This familiar building in Castle Street in Thornbury was the site of the Free School which eventually merged with Attwells school to form Thornbury Grammar School.
Many of the schoolmasters of this early school that are listed below also appear on the Thornbury Grammar School site (see “The History of Marlwood School” by L G Taylor), which has also provided some of the accompanying details for the earliest ones, except where other sources are quoted.
The Grammar School existed in Thornbury by 1606 when it was called the Free School. How long it had been in existence before that time we cannot be sure but we believe there was a schoolmaster there in May 1570. His name is unknown but it seems he had got into some sort of trouble and had been summoned to appear before the Gloucester Consistory Court. It was recorded that he had “run away.”
Richard Harbarde. Stafford Morse’s history of Thornbury Grammar School suggests that Richard Harbarde or Harborde may have been a teacher at this school. By September 1570 Richard Harbarde or Harborde was appointed as a teacher in Thornbury, presumably till his death in 1580. Richard Harbarde of Thornbury “scholemaster” and Margaret his wife had a lease of a tenement from Thomas Slymbridge in the borough for six years at a yearly rent of 18s (Thornbury Town Trust deeds in Gloucester Records Office D282/T/30 1570). We are not sure where he taught.
The property he leased was said to be “between the tenement of the Rt. Hon. Lorde Barkleye, now in the holding of Thomas Tucker and the tenement of Thomas Holbrucke the younger with one hall, one chamber, three sollers, one kitchen, one garden plotte contd. by estimate 78 feet of length.” The notes of William A Caffall, an historian who wrote “Thornbury a Study in Gloucestershire History,” suggest that this property was in St Mary Street and extended back to St John Street and was later in the possession of Katherine Rippe. The fact that the property was in St Mary Street may point to the possibility that Richard Harbarde was unlikely to have taught at the early Grammar school but at another establishment.
Unknown. Records relating to early Quakers that are held in Gloucester Archives have an entry that reads there was a presentment in 1599/1600 against “The school master for reading without a licence and for being excoriate and for that he doth company with a woman that is not his wife for she hath another husband living.” This sounds as though the schoolmaster was being accused not only of immorality but Non-Conformity. Once again we have no clear indication about the exact school.
Gaspar Huggins. The Marlwood School website of men believed to have taught at the Grammar School lists Caspar Huggins being a teacher there about 1608.
To date we have found no other record of Caspar Huggins being connected with the school. However a book called “Men and Armour for Gloucestershire” lists the men able to take up arms in 1608 and this refers to Caspar (or Gaspar) Huggins, a man about forty years of age, of middle height and capable of handling a musket.
The Alumni Oxoniensis website confirms that a Jasper Huggins of Westerleigh in Gloucestershire was a student of St Edmund Hall, graduating in 1601-2. He was the father of Charles Huggins also of Westerleigh who became a student of Wadham College from 1629 at the age of 16 to 1634. Charles was described in his entry in the Alumni Oxoniensis as being the son of “Gaspari” Huggins, thus confirming that Jasper and Gaspar were different spellings of the same person’s name.
Gaspar was also the curate of Westerleigh in the first quarter of the seventeenth century.
Christopher Cam (or Canner). On 15th January 1647 when William White gifted his property in the High Street to the Feoffees to enable the School employ a schoolmaster, the property was in the occupation of Christopher Cam, schoolmaster. The endowment had strings attached. Mr White decreed that the schoolmaster should be selected by the Trustees and the Vicar, that he should be a graduate of an English University, and that he should be unmarried.
Should he, after appointment, marry, misdemean, be thought unfit to continue teaching or leave Thornbury, he must he replaced. Mr White was obviously looking for a well-behaved celibate with no gypsy blood in his veins. The strain imposed by the conditions of his employment seem to have been too much for Christopher to bear. After only one year he must have married, “misdemeaned”, died or decamped, for by 1648 he was gone and John Thorpe was appointed in his place.
John Thorpe. We know that John Thorpe was a master in 1648 because the will of William Edwards written in that year says ;- “I give unto John Thorpe, Gentleman, now schoolmaster of Thornbury the sum of twenty pounds.” The same will added ” I give towards a library for the said school to be used for and by the schoolmaster from time to time, he giving security to the said Feofees for the redelivery of them to the use of his successors by a catalogue under his hand, the books of Martyrs, Mr Perkins works, Geofrey Chaucer’s works and divers other English and Latin books which I intend shall be placed there as soon as the school is finished.”
Thomas Jones years including 1657 and 1662. In 1657 Thomas Jones “schoolmaster of the Free School of Thornbury ……. autograph declaration and subscription in accordance with Act of Uniformity of 14 Charles II.”
Joseph Edwards BA in 1686. We have found a young man of that name on the website Alumni Oxoniensis. He was shown as the son of John Edwards of Woodchester, in Gloucestershire. He was a student at Wadham College which he entered aged 16 on 26th May 1682. He graduated with a B.A. on January 19th 1685/6. He later gained an M.A. from Trinity College Cambridge in 1718.
Henry Bedford BA in 1690. We have found a young man of that name on the website Alumni Oxoniensis. He was shown as the son of Edward Bedford of Prestbury Gloucestershire. He was a cleric and student of Brazenose College in Oxford from 8th April 1685 when he was only 15 years old. He returned to Oxford and gained an MA from St Mary Hall in 1692. In 1696 he was rector of Little Sodbury in Gloucestershire.
Samuel Godwyn (or Goodwyn) BA in 1695. The website Alumni Oxoniensis shows that he was the son of Thomas Goodwyn of Henbury in Gloucestershire. He left St John’s College Oxford in 1695 having matriculated on 4th November 1687 aged 18. We know that his name appeared on marriage records for 1700 in Thornbury. He became vicar of Wapley and of Felton in Gloucestershire in 1702.
Ralph Grove MA. From the Alumni Oxoniensis website we know that Ralph was the son of William Grove of London and that he was born in December 1673. He was probably a former student of Merchant Taylor’s School. He was a student at Christ Church Oxford from 28th June 1693 at the age of 18. He gained an MA in 1700. He was the vicar of Thornbury from 1701 to 1728.
John Priest BA in 1713.
Rev. John Wall. On 22nd February, 1737/8, the Rev. John Wall, B.A., was appointed “scholemaster” with a “sallery” of six pounds a year together with the “schole and scbolehouse and garden thereunto belonging, to enter thereon on the 25th March next.”
Reverend Richard Jones. There was an entry of the appointment by the feoffees (the trustees) of the Grammar School dated 14th October, 1742, of the Rev. Richard Jones, B.A., to be schoolmaster “to hold and enjoy with all the rents and perquisites to the same belonging as schoolmaster from Lady Day next for so long as he shall think fit, and to begin teaching when he shall think proper and to leave it in as good repair as he shall find it.”
This appointment was also approved by Thos. Willis, Vicar. Mr. Jones apparently never even began his teaching. He should, in accordance with the Act of Uniformity of 1662, have made a declaration and subscription of his acceptance of the liturgy of the Church of England. But for some reason the fees were never paid nor the licence made out. Instead there is an entry under the date 15th January, 1749/8, ‘upon payment of Benjamin Pearce (one of the school tenants) to Mr. Edward Parnall of £4.9.0, I do revoke all claim, right, title or interest to the grammar school of Thornbury, as witness my hand, Richard Jones’.James Partridge BA in 1744
Michael Evans SCL in 1749
Gwinnel. Mr Gwinnel received £8 in 1758. We do not know who he was.
William Llewellin (or Llewellyn). By 1797 the house intended for the school master was in a ruined state. Kingsmill Grove offered to lend up to £250 to have the house pulled down and rebuilt. It was agreed that as soon as the house was rebuilt and be made habitable William Llewellin could occupy it rent free if he chose to do so. If William Llewellin chose not to reside in the house then it was to be let from year to year. The rents thus received were to be paid to Kingsmill Grove to reduce the money he had lent interest free. It was also agreed that the salary of £15 then paid to William Llewellin as Master of the Free School should cease once he moved into the house. He could not receive any emolument from the charity estates until Kingsmill Grove had been fully re-paid. After this William Llewellin could receive the net yearly income arising from the charity estates.
The Thornbury Museum also has receipts from Thomas Rolph in respect of the education of three of his sons, John, George and Romaine showing that they were receiving instruction in Latin from the Vicar, the Rev. William Llewellin.
In 1801 the will of Hester Bagnell left to William Llewellin “who now boards with me” the messuage or tenement in which Mrs Sarah Hall lived for many years until her death and where Hester Bagnell now lived with the brewhouse stable and outhouses courtyard and garden. The house was said to be in the Tything of Kington but also on the west side of the Fore Street in Thornbury with a leazow of three acres of arable or pasture ground called the Park with outbuildings lately erected on them once in the occupation of Thomas Hendy and now in the occupation of William Llewellin himself. The property was left to him for his life time provided that he occupied the premises and kept them in good order and insured against fire. In the event of his death or in case of his failing to keep the property insured George Rolph was to act as executor and sell the properties and after his expenses to meet the terms of various bequests.
William Llewellin then described as the Rector of Hill died in Thornbury after a short illness on 22nd February 1819. According to his burial record shown on Scribes Alcove website William was aged 60 and he was buried on 17th February 1819. We are not sure which of these dates is correct.
J J Coles BA in 1819. A meeting of the Feoffees of the Grammar School on April 20th 1819 appointed the Rev “Mr Coales” as clergyman and schoolmaster. The meeting the following year (23rd June 1820) discussed the fact that several parents of the boys had complained that Mr Coles did not teach “cyphering.” It was decided that Mr Coles should be told to teach arithmetic as it was considered to be part of his duty. There was another complaint that the boys who had free schooling were not allowed to stay in school for the same length of time as the fee paying boys. This was also rectified. It did notseem that the trustees and Mr Coles ever got on together as on Ocober 19th 1821 it was resolved that “the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of the Rev Mr Coles who held the situation of schoolmaster should be supplied by the appointment of a proper master.” This phrase was never explained. Perhaps they did not care to put their thoughts about Mr Coles in writing.
George D’Arville in 1822. George D’Arville was appointed from the 24th June 1822, although the meeting to formally appoint him was actually held later on 9th August. The school house, school room and garden had been let out to a tenant Mr Thomas I Councell in the period between the departure of Mr Coles and the arrival of Mr D’Arville. L.G Taylor in his ‘History of Marlwood School’ says that the school expanded to 12 students under the care of George D’Arville. At this time the income from the endowments to the school was £57 per annum of which the school master was paid £42.
“The Bury and Norwich Post” of April 1814 lists deacons who were ordained by the bishop of Ely at St James’s Church in London. One of these was George D’Arville LLB of St Alban’s Hall Oxford.He resigned from the Perpetual Curacy of Rangeworthy and his successor was appointed in August 1834.
George married Ann Shortland in London on 25th January 1791. We have so far been unable to trace the death of Ann D’Arville nee Shortland.
George seems to have experienced many other tragedies, not least the deaths of his children. Jackson’s Oxford Journal of January 1823 has an announcement of the two deaths within days “on 7th inst died Vincent D’Arville, eldest son of the Rev. George D’Arville of Thornbury Gloucestershire and on 10th inst George Shortland D’Arville his brother late surgeon of Devizes Wiltshire. ” Parish records show that Vincent Edward D’Arvill (sic) died aged 30 and was buried on January 15th 1823 at St Mary Woolchurch Haw in the City of London.
George lived to see the deaths of at least two more children ; Frederick Luke died August 23rd 1842. Cornelia died on August 9th 1845.
The 1851 census shows that the family moved to Olveston where the widowed George then aged 83 was living with his unmarried daughters Katharine and Ann. We have been contacted by Philippa Dye who has shed some light on this household. She has told us that, according to a family diary, her three times great grandmother was taught at Miss D’Arville’s school in ‘Down House, Thornbury’ in 1843. We assume that this refers to Down House, Old Down.
The inscription in the Church of St Mary in Thornbury shows that George D’Arville died on July 9th 1853 aged 85.
There were at least two surviving children Ann and Katherine who married George Hancock “of South Bank, Weston.”
Frederick Luke D’Arville B.A. in 1827. Frederick Luke D’Arville was a student of Christ’s College Cambridge in 1814. According to the Clergy of the Church of England Database he became a deacon on 25th March 1826. He was made the curate of Rangeworthy on 16th March 1827 and became Curate of Thornbury on 2nd August 1827. He was ordained on 16th December 1827 by the Bishop of Gloucester at Hartlebury Castle.
L.G Taylor in his History of Marlwood School says that this man followed his father as master of the Grammar School but was a less successful choice. He rapidly reduced the amount of time spent in teaching and was frequently absent. The records of the Trustees of the Edwards Whites and Jones charities show that there was a meeting on 17th November 1828 to discuss the problems. It was decided to require the boys to attend this meeting so the truth of the allegations against Mr D’Arville should be ascertained. An examination of the boys having taken place it was found that “for a considerable time past” the boys had received little or no instruction in English or in anything that the school rules said should be taught. Mr D’Arville’s frequent absences were mentioned and the meeting resolved to demand that Mr D’Arville assure them in writing that he would henceforth give the school “the attention which his duties required.”
The trustees tried to make him teach the classics English and arithmetic to have longer school hours; “from 7 till 8 and from 9 till 12 in the morning and from 2 till 4 in the afternoon.” The trustees next meeting commented on the sermons Mr D’Arville then gave attacking the trustees in person.
In February 1830 the report of the committee of Trustees said that not only were there no boys in the school but the they could not find a boy who wanted to come to the school. Legal advice was to be sought about what to do about the master’s salary.
After seeking legal opinion it was established that the contract had said that the master could live in the house and receive the £42 a year income but that it had not specified that he actually had to teach. The Feoffees had no legal grounds for compelling the Headmaster to teach his pupils!
The accounts of the Feoffees of the School show that on June 17th and December 28th of 1837 Mr D’Arville was paid his half year salary of £21.00 and so it would appear that despite feelings on both sides the contract was still being honoured. On October 3rd 1838 the accounts say “paid to the Rev D’Arville his salary half years due 24th June 1838 £21.” It is not clear whether why there was a delay in paying the salary.
By April 1839 the situation between the governors and the schoolmaster was still unresolved and the meeting was concerned that the properties it owned were in a poor state of repair and no money was available to remedy this. It was decided to stop the master’s salary the following September. The Accounts show that his salary was paid at least up to August 20th 1839 when he received the £21 due at Midsummer 1839.
The 1841 census appears to show that Frederick and George D’Arville were both then living at the Grammar School.
Frederick Luke D’Arville appeared in the Pigot’s Trade Directories of 1830 and 1842 as Vicar of Thornbury and master of the Grammar School. He was also listed in the tithe apportionment for the tenancy of the Grammar School. It seems that Mr D’Arville technically stayed at his post, although the school effectively ceased to exist for long periods.
A rather more complimentary reference to his time in Thornbury is on a memorial in St Mary’s Church.
“Sacred to the Beloved Memory of the Rev. F.L. D’Arville, B.A. for 15 years curate of this parish. His sincere, but unaffected piety, his kind and gentle behaviour secured to him the respect, and attachment of all ranks: and the recollection of his ministry will long be cherished in this place. He fell on sleep August 23rd 1842 aged 40 years.”
Richard Whalley in 1845. The school seems to have been abandoned for three years before Richard Whalley was appointed in 1845.
The account of the meeting of the trustees in December 1844 says that Mr Whalley had contacted them to apply for the post and offered to repair the house at his own expense AND pay the taxes and rates. The committee seemed pleased to accept the offer. However their enthusiasm for the offer did not let them forget the problems of the former master. This time the contract was much more specific. Mr Whalley was to receive £30 per annum and was to instruct six boys in the classic and “such other branches of literature as shall be thought fit by the trustees.”
Richard Whalley married Mary Ann Player, the daughter of John Player and his wife Elizabeth (nee Fewster). We have been lucky enough to be sent a photograph of Mary Ann Whalley which is shown here on the left. Richard and Mary Whalley lived in the Close House just off the High Street.
Mr Whalley died the year following his appointment, only ten months after he married. The “Hampshire Advertiser and Salisbury Guardian” of February 1846 reported that the Rev Richard Whalley, eldest son of the late Rev. Richard Thomas Whalley rector of Yeovilton in Somerset, died in Thornbury of apoplexy in his 37th year. The Bath Chronicle published a very detailed account of the death of Richard Whalley. We have a thumbnail image of the article here on the right. Please click on it to read the article.
His daughter Caroline Elizabeth Whalley, born in September 1846, after her father had died, married Robert Gilbert Ellwood on 25th September 1872. The photograph below left (courtesy of Laura Gill) is of Mary Ann with her daughter Caroline. We are indebted to Laura, a descendent of the Whalley family for the information that the widow of Richard Whalley, Mary Ann Whalley, lived in Olveston Green with her daughter, Caroline for many years.
Richard Williams in 1846. The trustees of the Free School met on April 8th 1846 to discuss the applications of the Rev Richard Williams and the Rev W A Marshall of Elizabeth College Guernsey to replace the late Rev Whalley. The discussion as usual was in retrospect as Richard Williams BA had been invited to commence as master from March 25th last.In 1851 the Nottinghamshire Guardian carried a list of “Benefices and Appointments Vacant” throughout the country. The mastership of Thornbury Grammar School in Gloucestershire was included and had a salary of £30 “and residence.” The notice made it clear that the applicant “must be in orders.”
John Field. The Rev John Field appears in the rate book of 1859 in what is now The Hatch. The 1861 census shows John Field and his wife Clara Eleanor. The census described John Field as chaplain to the Thornbury Union and Master of the Thornbury Grammar School. He was aged 40 and from Bradford in Yorkshire. His wife Clara was aged 46 and she was from Shropshire. Their young son Godfrey Butler Field had been born in Thornbury. John’s niece was in the household. She was Clara Ellen Lewis from Carmarthan aged 10. They had a house servant Ann Jones also from Carmarthan.
Clara Eleanor Sainsbury and John Field had married in Bristol in 1851.
The parish records of St Mary’s Church in Thornbury show that they had another son Edward Maclaine Field born 8th May 1852. The records also show that Godfrey Butler Field died aged six and was buried on 14th April 1861.
During this period the school grew and admitted fee paying boys. John Field must have had some success as a teacher because in 1862 James Elliott of Thornbury Grammar School was recorded in the BA examination of London University.
The 1861 and 1868 Trade Directories of Gloucestershire say that The Rev John Field was a “lecturer” living in Castle Street and was also the curate of Oldbury on Severn. The vicar at that time was Rev Maurice Townsend and the curate Rev R G Ellwood.
The Rev John Field resigned his post as master of Thornbury Grammar School in 1864.
By 1871 John Field was living in Oldbury on Severn in the Rectory and was described as the Rector of Oldbury. Clara Lewis was still living with the family but they had no children of their own in the household.
The trade directory of 1876 shows that John Field continued to live in Oldbury on Severn.
Rev. Henry Seymour Roberts. The master from 1864 to 1869 was the Rev. Henry Seymour Roberts LL.D F.C.P.S of Queens’ College, Cambridge.
Henry Seymour Roberts was christened on 31st December 1819 in Mortlake in Surrey. He married Mary Ann Ward on 20th July 1852 in Turnham Green in London. His name is in the Trade Directory of Gloucestershire as master of the Grammar School.
On 4th April 1864 a meeting of the trustees of Thornbury Grammar School resolved to appoint Rev Roberts as Master of the school.
The Bristol Mercury of June 18th 1864 had an article about a presentation to him “on vacating the second mastership of the Bristol Grammar by his present and former pupils, in token of their appreciation of his valuable services during a period of 13 years.” Dr. Roberts in responding thanked his pupils for their present and “in conclusion remarked that were it solid silver he should esteem it only as the casket of their still brighter gem – their affection. “
In 1868 Crockford’s Clerical Directory listed Henry Seymour Roberts Head master of the Grammar School of Thornbury. Formerly second master of Bristol Grammar School 1855 and previously second classics master at Wimbledon Military College in Surrey. Dr Roberts appeared in the Trade Directory of 1868 as Master of the Grammar School.
In 1867 there was the following advertisement in the Bristol Gazette; “Thornbury Grammar School founded AD 1603 ……fees for tuition for boys under 16 years £10 per annum; 16 years and upwards £19 per annum; extra and optional French German Music Drawing and Dancing at the usual terms.” At this time the school had 24 boys between 10 and 14 years.
Despite being at least in part a fee paying school, the school certainly lacked some of the basics and in 1869 the Charity Commissioners reported that the school lacked blackboards, maps and a playground. There was now however an assistant master.
Mr. Roberts left Thornbury Grammar School in 1869 to become Headmaster of Wigtown Grammar School. Unusually it was proposed at the meeting of the trustees of the Grammar School in September 1869 to give Dr Roberts an additional £10 as well as his salary. After some discussion this was reduced to £5.
In the 1871 census for Alford in Lincolnshire Henry Seymour Roberts then a married man of 46 was said to be a Doctor of Law of Cambridge who was born in Richmond in Surrey. Crockford’s Directory of 1874 showed that he was still at the Royal Grammar School of Alford and that he was the author of “Rhymes for Penny Readings and other Poems” in 1865 “Quench not the Spirit, Address to candidates for Confirmation ” in 1866. and “A letter by a Christian in reply to a Sceptic” in 1869. By 1908 he was living at 3, Seymour Road in Prestonville Brighton. His death was registered in Steyening in 1909.
John Partridge. It may have been a sign of Thornbury Grammar School’s recovery from the bad times in the early 1800s that in September 1869 the trustees of Thornbury Grammar School had not one but five applications for the post of Master of the school. The successful candidate was the Rev John Partridge of Prospect House, The Strand, Chiswick in Middlesex.
The Hampshire Telegraph and Sussex Chronicle of February 12th 1870 listed John Partridge of Thornbury Grammar School near Bristol as one of the many shareholders in the Provincial Banking Corporation Ltd. The 1871 census confirms that the headmaster living in the Grammar School was John Partridge, a widower aged 44 and from Devon. He had four children all born in Gorleston Suffolk;- William Hanslip Partridge aged 15 (his birth registered in Mutford in Suffolk in 1856) Caroline Ethel Partridge (registered in Mutford in Suffolk in 1860) aged 11, Harold Moxsy Partridge aged nine, Archibald Norman Partridge aged seven and Katherine Marshall a visitor aged 47 from Dublin. There was one pupil from Maidenhead living in the house, Arthur John Hanslip Ward and a maid called Mary Hopkins.
John Partridge of Thornbury Grammar School was listed in 1872 as having been examined by the Oxford Local Examiners.
At the meeting of 5th March 1873 the Trustees of Thornbury Grammar School were formally notified of the death of John Partridge. He was only 46 years old. His death was registered in Thornbury in the March quarter of 1873. The Guardians of the Thornbury Union expressed their condolences in a letter to his brother Mr W Partridge. John Partridge had been the Workhouse Chaplain.
Rev. J. Leach BA. The last headmaster under the old regime was the Rev. J. Leach who combined his duties with those of curate of Thornbury. He was appointed at a meeting of the trustees of the Grammar School in April 1873 starting from 1st June 1873. On the 8th of August 1873 The Board of Guardians of Thornbury Union approved the appointment of The Rev. John Leach, Master of the Grammar School Thornbury, as Chaplain for the Workhouse, subject to the consent of the Lord Bishop of the Diocese and the Local Government Board.
We believe that by 1889 Rev John Leach had become chaplain of the Bedminster Union in Bristol.
On 26th February 1877 a meeting of the trustees of Thornbury Grammar School resolved to form a committee to prepare a scheme to amalgamate Attwell’s Charity with Thornbury Grammar School. In April 1877 the plan was accepted but it was moved that the new school should be founded on the basis of providing good accommodation for 12 boarders and an assistant master.
Perhaps the Rev Leach was unhappy at the changes in store. In April 1877 he applied for a testimonial to apply for a new post.
George Nixon. On 15th December 1877 the Trustees of the Grammar School agreed to appoint a temporary master. He was to occupy the present Grammar School premises until the were required to carry out the provisions of the new scheme. He was to vacate the premises at short notice. Eighteen applications were received for the temporary post and six were selected as most suitable. Two of these were invited to travel to Thornbury for interview and were given expenses to cover the first class rail fare to attend. On January 19th 1878 George Nixon was appointed formally.
On 17th May 1879, the endowments of the Grammar School and of Attwells Free School were combined and Thornbury Grammar School emerged. A new school was eventually built in the Gloucester Road. George Nixon was appointed the new headmaster and he saw the school through these changes. Read about George Nixon.