Old Monovians Association; History of the School

George Monoux - Transition Period


There are no minutes of the Grammar School earlier than 1815, but 1 find that the Rev. F. Parsons was appointed almspriest in possession of the School on April 29th, 1819. In a short time the trustees found that as Mr. Parsons "neither instructed the boys himself . . . . nor employed proper assistance for that purpose," they would be under the necessity of dismissing him unless he made improvement. Evidently he did not make improvement, for in the following year the Rev. James Foulkes Roberts was appointed as almspriest and schoolmaster at a salary of £65 per year, and for a period of sixteen years he was a thorn in the side of the Vicar and his co-trustees. Mr. Roberts put a queer construction on the nature of his duties, for, when questioned as to his actual work, he said that " he attended the school on an average once a week," that "the education of the children was efficient but not by himself," and that "he superintended and gave some instruction." He was a most recalcitrant pedagogue, and I should think no master was ever more often dismissed by the trustees and then re-appointed on promising to do better. After one dismissal, Mr. Roberts waited on the trustees and said " he did not understand he was to attend the whole of the school hours, but after September 29th he would attend from the period the boys went into school till when they came out." He did not keep his promise, and then it is recorded, "In consequence of general neglect of duty by Mr. Roberts, the situation of schoolmaster be declared vacant." He did not resign, but secured another lease of office for a time. It was during the headmastership of Mr. Roberts that the Charity Commissioners made their enquiry into the School, and they report that there were only five boys on the foundation, three of them brothers, and the other two the master's sons. It appears that Mr. Roberts had had no boys under Maynard's Charity, and but few under Monoux's. Mr. Roberts taught Latin and Greek to every scholar, but made an annual charge of six guineas to each scholar for instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, history, and mathematics. The unsatisfactory state of the school called for special notice by the Commissioners, who suggested that Mr. Roberts should give gratuitous instruction in the common branches of English education to all those poor scholars who should be appointed by the Monoux and Maynard trustees. Mr. Roberts, however, refused to do what was wanted, and, after much forbearance on the part of the trustees, we find in 1836 the following resolution was carried into effect : " That . . . . the Rev. J. F. Roberts be forthwith dismissed from the situation of almspriest schoolmaster." This was the end of the career of Mr. Roberts, who had shamefully neglected his duties as schoolmaster, who had frustrated the intentions of the Founder, and who did not "read prayers in the Church, or assist the vicar or curate in the performance of service there."
The appointment of Mr. Roberts was terminated in 1836, and in the following year, after much careful consideration, the trustees appointed the Rev. Thomas Waite to the vacant office, after he had made a declaration that he would conduct the school in strict accordance with the regulations, and that he would resign the office whenever he was required to do so by a majority of the trustees. At this time there were about twelve boys in the school, and in 1838 Mr. Waite obtained leave to appoint a deputy. In 1842 Mr. Waite resigned his position on his appointment to the Chaplaincy of Giltspur Street Compter, and then the Rev. W. Wilson,, Vicar of Walthamstow and Chairman of the Monoux Trustees, announced that, owing to increased ecclesiastical responsibilities and duties, he should feel himself obliged to require the person appointed to fill the vacant office of almspriest schoolmaster to assist him in reading prayers every Sunday and Holidays in the Parish Church. The Vicar's request, in accordance with the Monoux and Maynard wills, was agreeable to the other trustees, and the Rev. J. N. Dalton, curate, was appointed to the office and allowed to have a deputy. From 1848 onwards, each successive curate was appointed almspriest and schoolmaster, until, in 1869, Mr. Hignett refused the appointment, on the ground that as there was no additional remuneration he declined to undertake the responsibilities involved in the office of almspriest and schoolmaster. For many years before 1869 Mr. Griggs had acted as deputy school- master, and from this year to his death in 1878 he was the Monoux schoolmaster, whom a good many residents in Walthamstow still remember as a learned and painstaking pedagogue.
It was during Mr. Griggs's tenure of office as deputy-schoolmaster that the school was visited in 1866 by Mr. Fearon, one of the Endowed Schools Commissioners. We learn from his report that the deputy-master received £30 from the endowment and £4 4s. a year from each scholar. There were seventeen day scholars but no boarders, and the course of instruction was modified to suit the boys' subsequent careers. The school work began and ended with prayer, taken from various sources ;promotions were by efficiency ; and examinations were held twice a year by the almspriest. The report adds that the punishments were impositions, confinement, and rarely caning; that there was no playground, and that no boy had gone to any university within the last five years. The school time occupied 43 weeks per year, and the study covered 28 hours each week. Mr. Griggs reported to the Commissioner that unpunctuality and irregularity of attendance were his chief difficulties, and that reading, book-keeping, and arithmetic were the best subjects of the school. It will be gathered from this report that the school under ;Mr. Griggs had become,to all intents and purposes, a private school subsidised by a small endowment. After the death of Mr. Griggs, the school was closed, and in 1880 the Walthamstow Charity Governors came into possession of it. The endowment consisted of about £36 a year, the master's house, and a school building, which was picturesque but unsuitable for school purposes.

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