A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 1. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1939.
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Pre-Reformation schools in Oxford (fn. 1) were plentiful. Apart from the many grammar masters who taught for a fee, there was Merton College school founded about 1270, and New College and Queen's in the 14th century. These were primarily intended for founder's kin or poor boys and do not seem to have been open to outside scholars who were prepared to pay. The first to provide free education for all comers (fn. 2) was Magdalen in 1479, later to become one of the most famous schools in England. In the county we know of eight schools attached to chantries and hospitals.
The colleges defied the efforts of Dr. Cox to suppress their schools at the Reformation, (fn. 3) but the county suffered badly. The almshouse school of Ewelme and the chantry school at Chipping Norton seem to have been alone in preserving a continuous existence. Banbury, Burford, Thame, and Henley schools were refounded before 1604, but Witney not until 1664. Of the remaining eight endowed grammar schools in the county, all apparently quite new foundations, three were founded in Elizabeth's reign and five in the 17th century.
The Civil War had a disastrous effect on schools in Oxford and some other parts of the county. Wood's remark that some of the boys were so 'besotted' by the sight of the soldiers that they 'could never be brought to their books again' sums up the situation.
A general decline set in in the 18th century, and we are forced to the conclusion that in Oxfordshire, at least, the main cause was an insufficient supply of suitable headmasters, due very probably to the decreased value of the stipends. The prosperity of Chipping Norton during this period may, perhaps, be traced to the fact that it was only free to two scholars, and therefore attracted a more ambitious and capable type of master.
A point of particular interest is the number of early Quaker schools. Some time before the end of the 17th century there were schoolmasters at Charlbury, Burford, and Witney who were teaching Friends' children. There is a record of a schoolroom being built at Charlbury in 1698 and of one at Witney about the same time. In 1717 Friends at the latter town promised a prospective master six boarders and about twelve weekly scholars, besides 'young women that may be willing to improve their learning'. (fn. 4) To-day the Friends' co-educational school at Sibford Ferris continues the good traditions of the society.
Though the county was well supplied with grammar schools, in striking contrast to the present state of affairs, (fn. 5) there seem to have been singularly few endowed elementary schools. There appears to be no record of any preReformation school of this type, and only one 16th-century foundation at Somerton. In the 17th century about ten were founded, (fn. 6) mostly for boys and girls, though sometimes the latter were definitely excluded, but it was not until the beginning of the 18th century that the interest of the monied classes was seriously aroused. In the first quarter between twenty and thirty schools were founded, many of them before the French War was over. To this period belong the Blue Coat schools of Banbury, Oxford, and Witney.
Adderbury Grammar School
Christopher Rawlins, (fn. 7) sometime Fellow of New College and vicar of the parish, was founder of the school. By his will, (fn. 8) dated 7 August 1589, he granted various properties in Lincolnshire to trustees on condition that they 'do build or cause to be builded within ye towne and parish of Adderbury a free schoole; ye ground whereupon the said schoole house shall be built to be allotted out of ye inhabitants of ye same towne of freeland, for ye building whereof I bequeath to ye persons above specified £30, besides ye rents of ye same lands for the yeare if need require'. He desired that the school should be built within a year of his death and he prayed the inhabitants to help with 'their carts and carriages to carry some clay, lime, or timber or any other necessary thing for ye building thereof', a request which clearly indicates that there was a popular demand for the school. Youth of the parish to the number of 50 were to be taught freely. When the trustees had completed the building they were to convey the property assigned to the Warden and Fellows of New College, who were to pay 20 marks a year to a schoolmaster for ever. The residue of the profit from the lands was to be distributed as exhibitions for the poorest fellows and scholars of the house. He further willed that the college should appoint a sufficient master, but that no vicar or curate having a cure should ever be nominated, 'for that one cannot supply two offices'.
New College duly became trustees and governors and some years later drew up statutes (fn. 9) for the better government of the school and the fulfilment of the 'charitable meaning' of the founder. He did not specify what the children should be taught, but the Warden and Fellows 'considering ye fashion of all other free schools resolved that he meant that it should be a grammar schoole'. They therefore laid it down that the master should not teach anything more elementary than grammar. More advanced work was to depend on the capacity of his scholars. The college interpreted its duties strictly and proposed that when its Warden went to Adderbury on progress he should advise the master what authors (fn. 10) he should read to his pupils and how far he should 'exercise them either in prose or verse'.
True to the Winchester tradition, the Fellows were emphatic on the point of piety and good behaviour. 'The true knowledge and feare of God', they say, 'is ye chiefe learning which Christians must desire.' The schoolmaster is to set a worthy example; there are to be morning and evening prayers; on Saturday after dinner the boys must be taught to say by heart the catechism; on Sundays, holy-days, and the eves they must go to church and take notes of the sermons. As for their good manners, they were to be watched over in church and elsewhere by the master or by the 'better sort of scholars', or a weekly monitor. Moreover, the master was commanded that 'whatsoever he doth teach them he shall take speciall care to inure them to a comely and graceful carriage of their body and to an audible and distinct pronunciation'.
The statutes provide that if the parishioners would pay for an usher to teach the three R's he should be lodged in the school house. He would be subject to the same hours as the master and must 'be allwaies demeaning himself civilly and respectively [sic] towards ye schoole master and scholars'. He might teach fifty boys, already able to read their primers, at the rate of 6d. a quarter for every boy doing English and 12d. for every Latin scholar. A committee appointed with the authority of the college and with the assistance of the vicar was to nominate some of these boys for promotion to the master's class. It was, also, to prevent the master and usher from taking more 'stranger scholars' than they could teach, that is to say, from taking too many boys above the statutory number. The fees paid by these extra scholars were fixed 'after the rates of other free schooles', the usher being allowed the whole fee of the 'stranger English', and one-fifth of that of the 'grammarian strangers'.
The statutory hours of work in school are comparatively moderate. In winter the hours were from 8 to 11 and 1 to 4 o'clock; in summer from 6 to 11 and 1 to 5 o'clock with half or three-quarters of an hour for breakfast. Holidays are few. Only a half-day each week is specified for play. Punishments are to be mild. 'We require of the schoolmaster that he be carefull that his punishment exceed not ye fault and that he entreate ye children according to ye tenderness or rudeness of their natures, if that may not be, that he reclaime them rather by shame than smart but when the other two will not prevaile that he use the third discreetly.'
An unusual clause concerns the inhabitants. They are desired to encourage the schoolmaster and see that their children are obedient to him, 'but if (which God forbid) any . . . shall either disgrace ye schoolmaster without cause or withdraw their children without leave or uphold ye scholars against their master wee [the Fellows of New College] deeme such unworthy of that charity which ye founder hath otherwise bestowed on them and wee require that ye children of all such parents be excluded from ye number of 50 allowed to be freely taught'. The Warden and Rider were to judge of all offences at their progress, when opportunity would be given for complaints against the statutes by scholars or inhabitants.
Nothing appears to have disturbed the even tenor of school-life before 1627, when a Chancery commission (fn. 11) was appointed to inquire into the 'misemployment of the charitable bequest'. Complaint had been made that the curate of Swalcliffe, in spite of the founder's express wish, was acting as schoolmaster. The result of the commission's inquiry was that the correction of the matter was referred to the college authorities, who appear to have done nothing to rectify this breach of the statutes.
From the Bursars' accounts at New College it is possible to trace something of the scholastic history of the institution. Mr. Birch was master (informator) from 1603 to 1619, and, for part of the time at least, he had an usher, Thomas Belcher. He was succeeded by the offending curate of Swalcliffe, Mr. Coles, who appears to have put new energy into the management of the school, judging from the large amount of repairs and additions he made to the buildings. (fn. 12)
The school apparently was little affected by the Civil War, but in the latter half of the century it must have suffered from the frequent changes of masters. Between 1654 and 1684 we hear of five different ones, (fn. 13) all undistinguished. In spite, however, of the decay of grammar schools in general, Adderbury had a continuous existence and New College regularly appointed masters throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, increasing the salary with the rising cost of living. (fn. 14)
The college, which had on the whole been a very good guardian of the school, showed renewed interest in it in the first half of the 19th century, inspired very probably by the activities of the government inquiry into charities elsewhere. The school is now conducted as a non-provided elementary school towards the upkeep of which the college still pays £50 a year.
Steeple Aston Grammar School
Dr. Samuel Radcliffe, a famous Principal of Brasenose College (fn. 15) and rector of Steeple Aston, founded the school in about 1639. There is a deed extant, (fn. 16) dated 22 March 1639/40, in which there is a mention of land 'whereon the said Samuel Radcliffe hath lately built a schoolhouse and certain lodgings together with a court or yard adjoining'. Another indenture (fn. 17) of 26 March refers to this lease and to the enfeoffment of certain trustees with land in Middlesex producing a rent of £10. It was agreed that the feoffees and their heirs should hold the property in trust to keep up a school in Steeple Aston for the instruction of children and for the lodging of a schoolmaster. During his lifetime Samuel Radcliffe was to be permitted to nominate the master and children. After his death Brasenose was to elect the master and make laws and regulations for the government of the school. The college bursar was empowered to receive the rents and pay the schoolmaster the yearly rent of £10 after making certain deductions.
By his will, (fn. 18) dated 24 April 1648, and a codicil of 9 May, Dr. Radcliffe bequeathed a further £10 arising out of the rent of lands at Harrowden (Beds.) to increase the master's salary to £20 per annum. He also left money to provide for two scholarships of 5 marks each, pupils of Steeple Aston being given the first preference. A further bequest was a picture of himself in a 'scarlett colour with hood and habit', which if it ever reached the school has since disappeared. (fn. 19)
The first master was Edward Wyrley, curate of Steeple Aston. Wood tells us (fn. 20) that he had been driven from a curacy in Oxfordshire 'by the malice of some people' before he became curate for Dr. Radcliffe. The latter was succeeded as rector by the presbyterian Thomas Sixesmith, but there is no evidence whether Wyrley continued to function or not under him. Sixesmith, however, gave up his fellowship at Brasenose College in 1648 and probably devoted his time in future to his parish and the school. Highfield (1651–4) (fn. 21) and Greenwood (1654–79), (fn. 22) his successors, may well have done likewise. The scholars, in any case, must have been well looked after, for Wase, (fn. 23) writing in 1667 in favour of the connexion between schools and the universities, instances the relationship between Steeple Aston, Charlbury, and Brasenose College as having been mutually beneficial.
The next rector, Richard Duckworth, (fn. 24) certainly undertook the master's duties. He, too, was a Presbyterian, so we may fairly deduce a Presbyterian bias in the instruction given, though the founder had been a strong Laudian. We gather that he ruled the school competently though harshly. He was a learned man, chiefly interested in bell-ringing, and had been Fellow of Brasenose and a schoolmaster before he came to Steeple Aston in 1679. He left his mark on the school by having the buildings restored in 1688, as a tablet put up by him still records. As a master Hearne relates that he 'was severe to his scholars some of which were boys of good birth', and that as the parishioners disagreed with him over the question of tithes, he left in about 1692 to become Principal of St. Alban Hall. (fn. 25) They evidently cared as little for him as did the bursar of Brasenose who described him as 'of a sower disposition and almost intollerable. Nothing', he adds, 'will please him. He has been a schoolmaster and then you may conclude him pragmaticall.' (fn. 26)
The school does not seem to have been much more fortunate in the character of its next known master, Thomas Beconsal, who became rector and grammar master at a salary of £17. 10s. in 1706. (fn. 27) He acted until his death in 1709, when Hearne notes in an entry for June that he was a sometime Fellow of Brasenose College (fn. 28) and had died suddenly at his parsonage, 'having been for a great while in a melancholy, hippish condition'. He was noted for the publication of a discourse on the law of nature in opposition to Locke and for a sermon refuting the latter's notions 'about ye identity of ye rising body' Hearne adds that 'he is a strange hypochondriacal person, which may be a reason why he was so great an admirer of King William and ye ministers of Queen Anne'. (fn. 29)
The custom of the rector's acting as master was continued under George Freeman (1709–45), John Eaton (1745–61), and John Noel (1761–90). (fn. 30) James Armetriding, rector from 1790 to 1832, seems to have left the work to Lionel Lampet (fn. 31) and Mr. Jephson. The former, anyway, acted as master from 1791 to 1794. He was a member of Exeter College and seems to have been the first master who was not of Brasenose.
In 1818 Jephson, (fn. 32) the first layman to be appointed and the probable successor of Lampet, was teaching English, writing, and arithmetic free to the poor boys of the parish and for quarterage from the others. The school was a fairly large elementary one, having about 60 children. Latin and Greek were no longer taught, as no one capable of teaching them would accept the post at the old salary of £17. 10s. with the master's house and rooms over the school and fees from the paying scholars.
In 1859 a salary of £40 was offered, (fn. 33) but the schoolmaster appointed was neither trained nor certificated. The Charity Commission's inspector reported in 1860 that only eight boys from Steeple Aston attended and that the school as then conducted was useless. It was, therefore, closed and reopened in 1862 as a mixed elementary school under a new scheme of the Charity Commission.
In accordance with a scheme of the Board of Education of 1875 (amended in 1894), the school is now conducted as a public elementary Church of England school. The 17th-century building (fn. 34) with two Latin inscriptions put up by Radcliffe over the doors, and the £10, at present paid by the college towards the master's stipend, alone survive to recall the ancient dedication of the foundation to the classics.
St. John's Hospital School, Banbury
The Hospital of St. John was a 13th-century foundation, (fn. 35) but we hear nothing of a school until the end of the 15th century, when it became famous under John Stanbridge. His appointment to the mastership of the hospital in 1501 probably marks the conversion of the hospital's funds to the use of a grammar school, for he had been formerly master of Magdalen School (fn. 36) and the succeeding masters of the hospital were likewise scholars of distinction. An educational foundation of this kind might be expected of Bishop Smyth, then Bishop of Lincoln and lord of Banbury, while his later interest in the school is undoubted.
As Stanbridge had been a Winchester and New College man before going to Magdalen, St. John's, no doubt, combined the best traditions of two famous schools. He was a pioneer in the reform of grammar teaching, having written what is probably the first Latin grammar in the English tongue, and would naturally introduce his book and methods of teaching to Banbury. So great was his success that the statutes of 1515 and 1525 of the Manchester Free Grammar School say that the High Master should 'teche childeryn gramyer after the scole use, maner and forme of the scole of Banbury in Oxfordshire . . . which is called Stanbridge grammar'. It is clear, however, that his methods of teaching were only partly responsible for his excellent results. Wood's charming description of him makes it evident that he was the ideal schoolmaster. He was, he says, a right worthy lover of his faculty and an indefatigable man in teaching and writing. . . . When in his old age he should have withdrawn himself from his profession (which is deemed by the generality a drudgery) and have lived upon what he had gotten in his younger years, he refused it, lived poor and bare to his last and yet with a juvenile and chearful spirit.' (fn. 37)
His kinsman, Thomas, whom Wood declares also to have taught at Banbury, has acquired an equally great and possibly undeserved reputation as a schoolmaster. He is said to have been in 1518 'a noted schoolmaster of Banbury', (fn. 38) but Wood is manifestly wrong about the date, for Thomas Stanbridge was then headmaster of Magdalen School, an office which he held from 1517 to 1522, the year of his death. (fn. 39) Of all this Wood seems to have remained ignorant, as also of the fact that John Stanbridge as master of the hospital was no more than a schoolmaster. His account of Thomas, however, is repeated by Warton, who makes Sir Thomas Pope, born about 1507, a pupil at 'the public school . . of Banbury at that time a celebrated school kept by Thomas Stanbridge of Magdalen college . . . an eminent instructor of youth'. (fn. 40) And this, it seems, is all the evidence on which later historians have based Thomas's connexion with the school. If he was ever there it must have been as usher, presumably after he had taken his B.A. in 1510 and before 1517.
John Crag was appointed to the mastership in 1510 on the death of John Stanbridge, but as Thomas Brynknell who succeeded in 1511 was also said to be appointed on the death of Stanbridge, it is possible that Crag did not enter into office. (fn. 41)
The new head of the hospital was another master of Magdalen School (fn. 42) and 'a person of great literature and a most skillful interpreter of the sacred writ'. He was a friend of Cardinal Wolsey's and was selected by the King to write against Luther. Of his career at Banbury we know nothing except for a letter of 1539 referring to him as schoolmaster there under Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, and the fact that his salary, derived from the hospital revenues, was £14, of which he paid £4 to an usher (ostiarius). (fn. 43) Also, during his mastership the hospital buildings were repaired and enlarged, a sure indication of the flourishing state of the school. Bishop Smyth gave £60 during his lifetime and an additional £100 in his will for these improvements. (fn. 44)
In 1541 he was followed by Nicholas Cartwright, another prominent scholar. The commissioners appointed under the statute of 1 Edward VI reported that he was schoolmaster of St. John's School or Hospital and had 'the profyttes for his waiges and for an usher to teache chylderne there their gramer'. The revenue of the lands was said to be £15 and the master was described as 'a man of honest behavior'. They advised that he and his usher should continue teaching. 'It is very meate that the said incumbentes may abyde there to mynyster to the people and ayde the curatt there, for yt is a greate towne replynyshed with people and a grete markett towne.' (fn. 45) The Chantry Certificate also records that Cartwright had let all the hospital's property in Oxfordshire for £6. 13s. 4d., and was given a pension of £5. In 1549 Thomas Hawkyns, esq., of Warwick, was granted inter alia the site and capital mansion of the late hospital of St. John, the late chapel of St. John, and all lands which had belonged to the hospital. (fn. 46) So, presumably, the free school was broken up and its endowment dissipated. But Cartwright, who lived until 1558, may well have retained some private pupils as the nucleus of the new foundation which the town so badly needed.
The school's re-establishment seems to have taken place early in Mary's reign. Christopher Wase, (fn. 47) in commenting on the number of schools founded in her time, remarks that Banbury School is a testimony to the Queen's 'propension to favour whatever belonged to learning'. And in 1556 Sir Thomas Pope, mindful of his early debt to the school, gave Banbury with Eton, to which he had gone on, the preference for Trinity scholarships. (fn. 48)
An entry in the Banbury church register under the date 19 September 1581 states that the vicar was inducted by John Wheeler, pedagogue there. (fn. 49)
As for the state of the school in the 17th century, Wase's remarks imply that it was in a flourishing condition in 1677, the date of his book on the Free Schools. We have, moreover, confirmatory evidence of this in the very laudatory tablet (fn. 50) in the parish church to the memory of Richard Springall, a paragon of masters. He is said to have taught with 'indefatigable diligence' in the 'public school' for a decade. He died in 1680.
The school appears to have declined rapidly after this date. Rawlinson, (fn. 51) writing about 1720, mentions a school in the churchyard which had been used as a prison in the Civil Wars. The building was still known as the school-house in 1838 (fn. 52) and can be identified with the one referred to in a decree of 20 January 1603, made by a Commission of Charitable Uses. (fn. 53) It is, no doubt, the 'public school' of Banbury. The new Blue Coat Charity School, founded in 1705 (see below, p. 483), which helped to hasten the decline of the old school, was held in a former staple hall for wool, belonging to the town, and situated over the town jail. (fn. 54)
In 1818, when Carlisle (fn. 55) inquired about the grammar school, accurate memory of it had so far faded that his informants confused it with the Blue Coat foundation, and no trace of its endowment existed.
Bampton Free Grammar School
Robert Vesey of Chimney left by will, (fn. 56) dated 5 July 1635, £300 for the founding of a school at Bampton. £100 was to be spent on the building with 'ashleane worke', and £200 was to be used at the discretion of the trustees. He died the same month, but in 1637 the £300 had not been paid out to the use of the school and an inquiry was ordered. (fn. 57) As a result it was decreed that William Vesey, an executor, should pay the sum plus the interest to John Palmer that he might erect and endow a school, that the three vicars of the parish and the heir of the testator should choose a schoolmaster, preferring those of the name of Vesey; that they should, also, be visitors with power to elect, choose, visit, and upon just cause remove the master.
The expenses of building, no doubt, decided John Palmer to add in 1650 £100 to the original endowment. Henry Coxeter of Weald (fn. 58) also made a bequest, and later on, between 1680 and 1718, Richard Dew gave £50 for the use of the school. (fn. 59) It was finally opened at the end of 1653 with William Jackson, M.A., as its first master. The choice was a good one, for he already had experience of teaching at Charlbury and had the reputation of being 'a noted grammarian'. (fn. 60)
The original statutes have been lost, but Rawlinson (fn. 61) refers to them in commenting on the schoolmaster, Leonard Fell, 'a poor child of Queen's College in Oxford who according to the statutes ought not to be a beneficed person', a not uncommon provision in the statutes of the Oxfordshire schools. Some orders, however, made by the visitors in 1731/2 have been recorded. (fn. 62) They show that the visitors still intended the school to provide a classical education. The schoolmaster was to be orthodox in religion and of a godly conversation; also well qualified to teach the Latin and Greek tongues. There were to be morning and evening prayers; the catechism was to be taught and all boys fit to learn Latin were to be admitted and pay 2s. 6d. entrance and 1s. quarterage. If the schoolmaster chose to teach English the English scholars were to pay 5s. entrance and 5s. quarterage. These charges were almost certainly an increase on the original ones.
An indication that the school was not without life even at the end of the 18th century comes from an indenture of 1783 (fn. 63) recording that £20 had been raised by voluntary contribution to purchase a garden and cottage contiguous to the school for the master's use. The latter's salary had been increased before this by two bequests which also rather altered the character of the school. In 1717 Mary Croft (fn. 64) had left him the interest on £100 if he would teach twelve poor boys and girls of Bampton to read the Bible, and in 1792 Mary Frederick and her sisters (fn. 65) had left £400. This provided an increase of £16 a year on condition that the master instructed ten poor boys in elementary English subjects.
By the beginning of the 19th century the school had ceased to provide a classical education. The Rev. Griffith Davis, who received the emoluments up to his death in 1817, paid little attention to it. An attempt was made to revive classical instruction in 1819 by charging 1 guinea a quarter, but in spite of this departure from the founder's wishes it was found impossible to make the school sufficiently profitable to attract a graduate as master. By 1848 there were no pupils. (fn. 66) To-day the endowments are devoted to the provision of scholarships for Bampton, Bampton Aston, and Lew, in accordance with a scheme of the Board of Education.
A school was opened here about 1669 by Mr. Samuel Blackwell (fn. 67) of Lincoln College, who became vicar of Bicester Church in the following year. It was held in the chapel on the north side of the chancel. Above was a room used as a library. Boarders lodged with the vicar and his wife.
The school was certainly never a free school, but it provided an excellent classical education and was evidently much used by the local gentry. It has a peculiar interest as the representative of a large number of private schools (fn. 68) which have left no records behind them.
Its excellence is testified to by Mr. Verney (fn. 69) of Claydon, who, as long as Mr. Blackwell managed the school himself, was as content to send his children there as to Eton, Winchester, or Westminster. In writing to his father he explains that it was so much nearer than Winchester, though that indeed was a good school, and Eton was an uncertain quantity. He would have to go there before sending his sons, in order, as he expressed it, 'that I may satisfie myself in ye place'.
We gather from Mr. Verney's agitated correspondence that Mr. Blackwell fell dangerously ill in March 1679, that he had not kept an usher since Christmas time, and the scholars were completely neglected. Mr. Verney had been obliged to send his coach to fetch his two sons and a friend home, for 'all the schollars', as he says, 'runne upp and downe like scattered sheepe without a shepheard, doing that which is righteous in theyr owne eyes'. On 26 March he wrote to say that Mr. Blackwell was now expected to live, that Mrs. Blackwell had sent for an usher, but that meanwhile 'the schoole is spoyled, and my children lose theyr precious time, and forgett more in a weeke then they can gett in a moneth'. On 3 April the boys returned, the usher having arrived. Mr. Verney had heard he was 'a good one', but a week later he talked of leaving and Mrs. Blackwell was blamed for not paying him reasonable hire. Mr. Verney feared that the school was going down, and discussed removing his children to Eton, Winchester, or Westminster. He changed his mind, however, and the two boys remained at Bicester, at least during 1680 and 1681.
The 'good' usher was soon succeeded by an abler man, White Kennet. (fn. 70) He was ordained in 1684 and probably became curate to Mr. Blackwell immediately after. He continued with him until 1685 when he became vicar of Ambrosden, but his friendship for him he always maintained, as his later correspondence and his gifts to the school library show.
Mr. Blackwell was promoted to Brampton (Northants.) in 1691, (fn. 71) but the school was carried on by his successor, the Rev. Thomas Sherwring, M. A. The latter's interest is proved by the catalogue of the library (fn. 72) which he compiled in 1692 and by his gifts of books. Unfortunately for the school he resigned the vicarage in 1695 on his appointment as rector of Crudwell.
In 1715 Thomas Airson of Lincoln College became vicar and remained so until 1752/3. If the school had not already come to an end before this it must have soon done so, for it can hardly have been continued after the death of John Prinsep in 1768, as the vicars then ceased to reside regularly.
The main evidence for the state of the school in the last quarter of the 17th century and the early 18th century comes from the Rev. T. Sherwring's catalogue mentioned above. One hundred and fifty books are recorded and seventy-one donors, the latter mainly local people or fellows of Oxford colleges, (fn. 73) interested in the school by the zeal of its first two masters.
The contents of this 17th-century private-school library are not without interest. Most of the books are classical, as might be expected. The better-known works of Latin authors are well represented; for Greek there are Sophocles, Themistius, Demosthenes, and Herodotus. Hebrew was also studied, for a Hebrew grammar and two other works in that tongue are catalogued, but more interesting, in so far as it shows the widening scope of the 17th-century school curriculum, is the very fair number of English works, mainly of an historical and geographical nature. We find Heylin's Cosmography, Camden's Britannia, and a Cosmography and Geography in two parts especially bought in 1690 at the school's expense. For history the boys read a very miscellaneous selection of works: Raleigh's History of the World, the History of the Council of Trent, The Present State of the Ottoman Empire, The Roman, Attic and Jewish Antiquities, Plutarch's Lives, and the two volumes of Wood's Athenae Oxonienses, also bought at the school's expense.
Burford Grammar School
The school originated with the Gild of Our Lady in the parish church of Burford, which was endowed with land to the value of £16. 10s The Chantry commissioners reported that 'the Bretherne of the said guylde . . . dyd builde a chapell of Our Lady annexed to the parish church there . . . and dyd fynde a prest to mynyster ther, and to teache chylderne frely'. In 1547 they advised the continuance of the school on the grounds that there was 'muche yough', and that the land had been originally given for the maintenance of highways and bridges and poor people. Burford, they added, was a very greate markett towne replenysshed with muche people and nedfull to have a schole'. (fn. 74) But nothing decisive was done about the needs of the youth of Burford until May 1571, when the school was refounded with an endowment made by Richard Dalby and Edmund Silvester, the town bailiffs, and other townsmen, co-feoffees of the parish lands of Burford. By an indenture (fn. 75) of 24 May they conveyed property to the value of £13. 12s. (mostly survivals from the confiscations of chantries) to new feoffees to found a free school. In October Simon Wisdom, traditionally regarded as the founder of the school, but more correctly 'one of the founders', as he himself puts it, gave additional lands and drew up statutes, moved 'by the great number of youth and children that may be from time to time in the said town of Burford, their parents unable to keep them at school, by which means they have spent their time idly and had not been traded and brought up in good order of learning or knowledge, whereby they might know their duty to God, their prince and their parents and obtain increase of virtue and learning'. (fn. 76)
An interesting point about the new scheme is the important part assigned to the corporation. It was to elect yearly two wardens to receive all rents and pay the master. The alderman and stewards were to be 'regarders' of the school and see that its constitution was properly carried out. They were to share in the election of the master with the bailiffs and benefactors, and arrange with the school wardens about the number of scholars the master should teach; they were to help with the appointment of a reading and writing master; they were to see to the making of an inventory each year of the contents of the school chest. Two out of the three keys belonging to this chest were to be in the charge of the borough officials.
No exact regulations were laid down about the qualifications of the master, a fact which may partly account for the comparatively undistinguished heads of the school. Of Owen Thomas, possibly the first master, we know little but his name. (fn. 77) Most of his successors up to the end of the 17th century are equally shadowy figures. (fn. 78)
The provision of an usher was envisaged, but until there were sufficient funds the schoolmaster was to appoint one or two of his grammarian scholars to instruct such 'petties' as were 'not able to learn accidence'. There was to be a writing master, in any case, so that every boy in Burford might be taught his A B C, his catechism and primer, and to read and write. The alderman and others were to arrange for his stipend by instituting a collection or in some other way.
The regulations about the number of scholars admitted were strict. There were never to be more than forty grammarians on the foundation, though the master might be permitted to take other scholars by the governors if they thought his stipend 'not sufficient for his living'. No scholars were to be admitted without the consent of the wardens, who had to enter their names in a book and give an account of them and of the money received once a year at church.
The usual regulations were made about hours and attendance at divine service. The proximity of the school to the church accounts, no doubt, for the rule that the scholars should go to church each morning when there was a service. If there was none they were to sing psalms and read a chapter of the Old or New Testament in school, one boy being appointed each week to lead the singing. On Sundays they were to meet at the schoolmaster's house at 8 o'clock in the morning to say prayers and go to church.
The fees were nominal for all inhabitants of Burford, the entrance charge being 4d. and quarterage 2d. Those living in the country had to pay 12d. and 6d., with the exception of the Wisdom scholars, four boys elected by the founder or his heirs, who only paid 4d. entrance.
It was desired that the school and master's house should be erected within two years (fn. 79) and Simon Wisdom's vigorous backing (fn. 80) of the plan led to rapid results. Endowed with tenements of the yearly value of £5, the foundation was launched on its long career. Its meagre funds were augmented in 1609 by a bequest of land and houses from Simon Symons, (fn. 81) in 1626 by Simon Reynolds, (fn. 82) a sometime scholar, who bequeathed £260 for the increase of the master's salary. Various other small grants were made, until by 1677 the rents amounted to £42. 7s. 2d. besides the master's house. (fn. 83)
These pious gifts and the school's education of two distinguished pupils, Peter Heylin and Marchmont Needham, (fn. 84) constitute all we know of its history up to the end of the 17th century, apart from the important decisions of a royal commission concerning it in 1628. (fn. 85) As early as this it becomes evident that the corporation was not very well suited to the position of governor. The commissioners found that the rents being received from the school property were inadequate and they fixed a minimum rent of £21. 12s. 8d. It also appears that there was no usher although there were adequate funds, and it was ordered that one should be appointed with a salary of £5. An attempt was made to put an end to the burgesses' complete control of the town charities, the school included, but with little success. (fn. 86)
The 18th century opened with the introduction of further irregularities into the management of the school. In 1702, (fn. 87) by a decree of a Commission of Charitable Uses, the whole revenues of the school were ordered to be paid to the master, contrary to the statutes, and the instruction of the 'petties' was not insisted on. The school accounts, therefore, instead of containing entries of expenditure on various school purposes by the wardens, show the whole proceeds of the trust property being now entered to the master. (fn. 88) The royal commission of 1738, (fn. 89) appointed to investigate the alleged mismanagement of the Burford charities, found that since 1717 when Richard Griffiths became master no usher had been instituted; the petties had not been taught their A B C; no scholars had been registered. Griffiths had received all the rents, including that part which should have gone to the payment of an usher, and had not been annually elected in accordance with Simon Wisdom's instructions. The commission considered this an 'irreparable loss and injury to the poor inhabitants of Burford', and blamed the 'ill choice and negligence of the schoolwardens' for the 'notorious abuses' of the charity. It decided that as the rents were now worth £52. 10s. a year, an usher should be appointed at a stipend of £13 per annum. The schoolmaster, in particular, was singled out for blame and ordered to pay £30 costs. There being no alderman or steward of Burford at this date the schoolwardens were to be supervised by the trustees, the minister, the bailiffs, the churchwardens, and the overseers of the poor. These new officers were to elect the schoolmaster. Thus it was intended that the exclusive control of the corporation should end.
This decision was strenuously resisted by the burgesses who saw in it a fatal attack on their corporate existence. In their appeal to Chancery in 1742 they claimed (fn. 90) inter alia that the commission had no power to alter the constitutions of the school. In reply it was argued that the decree of 1628 had never been called in question and what had been done once could be done again; but the burgesses, as far as the school was concerned, seem to have been successful in excluding the control of the churchwardens and in perpetuating their incompetent rule. Griffiths also pleaded that as he had not been summoned by the commission he could not be ordered to pay damages. The respondents replied that Griffiths had been given every opportunity of defending himself, but that he 'did privately withdraw himself from Burford and conceal himself in London until after the return or close of the said commission', and the damages against him were reasonable. From various depositions it appears that Griffiths was at this time out of his mind. The school had been so grossly neglected that the inhabitants had been obliged to send their children elsewhere. (fn. 91)
After the disastrous rule of Griffiths the school's history was uneventful for the rest of the century. Charles Jenkinson, 1st Earl of Liverpool, and one of the more famous of the school's alumni in this century, had already received the rudiments of his education from Mr. Griffiths. In the latter half of the period Sir William Beechey, R.A., is said to have been its pupil. (fn. 92)
Its condition, however, was far from flourishing. In 1803 the buildings were so dilapidated that the bailiffs and burgesses resolved to raise a subsidy for rebuilding and proposed to advance £100 'out of the monies in the hands of the chamberlain'. (fn. 93) And in 1818 Carlisle reports that the school had gone totally to decay. The only thing he knew about it was that the Earl of Rochester had been educated there. In 1822 the Charity Commissioners reported very adversely on it. There were thirty-one free boys but none learnt classics. There were also some private boarders. In the last half of the century matters were rather worse. The school was without a master in 1861 owing to the neglect of the trustees. In 1863 it was reopened in accordance with the provisions of a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, but in 1866 (fn. 94) there were only seventeen boys on the books, of which six alone were learning Latin, and the discipline and instruction were thoroughly unsatisfactory. The old institution was therefore closed. It was reopened in 1869, and in 1876 the foundation was remodelled by the Charity Commission. The buildings were enlarged and improved in 1886, 1890, 1896, 1902, and 1912. Two years earlier by a scheme of the Board of Education the school was again reorganized as a public secondary school with separate departments for boys and girls under the control of the Oxfordshire Education Committee. To-day, under its present headmaster, Major D. C. G. Stileman, the school is more prosperous and its future more assured than at any point in its past history.
Charlbury Free Grammar School
There seems to have been a partially endowed school here in the 16th century, but the Free Grammar School owed its origin to Ann Walker, spinster, of London. Her will, (fn. 95) proved in 1667, arranged for its financial support, provided Charlbury would 'be att the charge to make a certaine house in the said town called the Towne house (and theretofore used for a school house) fitt for a free schoole and for the habitation of a master'. The endowment consisted of an annuity of £60 arising out of lands at Shotteswell (Warws.) and Cropredy (Oxon.), settled on the Principal and Fellows of Brasenose College. Of this sum £10 was to be devoted to the maintenance of two scholars at the college, preference being given to boys from Charlbury School.
The final arrangements for the establishment of the free school were made in 1675. By a deed of 1 November the trustees of the town property leased the old school house to Richard Eyans, Ann Walker's uncle, and others in trust for the free school and master which, as they say, the inhabitants of Charlbury were now able to maintain owing to the perpetual benefaction of Ann Walker. (fn. 96) The statutes had already been drawn up on 10 October by Richard Eyans. (fn. 97)
He evidently examined the statutes of the newly founded Witney Grammar School, for his rules and ordinances bear a strong resemblance in many points. The Principal and Fellows of Brasenose College were appointed visitors with power to choose 'one godly, diligent and able person' out of the college to be schoolmaster, and to remove him for misconduct after three admonitions, and choose another. The school was to be for ever free for the teaching of the English, Latin, and Greek tongues to all boys whose parents lived in Charlbury, respect being had to the children of the poorest inhabitants, and to the offspring of Richard and Anthony Eyans. Writing and arithmetic might be taught at the master's discretion, and he might take as many 'foreigners' as the visitors thought fit.
Other regulations about the master were that he was to inhabit the house and garden which the town had put in order and conveyed to Brasenose. He was to be 'constantly resident'. If he should be absent for 4 days together or for 24 days at different times complaint might be made to the visitors. His salary was fixed at £40.
With regard to his relations to his pupils the statutes left him a more or less free hand. They directed that 'all disobedient, stubborne youths shall after three admonitions (if they so continue) be expelled the schoole' and not be readmitted but by consent of the visitors; that a poor scholar should be appointed by the master to ring the school bell and sweep the floors; that every scholar except children of the poorest parents should pay 3d. a quarter; that none should 'cut, knotch, deface or breake the windows, wainscotts, formes, seats, table of orders, deskes, doors or tables in any part of the school', and finally that scholars should not be allowed to be absent more than six weeks in the year.
On the other hand, strict regulations were made for the supervision of the master and school. The Provost and scholars of the college were left £10 a year 'for theire pains and care in visiting, ordering and governing'. They were desired to visit twice yearly, after Easter and Michaelmas, when they 'shall examine ye master's diligence and method in teaching and ye scholars' proficiency in learning and all undue proceedings of ye master contrary to these orders'.
In accordance with the statutes the college prepared to elect a master in 1675. Its choice was decided by a petition of the inhabitants (fn. 98) praying that Moses Greenwood, M. A., formerly of Brasenose College, who had for some years 'been very carefull and industrious in the true instructing of the youth of the towne of Charlbury . . . in grammer learning and is a person of unblameable conversation', might be nominated master of the free school. Moses Greenwood, a nephew of Dr. Daniel Greenwood, Principal of Brasenose until his removal by the commissioners in 1660, therefore became the first master of the school. His Presbyterian connexions no doubt made him doubly acceptable to Charlbury, where dissent was strong.
He died early in 1680. By 15 March his successor, Henry Allen, had been chosen. (fn. 99) His career as a schoolmaster seems to have been not altogether successful, for he quarrelled with the inhabitants over the lease of his house. (fn. 100) John Arrowsmith, the curate of Charlbury, was the next master. Richard Eyans had originally ordained (fn. 101) that no one who was in holy orders should be master and that any master taking orders or 'any charge or employment whatsoever yt may any wise hinder ye performing of ye duty of this place' was to be dismissed. But these conditions had been omitted from the final set of statutes, so Mr. Arrowsmith's appointment was in order. Henry Allen, master for fifty-three years, must have been obliged to retire by old age, for we have a receipt (fn. 102) from his son, the rector of Quenington, for £5 of his father's pension, paid at the rate of £10 a year out of the master's stipend. As Arrowsmith's salary for 1733–4 (fn. 103) was the usual £40 we conclude that his predecessor had died. He was followed by James Williamson (fn. 104) of Queen's College (1761–87), by Richard Thorne, the curate of Charlbury (1787–92), and by the Rev. T. Oakley, (fn. 105) who resigned in 1833. The school was still functioning as a grammar school in his day. Indeed, writing and arithmetic were not taught owing to the number of writing schools in Charlbury. Oakley supplemented his salary, still the original £40, by taking boarders, 'one or two young gentlemen whom he educated for the University'.
After a vacancy of two years Mr. John Hill was appointed, and a new school house was built in 1837. In 1896 the ancient foundation was regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners and the sole control of Brasenose came to an end. The college was represented on the new board of ten governors by three members. On 10 August 1909 another scheme (altered 17 October 1911) was issued by the Board of Education by which the school was to be closed and the endowment devoted to the payment of exhibitions at public educational institutions.
Chipping Norton Grammar School
On 8 October 1450 the vicar of St. Mary's Church and certain parishioners were licensed to found the Gild of the Holy Trinity. (fn. 106) They were given leave to acquire in mortmain property to the value of 40 marks for the maintenance of the chaplains and of a fit person freely to instruct in the rudiments of grammar the poor boys and scholars coming to Chipping Norton. This school was still maintained in 1547, when Hamlet Malban, the chantry priest, was schoolmaster. He is described by the commissioners as a man 'well learned in grammar', and they reported that the inhabitants of the town desire that the school may still be kept for teaching young children for 'there is muche yough in the said toune'. (fn. 107) Their petition was heard, for in 1547 a warrant was issued for the continuance of the school with Hamlet Malban as master, and the stipend of £6 continued to be paid by the Exchequer. (fn. 108)
Evidence of the survival of the school after Malban's death is to be found in a deed poll of 4 November 1572. (fn. 109) An effort by the townsmen was then made to endow a free school adequately, and a messuage and garden in Church Street were acquired. In 1589 an adjoining messuage was purchased for the use and maintenance of a schoolmaster to teach Latin freely to the children of Chipping Norton. (fn. 110) The two houses were probably then thrown together into a large school building and residence for the master. This was, anyway, the case in 1824. A royal charter of incorporation completed the work of refounding. On 27 February 1606/7 (fn. 111) King James granted to the bailiffs and burgesses of the borough 'all pensions . . . lands, profits, and advantages' given and confirmed by his predecessors or others to the use of his free grammar school. 'We also will', the charter runs, 'that the said bailiffs and burgesses . . . shall choose a fit, honest and learned man to the office of schoolmaster . . . as often as the master shall die or be removed for his evil government or negligent exercise of that office or for any other reasonable cause.' Thus the control of the school passed to the town in its corporate capacity.
According to the charter the master was to receive such profits for instructing the children of the borough in classics, reading, writing, and arithmetic as had been usually taken by former masters. He was to be responsible for the repair of the school at his own cost whenever the chamberlain thought fit. The school could not be entirely a free school owing to the smallness of its endowment, but it was arranged that the bailiffs should have power to appoint two boys, sons of the poor inhabitants of the town, to free places for three years. All other boys had to pay quarterage of 5s.
The interest of the corporation in the foundation, it is worth noticing, was almost contemporary with the steps first taken by Burford to refound its school in May 1571, and may have owed something to its neighbour's example.
For two hundred years and more the school flourished. It received additional endowments. In 1604 Edmund Hutchins, (fn. 112) nephew of Sir Thomas Pope, left property to Trinity College on condition that a part of the profits was paid to the schoolmaster of Chipping Norton for the increase of his stipend. When an inquiry was held on 18 March 1643, it was found that nothing had ever been paid to him, (fn. 113) and this, it seems, was because Hutchins's grant had been declared void by the Court of Chancery, the coheirs having claimed that he had no power to make it. (fn. 114) At a later date Richard Hutchins (fn. 115) gave £60 to the borough, half of the interest of which was to go to the schoolmaster. Later, again, in 1762, Frances Barnes (fn. 116) gave £300 for increasing the master's stipend.
In 1818 Carlisle's account of the school shows that it was in a prosperous state, having forty to seventy pupils. Six years later the Government commissioners also reported very favourably. The free scholars were still being regularly appointed and a good classical education was given. (fn. 117)
Of the internal management of the school during all this period we unfortunately know nothing, and little about the masters save for their names. (fn. 118) Two of them, Edmund Vade and Edward Redrobe, the incumbent of the church, are distinguished by their charitable bequests to the borough. (fn. 119)
In 1859 the ancient grammar school virtually came to an end. In accordance with a scheme of the County Court of 20 August, the site, buildings, and endowment were made over to the national school for boys and girls opened in that year. A new county secondary school has been opened, but the endowment of the ancient grammar school is still devoted to elementary education.
Deddington Grammar School
There was a pre-Reformation school here attached to the Trinity Gild in the parish church. In 1547 William Bruton, the chantry priest, was schoolmaster with a salary of £6. The commissioners report that he is 'a good scole master and bryngyth up yough very well in learning'. (fn. 120) The 'scholes' were valued at £12. (fn. 121) With the dissolution of the chantry, however, the school came to an end.
In the mid-16th century Sir Thomas Pope, according to Warton, (fn. 122) planned to establish a successor in connexion with Trinity College, Oxford, and although his plans were never fulfilled they are worth recording. By a quadripartite indenture of 1 April 1555 it was arranged that the President, Fellows, and scholars of Trinity College should pay an hable person, well and sufficiently learned and instructed in gramer and humanitie', to be schoolmaster of a free school called Jesus School in Deddington, Pope's birth-place. His salary was to be £13. 6s. 8d. and his usher's £8. The college was to appoint them and they were to hold office for life 'unless some fawlt, offence or notable crime be commytted or don by any of them'. Rules for the school were to be drawn up by Sir Thomas Pope in his lifetime and after by Dame Elizabeth. This indenture, or probably the draft of an indenture, from which Warton quotes cannot now be traced and the two surviving documents (the royal licence of 8 March 1555 and the statutes of 1557) which refer to the proposed establishment of a school say that it was to be at Hook Norton. (fn. 123)
By 1557, having taken weighty advice, Pope had decided not to found a school anywhere. He was persuaded that he would do more good with his money if he used it for increasing the diminishing number of scholars in the University rather than for endowing another grammar school, particularly as the neighbouring schools though well supplied with learned masters were little frequented. He therefore endowed four additional scholars at Trinity College. (fn. 124)
Dorchester Free Grammar School
John Fettiplace, (fn. 125) esq., of Swinbrook, the lay impropriator of Dorchester Abbey, was the founder in about 1652 or earlier. He converted a part of the abbey, probably the guest house, into a school room and house for the master. He endowed it with £20 per annum and drew up statutes. (fn. 126) These are dated 29 September 1652. They are an elaborate work consisting of fifteen clauses, very similar in character to the Henley statutes. Fettiplace made the Provost and scholars of Queen's College visitors of his foundation. In this capacity they were to elect the master in default of the heirs of the founder, and they or the heirs were to make visitations. If the college was visitor £1. 10s. was to be deducted from the master's salary for expenses. It was also stated that if the master failed to keep the statutes and would not resign he was to forfeit £40 to Queen's and the parish; if he did not give a quarter of a year's notice on resignation he was to forfeit £20 to the College or the poor of Dorchester. In spite of these enticements Queen's seems to have taken no interest in the school, and on the failure of the heirs (fn. 127) of John Fettiplace after 1746 its rights were allowed to pass to the lord of the manor. (fn. 128)
The qualifications required for the master are interesting. He was to be between 23 and 60 years of age, an M.A. or at least a B.A. of Oxford, and able to instruct his scholars in Latin and Greek, in prose and verse. He must be known to be sound in religion and of honest and sober conversation. He was to labour to bring up his scholars 'in religion and in all good learning and manners and to walke before them in all sobrietie and decent conversation as a patterne of godlynesse and conscionablenesse'. These attainments were to be rewarded, not very generously, by a salary of £20 and lodgings. Scholars from Dorchester and Overy were to pay 1s. entrance fee and no more. Strangers might be charged 1s. 6d. and 5s. quarterage. The master was not allowed to hold a curacy unless it was a sinecure.
The first master to be appointed was John Drope, Fellow of Magdalen and a minor poet. He fought for the King at Oxford and was at Dorchester for a short time after his ejection from his Fellowship in 1648. He was restored in 1660. (fn. 129)
The second master was David Thomas, (fn. 130) an old friend of Anthony Wood's, a 'proper stout Welshman' and a good loyalist even when acting as usher to the puritanically inclined Mr. Burt, the headmaster of Thame School. Wood's friendship for him dated from his school days at Thame, and he says that he went to visit him at Dorchester in 1657. Later, Thomas became master of the school at Leicester, where he died in 1677. He was comfortably off, Wood tells us, 'by the great pains he took in pedagogie and by the many sojournours that he alwaies kept in his house'.
To return to the statutes. The organization of the school had no peculiarities. As at Thame the pupils were to be divided into classes 'according to their ripenesse'. Scholars were not to be beaten on the head, or pulled by the ears, nose, cheek, or hair. There is rather a modern touch in the advice that the master must 'carefully looke into their natures and dispositions the better to frame himselfe there unto'. But Fettiplace lapses badly from modern standards when he declares that the master is not to give leave to play oftener than one afternoon a week. Should he give leave for two holidays through the special request of some man of special worth or love, then no holiday must be allowed in the following week. Indeed, the 'ancient bachelour', as Rawlinson calls him, seems to have been of Spartan mould. His hours for school are longer than anywhere else in the county, ten hours in summer and eight in winter. He also stipulated that the boys should speak in Latin and refrain from 'childish jangling and loude speaking'.
Some information about the method of teaching can be extracted. After morning prayers the master is to hear the pupils their grammar and see that they understand it. He is to read daily two lectures to every form and hear two lectures. The one read in the morning he would hear in the afternoon, the one before supper he would hear the next morning. Those who could write must also find time to do an exercise in prose or verse. He gives a list of books and authors to be used. The lowest form used Lilly's grammar, Nowell's Small Catechism in Latin, Confabulationes Pueriles, Disticha Catonis, Terence, or the like. The master was not allowed to teach them anything 'under the accydence'. For the rest Aesop's Fables, Cicero's works, Virgil, Horace's Ars Poetica, Ovid, Sallust, Herodian, Terence, Prudence, and Justin's Commentary on Caesar were recommended. In Greek Isocrates, Aeschines, Demosthenes, Homer, and the New Testament were particularly mentioned. The scholars were to repeat every Saturday morning what they had learnt in the week.
The grammar school may be said to have come to an end in 1746, when Sir George Fettiplace appointed a Mr. Applegarth as master with a stipend of £10 only, as he was not qualified to teach grammar. (fn. 131) There was a slight revival after the Fettiplace estate had been sold to Mr. Davey and Mr. Cherrill in 1808. Ten years later Carlisle reports that there were nine free boys as well as other day scholars and twelve boarders, but it is unlikely that the free boys were learning anything but English subjects. From the report of the Charity Commissioners we gather that in 1822 they were being taught the three R's, and grammar if required.
In 1858 the school was converted by a scheme of the county court into an elementary one for boys. The Provost of Queen's College was made one of the ex-officio trustees.
Ewelme Grammar School
The school was founded in 1437 in connexion with an almshouse for two priests and thirteen poor men by William and Alice de la Pole, the Duke and Duchess of Suffolk. (fn. 132) One of the priests was to be master and have the management of the almshouse, the other was to be 'a wele disposed man, apte and able to techyng of gramer', who should instruct the children of the lordship of Ewelme and of the three manors which formed the endowment of the almshouse, Ramridge, Conock, and Marsh Gibbon. (fn. 133) The grammar master, as he was called, was to be paid a stipend of £10, so long as he was resident and efficient. He must be a 'lerned man of the University of Oxenford', over 30. He might hold a prebend or other benefice so long as it did not interfere with his work as master. The founders' view seems to have been that a comfortable salary would increase the master's competence, allowing him to 'yeve the more dew and bettir attendaunce to dayly informacion and the encrece of connynge of hys scolers'. A house was, also, provided for him. He was to be responsible for the entire instruction of the children in his charge, informing them in reading and writing as well as in grammar. If it should happen that he only had four grammar pupils besides 'pettetes and reders' he was to say matins and evensong daily in Ewelme Church with the master.
In order to maintain a good standard the lord of the manor of Ewelme was to act as a visitor. He was given power to correct and deprive the grammar master, if necessary, and appoint a new one on a vacancy.
A schoolroom with a dormitory above and a master's house were built. The grammar master was regularly appointed up to 1866 but when he ceased to be a schoolmaster we have no means of knowing. The school was said in 1818 to have long come to an end and the master's office was then a complete sinecure. (fn. 134)
The school was regulated by a scheme of the Court of Chancery in 1860, and a scheme of 1899 provided that the ancient school buildings should be used for a public elementary school and this is still the case. Part of the very large endowments of the trust are devoted to educational purposes, to the provision of scholarships, and so on.
Henley Grammar School
Henley's pre-Reformation grammar school was probably connected with one of the chantries in the parish church. It is significant that the building called the school-house in a conveyance of 1553 (fn. 135) was situated in the churchyard next to the 'priest's chambers'. The first mention of a schoolmaster occurs in 7 Henry V, when we find his being elected to the office of town clerk, (fn. 136) and about a century later the school had gained sufficient fame for it to be mentioned in the dedication of Robertson's commentary on Lily's grammar. (fn. 137) As the book was offered to John Longland, (fn. 138) Bishop of Lincoln, for the use of Henley School, it is fairly evident that the bishop, a native and benefactor of Henley, was actively interested in its progress. The mention of another master among the few surviving municipal records of Elizabeth's time (fn. 139) is the only clue to the survival of the school after the Reformation. The need of a proper endowment must have become increasingly urgent, and in 1602 Augustine Knapp of Rotherfield Peppard provided the necessary fund of £200. (fn. 140) The corporation was to purchase lands to the annual value of £20 which was to be used in payment of a schoolmaster's stipend. He, indeed, is the true founder of the school rather than James I who granted, on the petition of the inhabitants of Henley, a charter in 1604. (fn. 141) It enabled them to appoint thirteen governors with power to make statutes and buy land and, also, granted an additional endowment of £11. 17s. 4d. derived from obits which had been in the hands of the Crown since their suppression at the Reformation. (fn. 142)
The statutes (fn. 143) were not drawn up until 1612 but the school, as its Register shows, had existed since 1604. The master was to be a graduate and between 23 and 60 years of age. He must be a good Latin and Greek scholar and 'one as hath a good faculty in teaching ye same'. The usher had to be a good grammarian and able to 'write well and faire both ye secretary and Roman hands' and have 'knowledge in ye arithmeticke'. Both were to be of sound faith and religion. Neither was to have any pastoral duties outside Henley.
Methods of teaching and school organization are not neglected. The masters were to instruct their charges in good literature and 'in good manners whereby to behave yemselves both in ye schoole and in ye church att home and abroad in ye streets and elsewhere'. The management of the school was to be entirely under the master He was to direct the usher's teaching, dispose the scholars into forms, and appoint weekly prefects to note their behaviour. An unusual stipulation was made that the schoolmaster and usher shall in all their forms 'constitute ye best and worthyest schollar of ye forme . . . to be president and captain of ye form for ye better incouragement of eache one of their schollars and inciting of ym to greater study and diligence'.
A special section is devoted to the duties of scholars. No boy could be admitted before he could write competently. Every scholar was to pay 1s. entrance fee and 6d. to the schoolmaster and usher. A curious light is thrown on schoolboy habits by the rule that they were not to cast 'morsels of bread or other victuall about the schoole to ye defiling and breeding of vermine in ye same'. There was a severe prohibition against playing any game in school, and even outside in the case of 'unlawful or hurtful' games. Football is classed with dice and the like. Swimming or washing in the river without leave was also forbidden. Special emphasis was laid on orderly behaviour at home and in the streets as well as in school. Books which 'savour of atheisme, epicurisme, popish superstition, [and] laviciousness' were prohibited.
In 1627 the master was Nicholas Eagleton of Magdalen Hall. (fn. 144) The first of his successors to have any reputation outside the school was Henry Munday (1656). (fn. 145) He was a native of Henley, a graduate of Corpus, and a postmaster of Merton. Wood remarks that 'the school being well endowed and replenished with scholars was very beneficial to him'. He appears to have proved a poor schoolmaster, for he devoted himself to 'Physic' and the writing of learned works. His death in 1682 alone prevented his being dismissed for negligence. The school, however, benefited in one respect during his mastership, for it received an additional endowment in 1664 from William Gravett, (fn. 146) a solicitor of London, who left land in Henley for the schoolmaster so that he, 'having a more competent maintenance and some fit house to dwell in, might with more cheerful industry and alacrity teach and instruct' poor children in Literature. The next master, Daniel Ashford, (fn. 147) had been Vice-principal of Hart Hall, and the prosperity of the school recovered owing to 'his industry and vigilancy'. Mr. Meddens of Exeter, who succeeded him, proved hopelessly inefficient. The very year after his election in 1691 there were complaints about his 'misgovernment', and in 1700 the governors discharged him on the grounds that he had been absent from the school over a month. (fn. 148) No new appointment was made as it was decided to use the master's salary to pay for the repair of the school buildings, there being no other funds at the disposal of the governors. (fn. 149) The usher, Richard Skirmer, did all the work of teaching until 1703, when his labours were rewarded by his election to the mastership. He proved to be unequal to the task, for in 1709 a meeting of the governors was called to consider the causes for the decay of the school and the charges against the master. (fn. 150) It was decided that his method of teaching and some of his pupils should be examined by a master from Eton, but this effort to improve matters, if it had any effect at all, was of short duration, for in 1758 there were only five boys in attendance and, again, no money for repairs. It was agreed to economize by having only one master and to investigate further into the reasons for the school's decline. (fn. 151) Local discontent came to a head in 1762 and the governors were obliged to dismiss Mr. Neale, appointed master in 1716 on Skirmer's death, on account of his gross neglect. It was alleged that he never spent the statutory number of hours in the school, that he was often absent for days at a time, and that the school was closed for weeks together. (fn. 152)
The Lady Elizabeth Periam's School, which was held in the lower half of the grammar school building and was united to the grammar foundation in 1778, had been founded in 1609 with the object of bringing up the poorer sort of boys 'in good manners and in the fear of God'. (fn. 153) It is interesting as an early 17th-century elementary school. During her lifetime (which terminated in the year 1620) Lady Periam was to be the 'alone governess' and her ordinances (fn. 154) lay it down that the schoolmaster was to take the oath appointed by the act of 1562; that he was to be 'painful' in teaching; that he was to have 'no other service or charge that might withdraw him from doing of his duty'; that he might not be absent above thirty days in the year and never above six days together. His salary was to be £20 a year; the number of his scholars twenty and no more. He was to teach them the articles of the Christian faith, the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Catechism in English. The penalty for instructing them in anything contrary to the established religion was deprivation. He was also to teach them to read, write, cipher, and cast accounts so that they might be fitted for some trade. In an additional set of articles it is expressly stated that the children were to have no 'grammar learning'. The amount of years to be passed in the school by the scholars is surprising. They were to be entered at 9 or 10 and stay until 16 or 17 years of age, if they were not apprenticed before.
Lady Periam's boys were provided with blue clothes. Their best suits, to be worn only on special occasions, were to be kept in a chest at the school.
By 1778 the value of the bequest had greatly increased but as the number of boys and the master's salary were fixed no one benefited. (fn. 155) The free grammar school, the master not being obliged to teach English, was also failing to satisfy the needs of the town. The governors, therefore, got an act for uniting the two schools under the name of the United Charity Schools of Henley, but the arrangement proved to be unsatisfactory and in 1819 it existed only in name. The Charity Commissioners reported that there were only thirteen boys in the upper school and forty in the lower. The new National school was said to account for the decline in numbers. However, after the building of a new school in 1858 a prosperous period set in. In 1866 (fn. 156) there were 135 pupils in the school and its work was reported on very favourably by the Government commission, in striking contrast to the reports on most of the other grammar schools of the county.
A big change was made in the management of the schools by the Charity Commission scheme of 28 June 1892. The United Schools were afterwards administered as a public secondary school for boys under the name of the Henley Grammar School. The last important change took place in 1929. By a scheme of the Board of Education, dated 8 June, it was ordered that, as the Oxfordshire County Council had provided a secondary school for boys and girls called Henley Grammar School, the school of the foundation should not be carried on. The annual income of over £700 was to be applied to the provision of exhibitions.
The Library. There are five extant lists of books belonging to the school made at varying dates between about 1610 and 1727. (fn. 157) The first list containing twenty-eight books, many of which were given by members of Queen's College, contains a fair number of lexicons and dictionaries and the works of some of the better-known Latin authors. Greek books are few. A commentary on Homer, the speeches of Aeschines and Demosthenes, and Textor's Epithetons are all. A Homer, a collection of epigrams, some works of Aristophanes, Isocrates, and Theocritus were added later, but it seems that Greek studies were comparatively neglected at Henley. So also were history and other non-classical subjects. The latest list of ninety-eight books, made in 1727, contains one book on English history, White Kennet's Antiquities, Ramus's 16th-century Arithmetic and Geometry, Grotius's De Veritate Religionis Christianae, and little else besides classical authors and commentaries on them. Amongst the Renaissance writers there are several of Erasmus's works, some of Polydore Virgil, Lisius Geraldus, Cœlius Rodiginus, Laurentius Valla, and Lycosthenes.
Magdalen College Grammar School, Oxford
The school was founded by William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester, in connexion with his college of St. Mary Magdalen. The college statutes (fn. 158) provide that there should always be a grammar master and usher, who should teach gratuitously all scholars whatsoever resorting to the school. The President was to be responsible for their appointment and removal; their stipend £10 and £5 respectively in addition to rooms and commons equal to that of the Fellows of the college. Waynflete further decreed that no fellow or scholar of the college should maintain by word or deed any scholar of the grammar school against the master or usher, thus preventing his proper correction; or hinder the studies of the scholars or take them outside the college without the licence of the authorities. He also expressly orders that the demies, who were admitted at 12 years of age, should be taught grammar there. No one of them, in future, was to be admitted to sophistry and logic or any other science unless he had been sufficiently grounded in grammar, the mother of all knowledge, in poetry and other arts. Two or three of the thirty demies were to study so that they might instruct others. (fn. 159)
This statute was probably made soon after the erection of the school, begun in 1480, outside the gates of the college. But teaching had already started at Easter 1479, (fn. 160) in the crypt of the chapel of the old Hospital of St. John, (fn. 161) still standing on the south side of the new chapel.
The first known master was John Anwykyll. (fn. 162) He was chosen for the excellence of his learning and, particularly, for the new method of grammatical instruction evolved by him, and he undertook to teach the humanities and to qualify some suitable pupils to become, eventually, teachers of his method. (fn. 163) As Anwykyll was married he was given a house rent free in Oxford and the rooms over the school destined for the master and usher were allotted to some grammar scholars and their Principal, later known as the Principal of Magdalen Hall.
The masters (fn. 164) continued to be of an exceptionally high standard and the school rivalled Winchester in spreading the New Learning. Among its more famous early ones were John Stanbridge, a distinguished scholar and author, whose grammar came to be used all over England; Wolsey, master in 1498, John Holte, usher in 1494 and author of one of the first good Latin grammars published in English; Thomas Brynknell (1502–8), the first Divinity Lecturer of the chair founded by Cardinal Wolsey; Thomas Robertson (1526–34), who Wood says was considered particularly brilliant in 'the education of youth', and is chiefly memorable now for his part in the compilation of the English Prayer Book; Stokesley, Harley, and Cooper, afterwards bishops of repute.
The school's famous alumni in the 15th and 16th centuries are innumerable. A small selection will give an idea of its great services to the country. Dean Colet, William Lilye, Camden, Dr. Wootton, Bishop Cooper, Bishop Bickley, Bishop Parkhurst, and Daniel Featley all received the rudiments of their education within its walls. (fn. 165)
The popularity and fame of the school with all classes in these two centuries is undoubted. It was even used as a nursery for noblemen's sons (fn. 166) (four sons of the Marquess of Dorset were there in Wolsey's time), and so great was the uproar in 1550 (fn. 167) when Dr. Cox attempted to dissolve the school that he was obliged to withdraw his injunctions ordering that none 'should be educated in grammar learning at the charges of the college'. The Fellows protested that the school was to Magdalen as Eton was to King's College and Winchester to New College, that is to say, as a 'norysshe' to train up their youth in virtue and learning, 'whereby as well the other colleges of the University receive singular commodity and profit and the whole country'. (fn. 168) They went so far as to assert that the school was 'the most principal treasure they or the University' had. But what is more interesting is that the college's appeal was supported by the Mayor and Council of Oxford, who said that the town would suffer greatly if its children could no longer get a free education in good learning and grammar at the colleges. The injunction would result in the 'casting out of some college 30, some other 40 or 50, some other more or fewer and the most part of them children of your said poor oratours'. In the past, they said, their children had been well brought up in grammar and had gone on to logic and other faculties at little or no cost to their parents, for the children were given 'meat, drink, cloth and lodging'. (fn. 169)
At the end of the 16th century there is evidence of the school's decline, mainly owing, it seems, to the negligence of the master, William Symonds (1583–6). (fn. 170) Some of the Fellows complained to the Chancellor and Visitor about him, (fn. 171) alleging that he was non-resident, that he had bought the appointment from the President, that he had only kept the school until he could recover the £20 he paid for it. They declared that the school had been taught by deputies for the last ten years and more, and that there were only about three boys then being taught who could 'make true Latin'. Scholars had been taken away and taught privately by the Fellows of the college. As the result of an inquiry by Bishop Cooper in 1585 (fn. 172) a series of injunctions were issued stating that, although the Founder had taken pains to provide for an elementary school (ludus literarius), it had come, to the great loss of the college, to be held in scorn and disrespect. He therefore ordered that an honest man, elegantly instructed in the humanities, should be appointed and that the Fellows should see that he was not despised by his inferiors. There had, evidently, been a tendency in this direction, for the bishop points out that such treatment diminishes the master's authority over his pupils and is insupportable to a trained and cultivated mind. Things had certainly altered a great deal since the days when Fellows were glad to invite John Stanbridge and his usher to dine at the high table. (fn. 173)
Little is known of the school in the 17th century and following century beyond the names of the masters, ushers, and pupils on the foundation. Among the masters Richard Reeve (1670) (fn. 174) may be mentioned as a particularly successful one. The witty and ingenious Thomas Collins, (fn. 175) who followed him, also excelled as an instructor, and attracted to the school many non-foundation scholars. Towards the end of the next century the school was clearly on the decline. Mr. Bryne (1752–76) was lucky in the departure from Oxford of his rival, the master of New College School, and the consequent accession of about twenty pupils in 1771. (fn. 176) But soon after the school was evidently in a very poor state. There were hardly any 'pay boys', as they were called, and scholarship was at a very low standard.
In 1845 a Chancery suit was instituted by the town clerk with the object of getting the school declared a free public grammar school and of establishing the title of the master and usher to participate in the increased revenues of the college. Lord Langdale decided that the school was not a separate foundation but a part of the college and that the enforcement of the performance of such a trust did not come within the jurisdiction of the court. (fn. 177) The school therefore continued to be free to choristers only, in accordance with a long-established custom. The decision was favourable to the future prosperity of the school, but it is questionable whether Waynflete really intended his school to be free only to academic persons. It has been pointed out (fn. 178) that he used the same words about his school at Wainfleet in a non-academical sense as he used in the case of Magdalen. The master in both cases was to instruct freely 'all parties whatever (quoscunque) going to the said grammar school'.
New buildings were erected in 1849 and 1893 and the school is now conducted under a scheme of the college of 1875 and statutes made by the University Commission of 1872.
Nixon's Free Grammar School, Oxford
The idea of a school for the sons of freemen had been mooted in the City Council as early as 1576, (fn. 179) but nothing permanent was done about it until 1658, (fn. 180) when Alderman Nixon, (fn. 181) a mercer of the city and a zealous Puritan, offered £30 (fn. 182) a year for a master's stipend if the city would provide a suitable schoolroom. The council considered that this gift was likely to be of 'soe generall advantage' to the city that they immediately offered the use of the council chamber as a temporary school and set about discussing sites for a permanent one. (fn. 183) Building must have been begun very soon, (fn. 184) for in January 1659 we find that a building had already been erected in the court of the gildhall and leased to Nixon at a nominal rent for 1,000 years. (fn. 185) In the same year Nixon increased his bequest by £205 on certain conditions. In gratitude the city ordered 'portraitures' of the alderman and his wife 'whoe hath given greate incouragement to this worke of charity'. (fn. 186)
Rules for the school had been made by Nixon and published as part of the agreement made with the corporation in January. (fn. 187) According to these forty poor freemen's sons, the kin of the founder and his wife and of Master Martin, the town clerk, were to be admitted on payment of a fee of 12d. at the age of 9 or 10. No boy might be a free scholar for more than seven years. The objects of the school are unusual. It aimed at giving an intermediate education, neither elementary nor solely classical. All the boys were to be taught the three R's and afterwards 'if they be not removed the Latin tongue so far, at least, as that they may be fit to be apprentices in any calling whatsoever'. As for religious education the scholars were to attend church morning and afternoon on Sunday and be catechized by the master on Saturday, religious instruction being based on the Assembly's Lesser Catechism.
The election of scholars was to be in the hands of the founder, his wife, and the city in succession. The visitors and governors were to elect the master and the assistant master if one was necessary.
In 1665 Mrs. Joan Nixon endowed the school with £35 a year for binding out two boys as apprentices, and later bought land at Bletchington and conveyed it to trustees for that purpose. (fn. 188)
Records of the meetings of governors are preserved. (fn. 189) (Nixon had appointed nine by his will in 1661.) The most common fault they had to deal with was 'truanting', and many a boy was dismissed the school on that score. Mrs. Nixon's interest in the school was active. The foundress, for so she is described, dealt in person with the truants, the lousy, and the apprenticing of boys. Something of the school's progress in the 18th century can also be gathered. In 1716 it was evidently doing well as Mr. Mashbourne was elected master on condition he provided an assistant. But forty years later the school was almost ruined owing to the gross neglect of Mr. Croney (appointed 1744). In 1769 there were forty boys in the school again, but the two Blue Coat and Grey Coat schools were evidently serious rivals, for many boys left to go to them.
In 1809 the decline in numbers led to the boys on the foundation being fixed at thirty for the future. By this time no pretensions were made at teaching Latin and the school was purely elementary in character. Boys were admitted at 10 years of age and might not stay more than four years. In 1838 the number of free pupils was extended to forty, making a total of sixty-five as the master had been allowed since 1814 to have twenty-five paying scholars. As the result of compensation paid to the freemen of the city by the Railway Company for running a line through Port Meadow the school received an additional endowment and ten more free boys were taken. Latin was now taught to the upper class.
In 1862 a great change was made in the old system when the Charity Trustees were appointed as permanent visitors with power to elect schoolmaster and boys, a privilege which had formerly belonged to the trustees and their successors appointed under Nixon's will. Soon after a scheme was discussed by the council for incorporating Nixon's school in a new grammar school. This met with furious opposition from the freemen who apparently wanted it to continue as it was, though the government inspector of the Oxford charities had said the school was not fit for sixty boys and he would condemn it as the worst he ever saw. Opposition was finally overcome, and by 1894 the school had been demolished and the corporation had undertaken to pay £50 compensation annually. By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, dated 17 October 1894, the income of the foundation was ordered to be applied to the payment of exhibitions for boys and girls at public elementary schools. The fund was further regulated by a scheme of the Board of Education, dated 25 June 1930. The present income is £200.
Lord Williams's School, Thame
Lord Williams (fn. 190) of Thame, one of those many gentlemen of small means but keen wits who rose to power under the Tudors, left by will, dated 18 March 1559, (fn. 191) property at Brill, Oakley, Burstall, and East Neston for the foundation of a free school with a master and usher. It is improbable that so large a town as Thame had no endowed school before this date and one was no doubt supported by the Gild of St. Christopher founded by Richard Quartermain in 1447. (fn. 192) In 1547 the priest was described by the commissioners as 'a man of honest behaviour and well learned', (fn. 193) but they do not mention a school. If there was one, Williams was only making a just restitution to the people of Thame, for he had profited largely by the confiscation of Church lands.
Two of his executors promptly acquired the necessary royal authority, had a school-house built in Thame, and purchased lands and property for its endowment. They chose and appointed a master and provided a library. The re-establishment of the Almshouse, originally founded by Quartermain and further endowed by Lord Williams, was made, as they say, as 'a kind of necessary appendix to crown and complete the whole undertaking'. (fn. 194)
According to the statutes, (fn. 195) made in 1575, Mr. Edward Harris had been for eight years master of the school. A note in the Charity Commissioners' copy of the statutes, however, says that the building of the school was begun in 1569 and that 'on the day before the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, 1570, Edward Harris who had previously been elected master at Thame, took up his office of teaching in the recently erected school'. We may reconcile these conflicting statements by supposing that some temporary building was obtained for the schoolmaster and his pupils. Mr. Harris, a native of Thame, had been a zealous promoter of the scheme. The executors say that he had assisted them before all others 'with all his energies... even from his very childhood'. He matriculated in 1564 and was later elected to a fellowship at New College, a fact which, no doubt, accounts for the agreement of 1 August 1575, (fn. 196) by which the executors conveyed the school property to the college on condition that the Warden and Fellows promised to maintain the free school, master, and usher and to visit the school at least once in every three years.
The very detailed statutes throw considerable light on the early organization of the school and the educational ideals of the time. The master was to be a graduate between 26 and 60 years of age who was, also, 'endued with the knowledge of polite literature'. The college nominated two candidates and the ultimate choice lay with the lords of Rycote. The usher, a man 'of skill in teaching', was to be chosen by the master, for as 'in the management of a ship, the work of the captain is wont to be lightened by the addition of the help of sailors, rowers, and others, therefore we have provided that an undermaster (fn. 197) be appointed to this school, who may be as it were a right-hand man to the master and may lighten the work imposed upon him'. In the special usher's statute, which he was bound under penalty of £10 to observe, the duties of a master are again compared to those of the master of a ship, and it is observed that the master and usher should 'endeavour to the uttermost they maye, so to laye the foundation and grounde work of all good art and science to be bylded upon the same, that the youthe comytted unto their charge, may neither through blynde ignorance and lacke of knowledge be nouseled uppe in darkness and want of good learninge; nor by their evill ensample of corrupt lyvinge be so trayned uppe in vyce, that they may seeme to hasarde and in manner to marre all that ever they go aboute, even at the very begynnynge it selfe of their tender age'. The importance of early training in morals and sound learning is much emphasized, and the heavy responsibility of the master who 'through lacke of knowledge or other suche lyke oversight' may cause the 'utter subversion and overthrow of the whole charge comytted in that behalf, the ruyne and decaye of all good nurture . . . and the utter undoynge of as good wittes as may canne be'. Great care was therefore taken in ensuring a high standard in the masters. The head could be given fourteen days' notice if he was considered unfit and the usher was allowed a probationary period of three months, after which, if his moral character or skill in teaching was considered insufficient, he might be removed by the governors.
A History of Oxfordshire
Attention to duty was not only to be exact but almost continuous. The usher must be in school from 6 to 5 o'clock in winter and from 6 to 6 o'clock in summer. The master might arrive an hour later. Not more than one holiday in the week was permitted. Nor could the master be absent for more than a month in the year, for pupils 'scarcely learn in three days what they easily forget in one, if owing to too much holiday they get out of practice'. The usher was bound even more closely to his work. The master might grant him leave of absence but not too frequently, and if he went more than 3 miles from the school without the master's leave 6d. was to be deducted from his salary.
The statute dealing with the manner of teaching is particularly interesting. It insists on the authority of the master over his staff, and it advises that the method of teaching used at Winchester should be followed as nearly as possible. The master was to divide his pupils into classes according to their number and standard, and set prefects over them. These were to be chosen for their learning and steady character. The boys were to be taught to make verses and write a free flowing prose style. Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Plautus, and Lucan are specially recommended and desired to be 'familiar and domestic'. For further reading Cicero, Livy, Sallust, Justin, Herodian, Terence, Lucian are mentioned. The use of a library, it should be noted, was considered indispensable and the executors make provision for all 'those who wish and know how to make a proper, sober, legitimate use' of books. The masters are warned that 'narrow vessels are easily filled if you pour into them gradually and slowly but if it be done rashly and hastily they scarcely ever, nay, almost never, imbibe the extra moisture'. The avoidance of excessive severity or leniency is also advised, and it is utterly forbidden that a boy should 'be struck or beaten, or thumped, either with a rod or by any other blow, either on the head, the eye, the ears, the mouth or any other part of the body'.
Sound learning was to be second to true religion and morning and evening prayers were ordained. A quarter of an hour before dinner was to be spent in reciting in English some chapter of the Scriptures with the purpose of 'checking the frivolity of the young' as well as of inculcating piety. On every Sunday and feast day the pupils were to go to church, morning and evening, with the master.
No boy was to be admitted unless he could read English. Hand-ball or any other game was not to be played in the courtyard lest the glass windows should be injured, and such 'childish' games as 'hurling up and down' or throwing or flying in the air, or flinging either hand-balls or books . . . or any other material belonging to the school were forbidden. Doors were to be shut carefully by the handle and not kicked.
For a hundred years or so the school undoubtedly flourished. It had a long line of competent if not brilliant headmasters and a host of distinguished pupils. (fn. 198) The first master, Mr. Harris, who did so much for the foundation of the school, was in office twenty-seven years and was held in great respect by the town. (fn. 199) Little is known of his successors in the 17th century save that they were Winchester and New College men. Richard Boucher (1597–1627), who was a kindly man and believed in making learning attractive and in sparing the rod, (fn. 200) is chiefly memorable for the fame of his pupils. (fn. 201) William Burt (1631–47) of puritanical sympathies, who became headmaster and then warden of Winchester, lives again in Anthony Wood's pages. (fn. 202) William Ayliffe, (fn. 203) who went out of his mind, had Sir John Holt, Lord Chief Justice, and Thomas Ellwood, the Quaker, amongst his scholars. From the latter's account of his school days (fn. 204) it appears that the statutes' instructions about corporal punishment were far from being observed. He says he often came under the 'discipline of the cane twice in a forenoon which yet brake no bones'. He speaks of the school, however, as having a good reputation. Another master, Hugh Willis (1655–75), was also responsible for breaking a statute and the Warden of New College, who visited the school in 1661, reprimanded him for having a wife and family in the school lodgings. (fn. 205)
But the most interesting evidence for the state of the school in this century is to be found in Wood's autobiography. (fn. 206) It gives a vivid picture of the effect of the Civil War on education. He tells us of the 'great disturbances' he and his brother suffered from the soldiers between 1642 and 1644, 'sometimes by the parliamentary soldiers of Aylesbury, sometimes by the king's from Boarstall House, and sometimes from the king's at Oxon and at Wallingford Castle'. Half a dozen troopers, some of whom had 'grammar learning in them', were quartered in the vicar's house, where there were also six or more boys, and they often discoursed together. As the town was constantly being alarmed by skirmishes either in it or near by, work must have been of an intermittent nature. In January 1644 the scholars were alarmed by the return of Col. Thomas Blagge, governor of Wallingford Castle, flying homeward after a skirmish at Long Crendon. Other fights in Thame itself took place in April and September 1645; while in June 1646 the schoolboys were given a holiday to go to Boarstall to see the garrison surrender to the Parliamentary forces. (fn. 207)
In about 1648 Burt petitioned (fn. 208) the college about his losses as schoolmaster during the sixteen years of his office. He had lost £20 from plunder of his goods, £50 by losses from the Parliamentary army, and more 'by ye dissipation of all his schollers uppon ye accesse of ye army and general infection of ye whole towne: for a long time ye schoole quite shutt up and ever since but slowly increasing from ye lowest ebb'; and still more by continual taxes to various garrisons. He had quartered soldiers in his house to prevent the school from being used for a hospital, a court of guard, or a garrison, which he had opposed to 'his manifest danger and detriment'.
The school declined in the 18th century until at the beginning of the 19th century there were only six or so boys. (fn. 209) A determined effort was made to revive it in 1841, (fn. 210) but the new head, the Rev. T. B. Fookes, proved completely inefficient, and by 1865 there were only two scholars. (fn. 211) The school was reorganized by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners in 1874, and in 1879 a new building was put up. To-day it is a flourishing secondary school for about 130 boys. It is regulated by a scheme of the Board of Education, dated 24 September 1909, and amending schemes of 3 December 1918 and 13 September 1927.
Watlington Free Grammar School
By indenture, (fn. 212) dated 28 May 1664, the owners of the manorial rights of Watlington Manor with the consent of the freeholders granted to Thomas Stonor of Stonor a perpetual lease of a piece of land in the High Street of Watlington, on condition that he built a town hall with a room over it 'to be constantly used for a free grammar school for the education of youth'. Thomas Stonor agreed that all repairs should be done by himself and his heirs, that the building should be finished before 24 June 1665; that the school house should be used for the public business of the manor and town, provided that the public meetings 'do not exceed one day at a time to the prejudice of the school and hinder the education of youth'. He further covenanted to endow the schoolmaster with a yearly stipend of £10. (fn. 213)
It was finally arranged (fn. 214) that the master, who was to be a graduate of Oxford or Cambridge, should be nominated by Stonor or his heirs. If no choice was made within three months the trustees were to elect two persons and present them to the founder to choose one. If they neglected to act the Bishop of Oxford was to nominate. Stonor and his heirs were also to have the power to nominate ten free boys.
Rawlinson (fn. 215) was interested in the history of the school and records the names of some of the masters. Mr. Richard Cornish, presumably a relation of the Rev. Thomas Cornish, vicar of Watlington until 1711, (fn. 216) was the first master. After him there was Mr. Richards, Mr. Samuel Smith, and Mr. William Fairfax of Balliol. The latter was especially praised by Rawlinson for his 'great assiduity' in helping him to collect information and to compile the history of the school. He was made rector of Hambledon and Turweston (Bucks.) in 1743 and possibly gave up the school then.
In 1731 the foundation received an additional endowment from Dame Ann Tipping of Ewelme. (fn. 217) She left £100 to be invested in land by her executors, and the profits from rent to be used to pay the master to teach elementary English subjects to four poor boys of Watlington, elected by the executors and others. Thus the character of the school was definitely changed, though it was not until early in the 19th century that it entirely lost its classical character. In 1818, (fn. 218) under the management of Col. Tilson, whose family had become owners of Watlington Park in about 1765, the master's salary was increased to £20 and the number of free scholars to twenty. Instruction was of a purely elementary nature, the children being admitted at about 8 years of age and staying for three years or so. But Carlisle says that twenty years before the vicar had an excellent classical school, and his predecessor too. A Mr. Leake had been master until his death in 1790 and Mr. Relton, the vicar of Shirburn, who died in 1795 had followed him.
The reports of the Charity Commissioners in 1822 and of the Government inquiry of 1868 show that there had been no return to the original purpose of the school. In 1866 it educated ten boys on the Stonor foundation and five on Tipping's. These paid 1d. a week, the rest of the forty-two boys paying 3d. The master was no longer either the vicar or a graduate, but the school was still held in its original building.
The old school finally came to an end when another elementary school was built about 1870 and its endowments, worth about £15 annually, were used to buy prizes for the new one. (fn. 219) By a scheme of the Charity Commissioners, dated 5 March 1885, the income was assigned to the payment of tuition fees and scholarships in any public elementary school. The foundation is now regulated by a scheme of the Board of Education, dated 14 March 1913, by which exhibitions are granted at secondary schools and other educational institutions.
Williamscot Free School
This school owed its origin to Walter Calcott of Williamscot, a merchant of the staple and a native of Hook Norton. By indenture, (fn. 220) dated 14 August 1574, he declared that certain feoffees should yearly receive an annuity of £13 issuing out of the manor of Williamscot for payment of an honest, discreet, and learned man who should be schoolmaster of the grammar school then newly erected by him in Williamscot.
He drew up certain regulations for the conduct of his school. The scholars were to be between 8 and 18 years of age. They were to be the children of the lord of Williamscot and forty others from the parishes of Williamscot, Wardington, and Coton, Cropredy, the Bourbons, Mollington, and Claydon. Six of the children from Williamscot were to be of the lord's naming. The master might take four extra scholars, and was to teach his pupils writing until they were ready for grammar. He was to be appointed and controlled by the lord of the manor and his heirs.
The first master was a young man named Henry Taileford (fn. 221) of Gloucester Hall. He was succeeded by Henry Ward and eight undistinguished men whose names Wood records. (fn. 222) In 1674 John Ditchfield, (fn. 223) possibly to be identified with the Ditchfield who was rector of Grove (Bucks.) in 1674, was master. He increased the endowment of the school by an annual rent charge of 40s. to be used for the instruction of two poor inhabitants of Williamscot.
It had long ceased to be a grammar school by the early 19th century. (fn. 224) The annuity of £13, however, was still being paid by the owner of the manor house, and a master taught forty children the three R's. In September 1857 the endowments were diverted by a scheme of the County Court to elementary education in a mixed school, (fn. 225) but in 1891 the Charity Commissioners decreed that the income should be devoted to prizes.
Witney Grammar School
On 4 November 1331 Richard of Standlake obtained a licence (fn. 226) to endow three chaplains to celebrate divine service in the parish church of Witney, and from that time the town, in all probability, had an endowed schoolmaster. In 1547, in any case, William Dalton, priest of Standlake's chantry, who is described by the Chantry Commissioners as 'a man of good behaviour and well learned', was acting as schoolmaster. The commissioners also reported that Witney was a great market town and 'that the inhabytaunces desyereth to have a scolemaster to teache yough there, but the said William Dalton (incumbent) doth lytle service nowe'. (fn. 227) The chantry's funds, however, were dispersed, and nothing was done to establish a public school until Henry Box, by will (dated 13 February 1661), (fn. 228) left a house which he had lately built for a free school and £50 a year with which to endow it. Box was a prominent member of the Grocers' Company, and had been alderman of London and member of Parliament. His widow, Mary Box, who was equally interested in the foundation of the school, obtained an Act of Parliament (8 May 1664) (fn. 229) which enacted that there should be for ever in Witney a free grammar school with one master and usher; that the four wardens of the Grocers' Company and their successors, intended as governors by Henry Box, should be a body corporate with a common seal. Mary Box was to have during her lifetime 'full power and authority to order and govern the said free school with its lands and possessions, and to place and appoint learned and discreet persons to be schoolmaster and usher'. The Provost and four senior Fellows of Oriel, where Henry had been an undergraduate, were appointed visitors.
Six years later (19 July 1670) (fn. 230) Mary Box and Ralph, her son, increased the endowment of the school by a yearly rent of £13 issuing out of property in Longworth (Berks.). £10 was to maintain a writing-master, £2 was to pay a rent-charge on the lands on which the school was built, and £1 was to go to the Provost and Fellows of Oriel for their charge and horse-hire at the yearly visitation of the said school.
The business of foundation was completed on 14 December 1674, when Mary Box witnessed the 'convenient and wholesome' statutes which she had drawn up. (fn. 231) These are particularly interesting for the enthusiasm for a classical education which they show at this late date when so many of the ancient grammar schools were declining, and for the comparatively rare inclusion of Hebrew in the curriculum. The school was to be free for the teaching of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew to thirty scholars. It was intended to provide for all classes, but 'special respect' was to be paid to the children of the poorest inhabitants, who might be admitted at a cheaper rate. Each scholar was to pay 2s. 6d. (1s. 6d. to the master, 1s. to the usher), but those whose parents were not assessed weekly for maintenance of the poor were to pay 1s. The children of Ralph Box of London, of Alice Hill of Teddington, the founder's daughter, and of Edward Box of South Newton (Oxon.) were to have priority.
The master was to be an M.A. of an English university and 'well skilled in school learning and in the originall and learned languages'. The usher must be a graduate and 'one that hath studied some considerable time'. The writing-master was only required to teach writing and casting accounts, as boys had to be perfect in reading before admission. It was necessary, too, that master and usher should be men 'sound in the faith and of unblameable lives'. Particular care was to be taken in their choice, a point on which Mary Box showed special shrewdness. Their abilities and qualifications were to be 'tried' by the visitors. If they were satisfied they were to return a certificate to the governors in the case of the master. The usher was to have a three months' trial before confirmation.
The master's salary was a nominal £35, but in fact £30, as he had to set aside each year £2 for a dinner for the visitors every St. James's day, and lay up £3 in the school chest as a fund for reparations. As the visitors' business was to examine the master's and usher's diligence and the proficiency of the scholars and determine all matters of difference, the master may have willingly disbursed this £2 on feasting them. In addition to his salary he had the school-house and grounds rent free, provided he kept them in repair and allowed the usher a room for his lodging. The latter's salary was £15. Regulations about absence were more liberal than was commonly the case. The master might not be absent more than twenty-four days together if in health, and the usher not more than fifteen days. Hours of attendance were long but according to the usual practice, that is, eight in winter and nine in summer.
As at Adderbury, an effort was made to regulate the relations between master and usher, for these were evidently a common cause of trouble. It was enacted that the usher should 'stand to the master's directions both for method and order of teaching. Also the master shall examine the proficiency of the scholars under the usher's teaching and he by himself, or if need be by two of the visitors, shall take course for the regulating of what shall be amiss'. In order to ensure a 'good correspondency' between master and usher it was ordained that 'if the master shall remove and take from the usher's teaching any scholar for his own advantage before he be fitt to be so taken under his teaching then the usher may complain to the visitors'.
A boarding-school was envisaged from the start. The statutes decreed that the founder's kin were to have the most convenient chamber for their lodging. The master was also to be allowed to take pupils above the foundation number of thirty up to 100 and more, and it could have hardly been supposed that all these would come from Witney. In the event of there being over 100 pupils the master was to take another usher at his own expense, so that the free scholars might not be neglected.
As for the pupils, no scholar was to be absent for more than three days and that only with the master's consent. No scholar was to deface the building or furniture on pain 'of exemplary punishment for deterring others so to doe'. All disobedient, stubborn youths were to be expelled the school if they persisted in their conduct after three admonitions.
Religious instruction was arranged for in a clause which was to acquire some importance at a later date. It runs: 'The first duty entered upon every morning' shall be 'a short and solemn form calling upon God for a blessing: there upon shall follow the distinct reading of a chapter or some other portion of the Holy Scriptures by one of the scholars as the master shall direct and appoint. Likewise before their dismission in the evening they shall close the day with prayer and thanksgiving.' The master and usher were to see that these religious duties were 'daily and diligently performed and attended by all the scholars'.
Mary Box lived to a great age and appointed masters until her death in 1718. Francis Gregory, (fn. 232) D.D., was her first choice and a most distinguished one. He had been educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, and later learnt schoolmastering at his old school under Dr. Busby, whom he describes as 'not only a master but a father to him'. From usher at Westminster he was promoted to the headmastership of the grammar school at Woodstock, and his loyalty to the monarchy was rewarded by his being chosen to preach the thanksgiving service at St. Mary's, Oxford, in 1660, and by his appointment as royal chaplain. For his capacity as a schoolmaster we have the evidence of his published works. He wrote three works for use in schools. One was practically a Greek-Latin lexicon, one a classified English, Latin, and Greek vocabulary; and another, Instructions concerning the Art of Oratory for the Use of Schools, shows his catholic ideas about education. (Curiously, not one of these books is to be found in the library at Witney.) While there he was also occupied with theology. The Triall of Religions with cautions against Defection to the Roman, published in 1674, is an example of his activities. He died in 1707 and appears to have been succeeded by Joseph Reade, master until his early death in 1709. (fn. 233) His name and office (preceptor) occur on the fly-leaf of one of the library books, followed by the date 7 May 1707.
Edward Hinton, (fn. 234) son of the rector of Islip and alumnus of Merton College and St. Alban Hall, must have been the first usher. He was the author of a translation from Greek of the Apophthegms . . . of Kings and Great Commanders, and the donor of the handsome Lexicon Heptaglotton, still in Witney School library. He describes himself in it as the second master (informator).
The shadowy figure of Mr. Turner (fn. 235), M.A., who existed about this time, may have been an usher, but, as he describes himself as preceptor, more probably master after Reade.
The school went through a bad period at the beginning of the 18th century. The headmaster, the Rev. John Goole, an ardent high-churchman of little discretion, was a singularly bad choice for a school in Witney, which was a stronghold of dissent. Complaint was made about him in 1718, (fn. 236) but the wardens took no action and let the matter drop. Goole's opponents, however, continued to work against him and collect subscribers to a petition demanding his removal. About 1721 the case against him was printed in an anonymous pamphlet entitled the Present State of the Free School. The main charges were that the master had denied to dissenters' children the privileges of the foundation, that he was negligent and 'above the business of the school'; idle and slothful. The accusations were rebutted by Goole in another publication entitled An Answer to a Scandalous Pamphlet. (fn. 237) He said that he had found the school in a bad state, and that it was now no worse; that many dissenters had spoken well of his treatment of their children. He appealed to various old boys, fathers, and others like Mr. Box of Hammersmith, Dr. Freind, headmaster of Westminster, and his son, the rector of Witney, as witnesses to his not neglecting the school. He refuted the assertion that Mr. Box's sons and Sir Francis Blake's grandsons had been removed because of his inefficiency. His lack of success he attributed to spite; to the setting up of a rival school at Cogges by the curate of Witney; to the groundless slanders of the dissenters. He accused Mr. John Collier, a leading man in the Presbyterian meeting, of being the chief mover, and continued with a dignified request that his accusers should present any complaints they had to the governors and visitors.
The whole case is an interesting illustration of how in certain circumstances the growing force of Nonconformity might contribute to the decline of the ancient grammar schools. The statute concerning religious instruction at this school was sufficiently vague to allow of the inclusion of Nonconformist children without harm to their parents' consciences, but apart from religion the increasing custom of drawing masters from the ranks of beneficed Church of England clergy was bound to make difficulties in this period when the habits and outlook of the clergy were so different from those of the strict Nonconformists.
In Mr. Collier's (fn. 238) reply to Goole's pamphlet we get an excellent, though possibly exaggerated, picture of an 18th-century schoolmaster. He declared that when Goole was appointed there were thirty scholars, nine of whom were boarders, and that these had decreased to two or three. The reason for this he attributed not so much to Goole's refusal to take any boy who would not have a prayer book, and attend church with him, and join in the whole service of the church in school, morning and evening, as to his neglect. He was said to go frequently to horse-races, make the boys look after his horse, play at chuck farthing with them, and play at cards and tables in his house so that the boys were sent home without saying their lessons. He was absent for weeks at a time, and the children made little progress with their learning; indeed, they said they were unable to learn Latin under him though capable and willing. He was also accused of great severity. He caned and horse-whipped the boys with 'intolerable and unreasonable cruelty'. The writer concludes that the school had flourished under Goole's predecessors and would do so again under any good master.
Two minor points of interest arising out of these pamphlets are worth noticing. One is the evidence for the type of boy still attending the grammar school, sons of well-to-do London merchants and sons of local titled families. The other is the statement that Mr. Box's bounty was now actually a hindrance to the town, as no other master was allowed to teach grammar on account of the free school.
Mr. Goole's impetuosity led to his being the plaintiff in a breach of promise case in which Miss Hudson and her mother, 'a most vile, wicked, stingy woman', were concerned, and provided another opportunity for his enemies to revile him. (fn. 239) But still the governors preserved their apathetic attitude, and Goole finally died master of the school in 1748.
He was succeeded by the Rev. Benjamin Gutteridge. (fn. 240) Judging from the number of pupils known to have gone to the University he met with considerable success in restoring the prestige of the school. He had gained experience as a schoolmaster in Roysse's school at Abingdon, where he was a junior hupodidasculus in 1732.
Under him the school was 'beautified and repaired', and the library improved by gifts from his pupils. (fn. 241) Among his scholars who contributed books were undergraduates of Christ Church, Exeter, Pembroke, Queen's, and Trinity Colleges. Many of these boys distinguished themselves in later life in the Church, in law, and in learning, and are a remarkable testimony to the value of the school at this time. But it is worthy of note that most of these scholars must have been boarders. They came from Warwickshire, Hertfordshire, Guernsey, Lechlade, Kelmscot (Oxon.), and from Berkshire. Robert Freind, whose father was vicar of Witney, is probably the only day boy in the list of fourteen donors. About the children of other inhabitants of Witney, the free scholars for whom the school was mainly intended, we have no evidence. The most famous of Gutteridge's pupils was the future Bishop of Carlisle, Samuel Goodenough, (fn. 242) who laid the foundation of his elegant scholarship at the Witney Grammar School. He and his brothers were sent there in 1750, it being 'a school of good repute . . . under the direction of a most excellent man'. At the age of 12, in 1755, Samuel went on to Westminster and to a distinguished career as a botanist, scholar, and churchman.
Gutteridge is said to have resigned in or about 1771, and George Seele, (fn. 243) the curate of Witney, succeeded him. Little is known of the school during his rule. It was said to have decreased in numbers again. He never had more than two or three boarders. (fn. 244)
On Seele's death in 1805 Thomas Cripps was appointed master and a disastrous period set in for the school. Cripps had been a pupil at the school for eleven years and usher since 1802. He was a quarrelsome and obstinate man who spent most of his time in fighting, first, the town bailiffs over their claim to the payment of the £2 rent-charge mentioned in the statutes, and secondly, the vicar and parishioners over the matter of Gutteridge's pew. In the first case Cripps refused in 1809 to pay because he had been assessed for the first time to the Poor Rate in respect of the school premises. He behaved with great violence and was prosecuted by the bailiffs. In the second case he seems to have claimed wrongfully as school property a private pew known as Gutteridge's, which had belonged to Seele since 1795. The interest of the quarrel from our point of view is the light it throws on the state of the school, the strong opposition to the master in the town, and Cripps's unsuitable character for his position. The school was said to have so decayed since he was master that there were now only between six and ten scholars. The case was fought in the Chancellor's Court at Oxford during the years 1817–20. But in 1830 Cripps was still implacable on the matter and threatening that any one who sat in the pew would 'do so at their peril'. (fn. 245)
The result of it all was that in 1845 when the Rev. H. Gregory of Christ Church accepted the mastership there were no scholars in the school. As early as 1818, when Cripps was only in the middle of squandering his money on lawyers, Carlisle had remarked that the school buildings were in such a dilapidated condition that unless speedily repaired they 'must fall'. (fn. 246) Gregory was not the man to restore the fortunes of the school. He wisely widened the curriculum so as to provide a more suitable education for the middle-class boy, and engaged a series of competent English masters, but seems to have done little more. In 1866 the School Inquiry Commission reported that the master's office was a sinecure, that there were only twenty-four boys in the school, that the visitors did not visit, and that all the work of the school was done by the assistant master, who was only qualified to teach the elements.
The school was reconstituted in 1877, but as it did not prosper the Grocers' Company handed over the buildings and endowments to the local Education Committee, undertaking on certain conditions to contribute £100 a year towards the maintenance.
In 1901 by a scheme of the Charity Commission the school became part of the new foundation called the Witney Grammar School and Technical School, comprising also Holloway's and Wright's charities. The former was the old Blue Coat School, and the latter was a bequest of £900 given to the grammar school in 1860 by John Wright, an old pupil who had made his fortune in America.
Another momentous change made by the 1901 scheme was the opening of the school to girls, and it is now run as a co-educational school with boarders and day pupils. When Mr. Haines became headmaster in 1901 there were 12 pupils, when he left there were 140, and to-day there are about 160.
The Library. Henry Box and his wife both left books to the school and the latter made provision in the statutes for the increase and safeguarding of the library. The first master was enjoined to 'take a perfect and exact accompt' of all the volumes and write it in a book to be kept in the library. The masters were to be ready at all times to account for the books to the visitors or governors; no one was to be suffered to write in or deface them; no one might take them out of the library, and once a week the dust was to be beaten from them. Mary Box also arranged that if there was any surplus from the £13 annuity granted by her, it should be employed in the purchase of new books.
There were eleven lexicons and thirty-six other books in the original collection formed by about 1670. Greek was well represented by the works of Thucydides, Demosthenes, Plutarch, Herodotus, Lycophron, and Pausanias. The collection was increased from time to time by individual gifts, such as Plot's Natural History of Oxfordshire given by Frances Blake, a former pupil, but the main accession occurred in the middle of the 18th century. Among the additions acquired then were the translations of the classics made by Bentley, Dryden, Pope, and Warton; the poetical works of Addison, Cowley, Pope, and Prior; copies of the Spectator and Guardian as well as some historical and geographical works. The list is remarkable for the breadth of its scope and its up-to-date character.
The library is still in being and has its original vellum catalogue.
Woodstock Free Grammar School
Richard Cornwall, a citizen and skinner of London, by his will, dated 16 May 1585, (fn. 247) bequeathed £300 for the foundation of a free grammar school, £100 of this sum to be used for the building of the school-house and £200 for the endowment of the school and master, whom he wished 'to be a good preacher of the word of God'. A few years after his death his wife and executrix, Mary, and others including the mayor and commonalty of Woodstock were parties to an indenture witnessing the purchase of land in Woodstock to the value of £100. (fn. 248)
The corporation then took steps to procure a royal licence (dated 7 May 1599) empowering it to hold this estate for the use of the grammar school, and on 16 June the property was conveyed to it. (fn. 249) Thus the Free School was finally launched.
The corporation, as at Chipping Norton, was the sole trustee and governor. It appears to have given up for the use of the school a large room running parallel to the chancel of the church, for the repair of which it continued responsible. (fn. 250) It appointed and dismissed the master. It received the rents of the school property (the White Hart Inn and 2 acres of land, and two adjoining houses described in the deed of 5 July 1587), and was accustomed to grant leases of it for forty years.
The original endowment was increased in 1616 by Thomas Fletcher, citizen and skinner of London and a cousin of Richard Cornwall. (fn. 251) He required the Skinners' Company, by his will, dated 5 October, to make a payment of £12 yearly to the Mayor of Woodstock, it being the town where he was born. £4 of this was to go to 'the schoole master for the time being of the free schoole'. By a deed dated 28 November 1623 the company covenanted with the corporation to make the above-mentioned payments. (fn. 252)
Anthony Wood (fn. 253) gives a list of the masters, but only a few can be identified now. One of the most interesting is Thomas Widdowes, (fn. 254) a demy of Magdalen (1630–6), who became master of the college school at Gloucester in 1640 and on being ejected for his noted loyalty to the monarchy became minister of Woodstock and master of the school. He could not have stayed there long, for he was master of the free school at Northleach, a better paid post, at the time of his death in 1655. He was evidently an assiduous schoolmaster, for he took the trouble to write on 'matters pertaining to the faculty of grammar for the use of his scholars'. But a better-known work was his Just Devil of Woodstock, an anti-Parliamentarian tract which Wood describes as 'very impartially written and therefore worth the reading by all, especially the many atheists of this age'.
Another master of some fame is Dr. Gregory, (fn. 255) who became master in 1654. He was a good royalist and compiled a book of verse, partly written by his scholars, and published at the king's restoration under the title Votivum Carolo, or A Welcome to His Sacred Majesty Charles II. Something of his educational creed is revealed in his introduction: 'Children are the hopes of God's kingdome and his Majesty's too. My work is to teach them religion, loyalty and learning; religion towards their God; loyalty towards their king; and learning to fit them for the service of both.' It is, indeed, not surprising that he obtained the reputation of being a good and sedulous teacher. (fn. 256)
At the beginning of the 19th century (fn. 257) the school was still giving a good classical education. The master, the Rev. Samuel Jackson, received a salary of £30 for which he undertook to teach the children of freemen the classics gratis and the three R's for 15s. a quarter or less. Other scholars paid £1 a quarter. There were twenty to thirty boys, and it was expected that the number would increase. (fn. 258)
In 1866 the school was in a less flourishing condition, though still of a semi-classical character. Part of the endowment had been lost. There was no statute regulating the education of the boys, but an agreement had been made between the master and the corporation that he would teach the sons of the inhabitants of Woodstock free as regards Latin and Greek, and would give them an English and commercial education for a guinea a quarter. Out-town day boys and boarders he might take on his own terms. At the date of the Government inquiry (fn. 259) he only had two town boys and eight other scholars, the old schoolroom had been given up and the instruction was of a low standard, but the corporation for reasons best known to itself was quite satisfied.
The school was regulated by a scheme of the Charity Commissioners in 1900 and by a scheme of the Board of Education, dated 16 February 1915. By the latter the income of the grammar school was to be applied in future to the payment of exhibitions at some institution for higher education or of maintenance allowances for boys and girls of the borough.
Elementary Schools founded before 1800 (fn. 260)
Albury.—Lady Mary Bertie in 1737 by her will gave £100, later converted into a rent-charge of £10, for which sum a schoolmaster taught reading and writing to poor children chosen by the clergyman of the parish. In 1824 and 1842 there were 12 boys in the school, but by about 1867 there were 3 boys and 12 girls who were taught by a dame appointed by the Earl of Abingdon. (fn. 261)
Asthall.—In 1743 Sir George Fettiplace bequeathed £6 a year for a schoolmistress or dame to teach reading and writing to 12 girls, 6 of them from the parish of Asthall, including Asthall Langley and Asthall-Leigh, and 6 from the parishes of Swinbrook and Widford (Herts.). He also provided a school-house at Asthall, to be kept in repair by his executors. By 1823 this school-house was uninhabitable, but 12 girls were still being taught according to the directions of the founder. In about 1867 there were 30 children in the school, 19 girls and 11 boys, who all paid 2d. a week. The mistress was then a certificated teacher. (fn. 262)
Aston Rowant.—Bartholomew Tipping, on 7 October 1675, gave a rent-charge of £41. 0s. 6d. to found and maintain a school for 12 poor children of the hamlet of Stokenchurch, between the ages of 7 and 12 or 14. The schoolmaster, who might be the curate but who must be a member of the Church of England, received £12 a year and had the use of a good house and school-house, built and endowed by the founder, and a garden. He taught reading, writing, accounts, and the principles of the Established Church. The free scholars were given blue clothes every year, and there was a dinner on St. Bartholomew's day for the boys, together with a charity sermon preached by the curate of Stokenchurch for a fee of 13s. 4d. There were 50 boys in the school in 1867, 12 of whom received clothing. This charity also included a bequest for apprenticing 2 boys. (fn. 263)
Marsh Baldon.—The school was founded by Elizabeth Lane, who in 1771 bequeathed to the owner of the manor, for the time being, her farm called Herbert's, in trust, for teaching 6 boys and 6 girls to read. The schoolmaster occupied the house and orchard and received the rent of the close, £6 a year, and also took other children who paid for their instruction. The lord of the manor was, in 1824, providing books for the 12 free scholars and allowing £1 a year for fuel for the school. In about 1866 there were 56 children in the school, with one mistress to teach them. (fn. 264)
Banbury.—The Blue Coat School was instituted for 50 boys and girls of Banbury by voluntary subscription in 1705 and was later endowed by various benefactions. The master and mistress must be members of the Church of England. The master's duty was to teach the principles of religion according to the Church catechism to all the children, writing and arithmetic to all the boys, and writing to selected girls, while the mistress taught the girls to knit and sew, 'mark' and spin. Each boy was provided with a coat, breeches, cap, two bands, two shirts, two pairs of stockings, two pairs of shoes, and one pair of shoe-buckles, while each girl had two caps, two 'whiskes', one gown, one petticoat, two shifts, two pairs of stockings, one pair of knit gloves, two pairs of shoes, and one pair of shoe-buckles. Down to 1817 these children were taught by the master and mistress in a room over the town jail, but from that date they were instructed at the newly established National School to which the trustees of the charity paid £30. The children on the Blue Coat foundation continued to receive clothing and books and were given a Bible and prayer-book when they left the school. (fn. 265)
Bicester.—A charity school for boys, supported by voluntary contributions, had already been in existence here for many years before William Walker, in 1811, endowed it with £16 a year, in fulfilment of an expressed desire of his late father, John Walker of Hackney, who had been a subscriber during his lifetime. This money was intended to be used for clothing poor boys, between the ages of 7 and 14, born in Bicester, or adjacent parishes, and teaching them the principles of the Church of England, reading, writing, accounts, and the catechism. With this bequest, together with a slightly larger amount raised by subscription, and collections after occasional sermons, 30 boys of Bicester were taught and, if funds permitted, were clothed. The master might at one time, if he so wished, take paying pupils. By 1824, however, the numbers in the school were fixed at 30, since the schoolroom was incapable of holding a larger number. The master's salary was then £25. Some time between 1842 and 1866, however, the school appears to have ceased to exist and, instead, the boys were sent to the National School, the trustees paying a contribution of £10, and clothing 5 boys as a reward. (fn. 266)
Bladon.—borough of woodstock.—Sir Robert Cock's school was founded by his children in 1738 in performance of his intentions and as a consequence of a prize drawn by him in a state lottery. Eight poor children, boys or girls, of the borough of New Woodstock, were to be taught reading, writing, and the fundamental principles of the Christian religion by a master or mistress whose salary should be £7 a year, out of which pens and paper were to be provided for the scholars. The children were to be taken to church every 'prayer-day' and also yearly, on 10 February, on the occasion of a charity sermon preached by the minister of New Woodstock for a fee of 1 guinea. This was the day on which the children were to receive their annual gift of clothing, for which £10 was assigned. A similar sum was set aside for apprenticing one child in any place in the kingdom outside New Woodstock. In 1818 12 boys and 12 girls were being educated and clothed from this charity, but already it was so much in debt that the clothing provided had to be reduced for a time to caps and bonnets. The boys were by this date sent to a master in Woodstock and were taught reading, writing, and accounts. The girls were sent to a schoolmistress, who received the same salary as the master, namely 12 guineas, and taught them reading and needlework, and writing if they stayed long enough. Children were not admitted under 6 years of age, and they were allowed to stay for 6 years or until they were 14. All the children, when able to use it, received a prayer-book, and on leaving the school, if they had behaved well, a Bible. Books were provided by the charity, but the master and mistress provided stationery. By 1868 the endowment was used to send 16 boys and 16 girls to the National School. (fn. 267)
Cogges and Newland.—blake's schools.—William Blake, lord of the manor of Cogges, by his will dated 1693 left rent-charges for the payment of £6 to a schoolmistress for teaching reading and a Protestant catechism to 24 poor Protestant children at High Cogges and £6 for a like purpose at Newland in Cogges. The girls were to be taught plain work and knitting in addition, and 5 children from Cogges and Newland were sent to the master of the Blue Coat School at Witney to be taught writing. Any deficiency in numbers was to be made up from adjacent towns. Blake had previously given school-houses, and he bequeathed a sum of 30s. a year for the repair and upkeep of each. The children, who were selected by the lord of the manor, were admitted at the age of 6 or thereabouts, and stayed until they were 9 or had read the Bible twice. Further, 6 boys and 6 girls, the poorest in the school, were given a gown and other clothing annually, as well as books. By 1823 the average number in each school had dropped to about 15 and was not made up from neighbouring towns. In 1867, however, there were 46 children in the two schools and all, apparently, paid 1d. a week. They were catechized by the curate of Cogges during Lent. (fn. 268)
Cropredy.—Hamlet of Great Bourton.—Thomas Gill, a native and resident of Great Bourton, by his will dated 13 April 1666 devised the residue of his real estate for building a free school or hospital for children whose parents had not above £40 a year or a personal estate equal. A few years later his trustees applied to this purpose a fee farm rent of £20 from the manor of Shitlington, co. Beds., and another of £9 from the rectory of Newbold, co. Warw. As the chapel of All Saints in Great Bourton had for years been used as a free school, it was arranged that these rents should be applied for its use. The chapel or school-house was in 1709 acquired by the trustees of the charity at an annual rent of £4, and a salary of £15 was paid to a schoolmaster who lived in the school-house, to which a good garden was attached. The school was free to all boys of Great Bourton whose parents complied with the conditions of the bequest. In 1824 there were between 30 and 40 free scholars in the school and the master took paying scholars from other places and also from parents of Great Bourton having property. There were 162 boys and girls in the school in about 1867. (fn. 269)
Eynsham.—A school was founded here by the will of John Bartholomew, dated 7 March 1700, for teaching reading and writing to 10 poor boys of Eynsham, the schoolmaster, with a salary of £10 a year, to find the boys in books, pens, ink, and paper. The will also made provision for 1 boy to be apprenticed annually. Every poor boy, while at school, was to wear upon his left sleeve the letter B of different coloured cloth. A schoolroom was built by public subscription in 1701 upon ground provided by the lord of the manor, but down to 1823 there was no house for the master, though money was then in hand for the purpose. At this date the master was instructing 14 boys of Eynsham, free, in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but provided only a few books, the greater number being provided by the parents. He also took paying scholars so that his school numbered 40 to 50 altogether. (fn. 270)
Goring.—Hospital School.—Henry Alnutt, lord of the manor of Goring, by his will in 1724 had directed that part of his estate should be used for apprenticing poor children of the parishes of Goring, South Stoke, Ipstone, Checkendon, and Cassington. As the money was in excess for this purpose, in 1727 by decree in Chancery, part of the money was assigned for a school. The chaplain of the almshouses founded by Alnutt was to act as schoolmaster to 12 boys of Goring, 2 of South Stoke, and 4 of Checkendon, and teach them to read and write. Six boys of Cassington and Ipstone were put to school in their respective parishes, being too far away to attend the school at Goring. The trustees always endeavoured to appoint such boys as were likely to stay at school until they were old enough to be bound apprentice, but in practice very few stayed to take advantage of this. In 1819, 18 boys were being taught by the chaplain reading, writing, and ciphering, mensuration and land surveying, while 4 boys from Cassington and 2 from Ipstone were being taught in their respective parishes to read, write, and cipher. All the boys were clothed. The chaplain could take private scholars. So much money had accumulated in the hands of the trustees that a proposal was made in 1822 to add 12 more boys (or girls if boys could not be obtained), to the numbers already clothed and given schooling, these to be chosen from the same parishes and in the same proportion as before. In 1867 there were 27 boys and 13 girls of this foundation at the school, and 29 children who were not on the foundation, and who paid from 3d. to 6d. a week. (fn. 271)
Great Haseley.—Tayler's school.—On the reconstruction in 1688 by the Commissioners of Charitable Uses of a bequest to the poor by Luke Tayler in 1647, a schoolmaster was appointed to teach reading and writing to all the poor children of the parish whose parents were unable to pay for them. A new school-house and a house for the master were built some time between 1811 and 1822. The schoolmaster's salary was £25 in 1822, and the management of the school was chiefly in the hands of the resident clergyman. (fn. 272)
Great Haseley.—little haseley school was founded by a deed of 17 August 1756 of Dr. Penniston Booth, Dean of Windsor, who agreed to stand seised of a cottage in Little Haseley which should be used as a school-house. It was further agreed that he and his successors, as Dean of Windsor, together with the lessee of the college estate and the curate of Great Haseley should choose the master or mistress, who should live rent free in the cottage upon condition of teaching 6 children to read. In 1822 there was a schoolmistress living in the cottage and teaching 6 poor children, but as the cottage was not worth 40s. a year she had never been pressed to take those children free, and the cottage was 'hardly kept up as a school'. A rent-charge of 10s. from land in Little Haseley was used for repairs of the cottage, but there was no source of income for the schoolmistress. (fn. 273)
Henley-on-Thames.—Green School.—John Stevens by his will in 1717 gave £1,000 to be laid out in land or public security for the education of poor boys and girls and for their clothing and for allowances, not exceeding 40s. a year to be paid to the parents of each child 'in compensation for the time it was at school'. In 1720 the bequest was laid out in the purchase of a rent-charge of £40 from certain water corn-mills, a mill-house, and meadow in Rotherfield Peppard. In 1765 Thomas Stevens, one of the trustees, gave a further £100, which was duly invested. In 1819 4 boys and 4 girls were being taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the girls, sewing and knitting in addition. The master then received £6. 6s. a year with £1. 1s. for pens and paper, the mistress £3; 19s. was spent on Bibles and prayer-books, and 30s. was paid to the parents of each of the 8 children. The children were clothed while at school and at the time of leaving. (fn. 274)
Holton.—The date of the foundation of the school is uncertain but land in Brill, co. Bucks., which formed the endowment is supposed to have been bought with a legacy of £200 left by Dr. Rogers, who was rector of Holton in 1665. In the early nineteenth century this was producing a yearly rent of £13, which was paid to a schoolmaster. The parishioners built the schoolroom in 1790, and at a vestry meeting in 1811 the lord of the manor, the rector, and churchwardens were appointed to act as trustees, there being nothing to show who else ought to be so considered. An inquiry made in 1821 revealed that the schoolmaster was then 68 years old, very deaf, in every respect incompetent, and that he had had no children in his school for some time previous. He was only kept in office because he would otherwise have been a burden to the parish, and it was only by repeated applications to the lord of the manor that the Commissioners secured his removal and the appointment, in 1824, of a competent successor. (fn. 275)
Horley.—Michael Hardinge, by his will dated 15 June 1627, left a house 'lately built in a close called Berry-yard' to be used as a school-house for the town, together with certain lands on trust to maintain a schoolmaster. Moreover, he willed that John French of Broughton and his heirs should have 3 sons free in the school for ever. The lands were conveyed to trustees in the following month and then brought in £13. 6s. 8d. a year. As a result of the inquiry of a Commission of Charitable Uses soon after May 1636, when it was found that the house had fallen down flat, the Commissioners ordered that the rents should first be employed in rebuilding the school, and later be paid to the schoolmaster. The foundation was further regulated by a similar commission in 1677.
It appears that boys only were admitted to the school down to the beginning of 1820, and that the schoolmaster who died in January of that year had seldom had more than 20 scholars. On the appointment of his successor, which took place the following September (an interval having been allowed for repairing desks and benches and putting the building into 'a fit state to receive children'), the school was reorganized. The master was paid a salary of £42 and money was available for the repair of the school and for buying books for the free children. For this salary the master was bound to take, free, all the boys and girls first of the parish and then of the town of Horley (except from the chapelry of Hornton, q.v.) provided they were 6 years old, and his wife was expected to teach knitting and sewing to the poor girls. If there were still room, the master might take children from other parishes on his own terms of payment. Further, the trustees decided that the Madras or National or monitorial system of teaching should be immediately adopted in the school. This aroused great indignation in the parish, and as the National system was developed in the school, so the numbers of free scholars diminished, from 30 in 1820 to 14 or 15 in 1822. On the other hand, the number of paying scholars increased so that there were 32 in 1822. Yet all but three of the inhabitants of Horley consulted on the matter were of opinion that 'children were better scholars under the old mode of teaching, and learnt faster'. (fn. 276)
Horley.—chapelry of hornton.—John Fox, at some uncertain date, bequeathed one half yard-land in Hornton to the use of a schoolmaster. On complaints that this charitable gift had been misemployed, the Commissioners of Charitable Uses in 1665 decreed that the rents of this land should thereafter be applied according to the will of the donor. About 100 years later the open fields of Hornton were inclosed, and in lieu of the half yard-land, a plot of ground containing 6 acres, 13 perches was allotted for maintaining a schoolmaster in Hornton to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic to such children as the trustees should think fit. This new allotment was vested in one Richard Giles, who committed it to trustees for the purposes described. Meanwhile, apparently, this same family of Giles occupied the land, paying 34s. rent. Eventually they claimed to hold it as their own, but after much trouble and expense the vicar and parishioners gained possession of the trust property in 1800. The land was let at £9 a year, the specified 34s. being paid for the schooling of 3 or 4 children as formerly, and the rest being reserved to pay the law expenses. A little later it was let at £12. 12s. and, since the law expenses had been paid off, this sum, with the exception of a small portion spent in buying books and coals for the school, was paid to the schoolmaster, who took all the children of Hornton who applied, provided they were over 5 years of age. In 1824 there were between 30 and 40 children. There was no school-house or residence for the master. (fn. 277)
Islip.—south's school.—In February 1712 the Rev. Robert South, D.D., released to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, as trustees, various lands and rents for the education of 21 poor boys of this or nearby parishes in reading, writing, and accounts, the master's salary of £15 to be reduced by 10 s. for every scholar wanting of this number. Each boy was provided with a blue coat and cap, and suitable boys were subsequently put to a trade. Boys might be admitted between the ages of 8 and 12 and might stay 5 years if admitted at the earlier age, and not more than 3, if entering at 12. The schoolmaster was to be a layman, but any suspicion of dissent was to be followed by instant dismissal, and the same penalty followed in the case of any boy who could be proved to have been three times present at any dissenters' meeting. The scholars were to be taught the catechism and taken to church every 'holiday' and twice on Sunday, the master to 'see that they bring with them their bibles and prayer-books', and supervise their manners and behaviour. The parish clerk was to ring a bell daily to summon the boys to school, at 6 o'clock in summer and 7 in winter.
By 1812 the value of the property had so much increased that the master's salary was subsequently raised to £25. By 1835, in addition to the original 21 boys, he taught 4 probationary boys to read, and 12 girls to read, write, and do accounts, for an extra 7s. a week. A school-house with a schoolroom was provided by the trustees, and with their consent the master had in 1837 4 boarders and from 15 to 20 pay scholars in addition to the free scholars. (fn. 278)
Kirtlington.—The date of the foundation of the school is unknown, but two houses in Woodstock had been demised to trustees to provide an income for the purpose of educating poor children. In 1766 these houses were conveyed to the Duke of Marlborough, his heirs and assigns, on a repairing lease for 70 years at a rent of £4. 4s. In 1824 the lord of the manor, Sir Henry Dashwood, and his family were supporting a school here for about 20 poor children, who were also clothed, and the £4. 4s. rent was applied towards part of the expense. (fn. 279)
North Leigh.—Ann Perrott on 14 August 1721 gave a rent-charge of 50s. out of lands in Fawler, co. Oxford, for keeping a school and buying books for poor children of North Leigh, between the ages of 2 and 10. If there were no such children to be put to school, the money should be used for clothing children between 2 and 7 years of age. By 1760 this rent charge was £16 in arrears and in 1788 only 7s. a year was available for the school. By 1823, however, the 50s. was being paid regularly, and together with 10s. (in respect of £10 arrears) was paid to a schoolmaster who taught 7 children to read. Books were supplied from private charity. (fn. 280)
Sarsden.—sarsden and Churchill school.—By her will dated 20 July 1705 Anne Walter gave £600 for the maintaining and education of poor girls born in the parishes of Sarsden and Churchill. This bequest was regulated by decree in Chancery in 1711, when lands and tenements were bought and vested in trustees. In 1715 Sir John Walter gave land for a school-house, which also provided accommodation for the schoolmistress. The rent of the property in 1824 amounted to £52. 10s., of which 20 guineas was paid to the mistress as salary, about £20 was spent on clothing for the girls, and the rest was used for books and repairs. There were always 24 girls, elected equally from the two parishes, in the school, who were admitted between the ages of 7 and 9 and might stay 4 years. They were taught reading, writing, and accounts, with knitting and needlework, and were supplied with gowns, bonnets, and other articles of clothing, and with Bibles and prayer-books when they left school.
Anne Walter's bequest had also contained the provision that the former pupils of the school on reaching the age of 20 should be taken to the bishop for confirmation and should then each receive £10, while the minister who took them to confirmation should be paid 20s. from the funds of the charity. In 1711 it was decreed that the ministers of Sarsden and Churchill should alternately undertake this duty, but though the girls were regularly confirmed, the income does not appear ever to have sufficed to afford the £10 directed by Anne Walter to be given to them. (fn. 281)
Somerton.—Thomas Fermor by his will dated 15 June 1580 left the chapel in the Castle-yard at Somerton to be used as a common school for children. He further directed that an estate in fee simple should be bought, out of the rents and profits of his lands, to provide an annual sum of £10 clear to be paid to a schoolmaster. This sum was regularly paid until 1822 when some legal difficulty arose. The schoolmaster also had a house (built about 1750), and about 2 acres of garden, orchard, and pasture land. In return for this he was expected to take into his school all the poor children of parishioners of Somerton, provided that they were fit to begin to read the Testament and to write. In practice he took them even earlier, and in addition he took paying scholars from other places and also boarders. He taught reading, writing, and arithmetic to the free scholars, who in 1824 numbered 14 or 15. (fn. 282)
Standlake.—The Rev. John Chambers, rector of Standlake, bequeathed about 12 acres of the land called Langleys in this parish to provide an annual rent to be used for teaching poor children to read. A later benefactor was William Plasterer who, by his will dated 4 April 1711, left £30, the interest thereof to be applied to the setting of children to school. In 1823 the income from these two sources amounted in all to £8. 9s. 11d. and was paid to the schoolmaster who, without charge, taught 12 children to read. There was a charge, however, for learning to write, and for the copybooks used. By 1867 the school had grown considerably and comprised 44 boys and 28 girls, with a master and a mistress. It was no longer free. (fn. 283)
Stanton Harcourt.—The foundation date of this school is unknown, but it was endowed by at least 9 benefactors, among them William Plasterer (will dated 4 April 1711), William Barfoot the elder (will dated 18 February 1713), Thomas Barfoot (will, 27 March 1720), Catherine Flexney (will, 6 January 1721), Mary Barfoot (will, 13 January 1726), Edward Crutchley, and James Digweed. Another benefactor, Mary Flexney, besides providing for the schooling of poor children, also directed that some of her money should be used for buying Bibles for such children as 'should have learnt their Bible through'. At some date before 22 June 1733 Dr. William Gibbons made a bequest for clothing, schooling, and apprenticing poor boys, and in 1765 money was raised for the school by public subscription. In 1823 the master was paid a salary of £14. 8s. from the various legacies (including £10 on account by Dr. Gibbons's charity from All Souls College, in whom it was by that time vested). A school-house and schoolroom was also provided free. For this the master taught one child reading free from every family that chose to send them—any second child being paid for, 4d. a week for reading and 6d. for reading and writing. Four boys on Dr. Gibbons's foundation might be taught also writing and accounts without payment and were further provided with books and writing materials. The numbers in the school ranged between 30 and 40. There were two teachers in 1868. (fn. 284)
Stanton St. John.—dame Elizabeth holford's school.—By her will dated 19 November 1717 Dame Elizabeth directed that £500 should be set aside from her personal estate and left at interest until it should have increased to at least £750, when it should be used for endowing one or more charity schools in Stanton St. John. A scheme was approved in Chancery in 1759 whereby a master should be paid £20 a year for teaching the poor boys of Stanton St. John and Forest Hill to read, write, and cast accounts. A 'very good schoolhouse and residence for the master' was built about 1767 on land given by the Warden and Fellows of New College, who were lords of the manor, but before this time the school was held at the vicarage and the master lived there also. The trustees provided 'Bibles, Common Prayer Books, and The Whole Duty of Man, pens, ink and paper, and whatever should be necessary for teaching the said poor children'. The children were admitted at 5 years of age and stayed until 14 if they pleased, though most of them left earlier. In 1824 there were about 50 boys and girls in the school, about 30 from Stanton St. John and the rest from Forest Hill. At this time the master's salary was £25. (fn. 285)
South Stoke.—doctor higgs's school.—Griffith Higgs, D.D., the vicar, who died in 1659, is said to have left £600 to buy land for the maintenance of a free school. In 1819 the bequest produced £15 a year, the greater part of which was paid to a schoolmaster for teaching 10 children (appointed by himself) to read. If there were not sufficient boys, the number was made up by girls who were taught knitting in addition, by the master's wife. The children, at this date, came to school very young and left as soon as they could work. (fn. 286)
South Stoke.—woodcote school was founded by Susannah, wife of Adam Newman. She, by her will dated 30 September 1715, bequeathed £10 rent from lands in the parishes of Ipsden and Checkendon, together with a cottage, for a schoolmaster or mistress, who should teach reading, writing, and accounts to 6 poor children of South Stoke (4 from above Hill and 2 from below Hill), and 4 from Checkendon. A sum of 12s. was left for a sermon once a year, on the anniversary of her death, to be attended by master and children. The founder further provided that wood for the repair of the cottage might be taken from any part of the manor or lordship of Rawlins alias Woodcote, except the Grove, but, by 1819, when the school-house was in need of repair, it was impossible to enforce this last provision since it could not be proved that Mrs. Susannah Newman had ever had any right to make such a grant. (fn. 287)
Swalcliffe.—sibford gower school.—There existed in Sibford Gower a charity known as the Town Estate, a third part of which, by order of a Commission of Charitable Uses, was assigned for the maintenance of a school and schoolmaster. In February 1792 various lands and tenements were conveyed to trustees for the purposes of this charity, and among them the school-house in Sibford Gower. Early in the nineteenth century a new house was acquired for the schoolmaster, who also had the use of a garden and close surrounding the school. His salary was £30 a year and as much more as a clear third of the rent of the whole property amounted to. For this he undertook to accept all the boys and girls of Sibford Gower and Burdrup between the ages of 5 and 7, and to teach them reading, writing, and arithmetic, the books and writing materials to be provided by the children. In addition the master's wife taught the girls knitting and sewing. There were 59 children in the school in 1824. (fn. 288)
Swinbrook.—pytt's school. Mrs. Anne Pytt in 1715 bequeathed £1,200 to produce among other rent-charges one of £20 to be paid to the schoolmaster of the school of Swinbrook 'for his encouragement', and for teaching the boys of Swinbrook and Widford (co. Gloucs.) 'in the full perfection of reading, writing, catechism, and arithmetic'. She assigned him a further £10 for reading prayers every Sunday morning in Swinbrook church. That a school was already in existence is shown by her bequest of £100 to build a new school-house on the place where the old one then stood, and among other charitable provisions she left money to keep the school-house in repair. The land was bought in 1717, and successions of trustees were appointed. By 1814 the value of the property had so much increased that the trustees were able to carry out the wish of the founder that a clerk in priest's orders should be appointed as schoolmaster at a salary of £60, to read prayers in Swinbrook church on Sunday morning and also officiate and preach a sermon at Widford. The first appointment of this kind was made in 1815 but it was not a success from the point of view of the school, and in 1834 parishioners complained that they were obliged to send their children to other schools at their own expense. Nothing was done, however, until 1836, when on the day fixed by the Commissioners for inquiry into this charity, the curate-schoolmaster resigned the latter office but stated his intention of retaining the curacy. The master subsequently appointed received only £20 in salary. In about 1838 a deputy master was teaching 13 boys free and 21 girls at 1d. a week. (fn. 289)
Great Tew.—An old schoolroom in Great Tew, built against the tower end of the church, was pulled down about 1778. It is not known whether there was any endowment to it, but in 1781 Thomas Edwards Freeman left an annuity of £12 for a schoolmaster or mistress to teach 10 poor boys and 10 poor girls of the parish, or more if expedient. He stipulated that the children should be between the ages of 6 and 10; that the boys should be taught reading and knitting, the girls, reading, spinning, knitting, and sewing, and that all the children should be instructed in the Protestant religion. The school was to be inspected by the vicar, who for this and other duties received an annuity of £30. The trust as originally founded was reconstructed in 1782 and in 1809 or 1810. By this time the rents of the estate exceeded the payments mentioned in the trust deed and in December 1823 the Master in Chancery gave it as his opinion that additional boys and girls should be nominated at the discretion of the trustees; that up to £10 should be spent on coals, books, and other necessities for the school and on 'rewards' for the most deserving scholars; that the schoolmaster's salary should be increased in the proportion of £12 for every additional 20 scholars; and that the vicar's stipend should also be increased proportionately. At this time the schoolmaster was receiving £12 salary, and paying 10s. rent for the schoolroom. There were still only 10 boys and 10 girls who were being taught free, the boys learning reading, writing, and accounts, the girls, reading, writing, and work. Paying scholars were taken in addition, and books were provided for the school by means of a collection taken after an annual sermon. The vicar was satisfied with the 'attention' of the master. (fn. 290)
Thame.—In November 1732 John Burrows left £100 for a master to teach reading to poor children of Thame. His son George, who died earlier in the year, left £50 for the same purpose, but this legacy was never paid. Samuel Wollaston, also by his will, dated 19 March 1739, left £50 for books for instructing poor children in the principles of the Church of England. Eventually land was bought with these joint bequests, and in 1751 was conveyed to trustees, who applied one-third of the rents for books and the rest for the schoolmaster's salary; the poor children to be selected by the vicar, churchwardens, and overseers of Thame. In February 1735 Matthew Crews bequeathed £200 on trust, to be laid out in land, to provide books and other necessaries and also a schoolmaster's salary. He stipulated that 12 children, half of them being his own relatives, if possible, should be taught the Church catechism and also to read the Old and New Testament and to write and cast accounts. Part of this £200 was lost through the insolvency of persons to whom it was lent at interest, but finally sufficient remained to produce a dividend of £7. 16s. from Consols, and to teach 6 instead of 12 poor children. Finally, the Earl of Abingdon by his will, made in March 1740, left £200 for teaching poor children reading, writing, and the catechism. This bequest his executors in 1767 converted into an annual rent-charge of £10 to be used for teaching 5 children.
The four bequests appear to have been co-ordinated in 1785, when the several trustees agreed to meet together to appoint the children and transact the business of the school. They decided that 20 poor children should be taught reading, writing, and accounts, preference being given to 6 who should be relatives of Matthew Crews. All the rents and dividends were to be paid to the schoolmaster, who should then provide books for the school. The number of free scholars was increased later to 24, who might not remain longer than 2½ years; but it appears as though the difference in the foundations continued to be observed since it is reported of one schoolmaster in 1808 or 1809 that, 'having another engagement in the town, he first gave up the boys taught under Lord Abingdon's donation, to William Burnard, and afterwards the other boys also'. The master also took private pupils. (fn. 291)
Witney.—Blake's school was endowed under the will of William Blake in 1693 at the same time as the schools at Cogges and Newland (q.v.). Similar provision was made for the salary and residence of a schoolmistress, and the same curriculum was to be followed. The children, however, were to be drawn from Witney in the first instance, were to be 30 in number, and no provision was made for their clothing or catechizing. When the school was inspected in 1823 it was found that the number of children had been limited to 25, but that they were allowed to stay for a longer period than that fixed by the founder (namely till they reached the age of 9 years) as the extension was found to be beneficial. They were regularly catechized in Lent by the curate of Cogges. Some time between 1842 and 1866, however, this school ceased to exist and the endowment was united with that of Cogges and Newland schools. (fn. 292)
Witney.—Holloway's school.—Under the terms of the will of John Holloway of Cripplegate, made in 1723, a house in Hailey and lands in Stonesfield were to be applied one year after his death for the housing and endowment of a hospital or school for 12 boys, sons of poor journeymen weavers of Witney and Hailey, and for putting them to trades. The residue of his estates in Hailey and Stonesfield after the deaths of his wife and nephew was apportioned first for the clothing of the boys in the manner of the Bluecoat Hospital boys in London, and then for providing books and pens and paper, increasing the number of boys in the school and the number bound apprentice. In 1823 there were 15 boys in the school between the ages of 8 and 14, 10 from Witney and 5 from Hailey (the proportion fixed by the founder). The master's salary was £20, or double the amount originally fixed, and for this he taught reading from the Bible, writing, and accounts. It was suggested in 1823 that the terms of the foundation might be extended to cover sons of journeymen fullers, since the endowment was more than sufficient to educate all the sons of weavers. Whether this was done is uncertain, but in 1868 there were 30 boys in the school. The master also taught writing to 5 children of Cogges and Newland (q.v.) under the terms of Blake's charity, for an additional £5 a year, the number being made up from the parish of Witney if necessary. (fn. 293) In 1901 this foundation was united with Witney Grammar School (q.v.).
Wootton.—parrott's school.—The Rev. Charles Parrott of Saham Toney, co. Norfolk, by his will, dated 26 April 1785, bequeathed £2,300 in India annuities for the education of 12 poor boys and the apprenticing, annually, of 2 boys of the parish of Wootton. The trustees appointed were the Warden of New College, Oxford, and the rector of Wootton, but it was the rector who in practice controlled the school and the allocation of funds for putting out apprentices. At the end of 1823 the schoolmaster was receiving a salary of £35 for which he taught reading, writing, and arithmetic to 12 poor boys, himself providing a schoolroom. He also took a few pay scholars; £5. 8s. a year was allowed for pens, ink, paper, and slates, and each boy received a maintenance allowance of 31s. a year. Nine boys had been bound out apprentice since the foundation of the charity, and some difficulties had arisen as to the administration of this branch of the fund, some parishioners seeking by its means to get rid of boys who were likely, for one reason or another, to be a burden on the parish. (fn. 294)