Chapter III

William Sheafield.


OF WILLIAM SHEAFIELD we would gladly know more. Even the spelling of his name is doubtful. In his will it appears as Sheaffelde, but elsewhere we find Seffeld, Schefeld, Shefelde, Sheafelde, Sheafeld, Sheffeld, Sheffield, Sheafield—of which the last is perhaps that for which there is least authority. Probably the name was taken from that of the town and was a fairly common one.

Of his family we know little. It has been said that he was of knightly rank, but of this there is no evidence. “Sir” was simply a title of respect given in those days to the clergy. In his will he mentions his father, William, “of Wakefelde, clothyer,” and his brother, Thomas. From the connexion of the Neviles with the chantry it is possible that Isabel, daughter of Robert Sheffield of Butterwick in Lincolnshire and wife of Thomas Nevile of Liversedge, was a relative, and this may connect him with William Sheffield, dean of York 1494-1497, who was son of a Sir Robert Sheffield of Lincolnshire, and with James Sheffield, probably a relative of the dean, who was appointed Master of the Grammar School at York in 1486. There were several persons too in Leeds who bore the same surname. In the Subsidy list of 1545 Thomas Sheffelde is assessed at £3 “in bonis.” In the Skyrack Musters of 1539 Thomas Shefelde appears among the “parcell harnessed” archers, and John Shefelde of Potternewton among the “bills not harnessed.” In the registers we find among the burials Alysonn Sheafeld of “Ye Tymble Bridgend” in 1577/8, and Elsabeth wife of Jo. Shefeld in 1597/8, while among the baptisms of 1580 a child, who afterwards became a general, was named Sheafelde Clapham: it may be noted that Thomas Clapham of Whitkirk was appointed “supervisor” of the will.

OF THE FOUNDER'S LIFE the recorded facts are few. Thoresby tells us that “Sir William Sheffield, Clerk” was appointed priest of the Clarell Chantry by Sir John Nevile of Liversedge. The Torre MS. at York gives 1500 as the date; the will of his predecessor, Sir Thomas Gibson, is dated 20 Jan. 1500/1. Sir John Nevile in his will, [1501] appointed William Schefeld, clerk, one of his executors and left him a horse for his trouble. In the will [1526] of Richard Booth of Leeds Sir William Sheffeld appears as witness. In the Subsidy list of 1545 we find “Willms Sbeffelde, Cap lus.” “assessed at £3 in terris,” and in the 1545-6 list “Willms Sheffelde c+icus” assessed at the same: in the former list he is the only person assessed “in terris” in Leeds, in the latter the only one in Kirkgate. William Seffeld appears as incumbent of the Clarell Chantry in the Certificate of 1546. Under the Act of 1547 the chantry was confiscated and also “a tenement late in the tenure of William Sheffelde, late incumbent there.” This was probably the house of the chantry priest in Kirkgate, and seems to be alluded to in a quotation by Thoresby from a mutilated record, “Stae Katerinae habet in Tenementis in Ledes 5 s.”

The Act directed that the commissioners “shall and maye assigne and appoynt to every person wich had for his lyving £5 yerelie or under a pencion annuyte or recompense to the yerelie value of the hole therof,” and Mr. Leach says that on 10 Sept. 1548 William Sheffield was granted a pension of £4.0.4. [£4.4.0.?] payable by the receiver of the Honour of Pontefract. This of course would die with him.

MEANWHILE WE GATHER from his will that on 6 March 1547—the year in which the chantry was confiscated—he had vested his “Copiehold Landes and Tenementes” in Feoffees to pay him the income for his life and after his death to provide part of the stipend for a “Schoolmaister” at Leeds. The exact value of this property is not quite clear from the will, but a document of 1555 states that it was £4.13.4 per annum, precisely the same sum as the original endowment of the chantry. The coincidence may have been accidental, and the lands may have been Sheafield's own property; but, according to the theory mentioned above, they would be the copyholds belonging to the endowment, which, as Mr. Leach says, “were exempted from the Chantries Act with the intention apparently of their reverting to the lord of the manor to which they belonged.” The theory then would be that for some time a school had been conducted by the priest of the Clarell Chantry; that the endowment consisted of £4.13.4. per annum from freehold lands and a similar sum from copyholds; that the former was confiscated under the Chantries Act, but the schoolmaster received an almost equivalent pension for life; that the lord of the manor, presumably Sir John Nevile, waived his claim to the reversion of the copyholds; and that Sheafield by his will simply arranged for the continuation of the school, by leaving the copyholds in trust for it and stipulating that the townsfolk should provide a schoolhouse—now that the “tenement” was lost—and an adequate income for the master. It should be noted too that the name of Sir John Nevile appears first in the list of Feoffees, and if the theory is correct he ought certainly to occupy a high place among our Founders and Benefactors. With our present information however the matter must be left doubtful.

SHEAFIELD'S WILL is dated 6 July 1552, and is said to have been proved 20 May 7 Edw. vi [1553], before which date, if correct, the testator must have died.

On this will all the subsequent history of the School is more or less a commentary. It is the first authentic document in our records, but unfortunately it can only be quoted from a copy, for the original will is lost. It is mentioned in a list [c.1750] of documents in the chest at the Parish Church, and was probably used in the Chancery suit [c.1800], but since that time both it and most of the other documents connected with the School have disappeared: possibly they are still in some lawyer's office in London. Happily however we have transcripts of a good many of them, made apparently by Mr. Thomas Wilson, master of the Charity School in the earlier part of the eighteenth century.

The Last Will of Syr Willm. Sheaffelde. Proved at York, before Archbishop Holgate
20 May 7 Edw. vi.

“In Dei Nomine, Amen; The Sixth Daye of July 1552 and in the Sixth Yere of the Reigne of King Edward the vith. I William Sheaffelde of Leedes in the Countie of Yorke Clerke of whole Minde and perfect remembraunce doth Ordaine Constitute and make thys my laste Will and Testament in Manner and form followinge. Firste I bequethe my Soule unto Almyghty God my Creator and Redeemer and my Bodie to be buryed within the Chappell or Chauncell late of Sant Catherine in the Church of St. Peter in Leedes ; And alsoe I Will that there shall be distributed and dealt by myne Executors amonge the Poor People Inhabitants within the said Towne and Parishe of Leedes upon the Daye of my burial v Marks of usuall Englyshe Mony and to every Prieste that shall be at my Funerall I bequethe viii Pence; and to my Hostess Benson my best Gowne and the Occupation of my Iron Chimney now being in the House for the term of her Life naturall and after her Decease I Will that Jennet Hebden daughter of Jhon Hebden have the same Chimney, And further whereas I the said William Sheaffelde the Sixth Daye of March in the first Yere of the Reigne of our Sovereigne Lord the Kings Majestie have Surrendered all mv Copie holde Landes and Tenementes with the Appurtenances in Leedes aforesaid to the use of Syr Jhon Nevile Knyght Thomas Hardwicke of Potter Newton Gent. Richard Matthew of Leedes, Jhon Richardson, Richard Boothe, Richard Simpson, Robert Gasson, Junr Thomas Casson, Richard Baynes, John Casson Junr Nich. Reame Jhon Kendal otherwise called Jhon Mallinson Edward Callbeck, James Sykes, William Arthington and Tho. Sheaffelde Son of William Sheaffelde of Wakefelde Clothyer and their Heirs for ever for the performaunce and to the Use and intentes hereafter in thys present laste Will and Testament declared and expressed that is to say I Will by this my present laste Will and Testament that the said Syr Jhon Nevile Knyght and all other my Feoffees above-named and their Heirs for ever shall from henceforth stande and be Feoffees and alsoe Seized off, in and upon Two Closes lyinge beyond Shipscar bridge within the Parishe of Leedes with their Appurtenances as they be in the Tenure or Occupation of Robert Inman of the Yerely Rent of xlvi s. viii d. over and besides xvi d. Yearly towardes the Kings Grace oute Rent, and over that the one half of the Charges of the Graveshippe therof as often as when it shall happen or fortune the sayde Closes to be charged therewith, And of one Tenement or Cottage now in the tenure or Occupation of Robt Haghe of the yerely Rent of viii s. and of one other Tenement in the Tenure of Jhon Varley of the Yerely Rent of vi s. viii d. and one othir Tenement now in the Tenure of Thomas Daye of the Yerely Rent of vi s. viii d. and one other Tenemente in the Tenure of William Balle of the Yerely Rent of viii s. and one other Tenemente now in the Tenure of Thomas Roberts of the Annuall Rent of vi s. and of one other Tenemente now in the Tenure of Henry Glover of the Yerely Rent of ii s. vi d. and of one Tenemente late of one Hallywell Wife Widdowe deceased of the Yerely Rent of vi s. to the Use of me the said William Sheaffelde for the Terme of my Lyfe Natural and after my Decease 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 followinge that is to say if the Paryshioners of the sayde Towne and Parish of Leedes do not found erect and buyld a Schoole 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 above-named Feoffees and all other Persons that shall be Feoffees hereafter shall from thenceforth stand and be Feoffees of all and Singular the Premisses with the Appurtenances to the Use and for the Relief of the Poore People Inhabitants within the said Towne and Parishe of Leedes for Ever, and alsoe that they and their Heirs duringe the aforesaid four Yeares and for evermore after upon the Condition aforesaid shall Yerely destribute dispose and deal all their sayde annuall Yerely Rentes Issues and Proffits comming and growing and by them Yerely to be received and taken, of, in, and upon the Premisses with their Appurtenances to the poore People aforesayd Yerely upon the Dayes of All Saintes and Good Frydaye by even portions all Charges and Out Rentes as is aforenamed to be excepted and reserved for the discharginge of the same any thinge in thys my present laste Will and Testamente to the contrary nothwithstandinge. And further I Will that all my said Feoffees and their Heirs for ever shall have the Nomination election and appoyntement of the said Schoole Maister or learned Man and the same Schoole Maister or learned Man by them hereafter from tyme to tyme to be Named elected and chosen at their libertys to be put out and in for any Cause reasonable as to their discretion shall be thought requisite and convenient. And moreover I will that my said Feoffees abovenamed and all other persons that shall fortune at any tyme hereafter to be Chosen Feoffees for evermore shall have full power and Authority after my decease to lett Demise and Grant all an Singular the Premisses and to ask demaunde Levie and receive the annuall Rentes Issues and Profets yerely comminge and growinge of in and upon the same and the same Annuall Rents Issues and Profets by them so received and levyed shall Yerely repay destribute and dispose from tyme to tyme for evermore to the Use and Intent and in Manner and form as aforesaid, And moreover I Will that neither my said Feoffees nor their Heirs nor any of them after my Decease do enhance or Raise the said Annuall Rents of the saide Tenementes or other the Premisses afore rehearsed neither shall they avoyd expell or put out any of the Tenantes that doth now or hereafter shall have or occupye the Premisses or any part thereof if so be that the sayde Tenantes do pay their Rentes at the sayde Termes aforesayde with other thinges belonging them or every of them accordinge to Neighbourhoode and Custome of the sayde Towne of Leedes, and furthermore if any Controversie hereafter happen to arise and be betwixt my sayde Feoffees for and concerninge the putting in or forthe of the sayde Schoolmaister or any of the Tenantes of the Premisses after my Decease I Will that then evermore hereafter as the most part of them do agree unto so shall the sayde School Maister and Tenantes and every of them from tyme to tyme be Ordered and in that behalf the best Mans Voice to take no more place than the poorest Man of them. Alsoe I Will that when it shall fortune all my sayde Feoffees except Four dye and depart from this frayle and uncertayne Worlde, that 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 Town and Parishe of Leedes whom I Will also shall stande and be Feoffees and alsoe Seized wythe the sayde four persons overliving off in and upon all and singular the Premisses withe the Appurtenances to the Use and Intent in thys my present Last Will and Testamente above expressed and declared the residue of all my Goods Chattles and Debts not bequethed, my Debts Legacies and Funeral expenses to be first justly and truly Discharged and aquitted. I Will that Thomas Sheaffelde my brother Robert Inman and Jhon Richardson of Leedes have them and Order them at their Discretion for my Soules healthe whom alsoe I Ordaine Constitute and make my full Executors of this my laste Will and Testament and furthermore I Will and Ordaine Thomas Clapham of Whitkirk Gent. Supervisor of this my laste Will and Testament and for his Paines I Will he shall have vi s. viii d. In Witness wherof I the said William Sheaffelde have Subscribed my Name and put to my Seale the Daye and Yere firste above written.

William Sheaffelde.

These being Witnesses

Bryan Lisle.
Edw. Bentley.
Edw. Dyneleye, &c.”

THE WILL SEEMS TO SHOW something of the character of our Founder—his piety, his consideration for others, and his businesslike capacity. He stipulated that the School should be properly housed and the Master adequately paid. He directed that the endowment should be in real property, a fact which saved Leeds from the pecuniary troubles from which so many Grammar Schools suffered. Above all he showed great wisdom in the choice of his Feoffees. Upon these rested the responsibility of establishing the School, and it may be of interest to record what we can learn about them from other sources.

Sir John Nevile's name does not appear again in any of the documents connected with the School. He was presumably the last of the Liversedge family and lost his estates owing to the part he took in the Rising of the North [1569].

The Hardwicks were large landowners at Potternewton: they purchased the lordship of North Hall in 1550. If this Thomas Hardwick was the one whose will Thoresby thought remarkable “because in Queen Mary's Reign he gives his Soul to God Almighty his Creator and Redeemer, hoping through Jesus Christ to be saved, without mention of any Saints,” his views seem to have been very different from those of Sir John Nevile.

William Arthington probably belonged to the wellknown Wharfedale family.

The Cassons and Callbecks seem to have been both farmers and clothiers—a common combination in those days. We have several of their wills left, from which we learn that Thomas Casson, who died about 1569, had lands and tenements at Mill Hill, Knostrop, Holbeck, etc., and also a fulling mill. He had two sons, Thomas and John, and a daughter who married Edward Callbeck, son of Edward “Calbecke” whose will [proved 1575/6] has been already quoted. The will [proved 1584] of the younger Callbeck shows that he owned lands both freehold and copyhold. We gather too that Richard Simpson and Richard Baynes were brothers-in-law of old Thomas Casson. The former may have belonged to a family mentioned by Thoresby as owning “a very considerable estate” in Leedes; the latter to that from which came Adam Baynes, M.P. for Leeds under the Commonwealth.

Sykes and Reame were the names of clothier families, and a Richard Sykes is mentioned as husband of Sybell Reame.

IN A WILL OF 1578 we hear of Richard “son and heir apparent” to “William Matthewe of Leedes yoman” who owned numerous tenements and land in different parts of Leeds, and we have also the will of Richard Matthewe [proved 1586] bequeathing crofts and tenters in Meadow Lane and near the Bridge.

Some of these names appear also in the Falkingham case. Richard Sympson and John Kendall sat on the jury. “Ricardus Booth” was joint tenant of the fishing rights in the beck.

In the Subsidy list of 1545 we find Jones Rychardeson assessed at £1.10.0. “in terris,” and Jones Casson £6, Thoas Casson £5, Robtus Casson, £1, Thos Sheffelde £3, Nicolas Ream £5, Ricus Bayns £8, Willms Arthynton £4, Jones Kendale £5, Jac Syks £3, all “in bonis,” while, to judge from the 1545-6 list, Thomas Hardweke and Ricus Boythe were wealthy men.

In the Skyrack Musters [1539] we get a somewhat amusing picture of our early Governors marching forth to war. Richerd Boythe, John Kendell, James Sikes, Thomas Hardewyk, Richerd Mathew, John Casson, Edward Calbeck would be on horseback, fully equipped, the first four as archers, the others as bills. Among the “parcell harnessed archers” were Richard Symson, with “a hors and a bow & a sheffe of haroys and a stele cap,” Thomas Shefelde with “a sheffe of aroys,” and Robert Casson with “a hors & a bow.” Among the bills another John Cason appears with “a par splentes,” and John Richardson with “a jak and a salett.” Thomas Casson was an archer but he had no harness.

Finally in the Survey of the Manor [1612] We find that “Johannes Kendall defunctus” had closes and tenements in Little Woodhouse.

WE CANNOT BE SURE of course that in all these cases the persons mentioned were the Feoffees specified in the will but with regard to most of them the identification is at least probable. If so, our original Governors seem to have been substantial men of a definite position in the town, and it says something for the enlightenment of the burgesses that in a community given up mainly to farming and the making of cloth such men could be found ready and willing to show an active interest in the establishment of a Grammar School for teaching “the learned languages.”


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Postscript Assistant Masters since 1854

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