The Charity School in Wrangle
My Grandfather was very impressed by our families ability to leave a trace in the records, despite being worthy but ordinary folk. This was largely due to family members being literate. In looking for the reasons for this, he discovered that there was a school established in Wrangle that had provided education to many generations of our family. This paper was published as a result of his research into the history of the school. It was published in The Lincolnshire Historian Vol 2 No 10, 1963. The Lincolnshire Historian is the organ of The Lincolnshire Local History Society.
To produce this html version, the original publication has been scanned and OCR'ed.
The Charity School in Wrangle
By F. WEST
In 1555 the Rev. Thomas Allenson left his house at Joy Hill in the parish of Wrangle, Holland, Lincolnshire, as a Bedehouse for the poor of Wrangle and Leake, accommodation being provided for one poor man and one poor woman from each parish. A fifth member of the Bedehouse (and usually referred to as one of 'the five poor people') was to be a schoolmaster. The establishment was endowed with 30 acres of land in Leake and 21 acres 3 roods in Wrangle, and the field names are still the same after 400 years. The bedepeople had for their use the grounds of the house, called the Pingle, and the Bedehouse 'two-acres' for their cows. Probably bearing in mind the rule of Leviticus 19 vv. 9 & 10, whatever could be gained from the sale of the 'aftergrass' of the Pingle and two-acres, did not pass into the general account but was distributed equally to the five members. Winter fodder was also provided by the endowment for the Bedehouse cows which had the usual grazing rights on the Common. The parish members each had two small apartments, one of which had a fireplace, but there was no free supply of fuel. The provisions of the will supplied each of the three men with 6d. a week and each of the two women with 5d. These amounts were unchanged until 20th May, 1705, when "Mr. William Erskine Vicar of Wrangle, did by his last will dated the 26th of April 1705 give 9 acres of pasture adjoyning to the 6 acres of pasture belonging to the Beadhouse nigh a Common called the Seadikes for and towards the augmenting of the weekly pay of 2s.4d. given by Tho. Allenson, Vicar of Wrangle to 5 poor people, members of the Beadhouse." As a result of this bequest, each member henceforward received a shilling a week.
We have no record of the earliest administration of the Bedehouse, but fortunately, the accounts of the Bursars (the incumbents of Wrangle and Leake) for the period 1671 to 1747 have been preserved in the Parish Chest of Wrangle, and as the Bursar used one end of his book for accounts and the other end for notes of various kinds, we are able to reconstruct some idea of the life of the school and the schoolmaster.
The school was a single room with one door opening on to the road and another to the schoolmaster's 'house.' At first it was reed-thatched, earth-walled and brick floored, with one window and a firegrate. Later, the earth walls were replaced by brick. The furniture consisted of two oak tables with benches round them, the second table being purchased in 1695. At no time was any provision made for books, writing materials or apparatus of any kind.
The schoolmaster's house consisted of two rooms on the ground floor, a sleeping room and a parlour, with two chambers or store rooms above, one over his sleeping room and part of the school, the other over the entry and dairy. The custom of sleeping upstairs had not yet become generally established. There was a little garden attached to the 'house', which, in effect, appears to have been a wing of the main building. Until 1725, when it was replaced by a new building, there was "an old Hovell near adjoyning to the dwelling house of the schoolmaster" which served as a bakehouse for the five members. The feoffees were very proud of the, new building and the whole five of them signed a minute in which they did,
"for themselves and their Successours, appoint declare and enact that the said Back house is for the mutual Benefit & Use of all & Singular the present and future members of the said Beadhouse for ever not only to bake in, but likewise if they shall now or at any time hereafter (with the consent of the ffeoffees for the time being) unanimously agree to Brew or make any other needful Use of the Said Building, it may and shall and is hereby decreed to be so lawful."
The salary of the schoolmaster was derived from various sources. As a member of the Bedehouse, he was entitled to the same privileges as the other poor people - in kind, free accommodation and the milk of the Bedehouse cows; and in cash, sixpence .a week (raised in 1705 to a Fhilling), five shillings at Christmas to buy a gown or overcoat, and a share, amounting to a maximum of about five shillings for the proceeds of the 'aftergrass.' As schoolmaster, he also received half the proceeds of the rents after deduction of the charges on the land. As the 'two-acres' was not let, he received a further 9s. to represent half the presumed rental. From 1730 onwards he received a further 5s. "for a years interest of 5£ given by W. Clay late deceased for the only benefit of the Schoolmaster for the time being for ever." The main part of his salary varied therefore according to the amount received in rents for the Bedehouse lands, the charges to be deducted, and to some extent, the method of accounting adopted by the Bursar, as some counted the dikereeves' assessment as a charge and others did not. The amount received in rents before the Erskine gift varied from £19 -13 - 0 in 1674 to £26 - 4 - 0 from 1698 to 1703. After that gift, the variation was from £28 - 6 - 0 in 1711 to £36 - 14 - 0 in 1717 and several subsequent years. In 1672 we come across: "Item allowed to the schoolmaster for incouragement 00.04.00. " In 1674 he received 10/- and in 1678 15/-. Thereafter, with exceptions noted later, he received something from this source every year. It is worthy of remark that it was a national event - the Glorious Revolution of 1688 - which first sadly reduced the schoolmaster's salary. In that year the Bursar was called upon to pay a tax of 18/8 and a subsidy of 12/-, while in 1690 he had to pay a further tax of 40/-. Even trifling Militia items, which had lapsed after 1675, when 4d. was paid for "Drums & Colours," were re-imposed in 1689 and 1690 when further sums of 4d. were paid, this time under the heading of "Drums & Trumpets." The year before this crisis, the schoolmaster had received £2 - 15 - 6" "for encouragement"; the next year he had to feel encouraged with a gift of 5/34. Unfortunately for him, rents were also falling off at this time. His salary, which had reached a peak of £11 - 4 - 5 1/2 in 1682, was reduced to £7 - 6 - 6 3/4 in 1690.
No call for further taxation seems to have been made to meet the costs of the continental wars of the period or of the rebellions of 1715 and 1745. However, a crisis much nearer home affected him seriously, as it did all those living around the East and West Fens. Between 1722 and 1734, the amount received in rents fell from £36 - 14 - 0 to £31 - 6 - 6, and the schoolmaster's share from £10 - 15 - 0 to £8 - 4 -7 1/2. The cause was the flooding of the fens. In 1734 the Court of Sewers at Boston had received a petition from Wrangle, Leake, Leverton, Benington, Butterwick, Freiston, Fishtoft, Boston East, Skirbeck and Sibsey alleging that the new gote in the Witham was in danger of being lost and that Maud Foster's Gowt was ineffective. The jury found that the Witham was silted up and ordered the repair of Maud Foster's Gowt and the construction of another gote near by. To pay for the work, 17,383 acres were taxed at 2/6 an acre in 1735, at 2/- an acre in 1736, and for the final settlement of accounts, at 2d. an acre in 1738. Altogether, the Bursar was called upon to pay £13 - 15 - 2 1/4, and the only means of paying was to put a moratorium on the items for 'encouragement.' From 1733 to 1735 no payments were made, though the Bursar made up handsomely in 1736 with a payment of £5. However, there was a sharp contrast between the salary of £17 - 12 - 2 1/2 in 1722 and that of £11 - 15 - 7 1/2 in 1734. At this time an unskilled labourer earned a shilling a day and a carpenter or bricklayer two shillings. Of course, the schoolmasters were both countrymen and handymen, and throughout the accounts we find payments to them for selling posts and deals, carrying fencing, erecting and mending fences, "rigging part of the schoolhouse and other Jobs done to the house," mowing, going to Boston to buy or exchange the Bedehouse cow, planting and fencing young willow trees, repairing the chimney, "dikeing, mowing and Saming," and repairing the house, as well as the more scholarly work of transcribing the Allenson and Erskine wills. These items refer only to what was done at the Bedehouse. It may well be that they also found other employers.
The managers of the school - the feoffees of the Bedehouse - were the incumbents of the two parishes together with their churchwardens. Effective control was, however, in the hands of the "Bursar for the time being." The general plan was that the vicars of Wrangle and Leake should hold the office in alternate years, and except for periods following the death of one or other, the plan was adhered to; thus we find the Rev. William Erskine and the Rev. Jacob Conington alternating over a long period from 1674 to 1705 (no nonjurors here !) and after a brief interval, the Rev. Jacob Conington alternates with the Rev. Richard Baily. After the death of the Rev. Jacob Conington in 1718, the pattern was disturbed as at Leake there were curates supplying the vacancy until the Rev. Skynner Baily was installed as vicar, and the alternating pattern was not completely restored until 1735.
The Bursar received a yearly salary of 10/- and he had a lot to do for his money. He had to find tenants for the land and collect the earnests or 'entering pennies' and later the rents, at first yearly but quarterly later on ; to pay cullier rent at Leake and out rent at Wrangle to the Lords of the Manor; to pay the dikereeve, the constable and the collector for the Court of Sewers; to attend to the Biking, gripping and ditching of the Bedehouse lands; to see that the bedepeople had cows which were in milk, which involved arranging a lot of buying and selling at Boston market; to hire labour for the mowing, laming and leading of the hay in the Bedehouse two acres and Pingle; to provide winter fodder for the Bedehouse cows; to attend to the fabric of the Bedehouse and its outbuildings; to supervise the moral, physical and spiritual wellbeing of the bedepeople; to prepare accounts for audit at the Candlemas meeting of the feoffees; and finally, to supervise the work of the schoolmaster. The only other privilege the vicars of the two parishes seem to have enjoyed was that of themselves becoming tenants of Bedehouse lands, for all of them were farmers or graziers, though an examination of the accounts shows that they rented most in times of inundation when some of the fields found no tenant at all. The accounts give an impression, despite occasional trivial errors in casting, of a high sense of duty and fidelity to the task committed to them. They had slender resources to work with and they appear to have planned ahead with their programme of repairs and maintenance and to have laid out their funds to the best advantage.
We have notes upon eight of the schoolmasters, covering the whole period. George Goodrick "was elected and admitted into the Bedehouse to execute the office of a schoolmaster the Feb. 4th 1661." He had held the office for ten years when the present account book begins. He served for 35 years, when on May 1st, 1696, he was "deprived of the said office by reason of several infirmities attending old age utterly disabling him from doeing his duty any longer there." In his stead came Robert Simpson of Freiston, of whom we know nothing except that he taught in the school for the next twelve years. It is only when we come to the appointment of John Richardson on August 12th, 1708 that we learn the conditions of appointment, which are worth recording:-
Memoed that on Tuesday the 12th day of Aug 1708 that Jno Richardson was by the ffeoffees of the Bedehouse in Wrangle (who have hereunto subscribed their names) admitted a member thereof to execute the office of Schoolemaster there And that upon these condicions only (vizlt) that I neither neglect giving attendance 8 hours on every Munday Tuesday, Wed: & Fryday & 6 hours on every Thursday and 4 hours on every Satterday - except such days happen to be either Fasting or Festivall according to the usage of the Ch: of England by Law established or within the usual compass of the three most common vacations in the yeare (vizt) -Christmas Easter & Whitsunday in order to teach & instruct the Inhabitants young & old of Wrangle and Leake to read English and Latin & also Such Children of Each Parish as are maintained by Charity to teach to write & understand the Common Rules of Arithmetic gratis nor ffrequent Market, Tavern or Alehouse during any of the said hours of Schooltime nor otherwise misbehave myself as unbecoming a good Christian & all & every of the beforemencioned condicions I ffreely Submittto, & them hereby promise to perform & keepe to the utmost of my power & ability upon paine of Expulsion, deprivation or other pecuniary punishment at the discrecion of the Bursar for the time being to be inflicted and in confirmation of all wch I subscribe my name the day and yeare above written.
Approved of this Subscription by us the ffeoffee
Witness our hands
Upon taking up his office, John Richardson found another condition in force, though, as he survived only a year, it did not affect him.
Feb. 5th 1708 Memoranded that it was then decreed by the ffeoffees that the three men in & of the Bedehouse or their Deputys Shall by turn according to seniority in their places provide a Bull for the Cows as often as they shall have need upon pain of two Shillings for every neglect. Witness our hands
Jacob Conington Vicar of Leake
Richard Bailye Vicar of Wrangle
On 20th October, 1709, John Thornley of Wainfleet All Saints was appointed upon almost precisely the same conditions, except that the reference to "Market, tavern or Alehouse" was omitted. We learn little about John Thornley except that he made and fenced "his little garden" that he was a useful odd job man and that he had the disagreable duty of reading an expulsion order to one of the bedemen.
Memoranded that on the 3rd November 1713 Hen: Pinchbeck recd. for stealing wood & other misdemeanours his third and last admonition in writing audibly read to him by Mr. Thornley.
Henry Pinchbeck, who had stolen the wood for fuel, did not, in fact, pay the penalty. He was too ill to be removed from the Bedehouse and died there three months later.
John Thornley was succeeded in office on 24th June, 1717 by William Spelkes, "late a teacher of children at Trusthorpe in the County of Lincoln, but indeed an Inhabitant last legally settled in Mumby Chappel in the County aforesd ", who also was required to sign a contractual undertaking upon appointment, the conditions being considerably more onerous as may be seen from the later part. -
I . . . . "hereby faithfully & sincerely promis to quit possession of the said Beadhouse & relinquish all further right to any profits thereof upon the request or command of the Burser thereof for the Time being if I the said William Spelke at any time hereafter shall become nonresident in & upon the said Beadhouse, or contract matrimony or frequent Alehouses without leave and licence first had & obtained of and from the said Burser or shall become notoriously immoral, or neglect teaching any person resorting as aforesaid or neglecting to imprint all Such twice every week in the Church Catechism or neglect bringing them duely to Church as often as a Bell shall be tolld for such purpose or refuse to officiate for the Parish Clerk when absent or if within three months after the date hereof I do not bring or cause to be brought to the Church Wardens of Wrangle aforesd a Certificate from the officers of Mumby Chappel aforesd duely executed. And to attest my unfeigned assent and consent hereunto in each particular I subscribe my name this 24th day of Jun. 1717.
The full strength of feoffees witnessed the signature. It would appear that the Parish Clerk had a hand in drawing up this document and that the settlement provisions of the Poor Relief Act of 1662 were beginning to trouble the Churchwardens, particularly those of Wrangle, in whose parish he would reside. In course of time he might become legally settled in Wrangle, and if, at the end, he became a pauper, Wrangle would have to support him. The settlement certificate from Mumby Chapel would be valid only until he had established legal settlement in Wrangle. The school and Bedehouse were for the joint benefit of Leake and Wrangle and it seemed only right that they should share the risk. After witnessing the signature of William Spelkes, the same vicars and wardens signed the following --
Memoranded that we the sd Feoffees for ourselves and successrs do mutually promise to each other that if the said Mr. Wm. Spelk hereafter become unable to teach schoole as aforesd by any manner of means, that the Parishioners of the said two parishes shall equally joyn at the charge of his maintenance witness our hands the day & year above menciond.
They need not have worried. Although during the first year he received the unusually large sum of £3 - 7 - 1 "for encouragement," bringing his total salary to £16 - 1 - 5 1/2, which was more than twice as much as George Goodrick had received in 1673, William Spelkes looked at the schoolmaster's house nd would not live in it. The meeting of the feoffees at the next Candlemas meeting produced the following --
Mem : Feb 2d 1718 that Willm Spelks was then admonished a 1st Time for non-Residence upon the Schole as Scholemaster -- which he obstinately refused contrary to the Orders of the Founder.
It appears that he did not wait for his second and third admonitions, but walked out. It may be that his action stirred the feoffees, as the next year's accounts include the following --
Item pd Jonathan Chantry for Lime & Work done by him at the Beadhouse
Item pd Ad: Waddingham for Wood & Work done there 41;2s. together with 6s. for leading their hay; & for a 7 foot Stoop & Mortissing & setting down, in all
Item pd Will Anton for thatching & Labourers work
Item pd George Edmunds for 8 days a Labourer
Item pd Nath: Brotherton for New Glass & repairing the old
Item pd Mr. Metheringham for a Lock & Sneck for the Schooldoor
Item pd Mr. Jac. Conington for 5500 of Brick &c.
Item pd Jno. Lee for a days Labour & leading a 100 & 2 of thatch for the Beadhouse
Item pd Will Elvidge for a Grate at the School & other Iron Work
Item pd to Willm Anton for Walling Earth mak ing & rigging the Schoolhouse
£04. 00. 00
£00. 12. 06
£00. 08. 00
£00. 12. 00
£00. 04. 04
£04. 13. 08
£00. 01. 06
£00. 09. 00
£00. 03. 00
It is quite clear that there was much to be done at the Bedehouse and perhaps Mr. Spelkes did his successor a good turn by refusing to take up residence in the school house. After his departure, the figure of Mr. Joseph Roebuck flits across the page, the only reference to him being the following --
Memorandum that Joseph Roebuck our late Schole master died Feb. 22d/1719/20 & Willm Langhorn was admitted by Submission Bond date April 15th 1720
Richd Baily Vicar of Wrangle
Mr. William Langhorne (he always adds the final 'e' which everyone else who writes about him omits) was a man of resource, initiative and determination. The submission bond is not recorded, but it is clear that he also took a look at his house and decided to change all that. In his very first year we find
Item Given the Schoolmaster towards the building his new room 02. 15. 001/2
and the following year --
Item Given the Schoolmaster in further Consideration of his Charge in Building his new Room & by way of Encouragement 05. 04. 10
In the following three years he received items of £3 - 6 -1, £3 - 16 - 01, and £2 "for encouragement."
Mr. Langhorne was an able and competent man, but he was a stormy petrel, and in his school, a martinet. Within two years he received his first admonition, signed by all the feoffees.
Feb, 12th 1721 /2 Memorandum that William Langhorn, Schoolmaster was then admonish'd a first time for not only being over rigorous to some of the children coming to the said School but likewise in being negligent in the Performance of his Duty in teaching the said Children.
We can imagine him leaving his schoolroom to attend to his new room and returning in a fury to quell the inevitable riot and doing it only too thoroughly. He may have calmed down for a time after this rebuke, but he was a man of restless energy. The accounts show him renting and grazing land for several years, dealing in hay, repairing fences and the house, providing meals for workmen at the Bedehouse and travelling to Lincoln to transcribe the two wills - and, of course, we have a record only of what he did for the Bursar. But all was not well. The children were not being well taught but were being severely punished. The grumblings of individual parents led to concerted action in the two parishes until we have the following. --
Feb : 2. 1731, Lincoln, Wrangle
By virtue of a Petition this day humbly presented unto us the Trustees of the School & Beadhouse of Wrangle & Leake by Several Inhabitants of the Said Parishes as by the Said Petition may more fully appear wherein various Complaints, Neglects & Abuses were made, Alleg'd & Prov'd against W. anghorn present member & Schoolmaster of the said House, Wee therefore the said Trustees have judg'd it proper & necessary that the said W. Langhorn be admonish'd & we do hereby declare him actually admonishd a second time the Day & Year first above written.
Unfortunately, the petition itself has not survived. The previous year Mr. Langthorne had received 0 - 2 - 72 over and above his salary "towards Repair of his House & other necessaries. " This year he received nothing and he appears to have turned sour. He spread malicious rumours that the Rev. Richard Baily, who had been Bursar continuously for 14 years while there was no incumbent at Leake, had been pocketing the funds of the Bedehouse. In 1731, the Rev. Skynner Baily, nephew of the Rev. Richard Baily, after serving as curate, became the vicar of Leake and the ugly rumours had reached his ears. Unfortunately for Mr. Langhorne, he had not mended his ways as a schoolmaster and at the following Candlemas meeting the feoffees met at full strength to deal with him. It is clear that Mr. Langhorne maintained his charge against the Rev. Richard Baily, and that the other five feoffees were put to the trouble of enquiring into the matter. In the findings given below, the word 'defence' has been substituted for 'examination' in the third line from the end. All five signed the Memorandum, including a member of the present writer's family.
Memorandum ffeb : 8 1732
That we whose names are hereunder written the present feoffees of the Beadhouse of Wrangle did assemble together & for all other neglects and abuses committed by Wm. Langhorn present Schoolmaster from Candlemass 1731 to 1732 but more especially amongst other gross faults for scandalously charging Ric Baily Clk. the prest Burser with having been unfaithful in his Trust as Burser in concealing 60 li in his hands of wch upon his Defence he was found entirely innocent, do admonish the said Schoolmaster a 3rd time in congruity to the Founder's Will, as witness our hands the Day & Year above written.
Skynner Baily Vic' of Leak
Josh. Westland Thomas West (Leake)
Joseph Pearson Richard Watson (Wrangle)
It is clear that William Langhorne's 'Submission' did not include the terms of John Thornley's document of 1709, containing the penalties 'Expulsion, Deprivation or other pecuniary punishment at the discretion of the Burser,' but the milder wording of the William Spelkes document of 1717, in which he made a promise 'to quit possession of the said Bedehouse and relinquish all further right to any profits thereof upon the request or command of the Burser thereof.' However, the effect was the same and William Langhorne had to go. His resignation is preserved and in his firm, bold signature may be detected a note of defiance.
William Langhorn's Resignation to the School &c. of Wrangle This may Certifie whom it may concern that I, Wm Langhorn member & Schoolmaster of the Beadhouse & School of Wrangle in the County of Lincoln for divers good reasons me thereunto moving have freely fully & absolutely quit claim to, given up, resignd and do by these presents for ever freely, fully & absolutely quit claim to, give up & resign to Richd Baily, Clk. & present Burser of the Said Beadhouse & John Wilby, Gent., junr. & the rest of the ffeoffees all Right, Title, Privilege & prerogative wch I the said Wm have or ever had to any of the Houses, Buildings, Gifts, Profits, Emoluments or Appurtenances whatsoever or wheresoever by any manner of means belonging or appertaining to the said Beadhouse or School of Wrangle aforesaid.
In confirmation of which I have hereunto set my hand this Second day of January in the year of our Lord 1733.
Sk. Baily vicar
John Wilby junr.
Geo : Hales
It will be noted that there is an interval of eleven months between the third and final admonition and the resignation and that by now there was a new team of churchwardens. William Langhorne clearly made his terms before tendering his resignation. Although he had received various items towards the cost of his new room, he was himself out of pocket, and it is clear that he refused to resign unless this money was made good. It is equally clear that the feoffees refused to pay him anything and the unsatisfactory situation dragged on. A solution was finally reached agreable to both parties. William Langhorne would get his money, but the feoffees would not pay it - it would come from the salary of his successor who would enjoy the convenience of the new room. It is clear from the handwriting as well as the spelling of Mr. Langhorne's name that what he signed was a prepared statement. There was a candidate waiting for the post and at the next Candlemas meeting we find the following --
Memorandum further that upon Mr. Langhorn's Resignation of the School &c. as in his Said Resignation is more particularly Specified: it was then agreed & determind by the feoffees whose Names are hereunto Subscribd that the next successor shall allow the said Mr. Langhorn Twelve Pounds ten shillings for the Expenses he has been at in erecting a new Room & other Conveniencies in & belonging to the Dwelling House & Garden of the said Schoolmaster wch Said Twelve pounds 10s. we determine to be paid as follows viz. four pounds one moiety thereof at Candlemass next, four pounds another part thereof at Candlemass 1735 & the remainder 4 li 10s. at Candlemass 1736 unless his Successour shall think fit to pay it Sooner or as Party and Party can agree
The candidate for the vacancy was John Allenson who was still in office when the accounts come to an end in 1747. At the same time as the agreement given above two entries were written, one his 'Submission,' in terms very similar to those already given, and the other his agreement with the compromise effected between William Langhorne and the feoffees --
Memorandum that I Jno Allenson do hereby acknowledge to rest my Self fully Satisfied & contented with the aforesaid Determination of the ffeoffees of the Beadhouse of Wrangle upon Mr. Langhorn's preceeding Resignation, & upon the same do promise (if I so long live & continue Master of the said School) to pay, and by these presents do request & inpower the present, or any Succeeding Burser for the time being, to pay the Several Parts or Portions of Money by them decreed, & by me consented to, at the respective Time or Times therein Specified & declard.
In confirmation of wch I have hereunto Subscribd my Name the 2d of Feb, in the Year of our Redemption 1733
William Langhorne had bargained shrewdly. In addition to this sum from his successor he had received a payment cash down from the Bursar, which could hardly have been paid willingly--
Item Given Mr. Langhorne upon his resignation of the School and Beadhouse 4 0 0
He remained in the district, occasionally even doing work for the Bedehouse, and finally received his money in full
Feb. 2 1736. Received then and before of Mr. Baily Vicar of Wrangle the Sum of Twelve Pounds ten Shillings in full for the Consideration Money agreed upon and Ordered to be paid by Mr. Allenson upon his Admission to the School of Wrangle.
Witness Skinner Baily
At this stage, William Langhorne passes from the story.
John Allenson, in his 'Submission' described himself as 'late a teacher of Children at Conisby in the County of Lincoln but indeed an Inhabitant legally settled at Skipton in the County of York.' He was, of course, required to obtain a certificate from the officers of Skipton and there was one important modification in his agreement. He was not required to deputise for the Parish Clerk whenever the latter was absent or chose to be absent. On this occasion the words 'as Party and Party may agree' were inserted. This was a considerable concession.
For ten years all seems to go well with John Allenson. There is no news of the school, but he is clearly part of the community, buying the cows for the Bedehouse, conducting small deals in hay and thorns, taking a hand at mowing and dikeing and sometimes earning quite large sums for goods or services of which we know nothing. The first mention of receipts in these accounts comes in 1688, but always until 1712 we know what has been bought or what work has been done. By the time Mr. Allenson becomes the schoolmaster, the account book yields less and less information, so that when we find, in 1744 'Paid Mr. Allenson by Bill and Rect. -- £4 - 7 - 10', we can only say that whatever it was, it was the equivalent of four months' salary. His tenure of office was not without its blemish. The parents of Wrangle and Leake appear to have laid some store by education and the treatment of their children, wanting them to learn and not to be too much knocked about; and what happened in the village school soon became common knowledge. John Allenson overstepped the mark of what could be tolerated and we find the following entry --
Memorandum Feb 2d 1743. Whereas various Complaints have been lately made to Richard Baily the present Burser & others of the present Feoffees of the Beadhouse of Wrangle & Leake against John Allenson the present Schoolmaster of the Same for his neglect in teaching the Children of the said Parishes & particularly for his unkind & barbarous Usage of Several of the said Children to that Degree as to oblige their Parents to Send them to other Persons for better Instruction & milder Usage, for these & the like Abuses it was thought requisite to give him this his first Admonition for the same as Witness our hands.
Richard Baily Vicar of Wrangle
Skynner Baily Vicar of Leak
Wilfred Moore Bursar
Jacob Conington Vicar of Leake
Anthony Harte Ch. W. of Wr.
Matthias Chambers Corin Lane his 7 mark Ch. W. of Leake
The accounts end four years later and there are no further entries relating to the school. It would appear that John Allenson was more diplomatic than his predecessor as he continued to be in favour - it is, in fact, the year after his rebuke that he received the large sum already mentioned.
It is well nigh impossible from the evidence of the account book to assess the success of the school or the esteem in which it was held locally. The Rev. William Erskine was Vicar of Wrangle from 1674 until 1704 and was Bursar of the Bedehouse for half that time. He thought highly enough of the institution to endow it still further. William Clay, who was Churchwarden of Leake in 1676-77, and almost certainly a former pupil, lived to a ripe old age, as it was 50 years later when he left his £5, the interest of which was to go to the schoolmaster. He must have known all the schoolmasters except John Allenson. One other slight indication comes in 1743, the year of Allenson's admonition, when a collection was made towards the cost of repairs to the school to a total of £9 - 0 - 11. A sum of £4 - 15 - 6 was raised, F,4 coming in small items from the parishioners of Wrangle and Leake and 15/6 from the local gentry. The Lords of the two Manors did not contribute - in fact, they are not recorded as having done anything for the Bedehouse throughout the 77 years. They are mentioned in the accounts only as recipients of cullier and out rents. It appears to have been essentially a school of the ordinary villager, with four of the six managers small farmers, probably former pupils, and likely to have children at the school.
As for the pupils, we can judge from the number of times that the glazier has to be called in and the number of times that the fences of the schoolmaster and the Bedehouse have to be mended that they were worthy ancestors of the present generation of schoolchildren. There is, perhaps, one pointer to the success of the school. This was an area of the small peasant farmer, and it is likely that most of those who received any formal education at all, received it at the Bedehouse school. Both parishes had the custom of changing their churchwardens every two or three years, and apart from the Wilbys and the relations of the clergy who served as churchwardens, all were graziers, yeomen, husbandmen, carpenters and the like, legally settled in the parishes. The names of more than 120 of them are recorded in these accounts. Of this number, all except 28 could write. Of these, 20 had to make their mark prior to 1700, and thereafter only 8. As attendance at school was entirely voluntary, that is a very good record. Six generations of the writer's family were educated at this school, the last of them leaving in the middle of the 19th century. Except for the earliest of them, there is evidence that all were literate, and doubtless there are many other families with a similar record. Wrangle and Leake had every reason to be grateful to the Rev. Thomas Allenson.