Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > English Grammar Schools > Westminster
  St. Paul’s school The Merchant Taylor’s school  


The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

XIV. English Grammar Schools.

§ 8. Westminster.

At Westminster, the existence of the school might be traced back to the fourteenth century, the roll of the treasury of Queen Eleanor’s manors recording, in the year 1386–7, a payment to the master of grammar and 22 boys; but Henry VIII first established it on a definite basis. During the reign of Elizabeth, the school had been brought into direct relation with Trinity college, Cambridge; and, in 1575, Gabriel Goodman, dean of Westminster, had succeeded in introducing some novel provisions in the regulations laid down by his predecessor, among them that relating to the admission of scholars, whereby it was now enacted that no boy should be admitted under the age of eight or allowed to stay after eighteen—limitations rendered necessary by the fact that parents would sometimes send their children when scarcely over five. Gabriel Goodman, notable as having been a member of three Cambridge colleges in succession, and a benefactor of the university, was, throughout his life, an active promoter of education and learning. In his capacity of dean, he may, indeed, seem somewhat dwarfed in comparison with his two successors—bishop Andrewes, and the last of the ecclesiastical lord chancellors, John Williams. But, both the latter had some cause to be grateful to their predecessor for his thoughtful bequest of that pleasant college retreat at Chiswick, where the elms which he had planted afforded to subsequent generations grateful shade in summer and “a retiring place” from infection when the plague visited the capital. Of Andrewes, Hacket tells us that he never walked to Chiswick for his recreation “without a brace of the young fry; and, in that way-faring leisure had a singular dexterity to fill those narrow vessels with a funnel”; while, at the college itself, he often
sent for the uppermost scholars to his lodgings at night, and kept them with him from eight till eleven, unfolding to them the best rudiments of the Greek tongue, and the elements of the Hebrew Grammar, and all this he did to boys without any compulsion of correction; nay, I never heard him utter so much as a word of austerity among us.
Of Williams himself, his biographer tells us that
he was assiduous in the school, and miss’d not sometimes every week, if he were resident in the College, both to dictate lectures to the several classes, and to take account of them. The choicest wits had never such encouragement for praise, and reward.  11 
Under Williams’s successor Laud, further regulations were introduced, among which the most noteworthy was that whereby
the best scholars in the seventh forme were appointed as Tutors to reade and expound places of Homer, Virgil, Horace, and Euripides, etc…. at those times … wherein the scholars were in the schole, in expectation of the Master.  12 

Note 11. Hacket, Life of Williams, I, 45. [ back ]
Note 12. See the account of the daily routine of a Westminster schoolboy’s life (c. 1610–20), printed, from a transcript preserved in the State Paper office, in G. F. Russell Barker’s Memoir of Richard Busby (1895), pp. 77–82. The transcript is said to be in the handwriting of Laud, who was a prebendary of Westminster from 1621 to 1628. [ back ]

  St. Paul’s school The Merchant Taylor’s school  

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2015 · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors · World Lit.