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A History of Giggleswick School by Bell

Of true religion and godly conversation


Governors bound themselves to choose from time to time men of true and sound religion, fearing God and of honest conversation. In spite of these somewhat grandiose qualifications it was found necessary to make a second regulation by which each Governor on his election should protest and swear before the Vicar of Giggleswick and the rest of the Governors to be true and faithful towards the School and its emoluments and profits and not to purloin or take away any of the commodities of the same, whereby it might be impoverished or impaired in any respect.

The third paragraph provided for the election of a new governor in case of a vacancy occurring through removal from the district or "if any of them be convicted of any notorious cryme:" in his place was to be chosen a godly, discreet, and sober person. Once, at least, every half-year they were to visit the School and examine the labours of the Master and Usher and also the proceedings of the Scholars in good literature. If any fault was to be found in the observation of the Statutes on the part of the Master or Usher or Scholars, the Governors had the right, of admonishing the offenders and if after admonition twice given amendment was not made, they could remove them. On the other hand the control of the Master over the Scholars was not absolute, but was shared with the Governors.

Finally they were to see to the revenues of the School, and to pay stipends to

the Master and Usher, "neither shall they make any wilful waste of the profits but be content with a moderate allowance, when they are occupied about the business of the said School."


The Master was to be a man fearing God, of true religion and godly conversation, not given to dicing, carding, or any other unlawful games. These Statutes were the outcome of custom and it is not unreasonable to suppose that while such general expressions as true religion and godly conversation represented the national feeling of the time, particular prohibitions of dicing and carding had reference to special weaknesses of the contemporary Master. Thus at Dronfield in 1579 the Master was particularly enjoined not to curse or revile his scholars.

The three following clauses refer to the instruction of the Scholars in godly Authors for Christian Religion, and other meet and honest Authors for more Knowledge of the Liberal Sciences. He shall once every week catechize his Scholars in the Knowledge of the Christian Religion and other godly Duties to the end their Obedience in Life may answer to their proceedings in godly Literature.

He shall not teach them any unsavoury or Popish doctrines or infect their young wits with heresies. He shall not use in the School any language to his Scholars which be of riper years and proceedings but only the Latin, Greek or Hebrew, nor shall he willingly permit the use of the English Tongue to them which are or shall be able to speak Latin. These are regulations typical of the century and we shall return to them more fully on a later page.

Giggleswick was a free school but it was clearly not intended to be only a local school, for the Master was to teach indifferently, that is to say, impartially, the Poor as well as the Rich, and the Parishioner as well as the Stranger, and, as they shall profit in learning, so he shall prefer them, without respect of persons.

Vacations were to consist of two weeks at Easter, three weeks at Christmas, and three weeks to be by the said Master appointed when he thinketh it most convenient for his Scholars to be exercised in writing under a Scrivener for their better exercise in that faculty; provided that he could also upon any convenient occasion grant an intermission from study, in any afternoon, whensoever he seeth the same expedient or necessary. He himself could not be absent at any other time above six days, in any one quarter without the special license of the Governors.

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