Early Colonial Grammar Schools
( Originally Published 1907 )
THE fathers of our early colonies had, many of them, been educated in the Latin schools of Old England. William Penn received his early schooling at the Chigwell Free Grammar School. Theophilus Eaton and John Davenport were schoolmates in the Coventry Free Grammar School, whence Davenport went at the age of fourteen to Oxford. Edward Hopkins had been a scholar in the Royal Free Grammar School in Shrewsbury. Roger Williams— what a wilful and lovable schoolboy he must have been !— went to Pembroke College, Cambridge, from the Charter House.
The early secondary schools of the colonies, while substantially of one type, took different names. They were called Latin grammar schools ; or for short, grammar schools, like their English prototypes. Less frequently the name was shortened to Latin school. In some places they were called public schools, as are the great classical schools of England at the present time. The name free school, also in use in the mother country, was frequently employed.
There has been considerable discussion of the origin and meaning of this last-mentioned designation. The explanation which would connect it with the old Greek notion of liberal education, is without good historical foundation; though it is not unlikely that the title was sometimes employed by men of classical spirit with conscious reference to the ancient usage. Professor Basil Sollers has shown that it was commonly used merely " as a compound name indicating a certain grade of instruction, such as we would call `liberal,' without assigning to the adjective any descriptive force whatever."
The latest word in this discussion and perhaps the last, has been spoken by Mr. Leach. After his extended examination of the documents relating to schools affected by the Chantries Acts of Henry VIII. and Edward VI., he sets aside the various other interpretations which have been offered, and sums up his own conclusions in the following words : "It is impossible, if the phrase is regarded in its historical development . . . that it could have meant any-thing but what it was popularly supposed to mean —free from payment of tuition fees. Entrance fees, and all sorts of extras and luxuries, such as fires, light, candles, stationery, cleaning, whipping, might have to be paid for; but a free School meant undoubtedly a School in which, because of endowment, all, or some of the scholars, the poor or the inhabitants of the place, or a certain number, were freed from fees for teaching."
This is a clear and carefully guarded statement, and seems to be borne out by the documentary evidence presented. It should be remembered, however, that in our early colonial period, a " free school " was generally one in which school fees of one sort or another were regularly paid by all but the poorest pupils ; and was, moreover, a school of secondary grade, that is, a Latin grammar school.
A melancholy interest attaches to the first colonial grammar school of which we have any record. This school was decreed by the Virginia Company of London in 1621, and was to be located at Charles City, on the James River. The colony had before this time set hopefully about the establishment of a college. Liberal endowment was provided; but it was proposed that the erection of buildings be postponed, and that in the mean time a free school should be opened, which should prepare students for entrance upon the college studies. A special fund was provided for that purpose.
There is evidence of the interest then felt in Virginia, in the stories of the raising of this fund. One of these should be repeated here. The Rev. Patrick Copeland, returning to England on the ship Royall James, after a residence of some years in India, persuaded his fellow travellers to contribute the sum of £70 " towardes some good worke to be begunn in Virginia "— away on the other side of the globe. " An unknowne person" added £30 to this sum. The money was accepted by the Company with every evidence of interest in the project. " It beinge, there-fore, nowe taken into consideracon whither a Church or a Schoole was most necessarie, and might nearest agree to the intencons of the Donors : . . . they . . . conceaued it most fitt to resolue for the erectinge of a publique free schoole ... as that whereof both Church and Comon wealth take their originall foundacon and happie estate, this being also like to proue a work most acceptable unto the Planters, through want whereof they haue bin hitherto constrained to their great costs to send their Children from thence hither to be taught."
In honor of its first benefactors, the proposed institution was named the " East Indy School." "It was also thought fitt that this, as a Collegiate or free school, should have dependance upon the Colledge in Virginia wch should be made capable to receaue Schollers from the schoole into such Schollershipps and fellowshipps of said Colledge shall be endowed withall for the aduancement of schollers as they arise by degrees and deserts in learninge." The Company seems to have set apart one thousand acres of land for the endowment of the school, and to have provided an overseer and five other persons for the management of this estate.
It was proposed that "such as send their children to this schoole should glue some benevolence unto the schoolm, for the better encrease of his mayntenance ; " and " that the planters there be stirred up to put their helping hands towards the speedy buildinge of the said schoole," with the assurance that "those that exceed others in their bounty and Assistance hereunto shal be priuileged with the pre-ferment of their Children to the said schoole before others that shall be found less worthie." Immediate steps were taken to send out a schoolmaster. But these hopeful beginnings were interrupted by the terrible Indian massacre of 1622, in which more than three hundred of the colonists lost their lives, followed by the fall of the Virginia Company, in 1624. We have no certain evidence that the school was ever opened.'
The attempt made a little later to establish a free school in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, was more fortunate; and the resulting institution still lives and thrives, after more than a quarter millennium of honorable service. The Boston Latin School is a child of the town meeting. It was " born at sunrise," to use the words of Phillips Brooks, " dating its life from the days when an order of things, which is to exist for a long time in the world, is in the freshness of its youth." 2 The bare record which has come down to us does not tell much of the relation of the school to that order of things ; but this will appear in some measure as we get farther on.
On the " 13th of the 2d moneth 1635 " —the twenty-third of April, by our reckoning, five years after the settlement of Boston — the citizens of that town voted, " that our brother Philemon Pormont, shalbe intreated to become scholemaster, for the teaching and nourtering of children with us."' This brother is a shadowy figure in the dim annals of those times. There are several variant spellings of his name. It is not known to a certainty that he ever became the scholemaster of the town, as he was intreated, but it is probable that he opened the proposed school, and that he taught Latin in it from the start. Two or three years after the vote recorded above, he was concerned in the controversy stirred up by Mrs. Hutchinson ; and he was one of the party of Mrs. Hutchinson's adherents who went out into the wilds of New Hampshire, and founded the town of Exeter. Not many years later he was back in Boston.
The first indication that appears of any provision for the support of this school is found in the record of a " general meeting of the richer inhabitants," held August 12, 1636. At this meeting, a subscription was made "towards the maintenance of a free school master for the youth with us, Mr. Daniel Maud being now also chosen thereunto." The governor, Sir Harry Vane, contributed ten pounds, and the deputy governor, John Winthrop, an equal amount. There are forty-three other names on the list, and the sum total comes up to £40 6s. It is not known whether Mr. Maud was made assistant or successor to Philemon Pormont; probably the latter. He was a graduate of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. A garden plot was assigned to him the following year. The names of other early schoolmasters have been preserved, but they are little more than names down to the year 1670. Then begins the long and glorious reign of Ezekiel Cheever, and with it the real history of the school.
It has been claimed that the Rev. John Cotton, who came to New England in 1633, was the determining factor in the establishment of this school, and the claim would seem to have a pretty good foundation. Cotton had already made a great reputation as a preacher in the Boston of Old England, and there he had been closely identified with the management of the free grammar school established by Queen Mary in 1554. Immediately on his arrival in this country he took a leading part in the affairs of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. His name appears on the subscription list for the support of a schoolmaster, though with only a dash after it. In his will, he provided that, under certain contingencies, one-half of his estate should revert to Harvard College and the other half be devoted to the support of the free school in Boston (Massachusetts).'
Public provision was made at an early day for the support of the school. The General Court of Massachusetts had granted to the town of Boston several of the islands in Boston harbor. In 1641 the town set apart one of these, Deer Island, for the maintenance of the free school. In 1649, two others, Long and Spectacle Islands, were set apart for the same purpose. There are numerous entries in the town records referring to the rent of these islands. For a single example, in 1644, Deer Island was rented for three years at £7 a year, for the benefit of the school. Another public appropriation for the same object was made in 1649, when five hundred acres of land belonging to the town and situated at Braintree were disposed of by a perpetual lease, at a rental of forty shillings a year " for the school's use."
In addition to all this, we find occasional reference to bequests for the benefit of the school, from which it realized some small increase of its resources. It is not clear that tuition fees were charged in the earlier days ; but in 1679 a recommendation was passed that such patrons of the school as were able to pay something should make contributions for the encouragement of the master. At the same time it was expressly provided that Indian children should be taught gratis.
We find this institution marked, from these early beginnings, by two clear characteristics : It was a town school, and it prepared boys for admission to Harvard College. These facts have been pointed out with pride by eminent Latin School boys. "It may be merely a fancy of mine," says Edward Everett Hale, "that the destinies of Boston have been largely affected by the establishment here in 1635 of what they called a ` Grammar School,' and by the loyalty and pride by which that School has always been maintained. But I think this fancy will bear examination." " It represented," said Phillips Brooks in his anniversary address, " the fundamental idea of the town undertaking the education of her children." And again : "It was the classic culture in those earliest days that bound the Latin School and Harvard College close together. The college is young beside our venerable school. It did not come to birth till we were four years old. But when the college had been founded, it and the school became, and ever since have made, one system of continuous education."
Other Massachusetts towns, as if moved by a common impulse, soon took action similar to that of Boston. Charles-town, in June, 1636, agreed with Mr. William Witherell "to keep a school for a twelvemonth." He was to receive £40 for the year. Lovell's Island was granted to the town by the General Court, and was leased for the benefit of the school. In 1647, the rental of the island was five pounds, and fifteen pounds additional was raised by a town rate ; " also, the town's part of the Mistic weir for the School forever." In 1659, the General Court granted the town one thousand acres of land for the benefit of the grammar school? Ezekiel Cheever was master of this school from 1661 to 1670 ; and Benjamin Thompson, another celebrated teacher, was engaged in 1671, at thirty pounds per annum .
Of Ipswich, it is recorded that, in 1636, " A Grammar School is set up, but does not succeed." But in 1651, certain town lands were turned over to trustees for the benefit of a grammar school, and later the school was endowed with certain lands by Robert and William Paine. This is another of the spots where Ezekiel Cheever tarried and taught on his way to the Boston Latin School. He was master in Ipswich for ten years, 1651-1661, and here he built a barn and planted an orchard .3
In 1637, the Rev. John Fisk opened a school in Salem ; and in 1640, at " A generall towne meeting, yong Mr. Norris [was] chose by this assembly to teach schoole." This Mr. Norris seems to have taught for more than thirty years in Salem. The town was deeply interested in education. Even before a grammar school is mentioned in the records, reference is made to a project " for the building of a colledge ; " and later records show repeated appropriations in aid of Harvard College .
Dorchester, wonderfully enterprising town that it was in many ways, voted on the twentieth of May, 1639, old style, " that there shall be a rent of 201b a year for ever imposed vpon Tomsons Island . . . towards the mayntenance of a schoole in Dorchester. This rent of 20lb yearly to bee payd to such a schoole-master as shall vndertake to teach english, latine, and other tongues, and also writing. The said schoole-master to bee chosen from tyme to tyme pr the freemen." Thompson's Island was lost to the town in a suit at law in 1648 ; but the loss was made good by a grant of one thousand acres of land elsewhere, from the General Court, afterwards confirmed by the provincial government. In the mean time the school went on, and in 1645 the town introduced the innovation of a school committee, to have charge of its affairs. It was ordered, in town meeting, " that three able and sufficient men of the Plantation shalbe chosen to bee wardens or ourseers of the Schoole, who shall haue the Charge, ouer-sight and ordering thereof, and of all things Concerning the same."
"So far as is known," said Dr. William A. Mowry, in 1889, "this committee of ' Wardens or overseers ' was the first school committee appointed by any municipality in this country." 1 With somewhat less of certainty it is claimed by various writers that the school is the " first public school in the world supported by direct taxation or assessment on the inhabitants of the town."
At Newbury, in 1639, " foure akers of upland " and " sixe akers of salt marsh" were granted to Anthony Somerby " for his encouragement to keepe schoole for one yeare." In 1652 a town rate of twenty pounds a year was voted for the master, a school committee was appointed, and some sign given of a stirring of conscience in the matter of a school house. The next year the town rate was raised to twenty-four pounds, but it was decided that the school should be kept at the meeting house .
The early history of the grammar school at Cambridge, is the history of that famous master, Elijah Corlett. " The Edifice [of Harvard College]," according to that old pamphlet, New England's first fruits, "is very faire and comely within and without... . And by side of the Colledge a faire Grammar Schoole, for the training up of young Schollars, and fitting them for Academicall learning, that still as they are judged ripe, they may be received into the Colledge of this Schoole. Master Corlet is the Mr., who hath very well approved himselfe for his abilities, dexterity and painfulnesse in teaching and education of the youth under him."
This was in 1643. How much earlier Corlett was there we do not know, but he continued in the service till his death in February, 1686-7. He had few students, some of them Indians, and he was "very poor." But the General Court made a grant of two hundred, and later five hundred, acres of land for his relief,; and Cotton Mather joined his name with that of Ezekiel Cheever, in a couplet that has been much worn by repetition.' The General Court, more-over, coupled Cambridge with Charlestown in an act, already referred to, granting to each of those towns one thousand acres of land for the support of a grammar school.
" The Free Schoole in Roxburie " is one of the most important of these early foundations. It was established in 1645 under an agreement entered into by numerous citizens. The text of this old covenant has been preserved :
" Whereas, the Inhabitantes of Roxburie, in consideration. of their relligeous care of posteritie, have taken into consideration how necessarie the education of theire children in Literature will be to fitt them for public service, both in Churche and Commonwealthe, in succeeding ages. They therefore unanimously have consented and agreed to erect a free schoole in the said Towne of Roxhurie, and to allow Twenty pounds per annum to the Schoolemaster, to bee raised out of the Messuages and part of the Lands of the severall donors (Inhabitantes of the said Towne) in severall proportions as hereafter followeth under theire handes. And for the well ordering thereof they have chosen and elected some Feoffees who shall have power to putt in or remove the Schoolemaster, to see to the well ordering of the schoole and schoolars, to receive and pay the said twenty pounds per annum to the Schoolemaster, and to dispose of any other gifte or giftes which hereafter may or shall be given for the advancement of learning and education of children. . . .
"In consideration of the premises, the Donors hereafter ex-pressed for the severall proportions or annuities by them voluntarily undertaken and underwritten, Have given and granted and by these presents doe for themselves their heires and Asignees respectively hereby give and grant unto the present Feoffees . . . the severall rents and summes hereafter expressed under their handes. . To have and to hould receive and enjoy the said annual rents or summes to the only use of the Free Schools in Roxburie,"
So run the opening paragraphs.
The half-public, half-private character of this movement is noteworthy. By mutual agreement, a large part, perhaps all, of the householders of the town imposed upon their property a permanent burden, much in the nature of a public tax, for the support of a school. In 1666 it was proposed that the whole town as then constituted " come in and join in this work;" but a town meeting, held to consider this proposal, was productive of much talk " and nothing done."
A teacher was employed for the year 1650 — the first of which there is record — at a salary of twenty-two pounds. The school received various gifts from time to time. Mr. Thomas Bell, who had been a freeman of the town, but had returned to London after some years in the colony, died in 1671, leaving to a board of trustees nearly two hundred acres in Roxbury "to and for the maintenance of a schoolemaster and free schoole for the teaching and instructing of poore mens children at Roxbury." This valuable endowment was doubtless intended for the benefit of the school already established, and was so employed.
John Eliot, the Apostle to the Indians, was teaching elder of the church in Roxbury, and one of the first trustees of the Bell endowment. He was one of the most zealous promoters of education in the colony. Cotton Mather wrote of him :
"A Grammar-School he would always have, upon the Place, whatever it cost him ; and he importun'd all other Places to have the like. I can't forget the Ardour with which I once heard him pray, in a Synod of these Churches, which met at Boston to consider, How the Miscarriages which were among us might be prevented; I say with what Fervour he uttered an Expression to this purpose, Lord, for Schools every where among us ! That our Schools may flourish ! That every Member of this Assembly may go home and procure a good School to be encouraged in the Town where he lives ! That before we die, we may be so happy as to see a good School encouraged in every Plantation of the Country. God so blessed his Endeavors, that Roxbury could not live quietly without a Free School in the Town ; and the Issue of it has been one thing, which has made me almost put the Title of Scola Illustris upon that little Nursery ; that is, that Roxbury has afforded more Scholars, first for the College, and then for the Publick, than any Town of its Bigness, or if I mistake not, of twice its Bigness, in all New England."
So these seven or eight little pioneer towns got their grammar schools started within the first sixteen years that the Massachusetts Bay Colony was in existence. After this the General Court of the Colony took a hand in the movement, and provided that all of the larger towns should do what had been so well done by these more advanced communities. The account of such colonial action belongs to another part of this story.
There is a fine sense of free initiative in the way those early towns set about the erection of schools. No two were wholly alike in the action taken; yet all agreed in the determination to have schools — the best that they could make. One misses the real human interest of these Puri-tan undertakings, in failing to see the creative joy which possessed the Puritan spirit. No artist of any age has painted his picture or shaped his statue with more of the sheer delight of making than these sombre men enjoyed in establishing a new civil and ecclesiastical polity, in organizing new towns and setting up new schools.
They were men of a renaissance which had not yet spent its force. Every renaissance is a new-born devotion to the standards of excellence set up in some former age, when our civilization rose, wave-like, to some crest of perfected achievement. What we call The Renaissance brought forth a new enthusiasm .f or the literatures of old Greece and Rome. But the renaissance led by Luther and Calvin brought forth a no less devoted enthusiasm for the old Hebrew and Christian literatures. If the pagan renaissance was more beautiful, the Christian renaissance was more moral. The two were divergent enough at many points. Our colonial Puritans were often neglectful of beauty ; but they were capable of that same glorious inconsistency with which the Church in other formative epochs has made the pagan world her schoolmaster, to bring men to Christ. So they set up schools that were at once Christian and classical. Like all true men of the renaissance they wrought, to the best of their ability, in the spirit of a golden age long past ; but with much unsuspected influence from the age in which they lived, and with open and honest endeavor to build for ages yet to come. And like all makers from the beginning, they looked upon their work and saw that it was good.
It is not to be supposed that the establishment of schools by towns was an altogether new thing in the history of the world. The sense of municipal responsibility for the sup-port of schools may be found well back in the middle ages. The early appearances of this spirit in Scotland, and in the German cities, have been brought to light in a number of scholarly investigations. It has been shown, too, that a like spirit was present in the old English towns. If the ancient Germanic communities did not set up schools, they did provide for the keeping of the cows ; and we find these two interests jostling each other in the early history of Boston.
It would be tedious to go on telling much of the early history of one colonial school after another; but enough must be told to show how the beginnings were made in the several colonies, in order that we may catch some general view of the relation of this type of education to the colonial life. And next, Connecticut, which stands in the closest spiritual sympathy with Massachusetts.
We meet Ezekiel Cheever at the very beginning, in New Haven Colony. At a general court, held "the 25th of 12th Mon : 1641, [March 7, 1642, by our reckoning] . . . It is ordered thatt a free schoole shall be sett vp in this towne, and or pastor Mr. Davenport, together wth the magistrates shall consider whatt yearly allowance is meete to be given to itt out of the como stock of the towne, and allso whatt rules and orders are meet to be observed in and about the same." Mr. Cheever was made master of this school; and here he continued until 1650, when he removed to Ipswich, doubtless because of a church censure passed upon him in 1649 on account of "his contradicting, stiff, and proud frame of spirit."
Of the remaining four towns included within the New Haven Colony, Guilford was not later than 1646 in establishing a school ; and by 1657 Milford had " made provision in a comfortable way." It does not appear whether these schools were of a higher grade, or merely for beginners. But in 1660, their means not being adequate to the maintenance of a grammar school in each plantation, the towns united in the establishment of a " colony grammar school." This school continued for only two years.
In both Hartford and New Haven there is some evidence of the existence of schools as early as 1639. Certain it is that Hartford in 1642 made an appropriation to a town school. The town records show that, December 6, "It is agreed that thurte pownd a yeer shall be seatled vpon the scoole by the towne for efer." Furthermore, " At a ginerall Toune metting in Apriell 1643 It was ordered yt mr Androwes Sholld teach the chilldren in the Scoole one yere nextt en-sewing from the 25 of march, 1643, & yt he Shall haue for his paynes 16' & tharefore the Tounsmen Shall go & inquier who will ingeage them Selues to Send thare childeren & all yt do So Shall pay for one Querter at the leaste & for more if thay do send them after the pportion of twenty shilings the yeare." The town made provision for those whose parents were unable to pay ; " or if The ingagmentes coin not to Sixtene poundes then thay Shall pay wt is wanting at the Tonnes Charges." 1 It does not appear why the town, in selecting Master Andrews, receded from the earlier vote settling thirty pounds a year forever on the school.
We come now to the story of the Hopkins bequest, which greatly furthered the development of secondary education in Connecticut, and to a less degree in Massachusetts. Ed-ward Hopkins, a London merchant of large business capacity, was son-in-law to Theophilus Eaton, and a close personal friend of the Rev. John Davenport. He came to New England, and was among the earliest settlers of Hartford. Evidently he was a man of very high character, and personally likable. He was repeatedly elected governor of Connecticut Colony ; and in his private affairs he was prospered, as frontier prosperity went. Family concerns recalled him to England, where he was honored with important offices under the commonwealth. It had been his intention to return to America, but this was prevented by his untimely death in March, 1657-8. The property which he had acquired in New England he bequeathed to New England. A portion of it went to individuals, but the greater part was committed to trustees, " in full assurance of their trust and faithfulness in disposing of it according to the true intent and purpose of me, the said Edward Hopkins, which is, to give some encouragement in those foreign plantations for the breeding up of hopeful youths, both at the grammar school and College, for the public service of the country in future times." The trustees were four in number : two New Haven men and two of Connecticut Colony. The controlling power in this board was undoubtedly the Rev. John Davenport of New Haven.
It was, perhaps, the dearest wish of John Davenport's heart to see not only a grammar school but a college as well established in that little frontier hamlet of New Haven. And the Hopkins bequest lent new hope to this project. But the greatness of such a scheme did not fit the straitened circumstances of the little colony, and it was reluctantly given up. Some part of the income from the trust fund was bestowed on the colony grammar school during its short career.
A great church quarrel at Hartford, which affected the whole public policy of Connecticut Colony, was all this time causing delay in the final settlement of the bequest. Both of the Hartford trustees were in the party of the opposition in this quarrel, and that party contemplated pulling out of Connecticut and going off to make a settlement elsewhere. This plan was finally carried out, and the new settlement was established at Hadley. At length, in 1664, an agreement with reference to the Hopkins matter was reached and the trust was distributed as follows : £400 was given to Hartford, £412 to New Haven, and £308 to Hadley, for the support of schools, and £100 to Harvard College.
Governor Hopkins had made a separate bequest of £500, which should come into the hands of the same trustees for the same purpose, on the death of his wife. That unfortunate woman had been given to much reading and writing, and her husband, " being very loving and tender of her," as the elder Winthrop remarked, had indulged her in these unwomanly occupations. As a result, her mind had become deranged ; and it was her further misfortune to outlive her gentle husband more than forty years. By that time, the original trustees were all dead and gone. Their successors seem to have made some feeble attempt to secure the five hundred pounds, but nothing came of the effort. Then the new Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, which was setting up schools in the colonies, sought to have it en-trusted to them. At this stage of proceedings, the authorities of Harvard College took energetic measures which led to the following result : That a decree in Chancery was secured, in 1712, making over this fund, with accrued interest, to a new board of trustees, for the joint benefit of Harvard College and the Cambridge Grammar School. To this day, Connecticut men speak with admiration, not unmixed with other feeling, of the successful strategy which captured this prize for Cambridge.1
The administration of the original Hopkins fund may be described in few words. The share assigned to New Haven was devoted to the support of a grammar school, the trustees having made it over to the town for that purpose. The Hopkins Grammar School at New Haven has had a highly useful career, now nearly two hundred and forty years in length?
Hartford voted, in 1664, to place the administration of its portion of the fund in the hands of a committee of five. This committee had full discretionary power, but the town reserved the right to limit them by instructions from time to time. A free school was accordingly established on the Hopkins foundation in 1665. During a large part of its earlier history, this seems to have been hardly more than a primary school.
In 1669, the town of Hadley, in accordance with the proposal of Mr. Goodwin, one of the original trustees, committed the management of her portion of the fund to a standing committee of five, who were empowered to fill vacancies in their own number. Membership in this committee was no sinecure, for the town had ideas of its own and sought to drive the committee in ways that it would not go. There had been a school in Hadley from 1665, for the benefit of which the town had set apart "two little meadows, next beyond the brook." This endowment also came under the control of the committee of five. The property was improved by building a mill alongside of the brook ; and that mill ground out a grist of trouble for the committee and the town. In spite of everything, a classical school of fair grade seems to have been maintained during the greater part of the colonial period.
In Rhode Island, one hundred acres were set apart by vote of the colony, in 1640, " for a school for encouragement of the poorer sort, to train up their youth in learning." This school was located at Newport, and seems to have been in existence down to 1774. Similar provision was made in 1663 for the town of Providence .
Grammar school education in Virginia did not go down once for all with the failure of the East India School. Benjamin Syrns, a planter of that colony, is distinguished as "the first of emigrant Englishmen to bequeath an educational endowment after the pattern set by English philanthropists in the ages before him." By his will, made February 12, 1634-5, he left two hundred acres of land, together with a herd of eight milch cows, to found a free school in Elizabeth County. The land thus devised was located on the Poquoson, a small river flowing into Chesapeake Bay, a mile or less below the mouth of York River. The school was intended for the instruction of the children of the parishes of Elizabeth City and Kiquotan. The Virginia Assembly, in March, 1642-3, passed an act confirming this grant. One writing from Virginia in 1647 speaks in terms of enthusiasm of this foundation, and represents the herd as having then increased to forty milch cows. Thomas Eaton, probably at some time previous to 1646, endowed another school with 250 acres of land in this same region, "at the head of Back river within a mile of the wading place, joining to the beaver dams." This grant received legislative sanction in 1730. The Syms and Eaton endowments were finally consolidated, and the income therefrom is now devoted to the support of the Hampton High School.
Capt. John Moon, by will proved in 1655, gave four cows for educational and charitable purposes, and a free school seems to have arisen on this foundation in Newport parish, Isle of Wight County. Henry King, in 1668, bequeathed one hundred acres of land in the same county "for the maintainance of a free school." Henry Peasley, in 1675, endowed a free school in Gloucester County, for the benefit of Abingdon and Ware parishes. This foundation consisted of six hundred acres of land, ten cows, and one breeding mare. Several slaves were added later by other donors.
No account of secondary education in Virginia could possibly pass over the many-times-quoted saying of Governor Berkeley. The Lord Commissioners of Foreign Plantations, in 1671, had propounded to him several inquiries, among them being the following : " What course is taken about the instructing the people within your government in the Christian religion ? " To this the rough-spoken governor replied, " The same that is taken in England out of towns ; every man according to his own ability instructing his children. ... But, I thank God, there are no free schools and printing, and I hope we shall not have these hundred years ; for learning has brought disobedience, and heresy, and sects into this world, and printing has divulged them- and libels against the best government. God keep us from both I "
Of the many commentaries on this report which have appeared, perhaps the most sane and suggestive is that offered by the editor of the William and Mary College Quarterly. "The facts," he says, "prove that Berkeley could not have meant that there were no schools in the colony, or no schools giving gratuitous instruction (as is understood now by the term free). As ` free school' then signified a school affording a liberal education, perhaps he did not choose to regard the Syms or Eaton school as coming up to this standard, since they aspired to little beyond teaching the `three R's.' He had in mind such a school as Eton or Harrow, or the colleges at the universities in England. This supposition is confirmed by the fact that, eleven years before (in 1660), the colonial Assembly had passed an act for the founding of `a college and free schoole,' to which object Berkeley, the council, and the members of the General Assembly all subscribed. This free school had not materialized as expected, and it was certainly its failure that was uppermost in Berkeley's mind when he said, in 1671, that there were no free schools in Virginia."
The hoped-for college was finally established by charter obtained from William and Mary in February, 1692-3. This was first opened as a grammar school, and so continued for many years. Then it expanded into a highly useful and influential college. The real history of secondary and higher education in Virginia dates from this foundation, which was of incalculable value to the higher life of the southern colonies.
It appears, then, that in spite of plantation life, so generally unfavorable to the building up of schools, there were lovers of learning in our oldest colony, and the seeds of literary culture were planted there. Yet Mr. Eggleston is justified in his shrewd comment on the Virginia situation : " The College of William and Mary did not get under way until the last years of the seventeenth century ; there was no bishop on this side of the sea to induct men into holy orders; the primitive statecraft of the colony needed no other tongue than the vernacular, aided occasionally by Indian interpreters, so that the free Latin school of early Virginia was a short ladder with nothing but empty space at the top of it. Latin was studied merely as a gentleman's accomplishment."
The West India Company, as early as 1629, issued a decree requiring the patroons and colonists of New Nether-land to "endeavor to find out ways and means whereby they may supply a minister and schoolmaster." The establishment of schools and the appointment of schoolmasters seem to have depended on joint action of the Company and the Classis (P'resbytery) of Amsterdam. An elementary school was established in 1633 in connection with the church at New Amsterdam .2 In 1658 we find an effort making to secure a school of higher grade. The West India Company first suggested such a step to the Director General of the colony. Then the burgomasters and schepens sent back a petition, in which, after some reference to " the great augmentation of the youth in the Province," it is represented that "the burghers and inhabitants are . . . inclined to have their children instructed in the most useful languages, the chief of which is the Latin tongue ; and as there are no means to do so here, the nearest being at Boston, in New England, a great distance from here, ... we . . . humbly request your Honors would be pleased to send us a suitable person for master of a Latin school, . . . not doubting but were such a person here, many of the neighboring places would send their children hither to be instructed in that tongue ; hoping that, increasing from year to year, it may finally attain to an Academy, whereby this place arriving at great splendor, your Honors shall have the reward and praise, next to God the Lord who will grant his blessing to it."
The petition was granted, and Alexander Carolus Curtius, a Lithuanian schoolmaster, was engaged for the new school, at a salary of five hundred florins a year. Curtius appeared before the burgomasters July 4, 1659. The city promptly added two hundred florins a year to his salary, and after some haggling about further additions, the school was begun. But all did not go smoothly. The new rector, for so he was called, got into a lawsuit, which turned on the question whether he was to pay five beavers or only two beavers and two blankets for a hog that he had bought. The burgomasters reprimanded him for taking one beaver per quarter from the boys, instead of the six guilders they had authorized. The parents complained that there was no proper discipline in his school. The boys " beat each other and tore the clothes from each others' backs." The rector was able to retort that " his hands were tied, as some of the parents forbade him punishing their children." But at last, in 1661, he was dismissed, and the Rev. 2Egidius Luyck was installed in his place.
The new master was a man of a different sort. He soon brought the attendance in the school up to twenty, two of that number coming from Virginia and two from Fort Orange (Albany). After the capture of the city by the English, this school is said to have been continued for about eight years. There was no public Latin school on Manhattan Island thereafter, and probably none in the colony of New York, until the following century.
During the governorship of Thomas Dongan, however, the Jesuit Fathers Harvey and Harrison opened an institution known as the New York Latin School, which probably flourished for several years. It came to an end with the fall of King James and of the Roman Catholic governor, in 1688; and no other Catholic school appears in New York till after the Revolutionary War.
We find reference to a private school of this grade, kept by Mr. David Jamison, who had been liberally educated in Scotland. He appeared in New York as a "redemptioner," probably some time in the sixteen-eighties. His services were secured by some of the chief men of the place, who " set him to teach a lattin school, which he attended for some time with great industry and success" Jamison later rose to colonial distinction, becoming Secretary of the Province, and Chief Justice of New Jersey.
Plymouth Colony did not make its beginning till 1670, when the general court set apart the income from the Cape Cod fisheries — mackerel, bass, and herring — for the support of a free school. In accordance with this provision, a school was established at Plymouth .
The strange medley of nationalities and religions in Pennsylvania gave promise of interesting educational developments. This promise was fulfilled in later days, but the beginnings were made painfully. The proprietary government proposed at the outset to " erect and order all public schools." But this advanced position was soon abandoned.
Even before the grant to William Penn, there were Quakers in the territory which was to become Pennsylvania, and some of these were taking thought for education beyond that of elementary grade. George Fox, as early as 1667, advised the setting up of a school for boys at Waltham Abbey, in Essex County. Here three years later, Christopher Taylor, a Friend, who is said to have been a profound scholar, opened a classical school. He was, however, soon brought before a magistrate on the charge of teaching with-out a certificate from the Bishop of London, after which he returned to England. At a later date we find him receiving a grant of five thousand acres of land from the Proprietary, and setting up a school on Tinicum, alias College Island," where he died in 1686. Mr. Wickersham says of this Tinicum Island school, established in 1684, that it "was without doubt the first school of high grade in Pennsylvania."
It is said that William Penn, in 1689, directed the President of the Council of Pennsylvania to set up a public grammar school in Philadelphia, promising to incorporate it at some later time. A school was established in that year by leading Friends, which was open to children of all denominations. George Keith was called from Freehold, New Jersey, to be the master. He was a Friend, a learned man, who had had experience as a schoolmaster in the mother country. Later he turned against the Quakers and became the first American agent of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. His salary as master in Philadelphia was fifty pounds a year, together with all the profits of the school, and a house was provided for his family. He was to receive a much higher salary the second year; but he met with indifferent success, and was succeeded at the end of the first year by his usher, Thomas Makin. Something like forty years after his first appearance in the school, we find Thomas Makin writing a Latin poem descriptive of Philadelphia. In 1733, then an old man and very poor, he fell from a wharf into the Delaware River, and was drowned before he could be rescued.
The school seems to have been managed for some years by a few citizens, without incorporation. A charter was granted by Governor Markham, in 1697, which cannot now be found. The institution was rechartered by William Penn in 1701, in 1708, and again in 1711. It was designated as "The Public School founded by Charter in the town and county of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania." This name is commonly untangled by calling it the " William Penn Charter School." The overseers were given large powers for the establishment of branch schools of lower grade, and through several generations they conducted such schools for the benefit of the poor of Philadelphia.'
While Sir Francis Nicholson was governor of Virginia, he not only encouraged and furthered the establishment of William and Mary College, but gave certain lots and houses of his own for the endowment of another free school in that colony. When that active official became governor of Maryland, he displayed in his new field' a like zeal for religion and education. At his recommendation an act was passed by the colonial assembly providing for the support of clergy-men of the Church of England, and so virtually extending the English Establishment to the colony. This step was soon followed by the passage of an act, also recommended by the governor, " for the erecting of free schools."
This act was first passed in 1694, but was not approved until passed in amended form in 1696. In its final shape, it provided " that for the propagation of the gospel, and the education of the youth of this province in good letters and manners, that a certain place or places, for a free school or schools, or place of study of Latin, Greek, writing, and the like, consisting of one master, one usher, and one writing master or scribe, to a school, and one hundred scholars, more or less, according to the ability of the said free school, may be made, erected, founded, propagated and established." For the management of these schools, a corporation was formed, to be known as the Rectors, Governors, Trustees, and Visitors of the Free Schools of Maryland. The corporation was authorized to make all necessary orders and rules for the government of schools ; but such rules must not only be in accord with the laws of England and of Maryland, but also with " the canons and constitutions of the Church of England." The Archbishop of Canterbury was made chancellor of these schools.
It was provided that as soon as one free school had been set up and an income of one hundred and twenty pounds a year secured for it, the Rectors, Governors, etc., should proceed to set up a similar school in another county ; and so on till every county in the province should be provided. The governor, members of the assembly, and others promptly contributed their various amounts of tobacco for this laud-able undertaking ; and duties were levied on specified imports and exports for the benefit of the schools : on liquors, furs, bacon, etc. The outcome of these efforts was King William's School at Annapolis, which eventually developed into St. John's College. The original board of trustees got no further than the establishment of this one school, but even so much was great gain for the colony.
It must not be supposed, however, that this was the earliest effort in the direction of secondary education that was made in Maryland. Ralph Crouch, we are told, " opened schools for teaching humanities " in the colony between the years 1639 and 1659. Mr. Crouch was closely associated with the Jesuits, and after his return to Europe was admitted to their order. A priest, writing in 1681, tells of "a school for humanities," opened four years before that time, in which some of the native youth had made good progress.
The facts presented in this chapter will give some indication of the various ways in which beginnings were made in the establishment of grammar schools in several of the colonies during the seventeenth century. Thus far we have been chiefly concerned with separate schools. An account of the organization of general systems of education in some of the colonies is reserved for the next chapter.
The general condition of these colonial schools, and the nature and scope of the instruction given in them, must be reserved for still later consideration. But one or two of their more striking characteristics may be mentioned here. The schools were generally established with distinct reference to preparation for the more advanced studies of the college. Sometimes they prepared for a college only hoped-for as yet. But in New England they were tributary to Harvard, and later to Yale as well. In Virginia and Mary-land they led up to the College of William and Mary, when at last that college was established. Other colleges did not come into existence till the second great wave of interest in things of the higher life swept over the colonies.
The college and the grammar school, then, were parts of one educational system, though not bound together in one system of administration. In both alike the ideal of education was an ideal of public service. They were established to train up young men " for the service of God, in church and commonwealth." And the form of public service which was uppermost in the minds of their founders was the Christian ministry. Even preparation for the other learned professions and for political life might be left to take care of itself, but it was felt to be essential that a body of educated ministers should be trained up for the public offices of religion. We shall not understand our educational development if we fail to see that modern systems of education, like much else in our modern civilization, are deeply rooted in the religious life of two and three centuries ago.
The way in which these modern systems have grown up out of that ecclesiastical soil is one of the most interesting subjects with which educational history has to do. Some of the beginnings of this development will be noted in the chapter next following.