Reference > Cambridge History > Cavalier and Puritan > English Grammar Schools > Christ’s Hospital
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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.

§ 13. Christ’s Hospital.


Of the five schools which rose within the city walls of the capital, none appealed more strongly to civic sympathy than that of Christ’s Hospital, especially designed for “young fatherless children,” who were to be admitted to receive both maintenance and education in the ancient buildings which had formerly given shelter to the suppressed community of the Grey Friars. The foundation, along with the other royal hospitals, had been marked out for endowment both by Henry VIII and by his son, and it was only eleven days before the death of the latter that the young king signed the charter whereby the governors were to be allowed to receive land in mortmain or to acquire it to the value of “foure thousand marks by the yeare.” But, to quote the words of its historian, “Christ’s Hospital owed its start, as it has owed its steady continuance in well-doing, to the generosity of the citizens of London” 18  and the pressing needs of the poorer London population may be discerned in the fact, that all that was requisite for admission was a certificate, that “the child was above four years of age and born in wedlock,” and that its father was a freeman. Unfortunately, there had been no definite apportionment of the original endowment among the different hospitals, and, amid the conflicting claims of these institutions, those of the school were passed over. Had it not been for the liberality of its own governors, indeed, the new foundation would, probably, have been either dissolved, or compelled to send adrift a large proportion of the four hundred children to which, towards the close of the sixteenth century, it gave shelter and instruction. At the critical juncture, however, permanent relief was afforded by dame Ramsey (widow of a former lord mayor), through whose munificence the school came into possession of estates then producing four hundred pounds a year, together with a fund for the maintenance of four scholars at the university, as well as the advowsons of five livings. In the time of William Camden, the historian—himself an alumnus of the school, and, subsequently, headmaster (1593) of Westminster school—the numbers had reached six hundred.   18

Note 18Annals of Christ’s Hospital (ed. 1908), p. 31. [ back ]

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