Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > English Grammar Schools > Shrewsbury
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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

XIV. English Grammar Schools.

§ 12. Shrewsbury.


The annals of Shrewsbury present us with a complete contrast. Endowed by Edward VI, at the joint petition of the burgesses of the town and the gentlemen of the county, its charter remained in abeyance throughout the reign of Mary; and it first rose into repute under the rule of Thomas Ashton, fellow of St. John’s college, Cambridge, in the reign of Elizabeth. Ashton was himself entrusted with the compilation of the statutes, wherein it was enjoined that, in all admissions, the “godliest, poorest, and best learned” should be preferred. Shrewsbury, moreover, had the whole of Shropshire at its back, and the first register of admissions (1562), containing two hundred and eighty-nine names, among them sons of knights and esquires, showed the proportion of “strangers” to “townsmen” to be unusually large. In 1564, Philip Sidney and Fulke Greville were admitted on the same day; and, under John Meighen, a layman, who filled the office of headmaster more than half a century (1583–1635), the numbers rose rapidly, so that Camden, in 1586, could venture to declare that Shrewsbury was “the best filled school of all England.” The relations maintained by Shrewsbury school with St. John’s college help us to follow its subsequent history; and, from the correspondence that went on between the two foundations, we learn that the fortunes of the school, in the reign of James I, passed through a period of decline: so much so, indeed, that, in 1627, the bailiffs report that the masters are resigning, “to the generall grief of the Towne,” and that the school is “in very great decay.”   17

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  Rugby Christ’s Hospital  
 
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