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THOUGH WE DO NOT propose in the following pages to give to our readers any exhaustive history of the Free Grammar School of Leeds, we are conscious that it would hardly accord with the fitness of things to send forth a Register of those who have been educated there without some account, however brief and incomplete, of its foundation and growth. To those, therefore, who may be inclined to cavil at our brevity, and to blame us for insufficient research, we would plead that our time and space are perforce limited; while to those on the other hand, who find even this brief record too long for their patience, we would pray for indulgence, and urge that though many have tried to make history interesting but few have succeeded.*

(*The information contained in the following account of the School has been chiefly derived from the following sources:—

A Brief History of the Grammar School at Leeds. (Leeds, printed by B. Dewhirst, 1822).
Leeds Grammar School Calendars, 1856-96.
Fundamental Articles, etc., for the Regulation and Government of the Leeds Free Grammar School, established by order of Vice-Chancellor Wood, 1855.
Minutes of the Pious Use Trustees.

The above, with the exception of the last-mentioned, are in the School Library.)

OUR START must be from the 6th March, 1551, when the Reverend William Sheafield, Bachelor of Arts (we know not of what University), commonly called Sir William Sheafield, surrendered all his copyhold lands in Leeds, with their appurtenances, to the use of Sir John Nevile, Kt., and fifteen other persons, to the use of him, the said William Sheafield, for life, and after his decease to such use and interest as he should by his Will declare.

That use and interest by his Will, dated 6th July, 1552, he declares to be that Sir John and the other persons “shall from henceforth stande and be Feoffees and alsoe seiz’d off in and upon Two Closes lyinge beyond Shipscar bridge within the Parishe of Leedes with their appurtenances,” as also of several tenements situate in what is now called Vicar Lane, in Leeds, producing together a clear yearly rent of £4. 13s. 4d., “to the use and for findinge Sustentation and Liveinge of one honest Substantial learned man to be a Schoole Maister to teach and instruct freely for ever all such Younge Schollars Youthes and Children as shall come and resort to him from time to time to be taught instructed and informed in such a School house as shall be founded erected and buylded by the Paryshioners of the sayde Towne and Parishe of Leedes upon this condition following that is to say if the Parishioners of the sayde Towne and Parish of Leeds do not found erect and buyld a School house of their proper cost and charges and alsoe purchase obtain gett and make forthe unto the sayde Schoole Maister for the tyme beinge a sufficient living of other Landes Tenementes and Hereditaments together with this my Gifte to the Cleere Yerely Vallue of X Pounds to remayne and continue for ever to the Use aforesaid within the time and Space of Four Yeres next followinge after the day of my departure from this transitorye Lyfe then I Will that the said Feoffees shall from thenceforth” hold them “to the use and for the Relief of the Poore People Inhabitants within the said Towne and Parishe of Leedes for ever.”

Sir William further provided that his Feoffees should have the “Nomination Election and Appoyntment of the said School Maister or learned man,” and should moreover be at liberty to put out the Schoolmaster “for any cause reasonable as to their discretion shall be thought requisite and convenient.”

The Testator concluded by directing thus—“when it shall fortune that all my sayde Feoffees except four dye and depart from this frayle and uncertayne Worlde the sayde four Feoffees living within One Quarter of a Yere then next after following shall from tyme to tyme for evermore as often as it shall so fortune elect chuse or name other Twelve honest Creditable and Substantiall Persons of the sayd Towne and Parishe of Leedes whom I will also shall stande and be Feoffees and alsoe seized wythe the sayde four persons over living” of the above-mentioned premises.

IN SUCH TERMS ran our Charter of Foundation, the Will of Sir William Sheafield. His fame has, we fear, been somewhat obscured by that of John Harrison, perhaps the greatest of our benefactors, who, a century later, removed the School to a building which he had erected in a field of his own. Why this should be the case is not very clear, for we find that in 1805 so high an authority as the Court of Chancery solemnly declared that the Leeds Grammar School originated under the will of Sir William Sheafield. It may be, however, that the general public knows little, and a hundred years ago knew and understood still less, of the decrees of that mysterious Court.

It is much to be regretted that we know so little of our Founder, who was unquestionably one of the greatest and most enlightened of the benefactors of Leeds. He was no doubt of knightly rank, and we may perhaps adopt Mr. Wheater’s suggestion* (*In an article published in the Yorkshire Owl, 23rd September, 1896.) that he was the William Sheaffield who, in 1500, was appointed priest of Clarell’s Chantry of St. Katherine Virgin and Martyr at the gift of Sir John Nevile of Liversedge. This is, however, as Mr. Wheater admits, only conjecture, and as we cannot further pursue our researches into that uncertain region, we must leave our readers to think of our Founder as they will, and turn our attention to the manner in which his trust has been carried out.

FORTUNATELY the inhabitants of Leeds recognized that their duty was plain, and duly purchased premises “in the Calls, Call Lane, and Call Brows,” which were surrendered in the second year of Philip and Mary “ad opus et usum et in supportationem unius liberae scholae grammaticae in perpetuum”—not very good Latin, it is true, but sufficiently clear in meaning to even the unlearned.

Soon other gifts were made. Sir Thomas Sheafield, nephew of Sir William, gave some more houses in Call Lane for the like purposes, and Sir William Ermystead, Canon Residentiary of St. Paul’s, and Chaplain to Queen Mary, the Founder of Skipton Grammar School, by will dated August 20th, 1555, gave an estate at Wike, in the parishes of Harewood and Bardsey, “for the finding of one Prieste sufficientlie learned to teache a Grammar Schoole in the towne of Leeds for ever for all such as shall repaire thereunto withoute takeing any money more or lesse for teaching saveing of one Pennie of everie scholer to enter his name in the Master’s Book, if the Scholer have a pennie, and, if not, to enter and continue freelie withoute any paieing.”

John Bankes also and his wife gave copyhold premises for the support of the School, and in the 37th year of Elizabeth John Moore and others surrendered property for the support and maintenance of a Free Grammar School in Leeds for ever. Meanwhile in 1580 the religious edifice of New Chapel, in Lady Lane, where Sir William Sheafield had, it seems, officiated as priest, and which was dissolved at the Reformation, was purchased of the Crown by the inhabitants of Leeds and converted into a “Grammar School House.”

The next benefactor of importance was Laurence Rawson, who in 1596 surrendered an estate of 29 acres at Halton, near Whitkirk, “to the sustentation reparation and free use of the Grammar School of Leeds.” Some years later the same Laurence Rawson gave some houses in Marsh Lane for a similar purpose.

Meanwhile the town, acting under the condition stated in Sir William Sheafield’s Will, had purchased various properties, probably partly out of funds raised by subscriptions, and partly out of the fines taken from the tenants of the School property on the granting of leases.

THE ABOVE MENTIONED benefactions and purchases are all stated at length in the Report of an Inquisition held by certain Commissioners appointed by Letters of Commission under the Great Seal, dated 5th July, 1620. These Commissioners decreed that the then Vicar of Leeds, Alexander Cooke, B.D., and twelve other persons and their successors should thenceforth have the full and sole power and authority to dispose and order unto the Uses and interests mentioned in the inquisition all and every the premises mentioned in the said inquisition.

These premises included, we may remark, not only the Grammar School Estates, but also (1) an estate for the reparation of the highways, and (2) an estate for the benefit of the poor.

During all these years the School, no doubt, had continued to perform its task of educating the youths of the town in the learned languages, and we find that the famous John Harrison, considering no doubt that the accommodation provided at the very dilapidated New Chapel was insufficient, built a new House, and allowed this, together with a yard adjoining, to be used as a Grammar School. By his Will, which is dated 27th April, 1653,* (*Mr. Harrison died 29th October, 1656, aged 77.) he gave this House and Yard to Trustees, and declared his mind and will to be that the same should be for a Master and an Usher to teach Scholars in for ever.

Among other benefactors we must notice Mrs. Isabel Leighton, who in 1653 gave a close at Woodhouse for the maintenance at School of “the poor children of godly and honest parents at learning which are hopeful and towardly.”

SUCH IS A BRIEF account of our founder and the chief of our benefactors, whose gifts, we may add, have so increased in value as to produce at the present time an income of some £4,500 a year.

These benefactors all intended, according to the Certificate* (*In the action, Attorney General v. Whiteley, of which mention is made later.) of the Court of Chancery, that their gifts should be applied for the benefit of the Grammar School in Leeds originating under the will of its founder, Sir William Sheafield, and it is perhaps not too much to claim that their intentions have hitherto, as we shall see, been conscientiously and successfully carried out.

HAVING THUS, as it were, introduced our readers to the School, and shown the manner of its foundation and the gradual growth of its endowment, we must turn to the story of the School itself, its failures and its successes during the three centuries and a half which have elapsed since its foundation.

It is much to be regretted that we have but little information as to the history of the School prior to the erection of the New School by John Harrison in 1624.

The building known as the New Chapel, to which reference has already been made, was, as we learn from the Inquisition of 17 James I., used for many years as the Grammar School. There was, however, another chapel at the Bridge End which was the property of the Trustees of the Free School, as we also learn from the same Inquisition, and it would seem that some confusion has arisen in connection with these two chapels. The Chapel at the bridge was, we know, used for a writing and reading school in the 17th century, and continued so to be used till 1726, but it seems probable it was used as the Free Grammar School before the purchase of the New Chapel, and was therefore really the original School House.

OF THE EARLIEST Masters of the Grammar School we know practically nothing. It seems that John Clarke was priest at the Bridge End Chapel in 1553, and it is stated that he became first Master of the Grammar School held there. He died in 1565, and was buried Dec. 9th, at the Parish Church. Between 1565 and 1624 there is, however, absolutely nothing to record.

In the latter year John Harrison built the New School in North Street, which was destined to continue to be used as the Grammar School for over 200 years. The old premises, we are told, were dilapidated and insufficient, and it is clear that the removal to the new and more commodious building gave a fresh impetus to its growth; for we find John Harrison, in a letter to Baron Thorp, stating that the trustees “intend to allow an annual stipend of £50 to the head master, half that sum to the under master, and to provide with such part of the remaining income as can be spared other schoolmasters to teach those boys whom the Schoolhouse cannot contain.”

On the departure of Dr. Samuel Pullen, the first Head Master at the New School, in 1630, he was succeeded by his brother Joshua, whose reign continued until 1651.

IT IS DIFFICULT to obtain any information as to the success of the School at this time, nor have we any knowledge of the numbers who attended it. The instruction provided was no doubt confined to the learned languages, Latin and Greek, which would include a study of the Vulgate and Greek Testament. No fees were charged to the boys attending the School, which was a Free Grammar School in the literal sense, and not in the artificial sense which many have endeavoured to give to the phrase.*

(*We do not think that it is necessary to discuss this question at length. We would merely refer to the Rules and Orders for the Management of the School, appointed 8th March, 1820, where we read:—

“i. All boys who are natives of the borough of Leeds, or who are the sons of residents therein, shall be taught and instructed freely; nor shall the masters receive any present or reward whatever for their teaching.
ii. The teaching of other boys in the School is permitted; as also the receiving of boarders into the houses of the masters, provided these be taught in the School, and so long as such teaching is no ways detrimental to the complete and proper instruction of the free scholars.”

The fees approved for instructing boys who were “not free scholars of the School” were 8 guineas and 12 guineas, according to the boy’s position in the School.

The general question is discussed in Mr. A. P. Leach’s very recent work on “English Schools at the Reformation,” pp. 110—114.)

In 1694, when the Rev. Miles Farrar was elected Head Master, we find a set of rules laid down by the Trustees, which the new Head Master was called upon to sign. The rules were few and simple:—

i. The Church Catechism was to be taught and explained on Sundays.
ii. The Head Master was to take an account of the Scholars absent from the Church, and the Scholars who attended Church were on Monday morning to give an account of the sermon. The Scholars of the first two forms were constantly to speak Latin.
iii. The Master was not to be absent from School more than ten days besides the ordinary times of playing without the leave of the Vicar first had.

The School seems to have been well thought of, for we find that benefactions of various kinds were bestowed upon it with considerable frequency.

IN 1691 GODFREY LAWSON, Esq.,* (*Mayor of Leeds in 1669.) alderman of Leeds, and for many years one of the Trustees of the School, requested permission “to make some addition of building to the Grammar School.”

The permission was not unnaturally granted, and the library adjoining the School in North Street was built by the alderman in the following year, “together with a room underneath the same whereof is a conveniency for a fire for the scholars in winter.”

Benefactions of books seem to have flowed in freely, for but two years later we learn that the library consisted of more than 400 volumes, principally folios, and many of them of considerable value.

A catalogue was drawn up by the Head Master in 1694, and three years afterwards the Rev. Joseph Hill, grateful for the education he had received at the School, sent over his library from Holland as a gift to “the Free Grammar School in Leeds.”

NO EVENT of any particular moment marked or marred the even tenour of the School’s progress for some years. In his “Ducatus” Thoresby tells us that Mr. Dwyer, the then Head Master, was a learned and ingenious man, under whose care the School flourished, and that he had under his charge the sons of the Archbishop and Lord Mayor of York, with others of the Justices of the Peace, besides those of the Corporation.

This highly satisfactory state of things did not, however, continue long. Mr. Dwyer was succeeded by a Mr. Thomas Dixon, of St. John’s College, Cambridge, who does not appear to have been very successful in his new position, for we hear that in 1708 great disorder prevailed in the School, and that the rules were more honoured in the breach than in the observance. The Trustees inquired into the matter, but do not seem to have felt that they could do more than reprimand the Head Master, to whom, moreover, they gave a solatium of £10 to enable him to take his M.A. degree.

However Mr. Dixon does not appear to have departed from the error of his ways, despite the leniency shown him by the Trustees, for we find that in 1710 the office of Head Master was declared vacant, Mr. Dixon having absented himself from the School for a fortnight without leave or reasonable excuse. The delinquent was with what appears somewhat mistaken kindness permitted to offer himself for re-election and was re-appointed. His tenure of office was but brief, and indeed continued only for a few months, as he died in the same year.

HIS SUCCESSOR, the Rev. Thomas Barnard, who had, we may remark, received his education at the School, proved more satisfactory, and during his long tenure of the office of Head Master seems to have improved the School considerably: that he was regarded as successful by the Trustees is clear from their more than once raising his stipend.

At the same time Mr. Barnard must be held to bear the burden of being responsible for permitting the gross neglect of the Library, which seems to have begun about 1730, and with regard to which the author of the Brief History uses some very strong though not uncalled-for remarks.*

(*He says (p. 17) “Many of the most valuable volumes which had been given to this library or purchased by the Committee are now lost; several sets of books also have been rendered imperfect, nor does any proper care of the library appear to have been taken subsequent to the year 1730; various resolutions of the Committee indeed are recorded which from time to time order that a catalogue should be made, and that no book should be taken out of the library either by the Masters or any member of the Committee unless when a note was previously given ensuring its safe return. Imperfect catalogues also were made, but as it would seem for no better purpose than the commemorating of a spoliation becoming constantly more extensive. Even the manuscripts have not escaped, and the Chancery suit betwixt the Committee and the Masters, while it diminished very greatly the revenue of the School, has detracted also from its valuable records.”)

Still the School must have enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best in the North of England, for it was in the time of Mr. Barnard that the Rev. Thomas Milner and his sister founded the Milner Scholarships and Lady Hastings founded the Hastings Exhibitions, for both of which scholars of the Leeds Grammar School were eligible.* (*For further particulars of these Exhibitions see “Exhibitions and Scholarships”.)

THE HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL continued devoid of events of interest for many years, though it seems clear that Mr. Moore, who succeeded to the office of Head Master in 1755, despite his reputation for severity, raised the standard of classical learning in the School in a very considerable degree. At any rate we find his methods and his merits very highly spoken of in Dean Milner’s life of his brother Joseph Milner, one of Mr. Moore’s most distinguished pupils.

We may here perhaps record the fact that in 1764 the Trustees directed that prayers should be read both before and after School, though it seems almost impossible that this had not previously been the custom. The School hours were 7-0 to 12-0 in the morning and 1-30 to 5-30 in the afternoon during the summer, and during the winter 8-0 to 12-0 in the morning and 1-30 to 4-0 in the afternoon.

It is much to be regretted that a further order of the Committee of Trustees that the School Lists should regularly be sent to them has not been effectual to secure their presentation.

A PERIOD OF LITIGATION and trouble was now unfortunately approaching. The Trustees seem to have felt that in a commercial community like Leeds it was necessary and proper that instruction should be provided of a more practically useful nature than the classics could of themselves afford. So in 1779 we find a resolution passed that, as soon as rents permitted, a Master was to be appointed to teach writing and accounts, and another to give instruction in French and other foreign languages.

Nothing was, however, done during Dr. Goodinge’s Head Mastership, but on Mr. Whiteley’s election the question was again mooted, and in 1792 the Committee, at the Head Master’s request, took Counsel’s opinion as to their power to appoint the new Masters.

Mr. Whiteley was opposed to the increase in the subjects of instruction, but the Committee, who represented the commercial instincts of the merchants of Leeds, stood firm and decided to submit the whole case to the Court of Chancery, which was in those days the only tribunal by which such questions could be decided.

THE SUIT WAS COMMENCED in 1795, and after the manner of Chancery suits in those days, proceeded in a very leisurely and not very economical manner. The Decree obtained in 1797 ordered that certain inquiries should be made before a Master as to the Estates of the School, the salaries paid to the Masters, and whether it was proper that other Masters should be appointed to teach writing, arithmetic, and languages other than Greek and Latin.

The Master’s report stated that the donations, of which an account was given, all appeared to have been given for substantially the same purposes, and were meant to be applicable for the benefit of the Grammar School in Leeds originating under the Will of Sir William Sheafield. The Committee of Trustees, it was stated, had filed an affidavit showing that nothing except Greek and Latin was taught in the School, and that in their opinion the extensive foreign trade of Leeds rendered it advisable that French and other modern languages should be taught. It was also shown that the number of Scholars had much decreased, notwithstanding the extended trade and increased population of the town, the number of boys on the 11th December, 1797, being only 49, while for the preceeding five years it had actually only averaged about 44. The Master reported strongly in favour of the scheme so far as regarded additional Masters to teach French and German and algebra and the mathematics, but did not recommend that a Master to teach writing and arithmetic should be added, on the somewhat curious ground that so doing would damage the numerous small seminaries set up in the town for the purpose of teaching these elementary subjects.

The Head Master objected to the Report, on the ground that the Trustees’ proposal was an attempt to divert a Charitable Foundation from its original design, and his objection to the report came on for hearing before Lord Eldon, the then Chancellor, on the 20th of July, 1805.

The Chancellor upheld the Head Master’s objection and declared that in his opinion the object of the Trustees’ action was to convert the Old School into a Commercial Academy. “This,” he said, “is a scheme to promote the benefit of the merchants of Leeds, and I fear the effect will be to turn out the poor Greek and Latin Scholars altogether. There is no authority for thus changing the nature of the Charity, and filling a School intended for the purpose of teaching Greek and Latin with Scholars learning the German and French languages, mathematics, and anything except Greek and Latin, and the question for me is not what are the Qualifications most suitable to the rising generation of the Place, but what are the Qualifications intended by the founders of the Charity. I am of opinion on the evidence before me that the Free School in Leeds is a Free Grammar School for teaching grammatically the learned languages according to Dr. Johnson’s definition.”

Accordingly the Report was sent back to the Master for review, with an intimation that it would be open to him to consider what was proper and necessary, not for the benefit of the inhabitants of Leeds, but for the benefit of the Charity, and the Chancellor pointed out that it might be an excellent thing for the Charity if a scheme was devised providing that, while every boy must learn Latin and Greek, instruction should also be given in other subjects.

As a matter of fact, there were no further proceedings in the suit, all parties being no doubt weary of litigation.* (*For a full report of the case see 11 Vesey Junr.’s Chancery Reports, p. 241.)

NOTWITHSTANDING THE ACTION we find that the Committee in 1800 and 1801 expended certain sums in providing additional instruction, as the number of boys at the School had still further decreased. The Head Master, too, seems to have recognised that the position was serious and undertook to teach mathematics, of which, one would imagine, he had considerably greater knowledge than of classics.

We cannot, however, pretend that the condition of the School was satisfactory: apart from the greatly dwindled numbers we find records of quarrels between Master and Usher, and of general insubordination among the boys. Altogether the time was a dark one in the history of the School, and we learn that almost all the scholars belonged to the lower school, and that the system of instruction was lamentably deficient.

In 1807 a further compromise was arranged, for which the suggestion made by Lord Eldon was perhaps responsible. Such mathematics were to be taught as were usually required for entering the Universities, but nothing except Classics was to be taught until a boy could construe his Latin Testament. We do not, however, find that any great improvement resulted from this not very satisfactory arrangement, and it was not until 1815, when the offices of both Masters became vacant, that the Committee were enabled to deal in any sense satisfactorily with the wretched state of affairs. That they were fully conscious of the difficulties of the situation, and sincerely anxious to find a remedy for the failure of the School, is abundantly clear from their Minute Books, but their position was, as has been the case with their successors more than once, misunderstood, little or nothing was known of their endeavours to bring about improvements, and while critics were numerous there were none who could correct.

NOW, HOWEVER, their opportunity had come. New regulations as to terms and school hours, and new rules for the guidance and government of the school were drawn up. A Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, Mr. George Pierce Richards, was appointed Head Master, and Mr. W. C. Wollaston, a Scholar of Trinity, Usher.

The School at once began to increase, though it can hardly be said that Mr. Richards was an ideal Head Master, and in 1817 we find the names of 68 boys in the School List. Still there was room for improvement, and in 1817 we actually find the boys petitioning for mathematical instruction.

In June, 1818, Mr. Richards having resigned, the Trustees were again called upon to elect a Head Master, and there can be no doubt that in appointing the Rev. George Walker, late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, they exercised their discretion most wisely.

The appointment was almost immediately followed by a further increase in the numbers, and a third Master was appointed in the following year. We find, too, that the improvement in the School was so marked that special mention is made of it in the Committee’s minute-book.

Signs of Mr. Walker’s energy and of the readiness of the Trustees to assist him in every possible way are to be seen in the commencement of a methodical Register of Admissions, in the Rules and Orders for the Management of the School appointed by the Governors at their Court holden 8th March, 1820, and in the Brief History of the School, published in 1822.

During Mr. Walker’s all too short reign the School buildings were entirely renovated and the playground enlarged, the library was overhauled, and the freedom of the School was extended to all boys who had been born or resided within the Borough of Leeds.

We may add that a definite arrangement providing for extended holidays was also made, and that a public examination of the School in June of every year by an examiner appointed by the Trustees was ordered, and a further public examination at Christmas recommended. Numerous changes for the better were made in matters of detail, of which particulars are to be found in the Brief History above mentioned.*

(*The hours of attendance at School under the new regime are perhaps worth recording. They were as follows:—1st School, 1st April to 1st October, 7 to 9 a.m., during the rest of the year, 8 to 9 a.m.; 2nd School, 10 a.m. to noon; 3rd School, 2 to 4 p.m.)

WE NEED NOT dwell at greater length on this period, but it is interesting to be able to quote from the report of the Commission on the Leeds Charities in 1827 the following statement:— “The School is at present very ably and satisfactorily conducted, and of late years the number of scholars resorting to it has greatly increased, being at present about 100.” We would also draw attention to the unusual number of more or less distinguished names which are to be found in the School Lists of 1820 and the few following years.

Mr. Walker died in harness at the early age of 37, but his successor, Mr. Holmes, was able to carry on the good work, though as a classical scholar he had but little claim to Mr. Walker’s attainments.

THERE WERE even at this comparatively early period people who felt it their duty to attack the Grammar School as conducted on too Conservative a basis and as giving only a somewhat narrow course of education, and it is somewhat curious to find Robert Hall, the Examiner of the School in 1834, mentioning a calumny which has from time to time been repeated, and has undoubtedly done much to injure the School. He says:—“The assertion that the funds are expended in teaching nothing but Latin and Greek is extraordinary—the case is quite the reverse.”

However the numbers continued to increase, despite the necessity which constrained the Trustees to admonish Mr. Wollaston, the Second Master, for a too ardent devotion to hunting.

IN 1842 we find that the scheme of education in the School was carefully considered by the Trustees who proposed to increase the amount of instruction in mathematics, history, geography, and modern languages, and to make a charge for instruction in the last-named, the School having been hitherto a free School. They also considered, and referred to a Committee, proposals for increasing the accommodation, as it had become clear that larger buildings would shortly be required. It was also suggested that Exhibitions tenable at the Universities should be founded.

In 1844 the number of boys at the School, for the first time on record, exceeded 200, and in the following year, after much discussion, plans were adopted for rebuilding and enlarging the existing School.

In 1847 an Act of Parliament was obtained, authorising the Trustees to sell portions of their estate and to erect a new School close to the existing buildings.

The powers thus obtained were, however, never exercised, nor need we look far for the cause. Apart from the fact that the surroundings of the Old School were really utterly prohibitive of any new buildings worthy of the town, the expenditure of the Trustees had for many years been as large as their income, and we now find it actually greater. Some remedy was necessary, and so on the appointment of Mr. Barry as Head Master, we find two new rules laid down, viz.: (i.) No boy was to be admitted under 10 years of age. (This age was almost immediately afterwards reduced to 8, which has continued to be the limit until the present time). (ii.) Free instruction was to be confined to Latin and Greek, for everything beyond these languages the fee in the Upper School was to be £10 per annum, and in the Lower School £5 per annum.

VERY SOON AFTER his appointment we find the new Head Master suggesting that what he called a Commercial School should be instituted. The Trustees, with Dr. Hook for their Chairman, willingly adopted the suggestion, and the Commercial School was established as a separate department. Its object was, to quote Mr. Barry’s own words, to fit boys more especially for Commercial life by giving them a sound but less extensive (i.e., than in the Upper Department) system of instruction, which might be suitable to the shorter period of their attendance at the School. The experiment proved, as might be expected, a great success, at any rate in the important respect of attracting increased numbers to the School, and it was an arrangement which met with the warm approval of the Commissioners of Grammar Schools some years later.

IN THE YEAR 1855 the Trustees obtained from the Court of Chancery a decree establishing Fundamental Articles, Rules, and Orders for the regulation of their Trust, which, as a matter of fact, are those under which the School is still governed.

These Fundamental Articles are to a great extent a codification of previous rules, and the chief innovations are the wider range of instruction authorised, and the creation of four Exhibitions of £50 each for four years, tenable at the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, or Durham. These were to be awarded on the results of the School Examination at Midsummer in classical and mathematical learning, and as a general rule one Exhibition is awarded every year.

THE INCREASE in the numbers attending the School and the unhealthiness of the surroundings of the old buildings in North Street, combined with the most justifiable importunity of the Head Master, at last induced the Trustees to appoint a Committee to consider the question of a new site.

This Committee in 1857 reported in favour of the present site near Woodhouse Moor, containing an area of about eight acres, and also in favour of the adoption of the plans submitted by Mr. E. M. Barry, the well-known architect.

The estimated cost of the new buildings and the site was £15,450. Towards this the sale of the Old School realised £4,200, and nearly £7000 was collected from the public. The buildings, designed to accommodate about 400 boys, of which the foundation stone had been laid by the Bishop of Ripon on the 6th April, 1858, were opened with considerable ceremony on the 27th June, 1859.

Our space does not permit us to go into any lengthened description of the New School. Briefly, it is built in the form of a Latin cross, and in the Decorated style of architecture. The Master’s house occupies the head of the cross, and the shaft contains an Upper or Great School-Room, some 90 feet long, and beneath, what was formerly the Lower School, but is now divided into two parts, of which the smaller is used as a gymnasium. The south-western arm, which was added some time after the main body of the building, contains rooms originally devised as dormitories, but for some years used as additional school-rooms. The Library and one or two class-rooms occupy the remaining arm. The staircase is at the centre of the cross, and above rises a ventilating lantern, in which a large clock was placed in 1888.

THE NUMBERS in the School rose with very great rapidity and in 1860 we find that they amounted to 267. The population of Leeds was then approximately 200,000, and we may regard the proportion, 1 in 749 of the population, as a positive proof that at this period the School provided a course of instruction adapted to the needs of the town.

Mr. Barry no doubt had an idea that he could make the School more than a mere town Grammar School and it is perhaps to be regretted that he did not see his way to continue longer in Leeds, where his vigour and learning were thoroughly appreciated, and where he seemed likely to achieve great success.

We must note in passing that in 1859 Dr. Hook, who had but recently left Leeds, and whose interest in the School had always been considerable, founded the two prizes known as the Hook Prizes—one for Classics, the other for Theology.

JUST BEFORE his departure Mr. Barry had obtained the Bishop’s leave to erect a Chapel, though it is to be remarked that the leave was expressly made conditional on the Chapel being bonâ fide used for Scholars. The Trustees do not appear to have regarded the Chapel as deserving of their support and declined to do more than permit its erection. In the result the cost of the building, which was not opened until January 13th, 1870, was defrayed by means of voluntary subscriptions and the now inevitable but then less familiar Bazaar. For several years the Chapel was largely attended on Sundays by the boys at the School, and the reputation of the choir stood very high. For various reasons, which we cannot here discuss, the boys have to a great extent ceased to attend the Sunday services, and except on the occasion of the services at the beginning or end of term, the very large majority of them have probably never been inside their School Chapel.

IN 1862 we find the first mention of regular instruction being provided in Science and Drawing, both subjects which, if well taught, should prove of the very greatest utility to boys whose destination is one of the many professions and trades in which a knowledge of these subjects has become more and more a necessity.

It would seem that about this time the School enjoyed a great reputation among Leeds people, for we find that, in addition to the foundation of the Hook Prizes, in 1861 Mr. T. H. Horsfall gave £200 to the Library, in 1864 Mrs. Mary Beckett and Mrs. Elizabeth Beckett founded the Exhibition which bears their name, and in 1868 Mr. Nathaniel Sharpe gave a sum of money, the income of which was to be annually expended in prizes for Natural Science.

There can, in fact, be no doubt that the extended scheme of instruction provided under the scheme of 1855 had been abundantly justified by results, and the Report of the Grammar School Commissioners, published in 1868, shows that little fault could be found with the education provided. The Report says, with a conciseness not common in such productions, “No School requires less alteration than the Leeds Grammar School.”

IN 1871, however, the Charity Commissioners produced the first of their schemes for the better government, from their point of view, of the Charity. The Trustees were able to reply by pointing out that the School was obviously doing its work to the satisfaction of the people of Leeds, and that it was far from clear that any alteration would be an improvement.

The Commissioners seem to have felt that there were other Schools which required their attention more urgently, and though from time to time new schemes have been proposed, or old ones revived, the constitution and government of the School have remained unaltered.

IN 1878 the Trustees, with the consent of the Charity Commissioners, obtained the Crown’s approval of a scheme dealing with a portion of the income of the Poor’s Estate, to which allusion has been made, and which was under their management, as constituting the Committee for the execution of Charitable Uses in Leeds.

By this excellent scheme the surplus income of the Poor’s Estate, after meeting certain prior claims, was diverted to provide “Scholarships and Exhibitions in or attached to the Leeds Free Grammar School.”

Free admissions to the School had for some years been competed for, but the present scheme was of a comprehensive nature, and had the additional advantage of relieving the School Estate of the burden of these free admissions.

WE CANNOT DO MORE than state very briefly the effect of the Scheme. It provided that certain Scholarships should be annually awarded, some by competition open to all natives of Leeds, sons of persons residing there, or boys residing there with persons strictly in loco parentis, others by competition confined to boys educated at Public Elementary Schools in Leeds.

These Scholarships, particularly the latter, which are of the value of £20 per annum, provide the necessary means for boys of promise to pass from the Elementary Schools to the Grammar School, and have, it is believed, proved of considerable service.

Nor is this all, for the Scheme further provides that in every fourth year an Exhibition of £50 per annum for four years, tenable at any University in the United Kingdom, or other place of scientific or professional training approved by the Governors, shall be awarded, for which boys educated at Elementary Schools in Leeds, who have been for three years at the Grammar School, are in the first place to compete. By this means, any boy from an Elementary School, to whom a University Education is likely to prove of real benefit, is enabled to obtain a sum of money which will very substantially reduce the costs of that education.

THERE IS NOT perhaps much of great interest to report during the past 25 years. Dr. Henderson's Head Mastership was, on the whole, a period of great prosperity for the School, and the completion of his twenty-first year of office in 1883 gave the Past and Present members of the School an opportunity of showing their respect and gratitude by a very handsome testimonial.

Perhaps the most important event in the later years of Dr. Henderson's reign was the erection of the Laboratory on the south side of the main building. This was opened by Sir John Hawkshaw, the great engineer, on Speech Day, 1881, and undoubtedly offers facilities for the pursuit of science which have not perhaps been utilised to the fullest extent by the boys of the School.

We must not, however, omit to mention that in 1882 a School Magazine was commenced, under the title of the Leodiensian, which has, it is satisfactory to be able to record, continued to be regularly published down to the present time.

DURING THE PRESENT Head Master's tenure of office, the Library has been carefully catalogued* (*The Catalogue with a short Preface was published in 1895.) and, in addition to a good many improvements in the outbuildings and approaches of the School, a Carpenter's Shop has been built and a Gymnasium has been opened in one of the school-rooms. This latter was, however, but a revival, as during the earlier portion of Dr. Henderson's Head Mastership the School produced several gymnasts of considerable skill, notably the late Mr. W. Woodham Best and Mr. Bendelack Hewetson.

In 1885 it was deemed advisable to abandon the School Theatricals, which had taken place annually during the Christmas Holidays and had produced several actors of more than average ability.

Since 1887 the numbers at the School have declined considerably, particularly about the time when the Higher Grade Board School was opened, but during the last year or two the decline has ceased and a tendency to rise, which, though slight, is very welcome, has lately manifested itself.

IT MAY BE WORTH recording that the number of boys at the School has, we believe, never exceeded 300, though it has very nearly approached that limit more than once. For several years, up to and including 1883, the numbers, roughly speaking, had averaged bout 275, but since then a considerable decrease has taken place. In 1888 there were 234 boys in the School, a slight increase on the two previous years; at present there are about 160.

We cannot, of course, here discuss the causes which have brought about this decline. It is a matter of very great regret that the Grammar School of Leeds is not more esteemed and more used by the inhabitants of the town, and we have even found Old Boys who professed to regret that their education, which they did not attempt to deny was excellent, had been received within its walls.

WE COULD SAY much upon the very tempting question which is thus opened to us, but this is no place for controversial matter. The object of this brief Account of the History of the School is to do something, however little, to dispel the almost extraordinary ignorance which prevails among the citizens of Leeds with regard to their Grammar School, an institution whose antiquity and past successes, not to mention the more tangible advantage of an ample revenue, entitle it to rank far higher among the Grammar Schools of the North of England than it can be said to do at present. Whether its future history is to be a record of success or failure is a matter the decision of which rests not only with the Trustees, but also with the citizens of Leeds.

V. T.


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