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HE recent transfer of the control of Lancaster School from the Corporation of Lancaster, in whose hands it has rested for nearly four centuries, to a new body of Governors, suggests that the present is a fitting time to collect the scanty materials which furnish the outline of the school's history.
That history commences towards the close of the fifteenth century, when the priory buildings still clustered round the ancient church of St. Mary of Lancaster, and the priory itself belonged to the abbey of Syon in Middlesex. On the 4th of August, 1469, Elizabeth, abbess of the monastery of St. Saviour and the Virgin Mary and St. Bridget of Syon, of the order of St. Augustine called St. Saviour, granted a lease to John Gardyner, of Lancaster, of "a certain water-mill of ours, situated upon a certain piece of ground or island, called le Eyre, with a certain other piece of land, called Brerebuts in Newton, containing by estimation an acre and a half lying to the east of the water of Loyne
which mill the said John Gardyner has built anew at his own expense" for two hundred years from the date of the lease, at a rent of six shillings and eightpence, payable at the Feast of All Saints, with power to the abbess to
distrain if the rent was in arrear for six months, and to re-enter if in arrear for a year. The lease concludes with this proviso: "And because the said John Gardyner intends, God permitting, to establish a certain fit chaplain to celebrate worship in the church of the Blessed Mary of Lancaster, every year, and to instruct and inform boys in grammar, the said mill is let to the same John by the said Abbess and Convent for the time and price stated above, and withal the said chaplain shall specially recommend in his prayers the living and dead of the said monastery, and also shall instruct the boys coming there in grammar, freely, unless perchance something shall be voluntarily offered by their friends to the said Chaplain in recompense.'
Nearly three years later on the 21st day of June, 1472—John Gardyner made his will. After bequeathing his body "to be buried in the Parish Church of Saint Mary of Lancaster, nigh the altar of St. Thomas of Canterbury, in the south side," he appointed “a certain Chaplain to celebrate mass for ever, provided always nevertheless that the said Chaplain be of good conversation and virtuous conduct, otherwise the aforesaid Chaplain may be expelled from the said service, and another priest may, by the advice of my Executors, be elected to perform service there. Also I bequeath to him an altar, with a certain cope embroidered with gold, a white vestment laced with gold, a stole, a maniple, and a girdle, with linen suitable for the altar. Also I bequeath to the said altar one silver chalice, gilded with a silver patten guilded, with a corporal, and a silk veil for the same. Also I will that the Chaplain serving in the said office may receive and have annually from the mill of Newtonne a hundred shillings by the hands of my Executors."
Then the testator proceeds to direct: "I will that a certain Grammar School within the Town of Lancaster be supported freely at my own proper charges. And that the Grammar Master keeping the said School may have per annum six marks to be received from the said mill by the hands of my Executors. And that William Baxterden shall keep the said School for the term of his life, namely, so long as the said William shall be able to instruct and teach the boys. Also I will and assign my water mill aforesaid in the ville of Newton, situate upon the river Loyne, to remain in the hands of my Executors, with one close containing one acre and adjoining to the said mill, from which mill and close my said Executors may pay annually to the said Priest and Grammar Master keeping the school aforesaid a hundred shillings and six marks as is above written. Also I will that the residue of the annual income of the said mill be reserved for the support and repair of the aforesaid mill.”
The remainder of his lands and tenements the testator devised for the support of his almshouse and the poor persons therein, and of a chaplain to celebrate mass in the church of Lancaster at the same altar where the other priest shall say mass.
Amongst other provisions the will contains a direction that a flag, called a "through of marble, be put over my grave; also I bequeath for the building of a Choir where my Body shall lie by the direction of my Executors."
The testator appoints Ralph Elcock, chaplain, Christoper Leye, chaplain, Nicholas Gardiner, and John Bowet his executors, and most earnestly exhorts "his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester to become sole superintendent in all and singular the premises."
The will was proved in the Minster Church of York, on the 12th day of September, 1483, and administration
of the goods of the testator was granted to Nicholas Gardyner, of Newton.
Summarised the will of John Gardyner provides for: (1) a chaplain to celebrate mass in Lancaster Church; (2) a chaplain to celebrate mass in Lancaster Church at the same altar where the other priest shall say mass; (3) almshouses for four poor persons; (4) a grammar school.
It is difficult to separate the history of the early years of these four foundations, but we are eventually left with the almshouses and the school to trace to the present time.
On the 16th day of March, 1484, the royal licence was granted to Nicholas Gardiner, “Executor of John Gardiner, of Aldcliffe, deceased," to establish a chantry consisting of one perpetual chaplain to celebrate divine offices in the Church of the Blessed Mary, at Lancaster. Such chaplain was to be a person of good report and learned in the law, so as to able to plead and answer in all actions brought and to be brought by or against him.
On the 12th June, 1485, Ralph Elcock, John Oxcliffe, and Ralph Greenbank executed a deed declaring that, under letters patent obtained on the 11th day of May previous, and with the assent of Thomas, archbishop of York, they thereby established a perpetual chantry, consisting of one perpetual chaplain at the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the parish church of Lancaster, situate in the south part of the said church, to celebrate divine offices there for ever, for the welfare of the king, and for his soul when he should depart out of this life, and also for the welfare of the abbot and convent of the monastery of St. Saviour and Saint Mary the Virgin and Saint Bridget of Syon, and of them the said Ralph Elcock, John Oxcliffe, and Ralph Greenbank, and also for the souls of the aforesaid John Gardyner and Isabella,
his wife, and all their progenitors, and also for the soul of Robert Brockholes, and the souls of all the faithful departed. Nicholas Green was to be chaplain and the chantry was to be named "The perpetual Chantry of John Gardyner in the Church of the Blessed Mary of Lancaster." The chantry priest was to have for his own support and for the support of four poor persons in a certain hospital or almshouse, situate at the east end of the church of Lancaster and then lately erected and finished by John Gardyner, the manor of Bailrigg and twelve houses, three hundred acres of land, one hundred acres of meadow, two hundred acres of pasture, forty acres of wood, and a yearly rent of four shillings in Bailrigg, Quernmore, Halton, Gressingham, Scotforth, Preston, Goosnargh, and Winmarleigh. The four poor persons were to receive weekly sevenpence in every year, and a certain woman serving them, washing their chambers and their linen, and bringing them victuals, was to receive twopence per week by the hands of the chantry priest. These sums were to be paid out of the rents of the said property, under the superintendence of the Mayor of Lancaster and his twelve brethren, who were also to remove any of the poor persons who, after being thrice admonished, should misbehave. The chaplain was to say mass on Sundays, and "in case any of the poor persons be lame, weak, or infirm that he cannot attend Church" the chaplain was to say mass at the altar situate in the said almshouse. The chaplain was not to haunt taverns or follow any unlawful or dishonest games. The mayor and his twelve brethren were to have the future nomination of the chantry priest, and if they did not nominate a fit person within one month after a vacancy should happen then the right of nomination was to devolve upon the abbot and convent of the Blessed