KING Edward the sixth, on the petition as well of the bailiffs and burgesses of East Retford as of very many others of the whole neighbouring country for the erecting and establishing of a grammar school there, granted and ordained that there should be a grammar school in the torn of East Retford, which should be called "The Free Grammar School of King Edward the Sixth," for the education and instruction of boys and youths in grammar. And for the sustentation of the said school, his Majesty granted the then late Chantry of Sutton in Loundale, within the parish of Lound, in this County, in the several tenures or occupations of Richard Styrroppe, John Waddesley, William Hollewell, John Thorpe, Christopher Whytethorne, and William Moreton, situate in Sutton, in Loundale, aforesaid. His Majesty also further granted all the then Chantry of Tuxford, with all its appurtenances thereto belonging, then in the several tenures or occupations of William Ingham, John Elme, John Cuthbert, and Robert Gabbites, situate in Kyrton or elsewhere in this County. His Majesty also further granted all the then late Chantry of Anysley, with all its appurtenances thereto belonging, then or late in the several tenures or occapations of John Pynnor, Edmund Vathley, Richard Mayfield, Christopher Bynk, Christopher North, Nicholas Bagley, and John Sterman, situate, lying, and being in Kyrbie, Ashfield, Morton, Anysley, and Bleesbye, or elsewhere in this County, with the appurtenances to the said Chantries, or each of them, in any manner be.. longing; and which messuages, lands, tenements, rents, reversions, services, and all other premises, were then extended to the clear yearly value of Fifteen pounds five shillings and threepence farthing, to hold the same to the aforesaid burgesses of the town of East Retford, and their successors, for ever. His Majesty also gave the said bailiffs and burgesses, and their successors, authority to nominate and appoint a master and undermaster, as often as such situations should become vacant; and that they, with the advice of the Archbishop of York for the time being, should have power from time to time to make fit and proper statutes for the government and direction of the master and undermaster, touching and concerning the same school. his Majesty also granted them authority to receive and purchase to them and their successors, any, other lands and hereditaments, not exceeding the clear yearly value of twenty pounds sterling; and also willed and ordained, that all the issues, rents, revenues, and profits, as well of the said messuages, lands, and tenements, given and granted, as of all other the lands and hereditaments thereafter to be obtained and purchased, should from time to time be laid out and expended for the support and maintenance of the school aforesaid, and of the master and undermaster of the same school, or for other things, touching and concerning the same.

In conformity with the King’s ordinance, the bailiffs and burgesses of East Retford with the advice of Holgate, Lord Archbishop of York, agreed upon the rules and regulations which are dated the 30th of April, 1552, for the government of the said school, wherein the course of study and discipline is prescribed; it was also ordered that two sufficient houses should be provided for the master and undermaster, rent-free; and that of the above mentioned sum of fifteen pounds five shillings and three pence farthing, the master should receive for his annual salary, the sum of Ten Pounds, and the undermaster the remainder; with such an increase afterwards as to the bailiffs and burgesses might seem convenient to make. From this period it does not exactly appear what the master’s salary was until the year 1764, when ‘it is stated to be £29 per annum including £4. the interest of certain property which had been bequeathed by the Rev. William Houghton, consisting of an estate at Ordsall; The will is dated June 23rd, 1763, and devises that £4. should be paid yearly to the head master, on the 1st of January, and the remainder unto the usher; the estate is now let at about £28 per annum. The master’s salary remained stationary from 1763 to 1801, at which period the present master was appointed, when it was raised to £53. and in 1813 it was further augmented to £80. a year, but no salary has been paid him since Lady-Day, 1821. From 1763 to 1801, the usher’s salary was £21 and from thence to within the last few years £30 per annum; at present it is £40.

The property of the Chantry of Tuxford it stated in the letters patent to have been situate at Kirton, and elsewhere; but the Corporation are not at present in possession of any estates at Tuxford or at Kirton. By a deed dated the 30th of April, 1683, the estate at Tuxford was sold for £50. and conveyed to John Whyte, gent. and his heirs. This estate has lately been purchased by his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. The remaining property in this Chantry appears to lie at Kirton; and by indenture dated the 22nd of November, 1562, was granted to William Ingham, and Isabel his wife, for a term of 21 years, on the surrender of two former leases granted by John Crosewell, then late chantry priest at Tuxford; the reserved rent of the property, which is described as two farms of husbandry, &c. &c. in Kirton, being 40s. annually. In 1638 a lease was granted to the Earl of Kingston, of two farms in Kirton, at the rent of 40s.; and another lease for 21 years dated 1647, of the same premises, to the Marquis of Dorchester, son of the Earl of Kingston, at the same annual rent; the quantity of land appearing to have been about 90 acres. By indenture bearing date the 11th of August, 1656, the bailiffs and burgesses, in consideration of the sum of £300. demised the said premises at Kirton and East Markham, to the Earl of Clare, and his heirs, for a thousand years, at the several reserved rents of 40s. for the premises at Kirton, and 17s for those in West Markham. The property is now belonging to the Duke of Newcastle, whose estate in Kirton alone, is understood to consist of about 150 acres, and to produce a rent of about £200 a year.

The property then appertaining to the Annesley Chantry appears to have been situate at Kirkby in Ashfield, Annesley, Moreton, and Bleesby; but the Corporation are not at present in possession of any property at Kirkby in Ashfield or Annesley; that belonging to them at Moreton consists of a house, 15 acres of land, and a gate on Moreton Common, valued at about £22. per annum. The estates of the Corporation at Bleesby consist of four houses and about 120 acres of land letting at about £168. per annum; but the Corporation claim part of these in their own right, as in several of the schedules annexed to old leases, lands are described as lying ‘betwixt, and in other instances bounded by lands belonging to the School at East Retford; and that one of the schedules containing such reference is entitled "Schedule of the lands belonging to the Corporation;" but since the Commissioners of Charities came, their report sets forth "that it is incumbent on the Corporation to make out the distinction between them," and in which they have failed. The estate at Lound belonging to the Corporation, consists of a house and 84 acres of land, which is let at about £105. per .annum.

Towards the conclusion of the seventeenth century, certain proceedings were instituted against the then bailiffs, &c. under a commission to redress the misemployment of lands, goods, and stocks of money theretofore given to charitable uses, when the Jury found on inquisition taken before the Commissioners, that the rents, profits, &c. had been misapplied for 79 years; and the Commissioners decreed that the bailiffs and burgesses should within one month after notice of the decree, pay to the then master, (Mr. Henry Boawre) the sum of £3372. 4s. 4d. being the amount of monies withheld from the charity; and further ordered that, they should pay yearly to the schoolmaster the whole of the rents of ‘the said lands and premises, and such sums as they should afterwards receive from any leases thereof. Exceptions were taken to this decree on account of the extent of certain laws under which the Commissioners had acted, and afterwards an answer was put to the exceptions, but nothing more was done in the case; most likely the abandonment was produced by it being found that the decree could not be supported in consequence of the exceptions in the statute.

The present building (which is situate on the north side of Chapelgate) was, erected in the year 1779, on the site of the old school-room, at an expense of £290 and a new house adjoining, for the residence of the. master, was built in 1797, which cost £360. and afterwards a further amount of £94. was expended in improvements and additional buildings. In the year 1810, the usher’s house was built at the charge of £666. 16. 8d. upon the site of the old houses formerly occupied both by the master and usher; thus the total amount expended on the buildings, &c. of, the school and its appendages is £1301. 17s. 8d.

In the year 1819, the Commissioners, appointed by an Act of Parliament, for inspecting the different charities in England and Wales, visited this place for the purpose of looking into the documents in possession of the Corporation, and of hearing such evidence relative thereto, as they might be able to obtain: the Commissioners were engaged several days, and notwithstanding the most diligent search, it was found that several ancient documents, which would have been of considerable use in the investigation, were not forth-coming. In order however to account for this, it appears from a memorandum in the possession of the Corporation taken during the proceedings in the Court of Chancery, in 1699, that a hutch, wherein the writings belonging to the Corporation were formerly deposited, was kept in the church, and that when the church fell in 1661, the hutch was broken to pieces, and many of the writings lost or destroyed.

Since 1819 a partial hearing of the case has been had before the Vice Chancellor, when it was ordered that the whole of the documents appertaining thereto should be laid before one of the masters in chancery, who should report thereupon.


It appears that amongst the ancients a system of national education was considered as essentially necessary towards the well-being of the community, and highly conducive to train a citizen from birth to maturity, in such a manner, that he might be prepared to perform the civil duties of his station, and assist in the defence of his country: hence the histories of Persia, of Greece, and of Rome, clearly prove, that so long as this system, under certain modifications, continued general and operation in these countries, they were safe; the magistrate was incorruptible—the citizen was virtuous. The clergy of the established church, in this country, were not unacquainted with this fact, and to provide the like security for England, they, in conjunction with other influential individuals, succeeded in establishing National Schools, where the children of the poor are admitted at such an age when their minds are most susceptible of those impressions which are necessary to the formation of a good and useful character.

The National School, for boys only, is situate on the south side of Chapelgate, and was erected in the year 1813; it is seventy-five feet nine inches in length, and thirty-nine feet nine inches in width, and is capable of accommodating 160 scholars. It was first opened on the 20th September, 1813, under the presidency of His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, for the purpose of promoting the education of the poor, in the principles of the Church of England, (on Dr. Bell’s system,) auxiliary to the National Society established in London, under the patronage of his present Majesty, then Prince of Wales. At this period and for some years afterwards, it was well supported by a long list of voluntary contributions; but latterly, from the deaths of subscribers, and other causes, the funds have been in a declining state, and without the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood come forward in its behalf, not only its success, but its duration will be extremely dubious. From the beneficial effects which have already been produced on the characters of several, who have now arrived at manhood, and who received their instruction under its roof, it is surely not too much to request,—and that most earnestly, that the charitable, and those who are favourable to ‘the ameliorating the conditions of the lower orders of society, will come forward in its behalf, remembering that the religious education of the poor tends to make them not only better men, and better subjects, but also better christians.

TREASURERS–- Sir W. B. Cooke, Bart. Childers, Foljambe, and Parker.
SECRETARIES–- Rev. T. F. Beckwith, and Rev. William Mould.
MASTER–-Mr J. S. Piercy


The following summary of the will of the donor, made the 5th of May, 1657, will explain all the circumstances appertaining thereto.

Richard Sleswkke, by will, (dated as above,) bequethed certain of his property to his wife, and one year after her decease, to descend to Edmond Midwinter. The remainder of his property he bequeathed to Edward Neville, Esq. Francis Stringer, Esq. John Rayner, Gent. of Great Drayton, William Booth, of Laneham, and Mr. Widwinter, in trust, "for the maintenance of six poore old men of good carriage and behaviour, every of them to receive three pounds six shillings and eight pence yearly at ffower times in the year." His then dwelling house was ordered to be converted into "a hospital and charitable house, to be titled and called by the name of Mese de Dieu" :those of his own blood and kindred falling into poverty to be preferred thereunto before any other. The accounts relating thereto to be audited annually in the week next before Easter, at which a dinner was to be provided out of the funds of the estate. The will was proved during the protectorate of Cromwell, on the 22nd of May, 1658.

For some years the trust was properly attended to, until about 1680, when from the deaths of nearly the whole of the trustees, it became the subject of a chancery suit; the decree relating thereto was made on the 16th of July, 1681, whereby it was ordered that Francis Stringer, of Sutton, the only surviving trustee, should give up his trust, which in future should be vested in the Corporation of East Retford; this took place on the 29th of July, in the same year.

In consequence of the building being old and much decayed, the Corporate body resolved to pull it down, and erect a new one in its stead; this was done in 1806: over the entrance which fronts the west end of the church, is the following inscription.—"Mease de Dieu, ex dono, Richardi Sloswicke Generosi, re-built 1806. Beaumont Mareshall, George Thornton, Gent Bailiffs." It is finished in the mezzo-gothic style of architecture, and forms a comfortable asylum to those whom age and infirmities have reduced to become its inmates. Of late years it has chiefly been filled up by aged burgesses, and others, who were pensioners on the Corporation funds; but however great may be the claims which burgesses possess, I apprehend the donor never contemplated that it should be appropriated to their benefit exclusive of other inhabitants resident in the borough, if such had been his intentions they would undoubtedly have been so expressed in the Will, but so far from that being the case, neither the Corporation nor burgesses are either mentioned or hinted at. At present the allowance to each poor man is two shillings weekly. The estate originally left for its support, lets for £83 a year and upwards.


It is generally understood that the documents relating to this ancient charity are entirely lost, and that the estates with which it was endowed have either been sold, or so mixed up with the other estates of the Corporation, as to be undistinguishable. Who the founder was is likewise involved in the same mystery. Until 1823 the Alms Houses occupied a place on the west side of Carrhillgate, but were in such a dilapidated condition, that the Corporation resolved to take them down; the site was sold, and the present building erected near Chapelgate, forming part of the west side of an intended street, from thence to Newgate Street. The number of houses have been augmented from seven to nine, each of which affords shelter to two poor women, who are appointed by the Corporation; which, with the exception of a certain quantity of coals yearly, comprises the whole of the benefits they receive.


Under the foregoing title a charity was instituted in January, 1823, for the purpose of furnishing the poor with clothing at a cheap rate. Patroness, Her Grace the Duchess Dowager of’ Newcastle. At present it is supported by annual subscriptions of 5s.# each from about one hundred and twenty individuals of the town and neighbourhood; and judging from the last published report, its finances are in a flourishing condition, (having a balance in the savings bank of £73 6s. 4d.) The business is superintended by eight ladies, and a treasurer; and any poor person wishing to be relieved must apply to a subscriber for a ticket, upon shewing which, on the day of sale, they are allowed to purchase such articles (at half price) as they or their children stand most in need of. The number of individuals benefitted by this charity during each year amounts nearly to two hundred.

TREASURER.—Mrs,. Beckwith.
SECRETARY.—Rev. T. F. Beckwith.


This Borough contains five of those useful and provident associations, called "Sick Clubs," which at present are held at the different public houses; but in consequence of a deficiency in the funds, it has been in agitation to have the business transacted in a private room, and to be at no expence whatever save a dinner at the anniversary. The "St. George’s Independent Lodge of Odd Fellows," have likewise a fund in a highly flourishing condition, and from the principles upon which it is founded, no doubt is entertained of its being a great and lasting benefit to those brothers who are members thereof.

Besides these institutions there are others both of a charitable and religious nature, such as the Lying-in Charity, the Bible Society, the Church Missionary Society, &c. &c. which our confined space alone prevents from more particular notice.

* For an account of this property, and the way in which the proceeds were applied, see the account of "the Parish Church.''
# There are those who subscribe more: 10s. entitles a subscriber to two tickets; 15s. to three; and of £1 and upwards to four.