, but the first difficulty was, shall a "Conscience Clause" be allowed, shall any but Church people be admitted to instruction? The Court decided, and the Master wrote, thus:
"A letter from Mr John Kidd, the Company's Schoolmaster, lately chosen for their School at Much Crosby in Lancashire, was at this Court openly read, wherein he requested the Co. to understand that their School is not yet finished but he hoped shortly to be seated therein, and desired some warrant from the Company (until orders for the same School may be sent down) that he may refuse to teach such children whose parents will not allow to have them catechised, whereupon consideration being had it is ordered that a letter shall be written and subscribed by our Master and Wardens and sent unto the said School Master by the next convenient Messenger, which was accordingly performed, the words whereof are these, viz:—
"'After our hearty commendations. Your letter of the 21st June 1622, came to our hands about the 22nd July, and which was read at a Court held the 22nd July of the same month, whereby we understand how backward the School is in finishing, and that you are not yet entered into your charge of teaching, which we desire may be both effected with all convenient speed. And whereas it is your desire (until the School orders be sent down) to have warrant from us concerning such children as shall refuse to be catechised, it is the whole Court's opinion, which they take to stand with the true meaning of the Founder, that you shall teach none such, and do therefore advise you to deny to teach any such children whose Parents will refuse to have them catechised, yet notwithstanding we leave it to your discretion to entertain such as you have hope will be drawne to be conformable to good orders and for abudaries—we leave that to your own discretion until we resolve otherwise, and further when you shall write that there is cause for an Usher, the Company will consider of your request. And so wishing you all good success in the execution of your charge in teaching, not doubting of your care and diligence therein, we commit you to God and rest.
"'M. T. Hall,
30th July 1622.'
"'Your loving friend,
Thomas Marsham, Mr'"
—[26th July 1622.]
The next application savours of a job, and Mr. Carter was found to be unsuited to his post. However, so it was, he was appointed by the Court as Usher, thus:—
"The Petition of Thomas Carter, servant to Richard Baldock, Common Clark of this Society, was at this Court openly read, and he was appointed Usher at 20l. a year."—[6th December 1622.]
"To this Court came John Pocock, one of the Executors of Mr John Harrison Merchant Tailor, deceased, and promised to pay 50l., which was yet remaining in his hands, towards the finishing of the Co.'s School in Much Crosby, Lancashire.
"And it is further ordered that a letter under the Master and Wardens' hands shall be sent to Mr. Kidd, to let him understand that it is the Company's pleasure that Thomas Carter shall have the whole charge and care of instructing the Scholars to write, and to receive the profits thereof towards his better maintenance.
"The letter to the above effect is in the Ct Book.
"'After our harty commendations, &c. These are to certifie you, That we have taken into consideration the benefit that maie arrise to the comon of ye country and creditt of ye Schoole, by the ordering and setting a sufficient man to teach such children (whose parents are inclined thereunto) to write faire. And for that purpose wee have appointed Thomas Carter, of whom we have formerlie advertized you, not only to supply the place of Usher in the said Schoole, but alsoe to take upon him the whole charge and care of instructing the schollers to write, being a thing very needful and of great importance in any schoole whatsoever, and to receive the profitt thereof towards his better maintenance of whose sufficiency therein we have had good experience and thinke him worthy thereof, we have alsoe taken order that you join together to take an exact view of the wall to encompass the School and of such other lodgings necessary addicons as may convenientlie be made for yours and his use for the present and others in future time, and to send us a particuler thereof with all speed, and we shall and wilbe ready forthwith upon receipt thereof to accommodate the Schoole therein, soe farre forth as the donor's guift will give us leave, which is less than fifty pounds now remayning, desiring alsoe that you two loveingly assist one another in the good husbandinge and manageing the same in such sorte for the good of the Companie and the creditt of yourselves and the Schoole as it hereafter when we shall take a view thereof we may have noe just cause to condemne or be displeased with either of you for ye same. And soe wee committ you to God and rest.
"'Merchant Tailors' Hall.
"28th March 1623.
"'Your loving friends,
|"'Peter Towers, Mr.||Wardens.|
—[19th March 1623.]
"'To or loving friend Mr John Kidd, Schoolmaster of or free schoole at Much Crosby, Lancashire.'"
"The orders for the Companies' School at Much Crosby, in Lancashire, that were at the last Court of Assistants ratified and allowed, being fairly engrossed on vellum, were presented to this Court and signed by the Master and Wardens and so many of the Assistants as were present. The copy whereof is here entered at large:—
"'Articles to be observed and fulfilled as well by the Parents and friends of such children as are presented to be freelie taught in the School of Much Crosby, in the County of Lancaster, belonging to the Co of Merchant Tailors, as also by the Schoolmaster, Usher and Scholars there as followeth, vizt.:—
"'Articles for Parents and Friends.
" '1. Imprimis. You are to present male children only to be freelie taught in this School.
"'2. Item. That the Inhabitants of Much Crosby as well as others shall be content to pay unto the Schoolmaster for the admission of every Scholar, and writing his name in the Register, 12 pence.
"'3. Item. If your child reasonably proved be found unapt to learn grammar, you being warned thereof, shall willingly take him away, but if he be apt to learn you shall be content that he may continue still until he have competent learning.
"'4. If your child admitted be afterwards absent from this School 9 days together without licence or reasonable cause, then he shall pay 6 pence before he be readmitted.
"'5. Item. If the Scholar once admitted shall afterwards go away to any other School to learn, his place forthwith to be accounted void.
"'6. Item. You shall be content your children shall have due reasonable correction either for misbehaving themselves in manners, or negligence in learning.
"'7. Item. You shall find them competent books for their learning, and such as the Schoolmaster shall think good from time to time to teach them.
"'8. Item. Your children shall come to the School at 7 o'clock, Summer and Winter, in the morning, and tarry there until 11 o'clock; and at 1 o'clock in the afternoon, and there remain until 5 at night unless the Master licences to the contrary.
"'9. Item. If any refuse to have their children catechised by Master or Usher, or to learn the Catechism, if upon three warnings in 3 weeks they reform not, their places to be void, much more if any refuse to let their children be present at prayers or singing of psalms in the School or especially in the Church at the time of service or Sermons.
"'10. Item. That every Scholar shall go to Church to serve God upon the Sabbath and holy days, and be furnished with one of these four books to carry with him, viz., Psalm Book, Psalter, Testament or Bible, and that such as can write do take notes at Sermons and render account to the Master upon examination.
"'Articles for the Schoolmaster and Usher.
"'1. Imprimus. If the offerere be content with these Articles, and a child allowable by the same, he shall be admitted into the School for a free Scholar, otherwise not.
"'2. Item. You shall not give your Scholars leave to play at any man's request in any week wherein falleth an holy day nor in any week wherein there is no holy day, saving only on Tuesday or Thursday, unless it be at the request of some worthy person, and for violating this decree or order you shall for every default pay 3s. 4d. and the said penalty to be given for the poor by the hands of the Churchwardens.
"'3. Item. That the Schoolmaster and Usher never be absent from the School both together, and neither of them to be absent above 21 working days at any time in the year.
"'4. Item. That the Master shall not leave all the burden upon the Usher, nor the Usher to take what Scholars he list to his teaching but such only as the Master shall commit unto him.
"'5. Item. That every holiday or Saturday the Master or Usher, or both, shall instruct and examine all their Scholars in the principles of religion, to which end they shall use some catechism approved by the authority of the Church of England.
"'6. Item. The Compy intending the honor of religion and good of the country, chargeth the Schoolmaster and Usher both to be discreet and warie in their ways, goodly, sober and honest in their conversation, and if either of them prove scandalous that way the other is charged if he cannot by good counsil and example inform him, to inform the Company in due time that they may speedily take order in it. And to take order that prayers be used in the School during morning and evening.
"'An Article for Scholars.
"'Item. That the Scholars shall not exclude the Master and Usher at any time before the feast of the Nativity of Our Saviour Christ according as it hath been the fashion in some countrys, but shall be willing to be dismissed by the Master a week or ten days before the time, according to his discretion.'"—[25th June 1623.]
"The Common Clark likewise informed this Court that he had received a letter from Thos Carter, the Usher of their School, at Much Crosby in Lancashire, wherein he giveth the Company to understand that the tenants refuse to carry any more stone for the wall without pay. It is ordered by this Court that rather than the work shall stand at a staie the Company to pay for carriage, and to signify so much to Thomas Carter."—[23rd August 1623.]
"A letter from Thos Carter, the Co.'s Usher of their free Grammar School at Much Crosby, in Lancashire, was at this Court openly read, wherein he desireth to have some authority from the Company to demand some recompense from the parents or friends of such children as desire to be taught the art of writing, whereupon consideration being had, It is ordered and agreed that our Master and Wardens shall write a letter to the Townsmen of Much Crosby and the Inhabitants thereabouts, to signify unto them that it is the Company's order that the sd Thos. Carter shall demand quarterly, monthly, or weekly such allowance and consideration of the parents or friends of such Scholars or children as shall desire to have them taught the art of writing as the said parents and friends and the sd Thos Carter shall agree upon, and to refuse to teach such as deny to pay anything at all."— [14th October 1623.]
"Our Master and Wardens having ordered the last Court of Assistants to nominate some 6 or 7 young men of the Livery to be feoffees in trust for a piece of land in Lanashire, whereon the Co.'s School now standeth, did acquaint this Court with these names—viz., of Benjn Henshawe, Jervis Elwes, Henry Elwes, Jerrard Gore, Nicholas Hearne, John Crich, and Thos Carter, which 7 persons were well approved of by this Court and so ratified allowed."—[21st January 1623.]
"It is at the same Court ordered that Thomas Carter, the Co.'s Usher at Much Crosby, shall have 20 marks given him to supply his present wants. Mr. Wardn Warner to pay the same and have it allowed in his account.
"It is likewise ordered that the Master and Wardens shall have power to supply such moneys as shall be wanting for the finishing of the wall there, and that two of the Wardens with the Common Clerk shall go unto Sir Richd Mollineux to see if conveniently they may procure so much ground from him as may make the wall range with the School."—[21st January 1623.]
"Item. It is ordered that 10l. be delivered to Thomas Carter for and towards the finishing the Company's School at Much Crosby, in Lancashire. And Mr. Kidd, the Master of that School, and the said Carter, his Usher, to send up an account of the charge the Company hath been at in and about the buildings then under their hands, and Mr. Warden Brown to pay the said 10l. and have it allowed in his account.
"This Court is pleased upon the humble Petition of Thos Carter, Usher of the Company's School at Much Crosby, in Lancashire, to bestow on him as of their free gift towards the supplying of his present wants and charge in travelling, the sum of 40s., and charged him to be careful and diligent in supplying his place in their free School whereunto he is admitted Usher, our Master to pay the same and have it allowed in his account."—[12th October 1624.]
"It is at this Court ordered that the sum of 3l. and 4d. heretofore laid out by Thomas Carter, the Company's Usher at their School in Much Crosby, in Lancashire, about making of their gardens and other necessaries, shall be paid unto him. But this Court doth think fit and so order, That from henceforth there shall be no such allowance hereatfer made without the special direction of this Court touching such kinds of disbursements. (fn. 3) "—[11th July 1626.]
Hitherto the Clerk only had seen the School, and as the Committee of the Court usually visited Wolverhampton and Rusbrook, they extended their riding into Lancashire. Thus the entry runs:—
"Mr. Gore, Mr. Elnor, Mr. Draper, Mr. Benson, and Mr. Beardall, together with the Common Clark, appointed Committee to view the Schools."—[28th August 1629.]
This journey involved some expense, though not, I apprehend, all that taken out of the Treasury. 301l. 7s. 11d. was taken out, by the following memoranda:—
"There was taken out of the Threry of this howse towards the riding charges and other expences of the Committees appointed to ride to Wolverhampton and Much Crosbie and to Russhock, and for other necessarie affaires of this Company, the sume of Three hundred and one pounds seaven shillings and eleaven pence, wch was the money due uppon the foote of the accompt of Mr. Benson, which money was delivered to Mr. Robert Draper, Mr, for which hee is to be accomptable to this howse."—[5th September 1629.]
After the journey a full report was to be presented to the Court, which, so far as it related to Great Crosby, was in these words:—
"And then they departed from thence for Much Crosby, in Lancashire, when they found the School house very fair and substantially builded with free stone, but the School very slenderly furnished with Scholars, and many of those Scholars the children of poor people, and some of them papists, and Mr. Nicholas Johnson and Thomas Griffith, who acknowledged themselves to be convicted Recusants, in the name of the inhabitants there delivered a petition to the Com. very scandalous against Mr. Kidd, the Schoolmaster, but upon examination of the contents thereof, found the same to be malicious and framed upon no just ground, and the Com. advise this Court that they thought it fit that Mr. Kidd, the Schoolmaster, be required from this Court to take special care that his Scholars be well instructed in the Grammar rules, and the Usher be not permitted to lodge out of the School inasmuch as there is a convenient lodging and study there provided for him, but they perceived that neither the Master nor Usher could well furnish the same, and therefore moved the Court that they would be pleased to disburse so much money aforehand out of Mr. Harrison's account as may buy bedding and other necessaries for the furnishing of the Usher's chamber there. And the Com. further moved that for the better encouragement and enabling of the Scholars there in their learning, Dictionaries and other books may be bought and provided, to be sent thither to remain openly in the Schools for the common use of the Schools, which report this Court did approve of and hath ordered supplies both for the books and bedding be made accordingly."—[21st October 1629.]
The audit of the expenditure of the 301l. 7s. 11d. was ordered at the same Court.
"Whereas there was taken out of the Threry of this howse by Mr. Robert Draper, last Mr, the sume of 300l. 7s. 11d. towards the riding charges and other expences of the Committees appointed to ride to Wolverhampton, Much Crosbie and to Rushock, and for other the necessarie affairs of this Company, This Court hath intreated and authorized our Mr, Mr. Cotton, Mr. Gore, Mr. Polstedd, and Mr. Elnor, or any fower of them, to take Mr. Draper's accompt of the said moneys and of all other monies which he hath received since his accompt made and audited, and Mr. Draper, Mr. Gore, Mr. Elnor, Mr. Benson, Mr. Beardall and Mr. Henshaw, or any fower of them, are authorized to reward such as did attend them in that journey for their panies therein."
"Books Ordered.—Calepine's diction, Cooper's diction, Scapulae Lexicon, Nizoly diction, Rider's diction, Seneca opera, Titus Livius, Denuere Epitheta, Licosthenis Apothegmata, Textoris Epitheta, Licosthenis Simil, Textoris officina Glooleny observa Elegantia Poet, Valerius Maximus, Flores Praetarum, Thesarus Poeticus, Pliny, Histor diction, Histor Poet, and an English Bible."— [4th May 1630.]
Enough having been written about the original establishment of the School, a few sentences may now be added to bring down its history to the happening of the "Dreadful Fire," from which event the history is briefly given in the text.
The second visitation of the School, which led to the institution of Local Visitors, was made under an order of Court of the 8th March 1647.
"This day, the Court taking into consideration the great conveniency and necessity of Visiting their Schools at Wolverhampton, Much Crosby and other places, doth order and appoint, That our Master, Mr. Warden Jerrard, Mr. Warden Churchman, and Mr. Stone, together with the Clerk of the Company shall ride to visit the said School at Wolverhampton in Staffordshire, and the School at Much Crosby in Lancashire, and likewise the Manor of Rushworth, and keep a Court there, and also see how the gift of Sir Thos White to the City of Coventry is performed, according to the trusts reposed in them. And the said Committee are authorized to manage the said business and journey as they in their discretion shall think fit, both for the time and the company who shall go with them, and our Master to pay the charges of the said journey. And to report to the next Court of Assistants their doings therein."
The Report of the Committee brought up to the Court of the 3rd May 1648, was by no means encouraging:
"They came next to Much Crosby in the County of Lancaster, where we caused the Scholars to be examined by Mr. Dugard, our chief School Master of Merchant Tailors' School (who accompanied us in our journey), but found them very unready and raw in their answers and in their Grammer rules, and not above two Scholars in the School which could perfectly read a Chapter in the Bible—the School very slenderly furnished with Scholers, not above thirty boys, and most of them poor men's sons and some of them Papists' children."
Mr. Fell, the Usher, was a debauched man and very scandalous in his life, "and Mr. Kidd had neglected the School and applied himself to the ministry"; indeed had absented himself from the School when his presence was needed, hence the better sort of people had not sent their sons to the School. The remedy was obvious —place the School under local supervision, and accordingly they wrote:
"We are of opinion that the want of often examinations of the School, hath been a great cause of the decay of the School, and consider it fit for the future that power be given to some learned men and others dwelling thereabouts to be supervisors and to cause examination of the Scholars to be made twice every year to see how they profit—from whom the Company may be informed from time to time of the proficiency of the Scholars, and how the Master and Usher do perform their duties, and some allowance to be allotted—therefore, which, in our opinions will be a great means of advancing that School, and thereby the School Master and Usher will be incited to be more careful in the performance of their several duties in the School, which will be good satisfaction to the Country."
These suggestions were at once acted upon. First, Mr. Fell was dismissed, and Mr. John Smith, "a hopeful young man, and late student of St. John's at Cambridge, elected" to the Usher's place. Then, as "the only remedy to prevent future inconvenience," they appointed as local examiners or visitors, Mr. John Hartley, of Strangwaies, near Manchester, the Mayor and Minister of Liverpool for the time being, Mr. William Ward, of Walton, Minister, Mr. Ashurst, and Mr. Thomas Johnson, Mr. Thomas Bowtell, of Malling, Gentleman, and Mr. John Richardson, of Sefton, or any four of them, to be visitors of the School. The Mayor and Minister of Liverpool being the controlling authorities for making appointments and summoning the other visitors thereto.
The duties of the visitors were thus defined:—
"To meet twice yearly, viz., in the months of April and October, for the examination of the Scholars thereof, the particular days to be set down by the Mayor and Minister of Liverpool, who are requested to give timely notice thereof to the rest of the visitors, the 1st examination to begin in April next, and the sd visitors are entreated to give the Co information from time to time how they find the Scholars profit in their learning, and how the School Master and Usher perform their duties, and likewise the remedies if any thing be amiss, and where the defaults are. And they are desired to inform the Company what they conceive the reason to be, why the School hath fallen to that decay as of late it hath done."
Unfortunately for Mr. Kidd, it was not long that he remained without complaints made against him by the Sefton people, which were transmitted to the Company by the Mayor. The two high employments of the School and parish could not, even in those days of plurality, be efficiently discharged by the same man, and therefore the visitors, making no specific recommendation, left the Court to decide what should be done.
Mr. Kidd was not, however, without friends, and counter memorials came up from Crosby and Liverpool, while his own petition gave a somewhat deplorable account of the district.
"The situation of the School in the most desolate and obscure angle of the country, surrounded with a twofold sea of and Ireland, the Irish Ocean bounding it west and south, 500 recusants in the Parish.
"Besides popery, the extreme poverty, I will not say beggary of the country, is no small rub.
"The rude behaviour of the people, their almost incorrigible and incurable conditions, so that men of quality will not send their children hither, neither is there any fit to give entertainment to such, and for myself have tabled some and could never get payment.
"The ordinary absence of Scholars, many of them kept away 2 or 3 days in a week, especially in plow time, but most of all in hay time and havest, when they are absent a whole quarter of a year together, and yet tis expected they should profit.
"The inability of many, the unwillingness of others, to find their boys books, I have bought myself for divers and could never be paid."
Mr. Kidd was, however, dismissed, and in June 1651, John Stevens, B.L., was chosen as the Chief Master. In his first report, dated 19th November, he gave a description of his reception by the School and inhabitants, which certainly was not cheering, though he seemed willing to make the best of it.
"I entered upon the School with this much advantage, at least, that I cannot eave it worse than I found it, there being scarce a member in it besides such as have not yet learned their alphabet. My first care, therefore, was not to admit such into the School, who, I supposed, had no right to be taught there, that being the only way (if it be possible any way) to bring the scholars into same. The natives, for I know not how more fitly to call them, being troubled thereat, came open mouthed railing against me because I would not suffer their girls and hornbook boys to be taught in the School. I urged against them those two Statutes which hang up in the School, amongst others of good antiquity,—1st. That they were to present male children only to be freely taught in the School; 2ndly. That if their children reasonably proved were found unapt to learn grammar, they being warned thereof, should willingly take them away,—by the former whereof I conceive, if I have not lost that little reason I had by being there long in so savage a place, their daughters by the latter, their sons, who have not yet learnt perfectly to read English, are excluded, they replied, being rustically imperious, that they regarded not founders' or Companies' orders, that it was their free School, and unless I would teach these English Scholars they would pull up the School stairs, which they say stand upon their ground, and suffer one another to have ingress, egress, or regress into the house, but would pluck me out by the ears, and that all the Comps in England should not keep any one in here except he were in all things conformable to their will. Amazed at this barbarity, I resolved patiently to expect your farther pleasures herein."
The Court, anxious to smooth over the difficulties, wrote thus to him in March 1652:
"Our advice therefore to you is as concerning their first complaint. That until the School be brought into some better credit, you do permit English to be taught in the School altho' it may seem to contradict the rules of other free schools, forbidding all female children to be taught there), whereby by degrees the School may be brought to a better order, and as concerning the residue of the complaint, both of you and the inhabitants, we know no better means to rectify the same than by referring the same to be examined by our Visitors, whom we have desired to compose the same if they can, and certify us thereof, for the meantime we entreat you to use your best prudence and care in the School, observing the articles of the School as much as with conveniency you may, and give no just occasion of sure complaint, wherein we shall give you all the encouragement we can, we being well as-ured that your succeeding Mr. Kidd in that place is not without some disadvantage."
They were rewarded for their forbearance, as on 3rd May 1654, Mr. Hartley (the visitor) wrote to them in these terms of encouragement:—
"I make bold to acquaint you that on Wednesday last we met at Much Crosby, and did visit the School there. By reason of my weakness and unfitness to travel, I had but an hard journey, but I will assure you I was much comforted and did much rejoice to see that School brought into such condition as now it is. We are all in great hope that a short time it will prove one of the most famous Schools in this country. There is about three score Scholars in it, four or five of which at least are ready to go to the University. The Upper Master is reported to be a very honest, civil Gent, and many men of quality desire to place their children with him, but he hath no spare room to lodge them in, which doth much hinder the good of the School. It was, therefore, earnestly desired by all the Visitors that the Co would be pleased that one of building might be added to the dwelling house, and also some little place to sit two beasts and a horse in (without which it is impossible for a Minister to live). I am confident that 50l. will do all very decently, which, if they please to take into consideration and to grant, they cannot do a better work. I shall willingly myself undertake any pains to see that one penny thereof be not misemployed."
The 50l. was advanced, and the School remained in good favour till the "Dreadful Fire" destroyed the trust property, and deprived the "Master and Usher" of their incomes or some portions thereof.