Edmund Wilson was a pupil at Leeds Grammar School for the three years from 1853 to 1856. Admitted a Solicitor in 1863, he became Registrar of the Goole County Court, and was Lieut.-colonel commanding (hon. colonel) 3rd Volunteer Battalion West Yorkshire Regiment.

His “Leeds Grammar School Admission Books” was published (presumably privately) in 1906. It was printed by J Whitehead & Son, Alfred Street, Boar Lane, Leeds, and bound by Spink & Thackray (Binders), Trinity Chambers, also in Boar Lane, Leeds.



19th Century.

Edited By




IT IS NOT MY INTENTION to write a History of the Free Grammar School at Leeds. Such a work would be most interesting, and a very valuable contribution to the history of the city; and it should be very useful to those who undertake the office of Governors, and therefore good for the School.

LEEDS HAS EXISTED as a centre of population certainly since the Norman Conquest. We learn from Domesday Book that at the end eleventh century it had a church, a priest, and a mill; the last was most likely a water cornmill, on the site of the King’s Mills; and the first-named probably an unpretending building on the site of the fine old church which was pulled down about seventy years ago to make way for the present Parish Church. The number of inhabitants of various ranks is also stated in Domesday Book; and, though the population was then small, it had so far increased in the next hundred years that in the reign of King John the lord of the manor granted a charter to his tenants; but we have to wait until the middle of the sixteenth century for any mention of a school. It is probable that—next to the church—the Grammar School is the oldest institution in the city, which now contains the dwellings of nearly half a million people.

The Thoresby Society has reproduced (Miscellanea, vol. ix, p. 1) a very interesting plan of Leeds made in the second year of the reign of Queen Elizabeth; but I am not aware of any history of the place prior to Ralph Thoresby’s Ducatus, published in 1715, of which a second edition by Whitaker appeared in 1816.

THE WRITER OF a history of the School should have (which I have not) access to whatever documents the Governors still possess; I hoped until lately that the work which I am unable to undertake would shortly occupy an abler pen than mine, and would lead to the discovery of documents relating to the School which are not now known to exist.

I should state very clearly that it has not been my object simply to compile a list of those pupils who have gained University distinctions. It has been a pleasure to me to record the successes of former pupils in any walk of life; and it has been my privilege to be useful in that respect. I have on my shelves a number of books of reference, University Calendars, Clergy Lists, Army Lists, and so forth; and, when Dr. Henderson was Head Master, I had the pleasure of helping him to prepare a list of university and other successes, which was afterwards printed, and I am glad to say that I possess a copy of this pamphlet, sent to me in 1881, “With kind regards and many thanks. W.G.H.”

I SOULD HERE MENTION that some years before 1881 there was a proposal to transfer to the School some £700 a year belonging to the poor under a trust, subject to the control of the Grammar School Trustees, which attracted my attention. This transfer was legally effected under an Act of Parliament which required that provision should be made for girls. I worked hard, with the able assistance of the late Sir John Barran, to secure obedience to the law, but it is only quite recently that justice has been done to the girls. May they long enjoy in the fine building on Headingley Hill the benefits to which they are by law entitled, but which were so long denied to them!

I have been asked if I have found many Lord Chancellors and Archbishops of Canterbury amongst the pupils. It has not been surprising to me that I have had to reply that I not have found none; for I do not think that the School should be judged by the number of high dignitaries to be found amongst its former pupils.

I should make it clear that my object has not been to issue a second edition of a work published some years ago, and called “The Register of the Leeds Grammar School.” I was willing to help in the compilation of that work if it had been possible; but it is due to myself that I should make it clear that I am not in any sense responsible for that book.

THE ORIGINAL REGISTER is in a very unsatisfactory state: and, while every error in the original is reproduced in the former print, very many additional errors appear there. In the original the dates of leaving are given in many cases, but these are omitted from the print, as well as the parents’ occupations. This is an important point, for many pupils’ names appear in the list who were at the School a short time only, having been removed to other Schools. I got the following message from one: “There a fortnight, and got the mumps.”

The plan adopted by successive Head Masters appears to have been to enter in the admission book the pupil’s name (with or without his age) and then to add the name of his parent or guardian; there being generally nothing to show whether the second name was that of the parent or guardian. The plan adopted in the former print appears to have been to insert “son of ” where the surname of the two persons is the same, and “ward of ” where it is not. It may be thought that that is a small matter, because no doubt in the great majority of cases, the second name was that of the father of the pupil; but in one or two cases, the second name was that of an elder brother, and there are two cases where it is that of a female, and the omission of the word “spinster” and the insertion of the words “son of ” has cast a slur upon innocent people, and has shown how undesirable it is that people should undertake work without having the necessary qualifications for performing it properly.

I WILL GIVE an illustration of these new errors in the print. In 1820 there were at the School two brothers of the name of Sikes, who came from Suffolk. Their names are correctly entered in the original, but in the print one of them is called Sikes and the other Dikes. This is not owing to any bad writing in the original Register; for, although writing was not one of the arts taught at the School in 1820, it was one in which the early Head Masters showed considerable proficiency.

As an instance of error in the original Admission Book, I may mention two consecutive entries of boys named respectively Hewetson and Becker. The names of the parents are entered in the Register, but it is there stated that Becker’s parent was named Hewetson and Hewetson’s parent named Becker.

I was therefore obliged to have an exact copy of the original Register made with the pen; and I have printed in large type exactly what is written in the original Register, and have added in a smaller type such corrections and annotations as I have been able to make.

I HAVE NOT UNDERTAKEN this work for my own amusement. It would not have occurred to me to mention this if it had not been that a well-known former pupil of the School told me that what I was doing would no doubt be interesting to some people, but could have little real value. No one who has any idea of the labour which this work has entailed, extending over several years and involving the writing of hundreds, if not thousands, of letters, would ever dream of thinking that anyone could undertake such work for amusement.

Let me now say that my object has been simply the good of the School. It is a Leeds School; and it is right that every inhabitant of Leeds should have the means of ascertaining, as far as possible, how it has been managed, and whether what has been done in recent years has been what would have had the approval of the grand old founder of the institution. It is more than half a century since my direct connection with the School ceased, and I am glad to say I have never had anything to do with its management. But I hope to show that what I am doing may be of the utmost value, if indeed it be true of schools as of fruit trees, that by their fruits ye shall know them.

I attach great importance to publicity. Let everything be open to the light of day. If this is not attended to, it is certain that sooner or later rust and moth will corrupt if thieves do not break through and steal.

LET US FIRST consider the circumstances in which the School was founded: and in order that these may be thoroughly understood, reference must be shortly made to matters which do not at first sight appear to be specially pertinent. The School was founded by William Sheffield, and we should know who and what he was before we can properly understand the provisions of his will.

From very early times the progress of Christianity has been promoted by the generous gifts of the wealthy; and it should not cause surprise that the conditions accompanying these gifts have varied from time to time as the needs of the people changed.

For some centuries the gifts devoted to religious purposes were contributed by landowners, who gave estates for the foundation or development of monasteries. In turbulent times these institutions were useful in many ways, as they not only fostered religion and provided homes for those who desired a quiet life, where they could devote themselves to religious work, education, literature, and philanthropy, but they provided for the accommodation of travellers: when roads were few and bad, and there were few hostelries, the hospitality of the monks was very much appreciated by all who had to travel.

When the country became more settled, when the population increased, and towns were formed, monasteries gave place to friaries; and later still, when the middle classes began to rise in importance, we find fewer monasteries and friaries and more chantries founded.

THE FOUNDATION OF a chantry was within the reach of a man of moderate means. A chantry may be said to be an endowed altar; that is to say, a certain income secured to a priest to perform religious offices at a certain altar. These offices included the saying of masses and prayers for the repose of the souls of the founder and his kin and other persons; sometimes the trust was extended so far as to include all Christian souls.

Chantry altars were sometimes in existing churches, and at other times in chapels in remote parts, which we now call chapels-of-ease. These were needed specially at a time when great importance was attached to regular attendance at mass; and we have an instance in Leeds of a chantry of this kind. What is now the Parish Church of Holbeck was originally a chantry in the parish of Leeds, and the necessity for its foundation was that Holbeck was “dystaunt from the sayd parysshe church (i.e. of Leeds) one myle,” and that there was “one grete ryver betweene the sayd parysshe churche and the chappell wherby they can by no meanes oftentymes pase awey to the sayd churche.”

The efficacy of prayer for the souls of the departed was recognised in the seventh century; but we find that in England there is no evidence of the foundation of a chantry before the Conquest; and it should not surprise us that the practice of endowing such altars increased when the growth of population caused increasing demands to be made on the time of parish priests. A chantry could not be founded without the consent of the incumbent of the parish in which the chantry was situate, and in many cases the chantry priest was required to assist in the ordinary services of the church, and was indeed a curate, so that, whilst the founder of a chantry was thinking only of benefit to himself and his relations, the rector in giving his consent did not forget that he was securing a stipend for a curate.

BUT IN DEALING with Leeds Grammar School we need refer only to one chantry, that of St. Katherine in the Parish Church of Leeds, which was founded by Thomas Clarell, a priest belonging to a wealthy South Yorkshire family, who was appointed Vicar of Leeds in the year 1430.

The duty of the priest of this chantry was to pray for the “soule of King Edward iiij and Queene Elizabeth (wife of Edward IV), the founder’s soule and all christen soules,” and to do divine service, as appears by the foundation dated the 1st of June, 1489.

We find that Thomas Clarell was appointed Vicar in the year 1430, so that at the date of the foundation of the chantry it may well be supposed that he was in need of assistance in the management of his parish, which in 1500 contained no less than 3,000 communicants.

CHANTRIES WERE DISESTABLISHED under Acts of Parliament passed in the thirty-seventh year of Henry VIII and the first year of Edward VI; and we are indebted to Mr. William Page for information as to the disestablishment of the chantries of Yorkshire, of which a most interesting account is published in Vols. XCI and XCII of the publications of the Surtees Society. I have given the year of the foundation of the chantry as given by Mr. Page, and he kindly tells me, in answer to a special application which I made to him, that the year given above is correctly quoted from the certificate; but I venture to think that there is an error, and that the chantry was founded in 1469. Owing to the way in which the date is written (MCCCCIIIIxxIX) one stroke would make the difference; and Mr. Page tells me that errors of this kind are by no means uncommon.

I suggest the correction because 1469 was the year of Thomas Clarell’s death. He is buried in Leeds Parish Church, and obviously could not found a chantry after his death.

I refer specially to this chantry because we learn from Mr. Page’s copy of the certificate, given with a view to its dissolution, that at the time of the dissolution “William Seffeld” was the chantry priest. (Surtees Society, Vol. XCII, p. 216.) To claim him as the founder of the Leeds Grammar School is no guess of mine. Ralph Thoresby, in his Vicaria Leodiensis, published in the year 1724, refers to the priests of Clarell’s chantry in the following words:—

“I find only the Names of two of the Incumbents (as Mr. Torr stiles them in his valuable MS.), viz. Sir Thomas Gibson, Clerk, 8 July, 1489, and Sir William Sheffield, Clerk, and both placed by Sir John Nevile of Liversedge, Kt, the Trustee. By the way, the later of them in Time seems the same Person with Sir William Sheffield, Clerk, who was the happy Instrument, if not the Person chiefly concerned, in the founding a Free-School at Leedes.”

I HAVE REFERRED to the Torre MS., which is in the office of the chapter clerk at York; and, though I cannot explain the singular words which Thoresby used, I have learned the interesting fact that Sheffield was appointed Chantry Priest in 1500, so that he had held office for half-a-century when he made his will.

I wish I could say more about Wm. Sheffield to whom Leeds owes so much. I was specially anxious to give a copy of his will but I am only able to give, as I do (below), a copy of a copy, for which I am indebted to the courteous clerk to the Governors. The copy from which my print is taken, is one in use in the office of the clerk to the Governors, and is apparently a copy of the probate. It was, however, made in the eighteenth century: the handwriting is well known to every Yorkshire antiquary as that of a laborious but not always accurate scribe. The will appears to bear date the 6th of July, 1552, and is said to have been proved at York on the 20th of May, 7 Edw. VI.

I have done my best to refer to the probate or the original will, but my efforts have been unsuccessful. Having obtained the date of probate from the clerk to the Trustees, I went to York and searched the register, and I have since communicated with the custodian of the register, and have paid his fee for an official search, which has resulted in the statement that the will was not proved at York. I therefore do the best I can in the matter, but I am bound to say that having regard to the fact that the provisions of the will have been more than once the subject of litigation, it is extraordinary that the probate is not now to be found. I hoped that it would be found in the vestry at the Parish Church, and have delayed the publication of this work pending the result of a search there.

IT IS USUAL to say that the founder of the Grammar School was Sir William Sheafield. I prefer to call him the Rev. Wm. Sheffield, lest any of my readers should fall into the singular error which recently appeared in print, and call our benefactor a person of knightly rank. I do not know if that is a true statement, for I do not know what the words mean, but I protest against the suggestion that he aped at being what he was not. He describes himself in his will as “William Sheaffelde of Leedes in the Countie of Yorke Clerke.” ‘Sir’ was a courtesy title given to priests, as every reader of Shakespeare knows.

I would state if I could to what family he belonged, and when he was born, but I cannot do so. There were many of the name in Yorkshire and elsewhere. The earliest reference to the name which I have found is in a list of persons assessed to the Poll Tax in the reign of Richard II (published some years ago by the Yorkshire Archaeological Society) — a most interesting document, showing that in early times a person had really only one name; and even now at baptism the infant receives one name only. It may be that that name consists of two or more words, but these words form what we call the Christian name. The surname is not mentioned at baptism, and we learn, from the list to which I have referred, that even as late as 1379, many people had one name only; and we learn a good deal as to the origin of the other name, whether we spell it sirname or surname. The former spelling will properly apply to those cases where the second name is inherited from the parent. When it is properly a surname it refers to the place of birth or the occupation or some personal peculiarity. Probably an ancestor of our founder was christened William, and his friends, to distinguish him from other Williams, called him Wilhelmus de Sheffield, to indicate that he came from that place. By and by the “de” was dropped out, and so we get the simple name of William Sheffield.

It may be that our founder was a person of what we call “good family.” The Sheffield named in the Poll Tax list above referred to lived at Braithwell, in the neighbourhood of Doncaster, and as he was assessed to the Poll Tax at the then large sum of 13s. 4d., it is clear that he must have been a person in good circumstances.

IN THE FOURTEENTH, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, we find several of the name of Sheffield in the neighbourhood of Wakefield, Pontefract and other parts of Yorkshire and elsewhere. One was Dean of York in the sixteenth century, and at page 140 of the fourth volume of the publications of the Thoresby Society we have a copy of the will of Thomas Sheffield of Leeds, made in 1509.

Our founder’s claim, however, to our respect,-—and it is a strong claim,—depends rather upon what he was than who he was; and in this respect we have nothing but his will to go by, and the fact that he was the last priest of the chantry of St. Katharine, in Leeds Parish Church.

IN 1545 Willms Sheffelde lived in Kyrkegait in Leeds; he was a “Caplus” (Chaplain), and was assessed to a Lay Subsidy in respect of lands of the Value of £3, Thomas Sheffelde, of Ledes, being at the same time assessed in respect of goods of the same value.

William Sheffield’s will is a most interesting document, and I hope that a perusal of it will induce my readers, even the most protestant of them, to speak of him with profound respect. Let me briefly record the facts. He was a priest of the unreformed Church of England; and when he made his will, he was occupying a position which had been abolished by Act of Parliament. He himself was provided for by pension, but he realised the fact that he would have no successor. By his will he disposed of three things: his soul he gave to God, in accordance with the practice almost universal at that time; his body he directs to be buried in front of the altar, where he had said mass daily for fifty years; and his property he gives to found, or rather to endow, a Grammar School in Leeds.

In the case of some chantries, to teach boys was part of the duty of the priest. In some cases under the Dissolution Acts the stipend was retained for the remuneration of a schoolmaster. I do not find that the priest of Clarell’s chantry was bound to teach, but I venture to ask my readers to assume that he did teach.

IN THIS CONNECTION a very interesting and important point arises, which can only be mentioned here, viz. how far the credit which is given to Edw. VI and his time in relation to the revival of learning is rightly so given.

It may be that Grammar Schools were endowed in the young King’s reign out of money derived from the chantries, but the Universities were founded long before then: were they not indebted for their pupils to the voluntary and unostentatious work of the chantry priests?

It appears to me to be most unlikely that Sheffield should have given all he had to this purpose, there being at the time no Grammar School in the place. It is more likely that in giving his property to this purpose, he was providing for the continuation of work which he had carried on for years. Mr. Page’s volumes above referred to, contain evidence that in many cases chantry priests were required to teach boys; and I think it is not too much to imagine that they did so in many cases where they were not absolutely required to do it.

IT SHOULD HERE be stated that though free education was contemplated by Wm. Sheffield, it was not elementary education. This is a most important point, for some have asserted that because his object was to provide education for those who could not pay for it, he intended elementary education; and it has even been stated that in the case of the Grammar School an endowment for providing elementary education for the poor has been diverted from its original purpose. Sheffield directed the rents of his estate to be applied “for findinge Sustentation and Liveinge of one honest Substantial learned Man to be a Schoole Maister,” which clearly points to higher education.

THIS LEADS ME to speak of another point, which I think should not be overlooked in dealing with the history of any Grammar School. There is no doubt that from the earliest times education was in the hands of the priests. Oxford and Cambridge existed as Universities from a very early date: and although they took undergraduates at a much earlier age than they do now, those undergraduates must have been taught the elements of Latin and Greek before they went to reside in Oxford or Cambridge. This leads to the inference that William Sheffield’s object in teaching Latin and Greek to his pupils, was to enable them to go to Oxford or Cambridge.

I think it is clear that he intended the School to be for higher education, for teaching such subjects as would enable the scholars to proceed to Oxford or Cambridge. To say that the foundation was intended for the education of the poor, and that it is now perverted so as to provide for the sons of the rich, conveys a very erroneous impression. It is true that William Sheffield designed to provide for those who were not able to pay for what they needed. Few then cared for a classical education except priests and the aristocracy, and no doubt the sons of the wealthy were taught by the chaplains in their fathers’ houses.

I venture to copy here the title-page of a book published in the sixteenth century as pertinent in this connection:—

“The Scholemaster or plaine and perfite way of teachying children to understande write & speake in Latin tong but specially purposed for the private brynging up of youth in Gentlemen and Noble mens houses. Commodious also for all such as haue forgot the Latin tong & would by themselves and without a Scholemaster in short tyme & with small paines recouer a sufficient habilite to understand write and speake Latin. 4to. John Daye London 1570.”

IN EVERY GREAT HOUSE there would be a chaplain, one of whose duties would be to teach the children. The great middle class did not then exist, and many who had a taste for learning would be found in the dwellings of the poor.

It may not suit the ideas of some of my readers to consider that the Leeds Grammar School was founded for the purpose of making priests, but I believe it to be the fact, and that is why I record it; and on reflection I think it will not appear that this fact is remarkable. A priest, at all events a priest of high rank, must know Latin. It was the language in which many works were written in every country in Europe, and a priest who did not know Latin could not make himself master of the works of the Fathers. Latin was the Esperanto of that time.

IN THE THIRTEENTH and following centuries the sort of education given at Grammar Schools and Universities was attractive to many who could not afford to pay; consequently we find that those who had wealth, and wished to benefit their fellow-creatures, provided for the gratuitous education of those to whom a studious life was attractive. Grammar Schools were spread throughout the country, where suitable boys received an elementary classical education. In course of time they proceeded to Oxford or Cambridge, where they qualified for the priesthood or other literary work. It is said that the long vacation at the Universities was arranged so as to enable the students to return to their homes when required on the land, and not to return to their seats of learning until the harvest was got in.

My idea is that our Grammar Schools and Universities formed a complete system of education suited to the times, and that the main object of both Schools and Universities was to qualify young men for the priesthood. Let us see how far the facts with regard to Oxford and Cambridge bear out this idea. The figures which I am now going to give are not taken from recent University Calendars, for there have been so many changes of late. I quote figures from the Cambridge Calendar of 1825 and the Oxford Calendar of 1842.

TO BEGIN WITH the University of Oxford. The oldest College (University) was founded in or before the year 1249; and omitting those founded in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the most recent foundation is that of Pembroke in 1624. Turning to Cambridge, we find Peterhouse founded in 1253, and Sidney in 1598. In both cases I purposely omit recent foundations.

We find a similar arrangement in each University. Each consists of an aggregation of Colleges. Each College is an endowed institution, the income of which is divided between three classes of persons,—a head or master, fellows and scholars. The head at Oxford has various titles. At Cambridge every head of a College is a master, except at King’s and Queen’s, the heads of which are called respectively provost and president.

I have examined the lists of fellows, and I find that in the year 1842 the nineteen Colleges in the University of Oxford, including University, had 424 fellows, of whom 322 were in holy orders.

In the University of Cambridge, in 1825, the seventeen Colleges had 376 fellows, of whom 257 were in orders.

I have given the number of fellows and the number of clerical fellows from the Calendars I have mentioned, but this does not accurately show the number who ultimately took orders, for it was no uncommon thing for a young graduate to receive a fellowship on condition that he took orders within a certain number of years. If he failed to comply with this requirement, he forfeited his fellowship. It is impossible to say to how many of the non-clerical fellows this remark applies, but it is clear that it does apply to some, for, in one of the Calendars to which I have referred, a non-clerical fellow is included who was afterwards a bishop—Dr. Connop Thirlwall. Even now many schoolmasters are in orders. Some are obliged to be priests, and the practice of making schoolmasters bishops has not been entirely discontinued.

I MUST NOW DEAL with the appointment and duties of Governors. Until recently vacancies were filled by co-optation, in accordance with the will of the founder, who directed that when the number of Trustees was reduced to four, “the sayde four should elect chuse or Name other Twelve honest Creditable and Substantiall Persons,” so as to make up the number to sixteen. Under a recent scheme of the Charity Commissioners the Board now includes certain representative Governors, and we have the assurance of a former Head Master that the Governors have “no politics, and are entirely outside the influence of any party spirit.” That is a gratifying reflection; but may we not in this connection refer to a tendency which undoubtedly exists, especially in connection with ancient trusts, to ignore the duties, and to regard the appointment as an honour or reward.

This remark applies specially to the appointment of justices of the peace. There has been much correspondence in the press lately as to their appointment. It has been claimed that the office should be treated as a reward for political services, and it may certainly be said that whatever considerations regulate the selection, fitness for the discharge of the important duties of the office is never thought of.

However, in this case we have the assurance of one of their number that the Trustees are fully conscious of their responsibilities, and most anxious to advance the welfare of the School. That also is a gratifying statement, for undoubtedly the duties are most important, though the due discharge of them need not occupy a very great amount of time, and we should feel certain that the Trustees will welcome this work as a help to them in the discharge of their duties.

THE FIRST DUTY appears to be to ascertain and keep in view the kind of school which you are required to keep. If the object of educating a boy be to fit him for the duties he will have to perform when he becomes a man, we must bear those duties in mind, for what is good education for one boy is bad for another. If education be supplying a workman with tools, we must take care to supply suitable tools; it is no use giving a watchmaker a set of joiner’s tools.

When the School was founded, most, if not all, the pupils came from cottage homes, and we know why. In the succeeding centuries pupils have continued to come from similar homes, who did not want the kind of teaching given. Here I must be allowed to make a personal explanation. It has been said that I object to boys coming from cottage homes to the Grammar School. I object only when they get no good from the School. It is not whence they come but whither they go that is material. ‘A little learning is a dangerous thing,’ the poet tells us. It is also a worthless thing in certain cases. Let the pupil’s home be where it will, but let him be studious and able to stay long enough to learn to use the tools properly.

Surely, it is one of the duties of the Governors to see that as far as possible their school places are filled by those who can make proper use of the education provided. In this connection an Annotated Register should be most useful, and I fear that my work will show that in the nineteenth century hundreds of boys have been at the School who have derived no good from it.

IN THE FOLLOWING PAGES the occupation of the parent is generally given, and I find the following amongst the first 400 names—blacksmith, bricklayer, coachman, collier, cropper, dyer, joiner, mariner, milkman, pauper, sawyer, shoemaker, slubber, stonemason, servant. In most of the cases the career of the pupil is not recorded, but of the pauper’s son the register shows that he was eight years old when he went to the School, and was removed by his father to a writing school when he had been there three months.

I attach great importance to the selection of the pupils, so that those who have the advantage of being instructed at the School may be those who, as far as possible, are able to give a sufficient amount of time to make the instruction really valuable. This is specially important now, when educational matters are in such an unsettled state in Leeds. Higher Grade Board Schools are called High Schools, though they are not high schools, and cannot be made so by naming them high schools, and it should never be forgotten that the Grammar School should provide a very different education from that suitable to a Higher Grade School.

WHETHER THE CONDITIONS under which the School has been managed answer the requirements in this respect can best be gauged by the length of time which the pupils stay at the School. I am sorry to say that in this, as in almost every other case, I am unable to give any accurate information; for though the time of entry is given in almost every case, the time when the pupil left School is given in some cases only. I have taken two periods, and I give the following figures relating to them, for the purpose of showing what has been the practice in this respect.

Time at School 1837 1838
3 months ... -- 1
6 months ... 6 7
1 year ... 6 8
1½ years ... 7 3
1¾ years ... 1 --
2 years ... 4 4
2½ years ... 1 --
3 years ... 1 1
3¼ years ... 1 --
3½ years ... 3 1
5½ years ... -- 1
6 years ... -- 1
7 years ... 1 1
7¼ years ... -- 1
8 years ... -- 1
8¼ years ... -- 1
10¼ years ... 1       --
10¾ years ... 1 --
33 31
Time not stated 10 10
Total entries 43 41

It is to be feared that many parents thought that they were doing the best they could for their children by sending them to the Grammar School, but took them away when they found that what they were learning would not help them in after life. It is unreasonable to expect the parents to know beforehand what the Trustees did not think of importance.

AMONG THE DUTIES of a Governor of a Grammar School is the selection of the Head Master, and in this connection I think there is in many cases much misconception. It is too common to judge a schoolmaster by his university degree, which I venture to assert is a very inadequate test. I am the last to undervalue the possession of a good degree, but after all, it can only indicate what a man knows, whereas the value of a schoolmaster should be ascertained, not by what he knows, but by what he can teach, which is a very different thing.

I HAVE BEEN SURPRISED in connection with this matter with the little interest taken in the career of pupils after their school days are over. I certainly hoped that I should have received much assistance in the work upon which I have been occupied for so long. It is not enough for a schoolmaster to attend regularly and punctually, and to leave when the clock strikes, and take no further interest in the pupils or the work. Many schoolmasters are considered to have done their duty if they sit in school from nine to four, and like an organ-grinder turn the handle regularly, without caring whether the pupils listen or not. This sort of schoolmaster is described by Charles Dickens in his admirable account of the select academy for young gentlemen kept by Dr. Blimber, where Mr. Feeder, B.A., is described as sitting in his desk with his Herodotus stop on. I venture to assert without fear of contradiction that it is the duty of the teacher to see that the pupil understands what is said, and not to proceed to another point until the first point is mastered. If it is not quite understood, let it be put in another way and twisted round until it is understood. In this way lessons become interesting; the pupil enjoys what he listens to because he understands it. He takes an interest in his work, instead of shirking it, and the duration of a half-hour’s lesson appears to be ten minutes instead of an hour and a half.

I WILL HERE MENTION two most important points, which were certainly not understood at the Grammar School in the first half of the nineteenth century.

“All men are not alike; alas! good neighbour,” says Dogberry, and it is equally true of boys; and yet many teachers act as if all were alike, and thus the clever boy is praised and rewarded for doing what has taken little trouble, while the less able are punished for not doing what they cannot do, though they may try hard.

To this cause I attribute a circumstance which for some time puzzled me—the different manner in which pupils speak of their school days in after life. I have a letter from the widow of a pupil who, though of humble origin, had a distinguished University career, who assures me that her husband always spoke in the highest terms of the education he received at the School; while another former pupil, when asked if his sons were at the Grammar School, answered with a sneer, “Why should I send them there, I was there myself?”

I object also to the modes of punishment adopted—flogging and impositions. It is obviously unfair and brutal to flog a boy for not doing correctly what he does not know how to do, and yet it was no uncommon thing for a master to fix a number of errors, any excess beyond which involved a caning.

And I cannot imagine how anyone can defend the imposition system, under which a boy was punished by having to write out so many hundred lines; such a punishment could do no good, and was certain to disgust the victim and ruin his handwriting.

LET ME NOW SAY a word as to what appears to me to be by far the greatest use to be made of the work which I have been doing.

If it be true that the object of education is to fit the pupil for a career in life, one should be able to judge the merits of a school by the success in life of its pupils; therefore I have tried to record what became of every pupil after he left the School.

The indifferent success which has attended my efforts has two main causes. First, the fact that so many pupils cannot now be traced—those especially for whom the education was not suitable. These have probably dropped back into the position from which they came, and been swallowed up in the vastness of the population.

The second cause is one to which I cannot refer without profound regret. In a very large number of cases I have not stated the subsequent career of a pupil because it was not known or not creditable. I cannot state how depressing this has been, and it has forced me to the conclusion that there must have been something wrong in the School.

IN THE BOOK published in 1897, to which I have before referred, it is stated that the number of pupils had declined, and an attempt is made to account for this by the competition of the Higher Grade Board School. I have heard similar things said, and have been even told that the School was not wanted. How anyone can hold such an opinion I cannot understand, seeing that the population is probably a hundred times what it was in Sheffield’s day. I have been told that this School can never be a good school, because people in the South of England will not send their sons to a smoky place like Leeds.

There is an obvious answer to this, viz. that when the buildings are enlarged to three times their present size, so as to accommodate those needing such an education as the founder intended to give, and who can walk to it, it will be time enough then to consider whether it is worth while trying to attract boys from Eton and Harrow. Taking into account the people living outside the city, who can come into the city by train, and whose sons must come to Leeds if they require a Grammar School, it is not too much to say that the School provides for a population of one million.

It is very disheartening to hear statements of this kind. If there is anything which can be improved, may we not look to the Trustees to do their best to effect the needed improvement, and to check statements which are certainly disingenuous.

The facts with regard to the schools at Bradford, Manchester, and Birmingham are sufficient to show that some other cause than smoke must be found to account for the small number of pupils at Leeds. Leeds has never been a boarding school, though at various times a few boarders have attended; and yet the following pages show that in the nineteenth century many pupils have come from a distance—from every part of Yorkshire, from most counties in England, from Scotland and Ireland, the Channel Islands, and even South America. The question of boarding schools need not be considered here—some parents cannot afford to make use of such—where there is a large population there should be day schools, and there is no reason why the education given at Leeds should not be as good as at any school in England.

IT APPEARS THAT in 1820 there were eighty-five boys in the School, and we have the authority of the late Head Master for saying that at the end of the century the number had not doubled, though the population had increased fivefold, whilst the population who can reach Leeds by railway justifies us in saying that the Leeds School serves a much larger population.

My list shows that about 4,300 boys entered the Upper Department between 1820 and 1901, and the best classification I can make of their occupation in life is as follows:—

Divinity ... 251
Law ... 173
Medicine ... 208
Army and Navy ... 88
Other Professions ... 451
Business ... 661
Unknown ... 2,468

I venture to think that William Sheffield did not contemplate such a state of things when he entrusted the government of the School to fourteen honest, creditable and substantial persons.

I have, as far as I could, separated the graduates of Oxford from those of Cambridge. The figures are rather surprising. I find that between 1820 and 1849, while 20 pupils went to Oxford, 129 went to Cambridge; between 1850 and 1879, the figures are Oxford 77, Cambridge 71; and from 1880 to 1900, Oxford 57, Cambridge 44.

I HOPE THAT I may mention among the duties requiring the attention of the Trustees the keeping of a proper Register. It is an important, but not a difficult duty. The Register should show the full name of every pupil correctly spelled, his age, or, better still, his birthday, and the date of entry; the name, address and occupation of the father, with spaces for date of leaving and destination. The pages should be ruled and printed, to insure uniformity; and if the sheets were loose at first, they could be filled up and signed by the parents or guardians, and afterwards bound. It would be well to distinguish each pupil by the year of entry and a number; and on the other side of each sheet notes might be made of important events, such as prizes, illnesses, etc.

This is not difficult work, but it requires accuracy; and may it not be said that accuracy, or love of truth, should be inculcated? I have noted several things in the School Magazine which led me to think that sufficient attention has not been paid to this matter in times past. I will name one only. On page 103 of volume xii the death is recorded of E. M. Phillips, while the Register gives no evidence that there ever was a pupil of that name.

May I mention another matter which appears to me to merit the early attention of the Governors? In 1896 a report on Leeds Records was presented to the Corporation, from which we learn that the Pious Uses Trustees then had a mass of documents. It is not too much to hope that a thorough examination of these would disclose many valuable documents— perhaps some early Admission Books, if not the founder’s will.

In these and other ways I hope that my work will be useful; if it should even to a small extent tend to make the School more useful in the future than it has been in the past, my labour will not have been in vain.

IT REMAINS FOR ME to thank those who have kindly helped me. When I began the book I had no idea how much labour it would involve. There are many omissions—many which the reader will think that I might have supplied; and I record with regret that in scores of cases my request for information has been ignored. I think in two cases only was it refused, but I have reason to fear that in too many cases information was withheld because there was nothing to be said which was not better left unsaid.

In these cases it is to be feared that the pupils have been supplied with wrong tools, or not properly instructed in the use of them.

I return my cordial thanks to all who have helped me, and, as they are numbered by hundreds, I trust they will accept my thanks in general terms.

But I must specially mention a few whose help has been conspicuous, who have not merely supplied information asked for, but have volunteered assistance again and again. Messrs. E. G. Arnold, W. Paley Baildon, Walter S. Blackburn, H. Delabere Bousfield, Edw. Bissington, S. J. Chadwick, Rev. Edw. Cookson, Thos. Crampton, The Right Rev. R. J. Crosthwaite, D.D., Col. Coghlan, Messrs. J. H. Coghlan, Davis R. Glover, Thos. Harland, M. Storr Hodson, E. H. Hepper, Robt. Hudson, F. G. Jackson, F. M. Lupton, Edw. E. Lawson, A. D. H. Leadman, C. T. Macaulay, H. G. Mackson, R. E. Mallett, Lewis Motley, A. L. Reade, G. Herbert Rowe, W. J. Cooper Smith, John Sturgeon, Wm. W. Sowry, Herbert W. Thompson, Chas. F. Tetley, Arthur Towler, and Chas. T. Whitmell are among these.

In Mr. Thompson’s case I find I have received more than forty letters from him about various pupils.



[From an 18th century copy.]


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 & 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 & 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 my 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 Casson, Junr Thomas Casson, Richard Baynes, Jhon 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 abovenamed 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 XLVIs VIIId over and besides XVId 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 VIIIs and of one other Tenement in the Tenure of Jhon Varley of the Yerely Rent of VIs VIIId and one othir Tenement now in the Tenure of Thomas Daye of the Yerely Rent of VIs VIIId and one other Tenemente in the Tenure of William Balle of the Yerely Rent of VIIIs and one other Tenement now in the Tenure of Thomas Roberts of the Annuall Rent of VIs and of one other Tenemente now in the Tenure of Henry Glover of the Yerely Rent of IIs VId and of one Tenemente late of one Hallywell Wife Widdowe deceased of the Yerely Rent of VIs 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 abovenamed 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 notwithstandinge. 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 then 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 expences 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 VIs VIIId. In Witness wherof I the said William Sheaffielde 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.




ATKINSON, Rev. Edward, D.D.
COPE, Chas. West, R.A.
CROSTHWAITE, The Right Rev. Robt. Jarratt, D.D.
DIXON, George, M.P.
HAIGH, Rev. Daniel Henry, M.A., F.S.A.
HAWKSHAW, Sir John, F.R.S.
HENDERSON, Col. Geo. Francis Robt., C.B.
LUMBY, Rev. Joseph Rawson, D.D.
NICHOLSON, Gen. Sir Wm. G., K.C.B.
TEALE, Thos. Pridgin, M.A., M.B., F.R.C.S., F.R.S.

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