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MENCES THE Extrusion of the Poor—IN THE EIGHTeenth CentURY-


ABOUT the middle of the sixteenth century, Lawrence Sheriffe, a benevolent citizen of London, determined to appropriate a portion of his property to the foundation of a free school and an almshouse in his native village of Rugby. The property which he dedicated to the purposes declared in the deed called his "Intent," was given partly by a legal conveyance, dated July 22nd, 1567, partly by his will of the same date, and partly by a codicil to that will dated August 31st, 1567. The property bequeathed for the establishment of this free school at Rugby consisted of the glebe and parsonage of Brownsover, together with other lands, both in that village and in Rugby, to which, in the first instance, he proposed to add a sum of money.

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With the profits of these lands and tenements and the money to be left, his friends, George Harrison and Bernard Field, two citizens of London to whom he had assigned the property in trust, were "with convenient speed" after his decease to cause to be builded neare to the messuage or mansion house of the said Lawrence in Rugby aforesaid, a fayre and convenyent schoole howse in such sort as to theire discret'ons shall bee thoughte meete and convenyent, and should also provide or build neare to the said schoole house foure meete and distincte

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lodgeings for foure poore men to bee and abyde in and should alsoe well and sufficiently repayre the said messuage or mansyon house." Then the "will and intent of the said Lawrence was, and is, that the said George and Bernard, or their heires or assignes should cause an honeste, discreete, and learned man, being a Master of Arts, to bee reteyned to teach a free grammar schoole in the said schoole howse: And further, that after that for ever there should be a free grammar schoole kept within the said schoole howse, to serve chiefly for the children of Rugby and Brownsover aforesaid, and next for such as bee of other places thereunto adjoyneing, and that for ever an honest, discreete, learned man should be chosen and appointed to teach grammar freely in the same schoole, and the same man, yf it may conveniently bee, to bee ever a M'r of Arte: And further, the will and intent of the said Lawrence was, and is, the same schoole shall bee for ever called the Free Schoole of Lawrence Sheriffe, of London, grocer. . . and that the schoolmaster and his successors for ever shall have the said mansyon house with the appurten'ce to dwell in without anything to be paid therefore." The salary of the schoolmaster was "for ever" to be £12, and Lawrence's "will and intent was . . . for ever the said foure lodgeings" should be freely occupied by four poor men, two from Rugby and two from Brownsover, and none other, who were to have "towards their reliefe seaven [pence] by the week," and were to be known as "the almsmen of Lawrence Sheriffe, of London, grocer." The above quotations from Sheriffe's Charter of Foundation have been set forth at length, but this must be justified by the contrast to be drawn between the past intentions and the present functions of Rugby.

For obscure reasons Sheriffe, by a still later codicil, revoked a part of his money bequest, leaving only £50, and, in substitution, a third part of an estate he possessed in Middlesex, called the "Conduit Close." This portion of

the "Close" bequeathed to Rugby Free School consisted of about eight acres of open pasture land lying half a mile outside London, and then valueless for building purposes, since a Royal order prohibiting the erection of new houses had been passed.

But, in the course of time, increment and ground rents, this land, absorbed in London, was immensely augmented in value. For example, in 1686 these eight acres were let to one Dr. Nicholas Barbon on lease for £50 per annum ; on the expiry of his lease to a Sir William Milman, who paid £60 per annum; and in 1865 the land had on it 150 houses and small tenements, coach houses, stables, etc., occupying New and Great Ormond Streets, Lamb's Conduit Street, Great James Street, Milman Street, all in the neighbourhood of the extremely wealthy residential district surrounding Russell Square, London, W.C., and producing £5,000 a year. To-day these areas lying at the back of the British Museum have immensely increased in increment value. It is certain that Rugby School, holding this land, must yearly wax ever more and more in opulence.

Very little seems to be known of Sheriffe's career, or even of his parentage. He was born at Rugby, and his parents are buried in the parish church-in the sixteenth century a privilege accorded to people of wealth or consequence. He seems to have been a member of the London City Grocers' Company, and, according to Foxe's Acts and Monuments, a staunch Protestant, and an adherent of the Princess Elizabeth, under whom he may have held office possibly as Gentleman of the Guard or Privy Chamber. An anecdote is told of Sheriffe overhearing a neighbour, too much "addicted to sack and babbling," railing in a tavern against "the Lady Elizabeth," and hoping that this " Jill" might "hop headless and her friends "be tied to faggots" ere she reached the Crown. He reported "the varlet " to the Commissioners, but Bonnor, the Romanist Bishop of London, at their

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head, merely remarked "when God sendeth it unto her, let her enjoy it," and bade the grocer go his way and report well of them."

In 1551 he is heard of supplying groceries to her at Hatfield House, and after her accession she still remained his customer.

Contemporary with the founder's death in October, 1567, the Warwickshire property produced £16 13s. 4d., and the Middlesex property £8 per annum, of which £24 13s. 4d. income the almsmen received £6 11S. 4d. In the course of the first hundred years following, the growth, even the existence, of the institution were seriously threatened. The survivor of Sheriffe's two trustees applied for his (the survivor's) own benefit, it is said, the rents of the property in Middlesex, and after several vain attempts on the part of successive masters of the school who, in part, drew their stipends from this estate, it was at last rescued, with all arrears of rent, through the report of a commission issued under the Great Seal in 1614. Twelve gentlemen of the county of Warwick were then appointed trustees, thus setting aside the succession to that office which, by the founder's will, had been vested in the heirs of Harrison and Field.

When this London property was thus recovered similar dangers were impending over part of the Warwickshire estate. The descendants of the first lessee for life of the Brownsover property claimed and exercised rights over the estate, on the alleged ground that the rent of £16 13s. 4d., at which the founder had leased it, constituted the whole interest enjoyed by the school in that estate. A second inquisition was therefore held in 1653 at Rugby, in consequence of which the acts of the lessee were declared illegal and restitution was ordered and made, with payment of arrears amounting to £742 8s. 4d. Again there were whispers of malversation, and yet again the Commissioners in the same year (1653) held an inquiry, as a result of which twelve new trustees were

appointed, who were to meet at Rugby and visit the school and almshouses four times in every year. The clear yearly proceeds, communibus annis (in ordinary years) were, at this period, declared to amount to £116 17s. 6d. ; of this sum £63 6s. 8d. was appropriated to the master's salary, and the remainder to the relief and clothing of the four almsmen, and to the restoration of the buildings belonging to the charity. And now commences the extrusion of the poor scholar! Rugby is to be not a free but a fee school, just as became the others.

In the first half of the eighteenth century the trustees of Rugby Free Grammar School petitioned the House of Commons for an Act enabling them to mortgage or sell a portion of the Middlesex property, declaring, so they said, that unless " means are speedily obtained, the free school, which has been for many years in great repute and of much public utility, must be abandoned." Their petition set forth that the "mansion house bequeathed by the founder for the use of his schoolmaster, the school, and annexed premises are ruinous and beyond repair, etc." They obtained the necessary powers, and immediately proceeded to select another locality for the school. Pitching, at length, upon the manor house of Rugby they purchased it, together with four fields adjoining and contiguous to the west side of the manor house, which was retained as the residence of the headmaster. A new schoolroom was built, and in 1755 the school was transplanted to its present site.

Nearly a century before, in 1687, we see that under Henry Holyoake, master of Rugby, who pedantically styled himself in the Rugby Album (a record of Rugby dating from 1674), Henricus de Sacra Quercu, the school numbered, in addition to the complement of foundationers, the sons of many "of the most distinguished families in Warwickshire and neighbouring counties." His mastership terminated with his death in 1731, and, after that, the extrusion of the legitimate poor proceeded apace.

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