VIII.—Free Grammar School.
One box contains deeds and papers relating to the foundation and
endowment of the School. Amongst these is an extremely interesting
series of lists, on vellum, of benefactions to the library, giving not merely
titles of books and names of donors, but a description of the binding of
each volume. These lists extend from 1606 to 1634. The donors'
names have been printed in local publications. And, on paper, there is
a list of books chained in the library, dated 31 March, 1664; and also
a tattered catalogue made in 1619 "provided to be reade openly in the
Booth hall on the seaventeenth day of November yearely." One parcel
of papers relates to a loan of 600l. made from the stock of the School
kept in the exchequer of Shrewsbury to King Charles I. in 1642, by
Richard Gibbons, mayor, Thomas Challinor, the Head Master, Robert
Betton, senior alderman, and Richard Berrington, senior common-councilman. In 1650 an action was begun by the then Mayor and Aldermen
against the lenders for recovery of the money. Betton and Berrington
had both died before the suit began; of Gibbons it is said he "hath
exiled himself almost ever since the suit began, and is now reported to
be dead, but the plaintiffs know not"; so the actual defendants were
said to be Challinor and Robert and Thomas Betton as executors to their
father. Gibbons, however, did appear and plead. The case was still
proceeding in 1671, but in 1673 was dismissed. There is a copy of the
King's letter in acknowledgment of the loan, dated at Shrewsbury 11
Oct. 1642, in which he promises "that wee shall cause the same to be
truely repayd to you whensoever you shall demand the same, and
shall allwayes remember the loane of it as a very acceptable service
The following letters are of interest:—
1577, 15 May. Kerston.—Letter to the bailiffs (John Dawes and
Richard Owen) from Thomas Asheton, the first Master. When he was
trusted with the charge of their scholars, he, upon just consideration,
forced with sickness, committed the same again, to be perfected, to
worshipful, wise, learned, discreet personages, whose majesty and judgment might win to that matter more credit than it could ever have had
by his own private doing; and perusing their travails therein, he finds
it so substantially gone through that he has just cause to like and allow
of the same: And he most earnestly wishes the bailiffs to consent to the
same, that the thing with all speed may have perfection; and think that it
was God's providence that made them commit the matter to a weak person
at the first, whose purposed power should give strength to the same at
the last. Leaves them to be guided by God's Spirit, that, all faction set
apart, they may look with a single eye to their government, and, God's
wrath pacified, may enjoy the fruits of blessed concord.—Endorsed, "I
pray you good Baylifs, kepe this well and safe. It is of weight."
1577/8, 9 Jan. "From my howse at Hallon."—Letter to the bailiffs
and aldermen from Sir George Bromley. Understands by his friend
Mr. Assheton that they make some question whether, as provided by
the ordinances of the School, they may apply part of the revenues to the
purchasing of lands for scholarships and fellowships in the University.
When he penned the ordinances, he had the sight of the letters patent
both of Edw. VI. and of the Queen that now is, and it seemed that the
directions in the ordinances might be well done without any danger of
forfeiture or prejudice.
1579, 9 Apr. London.—Letter to the bailiffs and to Thomas Lawrence,
schoolmaster, from John [Aylmer, Bishop of] London, Sir Owen
Hopton and M. Lewis. Understanding by the bearer John Williams that
he was admitted vicar of St. Mary's in Salop, but that they have
displaced him, and are about to appoint another in his room, they are
hereby required to have consideration of the poor man's cause and to
restore him to his fermer service; and do not only a good and charitable
deed to the poor man, his wife and family, but also do God service.
1583, 28 July, Shrewsbury.—Draft of a letter to the Master and
Fellows of St. John's College, Cambridge, from the Bailiffs, announcing
the resignation of Mr. Lawrence, the chief schoolmaster, who, having
continued in that charge fifteen years, now finds himself so weakened in
body that he is not able to continue. His care and diligence have been
such that the School has not only yielded a great number of good
scholars, but also is the special ornament of the town, and is left in such
good order that all gentlemen of these parts are very desirous to have
their children trained up in it, whereby the number of scholars daily
increases. They send the bearer, Thomas Salter, gent., to urge a good
and careful selection of a successor, according to the great trust committed to the College. And albeit Mr. Baker, the second master, a
master of arts, ought to be preferred before any other, he utterly refuses
to supply the room. Should friendship prevail to commend a young
or more insufficient man than Mr. Baker, they cannot allow of the
1591, 19 Oct. "From the Schoole."—Letter to the bailiffs from John
Meyghen, about his desire to purchase the school orchard.
1608–9.—Petition from Humphrey Gardner, glover, that his son
Thomas Gardner, master of arts of both Universities, who was brought
up in the School, may be recommended for appointment as second
master, in the room of John Baker, M.A., deceased.
1627, 1 Nov. St. John's [College, Cambridge]. — Letter to the
bailiffs from Owen Guyn, Master of the College. Has received their
letter by Mr. Benion, informing him that two of the schoolmasters'
places are void by resignation. Although the University and College
abound with many fitting for such places, yet as some mature deliberation will be required, he will propound the matter at the next meeting
of the seniors.
1627, 19 Nov. St. John's in Cambr.—Letter to the bailiffs, signed
by the Master Owen Guyn, Rob. Lany, W. Mealeson, Rob. Allot, Tho.
Smith, Steph. Haxbye, John Pryse, and Hen. Downhale. They read
with much grief of the present weakness and decay of the School, which
would have been more grievous had it been by their default. But the
elections having formerly been made of such only as were commended
by the bailiffs themselves, the latter cannot in equity but clear them of
this mishap. But since the remedy is now wholly referred to them,
they have not insisted upon any of their own for favour, but have
enquired diligently in the University, and have made choice of the
most eminent and best deserving that could be persuaded to accept of
such preferment. To the second place they have elected James Brooke,
M.A., fellow of Gunvyle and Caius College, whose ability is well known
to them; and to the third place, David Evans, B.A., of Jesus College,
brought up in the School, approved both for ability of learning and
conversation of life.
1627, 27 Nov. Lichfield Palace.—Letter to the bailiffs, &c. from
Thomas [Morton, bishop of] Coven. and Lichf. approving of the nominations of Brookes and Evans by St John's College. "I have furthermore examined them in the poynt of literature, and in all these respects
have received soe good satisfacc[i]on for proofe both of theire life and
learning that I doe greatlie reioyce I may commend such two worthie
instruments for institution of youth unto you; by whose meanes I hope
the former bewtie of that Schoole, so much decayed, wilbe revyved, to
the profitt of the schollers, and to the contentment of them that affect
the good of the Schoole."
1629.—See under this year under the head of Miscellaneous Papers.
1674, 28 Aug.—Petition from John Okeley, baker, who "through his
loyalty to his prince" is maimed and unable to gain a being for his
children, for a scholarship and exhibition for his son, whom he has
brought up to learning in the School.—Referred to the Council for
1688, Oct.—Draft of a letter from the Mayor, stating. in reply to
a notice from St. John's College that they had elected Mr. Johnson
to supply the vacancy, that he is a person neither approved by himself
nor by the preceding Mayor Mr. Salter. They have advised with counsel
concerning the present difference between the Corporation and the
College, and are informed that the right of nomination and approbation
of a schoolmaster is settled in the former, and that in refusing Mr.
Johnson they have acted legally, and according to the power granted
them; and therefore they are resolved to vindicate their right. The
continuance of a good correspondence may easily be effected, if the
College will recall their seal granted to Mr. Johnson, and approve of one
of the two persons formerly nominated, viz. Mr. Mathews, who has
been a schoolmaster for some years, or Mr. Tisedale.
1744.—See under the head of the Municipal Registers, supra.