The History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset
by John Hutchins:

(3rd Edition published 1868)

Transcribed by Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester - May 2010 (last update to genealogical notes Aug 2012)



The Grammar School
Pages 367-369

[Note :- The following information from Hutchins has been incorporated into the general history of the 'Free School' ]

The 'Grammar School' or 'Free School', as it was formerly called, stands at the lower end of South street. It was built and endowed by Thomas Hardy of Melcombe Regis, in 1569, according to Mr. Whiteway's and Mr. Bond's chronologies. By indenture dated 3rd August, 21 Eliz. 1579, the said Thomas Hardye of Frampton, co. Dorset, granted to certain trustees and their heirs, viz. William, Marquess of Winchester, George Trenchard of Wolverton, esq., John Browne of Frampton, esq., Robert Napper of the Middle Temple, John Browne the younger of Frampton, and John Henninge, William Churchill, William Aden alias Barbett, Robert Aden and Lawrence Stratforde, all of Dorchester, certain lands in Frome Vauchurch, also lands and tenements in Wyke Regis and Weymouth and Melcombe Regis, certain tenements in Dorchester, including a messuage and burgage commonly called the Schoolhouse, on the east side of the South street, in the parish of St. Peter's, that the said trustees, their heirs, &c. should permit the said school-house to be employed, and should employ the rents and profits of the said lands and tenements to the perpetual maintenance of a schoolmaster and usher in Dorchester, to be from time to time nominated and appointed, and upon good discretion disappointed and displaced, by the said Marquis and others, and their heirs.

In an ancient book belonging to the corporation, under date 1625, is an entry of which the following is the substance: "The old school, bordering on the east side of the South street, together with the garden behind the same, was for some sixty years past belonging to the town and built by the townsmen; but about the 21st Elizabeth (1578) the townsmen bestowed it upon Mr. Hardye, upon condition that he would endow it with lands and annuities, which the said Mr. Hardye did, and was afterwards advised to buy the lease of Frome Whitfield, or the parsonage thereof, which thing he accomplished, and took it for 99 years, which lease is on foot to this day, and there is paid out of it to the schoolmaster during the lease (being fifty-six years to come from July 1625) £10. ; and after the decease of one James, late parson of Frome Whitfield, £3. 6s, 8d. more, the usher also to have out of the said parsonage during the lease £6. 13s. 4d."

" Sir Robert Napper, knt. purchased so much ground of Mr. John Gould as to build a house for the schoolmaster, and laid more ground to the school garden, as it remains at present, which said school-house was built partly by the said Sir Robert Napper and his good lady; the rest by money given towards it at the first great fire, out of the general collection, and part by the gift of some townsmen."

"Mr. Robert Cheek, the new schoolmaster, began to new build the school about the year 1618 as it now standeth, and raised up the old school, and walled in the garden; he had the help of well-disposed gentlemen of the country, and of many that had been his scholars, but the greatest burden of the work was borne by the inhabitants of the town. And yet unto this day a great charge of the building, and finishing the same, as well within as without, came out of Mr. Cheek's own purse, and is now like to be reimbursed the same ; the whole building and finishing thereof may cost 500. (1)

"Next to the said school was a house and garden purchased by the town of one Kipping, at a cost of 80. It was paid for by several collections at St. Peter's church, the 15th August and 17th November, and was intended to be bestowed on an usher for his dwelling-house; but so as the feoffees may not lose their continual right of placing and displacing whom they please upon occasion offered, but always intended for the good of one that shall be helpful to the school."

" There is purchased for the school, in the name of the feoffees for ever, two acres of pasture and one acre adjoining, for years, being about 28 years to come, which cost the purchase about 75 and was paid by a legacy given by Mr. Flea (by Honiton) (2) to charitable uses, which his widow, now the wife of Mr. Dionys Bond, one of our capital burgesses, disposed to the said uses, and remains to the school £4." Hutchins relates that there was a large room in the dwelling-house belonging to the school, used as a school for the lower boys before 1600, and was no doubt the original school; for a little south of the house door on the wall are the queen's arms (Queen Elizabeth), supported by a lion and a dragon, and under it this date. 1569, so that the great school was an addition to the-old one.

The Rev. Richard Cutler, on his election in 1824, found the house all but ruinous, and he rebuilt the south part, the original school, at his own cost; replacing the wall and windows towards the street exactly as he found them, together with the oriel window over the doorway, and the original old oak door; but a hatch-door in the centre, from being decayed, was obliged to be stopped-up. The arms of Queen Elizabeth were replaced as before, flanked with " R. C." to mark the name of the restorer in 1824, as Robert Cheeke had done in 1618.

The property belonging to the school is vested in ten trustees, to whom it has been conveyed from time to time. The present trustees are:-
    John Floyer, esquire, of Stafford, M.P.
    Robert Williams, esquire, of Bridehead.
    H. C. Sturt, esquire, of Critchell house.
    Herbert Williams, esquire, of Stinsford.
    Francis Bisset Hawkins, M.D. of Lewell.
    W. Denning Tapp of Dorchester,
    Thomas Coombs,of Dorchester,
    C. B. Henning, of Dorchester.
    John F. Hodges,of Dorchester,
    Robert Davis,of Dorchester,
There are two exhibitions at St. John's College Cambridge, to which scholars of Dorchester school are eligible concurrently with those, of St. Paul's, London. There is another exhibition given by John Hill, by will dated 25th May, 1657, who bequeathed £100 and directed it to be laid out in the purchase of land or tenements in Dorset, or some adjacent county. The money appears to have been charged upon a tenement in Dorchester belonging to the corporation, lone known as the Exhibition-house, which was subsequently discharged there from, and the 5, annual interest charged upon other tenements there. These exhibitions, however, have not been claimed for a great number of years.

School Masters:

    Edward Doughtey, M.A. 1580.(3)

    Henry Harris,(4) ob. May, 1596.

    Robert Cheek, who, according to Whiteway's Chronicle, came 1595, and died 1627.

    Gabriel Reeve, some time fellow of New college, about 1636,(5) removed by the trustees 1650.(6)

    Samuel Crumwelholm, M.A. of Corpus Christ college, Oxford, 10 Oct. 1651, resigned 1657 (7) being elected head master of St. Paul's school, where he had been second master. He was an eminent linguist, and lost an excellent library in the fire of London. He died 1672.(8)

    Anthony Wither, B.A. New college, Oxford, 10 Oct. 1657, continued till 29 Sept. 1662.

    John Stevens, came 12 Dec. 1662, continued till 1664.

    Henry Dolling, 1664, LL.B. of Wadham college, Oxford, who continued till 1675. He translated the Whole Duty, of Man into Latin, licensed 1678 ; uncertain whether published.(9) A copy is in the school library.

    William Thornton, rector of Stafford, in this county, and of Brinkworth, in N. Wiltshire; surrendered Nov. 1, 1721.

    John Jacob LL.B. rector of All Saints, and vicar of Fordington, appointed the same day as Thornton surrendered.

    Conyers Place, M.A. rector of Poxwell 1736, ob. 26 Oct. 1738, at Marnhull, aged 74.

    Edward Cozens, M.A. rector of Yarlington, co. Somerset.

    John Hubbock, M.A. of Saint John's college, Oxford, rector of Frome Vauchurch and Batcombe, afterwards of Holy Trinity and St. Peter's in this town, admitted 1749, died 20 Feb. 1781.

    George Watson, M.A. fellow of Trinity college, Cambridge, appointed 11 Oct. 1781, resigned 15 June, 1786.

    Francis Hinchman, M.A. appointed 3 July, 1786, resigned 13 June,1787, on being presented to the living of Marlborough, Wilts.

    John Cutler, M.A. of Exeter college, Oxford, appointed 7 July, 1787; and, upon his removal to Sherborne free-school, was succeeded by

    Henry John Richman, M.A. of Corpus Christi college, Oxford, 15 March, 1790. Rector of Holy Trinity, Dorchester.

    Evan Davies, M.A. Jesus Coll. Oxford, appointed Jan. 16, 1815. Rector of All Saints', Dorchester.

    Richard Cutler, M.A. of Exeter college, Oxford, appointed Oct. 18, 1824.

    Thomas Ratsey Maskew, M.A. Sidney Sussex coil. Cambridge, appointed June 25, 1846.

Notes by John Hutchins:-

(1). Note that there was collected in the town of the inhabitants after Mr. Cheek's decease, and given to his wife as a recompense of money due to him disbursed about the said school, a considerable sum. In 1797 the trustees were, the Right Honourable the Earl of Dorchester, the Honourable Cropley Ashley, David Robert Michel, Thomas Gundry, and Nathaniel Bond, esqs., Messrs. Robert Lambert, Richard Cozens, Edward Cozens, and Robert Stickland, gents., John Gollop, M.D.

(2). See a notice of him in Prince's Worthies of Devon.

(3). "June 6, 1580, Edward Doughtey, M.A. schoolmaster of Dorchester, married Thomazin Ellis." St. Peter's Register.

(4). "Henry Harris, schoolmaster, buried last of May, 1596." Ibid.

(5). Wood, Athen. Oxon., vol. ii. p. 1114.

(6). In an old minute-book of the corporation, under the date Jan. 21st, 1649, appears the following: "At a conference with Mr. Reve concerning an husher to be procured it was resolved that Mr. Gower should be desired to write unto Mr. Langley that the husher which he had provided for this place should have 20 a-yeare besides the gifts which he should have from the schollars, and withal that Mr. Langley be informed of the low condition of the schoole, and how few boyes there be: and, it being commended to Mr. Reeve his consideration whether it were not better that he did relinquish his place, having lost his esteeme both in the towne and country, then any longer to continue schoolmaster to the prejudice of the towne and schoole, the further debate hereof was putt off to be had at Mr. Gower's house on Wednesday att foure of the clock in afternoone, together wit]:. the minister's and his company."

(7). Ibid.

(8). See Knight's life of Colet, p.381. Strype mistakes Gloucester for Dorchester School.

(9). Wood fasti Oxon. vol.ii.p.140,158 Vol II

Trinity School
Page 369

The origin of this school is thus stated in the old corporation book, under the date of 1620:
    "A new school was erected and founded by the incorporation and townsmen about the year 1623, and cost the building and finishing the same about £100. The old house and ground was formerly belonging to Trinity parish. It was built by the benevolence of the inhabitants, and is at the disposing of the incorporation to put in what schoolmaster they shall think fit, and to be removed upon just occasion; and the said schoolmaster and his successors are to undergo such order and government as Mr. John White and Mr. Clarke and their successors shall think fit, being a subordinate school unto the free school to train up boys and prepare them for the said free school.
April 1628, Aquila Purchis was master;
March 1632, Christopher Gould;(2)
October 1668, Gabriel Gould.(3)

John Gould, by will dated Nov. 4, 1630, gave £28. 6s. 8r. to be employed for the best benefit of the new school lately erected in the parish of the Holy Trinity in Dorchester, for the better teaching and instructing of poor children within the said borough, and towards the maintaining of a schoolmaster in such manner as the said mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses should think fit.

Mrs. Ann Napier, of St. Margaret's, Westminster, by indentures of lease and release, dated 1st and 2nd March, 1715, granted and released to the mayor, bailiffs, aldermen, and burgesses of Dorchester, and their successors, a tenement and certain lands in the parish of Melbury Osmond, co. Dorset, to hold the same in trust after the necessary repairs, to apply the rents yearly in paying a schoolmaster or schoolmistress within the borough of Dorchester, for teaching six poor children between the ages of four and twelve years to read the Holy Scriptures and the Catechism of the Church of England, and to write; such children to be appointed by the mayor, &c. or the major part of them; to be out of poor families, one boy and one girl from each of the three parishes; the mayor and his successors to take care that such children at a convenient age should be brought to the bishop to be confirmed, and any overplus of the yearly profits to be applied in buying blue clothes for the children.
Genealogical Notes on Trinity School:-
(1). David Underdown in his book "Fire from Heaven" page 113 refers to the school:-

    "So the Hospital's primary purpose was educational. But it was not the only place in Dorchester where the children of the poor could get a rudimentary education. One was yet another product of the campaign for godly reformation, the 'under school' established by the Corporation in Trinity parish in 1623, `to train up boys and prepare them for the. . . Free School'.

    Boys, of course: the education of girls was not yet on anyone's agenda. The first master was the parish clerk, a former shoemaker named Aquila Purchase. Trinity school was a 'petty' or elementary school, teaching little beyond reading except religion and discipline. In 1628 Purchase was paid two pounds for teaching poor children; over half of them were from St Peter's parish, most of the others from Trinity, only a few from All Saints. The bulk of the financial assistance, in other words, went to boys from the wealthier parishes. Holy Trinity also regularly spent money of its own on `the schooling of poor children'. There may have been other petty schools in the town. During a chicken pox epidemic in 1638 the schools were ordered not to admit infected children, notice of this being given to the masters of the Free School, Trinity School, `and the other teachers of the town'."

    pages 136 & 140 record that Aquilla (the son of Nicholas Purchase who died in 1620) emigrated to New England. Presumably in 1632 when Christopher Gould took over.
(2). Christopher GOULD was buried at Holy Trinity Church on 16th September 1668. He left a Will dated 10th Dec 1656 in which he describes himself as a School Master and Parish Clerk.

(3). Mastership of Trinity School seems to have been retained in the GOULD Family for many years. John GOULD Schoolmaster and Bookseller of Dorchester in his Will (dated 8th April 1729 but was not proved until 11th Aug 1739) has a request that he "to be buried as near to my school house door as possible".

John Hutchins Index Page     Fordington Page      OPC Page