The Prescotian Webzine

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Gilbert Latham, Founder of Prescot Grammar School
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An important further connection is suggested when one Edmonde Latham occurs as next of kin and overseer of the will of Gilbert Latham, archdeacon of Man and founder of Prescot Grammar School. Gilbert, who graduated at Cambridge in 1511–12 and was thus probably born in the 1490s, took his M.A. in 1515–16 and was a proctor in 1517–18.

From at least 1526–1535 Gilbert was one of the six prebendaries of the college of secular priests at Stoke-by-Clare in Suffolk; holding the third stall on the south side of the choir. Stoke was a small, but wealthy foundation, with a prior, six prebendaries, eight vicars and five lay conducts: by the reign of Henry VIII it was in the patronage of the queen consort. By 1526 Cardinal Wolsey already saw the college and its large income as ripe for dissolution, but Queen Katherine as patron had already taken steps to protect the college at the time of the bishop’s personal visitation at Stoke, which began on 12 July 1526.

An important further connection is suggested when one Edmonde Latham occurs as next of kin and overseer of the will of Gilbert Latham, archdeacon of Man and founder of Prescot Grammar School. Gilbert, who graduated at Cambridge in 1511–12 and was thus probably born in the 1490s, took his M.A. in 1515–16 and was a proctor in 1517–18.

From at least 1526–1535 Gilbert was one of the six prebendaries of the college of secular priests at Stoke-by-Clare in Suffolk; holding the third stall on the south side of the choir. Stoke was a small, but wealthy foundation, with a prior, six prebendaries, eight vicars and five lay conducts: by the reign of Henry VIII it was in the patronage of the queen consort. By 1526 Cardinal Wolsey already saw the college and its large income as ripe for dissolution, but Queen Katherine as patron had already taken steps to protect the college at the time of the bishop’s personal visitation at Stoke, which began on 12 July 1526.

Gilbert Latham and the prior (Dr William Greene) were the only members absent: they had been cited to appear and it emerged that Greene had incited his colleagues to stay away. During the visitation, a letter arrived announcing that Wolsey (or his commissary) would also carry out a visitation of the college, clearly with the intention of finding serious fault: this visitation was scheduled for 1 August. Wolsey’s letter perhaps impelled the bishop to act severely. Greene was ordered to appear before the bishop at Norwich on 20 August and when he failed to comply, he and Gilbert Latham were both ‘pronounced contumacious’.

Greene, nevertheless, remained prior until 1529 (when he was succeeded by Robert Shorton). On 14 August 1535 Thomas Cromwell wrote to Shorton asking for Gilbert Latham to be restored to his college dividends. Shorton refused, alleging that the canons had only spent 4 on repairs in a year and a half and that Gilbert had got 17 into his own hands: ‘this cannot be suffered’. Shorton died on 17 October 1535 and was succeeded as dean by Matthew Parker, who carried out reforms in 1537 in the hope of saving the college from
dissolution: it was nevertheless suppressed in 1548.

By 1 January 1535/6 Gilbert’s ‘kinsman’ Hugh Latham (who was in the earl of Derby’s service) was writing to his cousin Thomas Lathom at Grays Inn and to Thomas’ brother Gilbert, by now master of St Katherine’s hospital, near the Tower of London, seeking their good offices in defending him to Cromwell: he stood accused of predicting the dissolution of Woburn Abbey, while on a journey to Lord Derby’s Middlesex seat at Colham. Gilbert’s mother ‘and all your friends in our country’ were ‘in good health’.

On 26 March 1537 the king granted Gilbert exemption from payment of first fruits on the annual value of the lands of St Katherine’s. Gilbert had been granted custody of the hospital lands by ‘the Queen consort Joan’ (Jane Seymour, mother of the future Edward VI) and she had persuaded the king that ‘the said hospital is too much burdened with the support of poor men and women to be able to sustain such payments’.

Gilbert made his will on 4 October 1544: in it he left money for a priest to sing at Prescot (the parish church of Whiston) for his father and mother and provided for a brother Thomas Lathom, a cousin Hugh Lathom (whose four daughters received 10 each for their marriages), one Margery Lathom and Elizabeth Traves, his sister’s daughter (20 for her marriage). Other relatives mentioned were Margery Laylande and Elynor Gye. Edmonde Latham received 5 and was appointed one of the overseers. William Latham who died in 1545 asking to be buried at Stoke by Clare and mentioning ‘Master Gilbert Latham’ twice in his will, was perhaps a brother. William’s wife was Blanche. He was doubtless the ‘M. [?Magister] Lathum buried at Stoke on 29 September 1545.

In 1545 John Latham, son and heir of William was tenant of all the lands in Prescot which were his father and grandfather's.

On 2 March 1546, Gilbert was still ‘master, keeper and governor’ of St Katherine’s, when an inventory was
taken. He was succeeded on 2 November 1549 by Sir Francis Flemyng, a layman. Gilbert seems to have
died at Stoke?

Gilbert Latham’s will was not to be proved until 1552. It transpired that he had not chosen his executors well, as it was later alleged that one had died and that the other had ?gathered together’ as much as possible of the deceased’s goods (which amounted in total to 1000) and gone overseas. What remained was then seized by Gilbert’s successor as ?parson of Swanscombe’ against whom Edmond Lathum (as the will overseer and Gilbert’s cousin) petitioned in chancery, claiming to be a ?poor scholar dwelling aboute Oxford’.

Read More about the Tudor Lathams here >>>>>


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