The Prescotian Webzine

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A history master at the school 1926-1956 and principal author of 'The History old Prescot Grammar School 1544-1944' F.A. Bailey, MA contributed the following article to the Prescotian, 1937

SOME RECENTLY-DISCOVERED SCHOOLWARDENS' ACCOUNTS

Several years ago, the present writer, whilst investigating the contents of a chest in the vestry of Prescot Parish Church, came upon some tattered and mildewed paper manuscnpts which, to his surprise and gratification, proved to be the accounts of the Schoolwardens (or Governors) of P.G.S., dated two and a half centuries ago (1678-88). By the kindness of Canon J P.W Lovett, the papers were at once placed in the custody of the Headmaster, since when they have been carefully repaired by expert hands and provided with a handsome binding. No account of these records has as yet been published, so the following brief notes on their character and contents may be of interest.

The Schoolwardens were the custodians of the endowments of the School. They appointed and paid the Schoolmaster, and defrayed any other necessary expenses. They themselves were appointed annually at a Parish or Vestry Meeting held on St Luke's Day (18th October). To another such meeting in due course they presented their accounts for approval. The Schootwardens in 1668 were: Edward Ogle "esquire;' of Whiston Hail, Edward Goodall, vicar of Prescot, Henry Lathom, "gentleman" of Mossborough Hall, (Rainford) and Daniel Lawton, "gentleman.," the Prescot attorney.

The accounts themselves consist largely of lists of persons paying rent for houses and lands belonging to the School, or interest on School "stocks" and funds. Among the rents wrer 2 shillings a year payable for "Nell Milner's Croft" in Fall Lane (now Derby Street), ground apparently named after one Ellen Milner, who lived in Prescot as long ago as 1514; 2s. 6d. for the "playhouse" near the eastern end of Eccleston Street; 1s. for "tel cockehouse." where the once-popular sport of cockfighting took place; 2s. for four cottages in Snig Lane (now Sewell Street); and 1s. for a cottage by the "cookestool hole," or ducking-pit. By a custom peculiar to, Prescot, the rents of alt cottages newly built on the "waste" land of the manor were granted to the school.

Of the everyday life of the School, the boys in attendance and the subjects taught, these accounts say nothing. In 1678, thirty shillings was spent on "repaires of the Schoole by Glasier, Mason, Dauber, etc." This seems to indicate that the School building which then occupied the site of the present G.P.O. in Church Street, was of the half timbered type once very common in the locality, the "daub" or tempered clay being used for filling in between the posts of the timber framework. The following item is recorded in 1680, "Payd Mr. Lodge, the Schoolmaster for One Year, 7 pounds." This meagre allowance was no doubt supplemented by pupils' fees.

Behind these accounts there is a "story" of a lawsuit which had deprived the School of a large part of its former endowments. The history of this episode has not as yet bean fully investigated, so no attempt will be made, to relate it here. Suffice it to say that the Schoohwardens were faced with a rather serious position, and were making every effort to enquire into and secure all the revenues to which the School might be entitled. This was doubtless why the accounts of these years were afterwards preserved, although most of the other earlier records relating to the School have perished.


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