of King Ethelbert in England in 994 (De Montmorency, State Intervention in English Education, 1902): “mass priests ought always to have in their houses a school of disciples, and if any good man desires to commit his little ones to them for instruction they ought gladly to receive and kindly teach them.” These decrees were, in fact, merely re-issues of the 5th canon of the 6th council of Constantinople: “Let priests throughout the towns and villages have schools, and if any of the faithful wish to commend their little ones to them to learn their letters, let them not refuse to receive them, exacting however no price nor taking anything from them, except what the parents voluntarily offer,” a phrase repeated again and again in the foundation documents of free schools, grammar or other, to the middle of the 18th century. The mass priests, however, neglected their duty. In 1295, John of Pontissera, bishop of Winchester, tried to recall those of his diocese to it by a synodal statute: “Let rectors, vicars and parish priests see that the sons of their parishioners know the Lord's Prayer, Creed and Salutation of the Virgin . . . and the parents should be induced to let their boys, when they know how to read the psalter, learn singing also.” It may be observed that now the rectors are not required to teach boys themselves, but to see them taught. The duty of the parson had in fact been devolved on the clerk. In a decretal of Gregory IX., c. 1234, every parish priest was ordered to have a clerk to sing with him, read the epistle and lesson, and be able to keep school and warn the parishioners to send their sons to the church to learn the faith, whom he is to teach with all chastity (Decret. lib. iii., tit. i., c. iii.). This seems to be only an amplification of Leo IV., c. 850, omnis presbyter clericum habeat soholarem qui epistolam, &c. Many parish clerks duly did their duty in teaching. So we find in 1481 at St Nicholas, Bristol, “The clerks ought not to take no boke oute of the quere for childeryne to lerne in with owte licence of the procurators,” i.e. the churchwardens. At Faversham in 1 506, “Item the said clarkis or one of theym as moche as in theym is shall endeavour theymself to teche children to rede and synge . . . as of olde tyme hath be accustomed.” But probably most neglected their duty, as we find in many places other provision for elementary instruction; sometimes by reading and writing schools, more often, as already stated, by the song schools. At Barnack, Northamptonshire, the rector had licence in 1359 from the bishop of Lincoln to establish a master to teach reading, song and grammar. A reading school is mentioned at Howden, Yorkshire, in 1394, but it had then become united to the song school, and a chaplain, i.e. a priest, was appointed to it (scholas tam lectuales quam cantuales). In 1401 William Coke “alias clerk,” probably because he was the parish clerk, not apparently in orders, was appointed to this joint song and reading school, a reservation, however, being made to one John Lowyke of the right to teach a reading school only (studium lectuale) for 18 boys. Next year, 1402, William Lowyke, probably John's son, was appointed to the reading and song school, an appointment repeated in 1412, while another person was appointed to the two schools in 1426. But in 1456 the reading school was combined with the grammar school under John Armandson, B.A. At Northallerton in 1426 the reading and song school are combined; the grammar school separate; but in 1440 reading, grammar and song schools were combined in the hands of John Leuesham, chaplain.
We owe our knowledge of these schools to the casual preservation in the British Museum of a letter book of the prior of Durham cathedral monastery, who was the “Ordinary” for the Yorkshire possessions of St Cuthbert, among which were the two places named. But they can hardly have been as exceptional in fact as they are in records. Separate reading schools must have existed elsewhere. Nor can the two Yorkshire colleges of Acaster and Rotherham, founded about 1472 and 1484, be as unique as they appear to be in having, besides a grammar and song school, a writing school. At Acaster a “third [master] to teche to write and all such thing as belonged to scrivener craft,” and at Rotherham “because that country produces many youths endowed with the light and acuteness of ability, but all do not wish to attain the dignity and height of the priesthood, that they may be the better fitted for the mechanical arts and other worldly concerns, a third fellow, knowing and skilled in the art of writing and accounts,” was added to the grammar and
song masters (A. F. Leach, Early Yorkshire Schools, ii. 62, 84-87, 89, 110, 151). At Aldwinkle, Northants, the chantry priest was by foundation ordinance of 1489 to teach six of the poorest boys spelling and reading (syllabilacione et lectura). At Barking, in Essex, a chantry priest was founded in 1392 to “teache the childerne to wrytte and read,” while the chantry priest at Bromyard, Herefordshire, was founded in 1394 to “brynge upe the childerne borne in the parish in reading, wrytynge and gramar.” At Normanton, Yorkshire, the chantry of Our Lady was “for good educatcion as well in grammar as wrytinge,” and at Burgh under Stainmore, Westmorland, the stipendiary priest was “to kepe a Free Grammar Schole and also to teche scholers to wryte.” At Kingsley, Staffordshire, the chantry priest was also “to kepe scole and teche pore men's children of the said parishe grammar and to rede and singe.” At Montgomery, on the other hand, it is made matter of complaint, in 1548, that the fraternity of Our Lady hired a “prest or lerned man to kepe scole” for thirty years past, but he now “ taught but yonge beginners onelye to write and syng and to reade soo far as the accidens rules and noo grammer.” At Farthinghoe, Northants, was apparently a purely elementary school, the chantry priest being directed by foundation in 1443 by a London mercer to teach the little ones (parvulos), later translated petits, freely. At Ipswich in 1477 the little ones called Apeseyes (ABC's) and Songe were not under the grammar schoolmaster but an independent teacher. The most elementary school was the ABC school. At Christ's College, Brecon, founded, or re founded, by Henry VIII., besides a grammar master at £13, 6s. 8d. a year and an usher at half that, there was a chaplain to sing mass and “to teache the yonge children resorting to the said scoole there ABC” at the same pay as the usher. This seems to have been really a song school. At the college of Glasney, Cornwall, founded, or refounded, in 1264, the bell-ringer had £2 a year “as well for teachyng of pore mens children their ABC as for ringing”; while at Launceston the grammar master had £16 a year, and 13s. 4d. was “yerly distributed to an aged man chosen by the mayre to teache younge chylderne the ABC.” At Saffron Walden, Essex, in 1423, it was settled after legal proceedings, that the chantry priests at the parish church might teach children the alphabet and graces, but not further. Anything more was the privilege of the grammar schoolmaster.
In 1542 an injunction of Bonner as bishop of London shows an attempt on Henry VIII.'s part to recall the clergy to the duty of teaching “every of you that be parsons, vicars, curates and also chantry priests and stipendiaries to . . . teach and bring up in learning the best ye can all such children of your parishioners as shall come to you, or at the least teach them to read English.” The advisers of Edward VI. at first appear to have contemplated a similar development by an injunction in 1547 that “all chauntry priests shall exercise themselves in teaching youth to read and write and bring them up in good manners and other virtuous exercises.” But the Chantries Act next year swept all the chantries away by Easter 1548; and while professing to apply their endowments to education, struck a deadly blow at elementary education by omitting any saving clause for elementary schools, whether song, reading, writing or ABC schools. The first duty of a song or of a reading school being “to teach a child to help a priest to sing mass,” they were regarded as superstitious; and the rest were presumably looked on as tainted with the same poison. So of all the hundreds of song schools in the country, only two, outside the cathedrals and the university colleges and those of Winchester and Eton, Westminster and Windsor colleges, survived. These were the song school of the archdeacon Magnus foundation of a grammar school and song school at Newark in 1532; and that forming part of the grammar school in St John's Hospital, Coventry, established by John Hales under royal licence in 1545, though not legally settled till 1572. The gap left by these schools took long to fill, and probably the ignorance of the masses and of the lower middle classes in Elizabethan and Jacobean times was greater than before the Reformation. In the big towns, like London, during the reign of Elizabeth, voluntary rates, or application of the rates, were made to partly fill the gap. Christ's Hospital in 1553 with its 280 foundling children had, besides its grammar schoolmaster and usher, “a teacher of pricksonge, a teacher to wrighte and two schoole masters for the Petties ABC.” But in Mary's reign, Grafton the printer was “clapt in the Flete for two daies because he suffered the children to learne the Englishe prymer” for “the Lattin abseies." In Southwark, while St Saviour's parish set up a grammar school in 1559, St Olave's parish in 1560 directed the churchwardens to ask the inhabitants “watte they will gyve