Witham schools c.1700-1815
Includes information from David Tomlinson and Janet Gyford, February 2001
Note that JG has only searched the Ipswich Journal up to 1764 and the Chelmsford Chronicle 1764-September 1784, and 1814.
Reference numbers are ERO (Essex Record Office) unless otherwise stated.
E.R.O. D/DBw M82, is an abstract of the court rolls and books of the manors of Witham and Newland. The number and description could help to identify more details.
(1) Private schools c.1700-1815
|Name; first name first||First year that school was known||
Info from David Tomlinson, obtained from adverts in
Ipswich Journal and Chelmsford Chronicle
Further info from Janet Gyford
|Mrs Jane Aldridge||1775||
1775 (Feb) – 1779 (July): from
1779 Sale of Mrs A’s furniture (doesn’t say she had
died) (Chelmsford Chronicle 5 November 1779).
|Thomas Allen||1763 or 1775?||
1763 (June) a Mr Allen opened a dancing school in
Colchester – described as organist of Witham – is this the same as
Thomas ? For three years, had been assistant to Revd John Caldow. Before
that, occasionally assisted Revd Charles Case. Taught drawing at Mr
Aylmer’s school for five years.
1775 (Dec): took over Red Lion and opened school.
1784 (June): school taken over by Revd Alex Murray.
More than one Thomas. See also William Allen.
1738-40: TA elder was brother of William and son of
1740: Husband of Elizabeth who was left property (no.
1740: Occupied Corner House and waste adjoining
1742: Had 18 windows in Window Tax (D/Z 3).
1743: witnessed will of John Bourne (D/ACR 15/189).
1746, 1748, 1750: witnessed apprenticeship indentures
1751: a TA witnessed the will of Thomas Sandford (with
1763: Ref to Mr Allen, of Witham, organist and dancing
1775 (April) TA to open school (earlier than DT’s ref).
1776: Advertised for an assistant in his school (Chelmsford Chronicle
1777: Had moved from his house opposite the George inn
1778: Advert that TA had engaged a gentleman from
1779: TA advertised for a person to teach Latin and
1783: Ref to TA elder as late brother, deceased, of
1786: Previously occupied a piece of garden (D/DO
1787: Previously occupied a property that was
1793 approx: bookseller (Universal British Directory).
1794: occupied premises (probably next to 117 Newland
1814: will of TA ‘clerk to the justices of Witham
There were two or more William Allens: I have put a selection of
references to all of them. It looks as if the teaching might have come
after the bankruptcy ? See also Thomas Allen.
1716-1776 In various years a WA witnessed
1717-19: property occupied by a WA (no. 51) (now site
1732: Churchwarden (D/P 30/14/1).
1738: Will of William Allen elder; sons Thomas and
1738-40: William Allen (junior?) occupied and bought
1742: 11 windows in Window Tax (D/Z 3).
1743: bought properties at Chipping Hill. (properties
1747: Churchwarden (D/P 30/14/1).
1748: Elizabeth Taverner, widow of Dr James Taverner
1753: William Allen, shopkeeper and chapman, was
1753: Assignees sold WA’s properties as above
1759: ‘Wanted immediately (as an usher) at Witham
1762 – 1776 (approx): A WA occupied
1763: Ref to Mr Allen, of Witham, organist and dancing
1782: WA younger a tailor (D/DBw M44).
1783: William Allen senior, gentleman, died. Another WA
|Anne Aylmer and Robert Aylmer||1762||
1762 (Jan) – ?: boarding school for young ladies.
Husband, Robert; peripatetic dancing master.
1779: they lived in Colchester. 1780
All this relates to Robert. Information marked with an asterisk is from
various letters from John Butt.
c.1747-1760: subscriber to local composers i.e. Joseph
1754: Brabazon Aylmer of Ulting left estate to wife and
1755: RA of St Peters Colchester and another bound RA
1757: A Mr Aylmer has taken over Colchester School of
1761: Advert for opening Mr and Mrs Aylmer’s school
1765 approx: Robert occupied property (no. 12)
1797: Robert previously occupied land (no. 155, a close
1780 (after Christmas): opened the school after Anne A.
(her mother?) died.
|Robert Aylmer||1762||See Anne Aylmer.||See Anne Aylmer.|
1761 (Jan) – 1767 (Feb): Boarding
school for young ladies. Wife of the Independent minister in Witham.
School closed as her husband was moving to another pastorate.
1768 (May): Revd John Caldow took Mrs Burnett’s house
1752-67: Revd. John Burnett pastor of Congregational
church (D/NC 3/1).
|Miss Jane Bright||1814||—||
1814: Had a ‘preparatory school for little boys’ at
Howbridge Hall (Chelmsford Chronicle, 20 May, 10 June, 24
1830-62: Various references to a Miss Jane Bright
1862: Auction of her house after her death (D/DU 56/4).
|Revd John Caldow||1768||
1768 (Jan) – 1778 (Dec): boarding school for young
1768 (May): took Mrs Burnett’s house. Employed
1778: took a partner. Quite a big school (1768: not
1779 (June) – 1790: Mr H Thompson took over Revd John
1782: taught Latin and Greek in Mr Till’s school at
1767: School to be opened at Witham; details. Rev. John
Caldow had previously been usher to the Grammar School at Lavenham for
8½ years. His ad. said ‘Witham is a pleasant and healthy town, where are
convenient houses for young gentlemen to board in’
(Chelmsford Chronicle 12 June 1767; i.e. before DT’s
c.1768: John Crosier attended ‘Caldow’s Academy at
1782: School to be opened at Rainham by John Till from
|Revd Charles Case||1771||
1771 (March): to open school; dissenting minister at
1771-1773?: school ran
1767-82: Pastor of Congregational church. Died 1782
(D/NC 3/1; Chelmsford Chronicle 14 June 1782)
1772: school advertised as ‘Protestant dissenting
1772: Book by CC advertised: ‘Objections against human
?date: Sermon by CC in ERO library.
1766: RD witnessed will of Abraham Lake (D/ACR 17/32).
1768: RD advertised his services as a land surveyor and
1769: RD wrote an article about the comet for the
1770: new advert, on death of Timothy Skinner, surveyor
1771: new advert again
1772: RD witnessed will of Robert Goslin (D/ACR 17/338)
1774: RD prepared map of Jacob Pattisson’s land in
1790 (April): took over Mr H Thompson’s house. Boarding
school for young gentlemen.
1790: advert called his school ‘Witham School’.
1794: moved premises.
1803: school known as ‘Witham Place Academy’ (is this
1816 (Feb): school still functioning.
1791: Witnessed will of John Firman (D/DCm F7).
c.1793: JD schoolmaster (Universal British Directory).
1803: JD one of trustees of Greene’s charity (Charity
1803-1804: JD, schoolmaster, one of trustees of Bridge
1803:1815: JD one of trustees of
1806: A xerox of a copy book of John Harridge of Witham
1818: ‘Lord Stourton had formerly a seat at Chipping
1825: Revd J.S.Dunn purchased lot 5 in Maldon Road in
1855: JD previously occupied part of property 44
1862: One room remained of Witham Place with stepped
|Miss Dyer and Miss Fulcher||1783||
1783 (March): took the Misses Elliotts’ house.
1791 (autumn): school continued till then.
1784: Miss D occupied part of building, following Miss
Love (probably part of Medina House, site of 80-84 Newland Street, next
to the part occupied by Alexander Murray) (D/DO T739, T756, D/ACR
1785: Miss D occupied tenement on north side of Newland
The following are maybe too late to be the same one?.
1826-27: Miss D one of ‘gentry and clergy’ (Pigot’s directory).
1839: Miss D one of ‘gentry and clergy’ (Pigot’s directory).
1839: A Sarah Dyer occupied part of house and garden
1840: Miss D resident in Mill Lane; three in house of
1859: A Mary Dyer had previously occupied adjoining
See also Mrs Dyer.
1814 Mrs D resigned and Miss Larcher taken over ladies’
seminary (Chelmsford Chronicle, 1 July)).
See also Miss Dyer.
1781 (July) – 1783?: boarding school
for young ladies.
1783 (March): Miss Dyer and Miss Fulcher took the
|1781: First advert says she was ‘of Ipswich’ ((Chelmsford Chronicle 6 July 1781).|
|Thomas Fort||1785||—||Thomas, an infant of Thomas Fort, ‘scoolmaster’, buried|
|Miss Fulcher||1783||See Miss Dyer||—|
|Miss Larcher||1814||—||See Mrs Dyer.|
|Miss Love||1779||1779 (April) – 1780?||
1780: A Hannah Maria Love had purchased property in
Maldon Road (later site of Trafalgar Square, now site of roundabout to
Tesco). Daughter of Stephen and Mary Love (Stephen probably of Watford
so maybe Hannah didn’t live in Witham either) (D/DBw M39 re property 39;
1780: Miss L. had engaged an assistant. Children at the
1781: Advert for Miss Love’s school (later than DT’s)
1784: Miss L had occupied part of building before Miss
1785: Previously occupied tenement on north side of
1825: An Ann Love had died and her property went to
1783: dancing master at Rev Henry Thompson’s school
(Chelmsford Chronicle 10 January 1783).
|Alexander Moreland||1785||—||See Alexander Murray.|
|Revd Alex Murray||1784||
1784 (June): Took over Thomas Allen’s school.
1784 (June) – 1785? taught in Witham.
1785: Garden in possession of Alexander Moreland,
schoolmaster, for sale (Sale catalogue B462, part of Lot VI, probably
what was formerly Lion fields, now site of Guithavon Street etc.).
1786: Alexander Moreland, also known as Murray,
1813 (Oct): opened an expensive classical and
commercial seminary (under 12s 40 guineas, over 12s 50 guineas).
1814 (July): still functioning.
Writing master and accountant.
1776, March: opened school – did it last long? For the
1766: A Mr Sly occupied premises (not sure where) (D/DE
1770: JS occupied property 91 (now site of 32 Newland
1771: John Sly of Stoke by Nayland took over Witham
1774: JS voted Whig. Had freehold in Felsted, was
1775: Advert about lodging rooms for boarders (earlier
|Mr H Thompson||1779||
1779 (June) – 1790: took over Revd John Caldow’s
1790 (March): his house to let.
1790 (April): James Dunn took over Mr H Thompson’s
1785: A — Thompson previously occupied Pound cottage
(probably top of what is now Avenue Road, where the pound was) (Sale
1788-1803: Reverend Henry Thompson occupied part of
|Mr John Till||1782||
1782: Rev John Caldow of Witham taught Latin at Mr
Till’s school at Rainham (was Till Caldow’s partner ?)
1782: School to be opened at Rainham by John Till from
Witham. For his character consult Rev Caldow. Latin and Greek will be
taught by Revd. Caldow if required (Chelmsford Chronicle 11January 1782).
1763: Ref to Mr Allen, of Witham, organist and dancing
master, in Colchester as mentioned by DT, and also at ‘Mr Ward’s’ at
Chipping Hill in Witham (Ipswich Journal 4 and 18 June)* (could
be Thomas or William Allen, q.v.; Arthur Brown
Witham in the Eighteenth Century, page 15, said it was William
but I haven’t found proof which one yet) (there were other Wards in
Witham but mostly a bit early or late for this)
|Mrs ? Ward||1760s||1760s (early): Had a school on Chipping Hill.||
— (there were other Wards in Witham but mostly a bit early or late for
n.d. – Photograph of drawing of ‘Witham School’ (T/P
339/1/16). I have had difficulty placing this. From its appearance it
seems most like the building that used to be known as the Wilderness
(52-54 Newland Street), demolished in the 1960s. I suppose it could
possibly have been James Dunn’s before he moved to Witham Place.
1807 (July): opened boarding school for young ladies.
1815 (Jan): still functioning.
1814: Miss Woollaston occupied ‘Batfords’ (now 100
Newland Street) as a Ladies’ Boarding School (Sale Catalogue B844).
(2) Private schools c.1815 to c.1830 so might have been there a bit
|Name; sur-name first||Name; first name first||First year school known||
Information from Janet Gyford
|Grant, Miss||Miss Grant||1823-24||1823-4 and 1826-7: Miss Grant (ladies boarding) (Pigot’s directory, under ‘Academies’).|
|Harridge, Miss||Miss Harridge||1826-27||1826-27: Miss Harridge (ladies day) (Pigot’s directory, under ‘Academies’).|
|Nutt, —||— Nutt||Pre 1833||
1833: ‘Schoolmaster Nutt’ previously occupied property
now near 36 Newland Street, partly taken up by Collingwood Road.
|Steele, Miss Isabella||Miss Isabella Steele||1823-24||
1823-24: Miss Steele ladies boarding school under (Pigot’s directory, under ‘Academies’)
1826-27: Miss Steele ladies boarding school under (Pigot’s directory, under ‘Academies’)
1839: Isabella Steele had boarding school under (Pigot’s directory).
1839: Isabella Steele occupied house now High House,
1840: Miss S resident south side of Newland Street.
1841: Arabella [sic] Steele, schoolmistress (aged 50),
(3) Charity and public schools
(a) Extracts from ‘Public Spirit: dissent in Witham and Essex 1500-1700, of possible relevance to 18th century schools
Chapter 2: ‘Useful information’: Teachers
None of the Witham establishments developed into formal ‘grammar schools’, as happened in some other towns. The licensing system was suspended during the Civil War, but re-introduced in 1660. In 1664, in addition to the licensed teacher Witham had, according to the churchwardens ‘some private schooles taught by women soe farr as horne booke and plaster and learning Children to knit and Sowe’. Horn books were boards displaying the alphabet and numbers. Perhaps ‘dame’ schools like these had always existed without need of official consent, though they may have benefited from the reduced regulation since 1642.
Chapter 11: 1660 onwards
Jonas Warley, 1680-1722 [vicar]
Warley’s will of 1722 shows him to have been quite a wealthy landowner, and his bequests to his wife Deborah, who survived him by twelve years, included: a silver cup with a cover, a little silver cup, a silver porringer, a pair of silver sconces, a silver hand candlestick, her gold watch, a diamond ring, a pair of diamond earings, a peice of old gold … [and] … the use of … a silver ladel, a little silver tankard, two silver salts, six new silver spoons cyphered D.W. … the Silver Tea pott and two small silver salvers.
Several charitable bequests benefited Clare Hall in Cambridge, his birthplace of Elham in Kent, and some national organisations. His gifts to Witham did not fare well after his death. Funds left for bread for poor women were used to rebuild the steeple, whilst one of his successors borrowed the money which he gave for teaching the poor, and disappeared to Ireland with it during the 1780s. He asked that his papers should be burnt after his death, except for a special collection of sermons that had been given on public occasions, whose whereabouts is not now known. So the most enduring survival of his life in Witham is the epitaph on his tomb in the north aisle of the church’
“He was very diligent and constant in the discharge of his Archidiaconal and pastoral office; a great promoter of good works; witness this church, and the recovering 18£ per annum for 4 Almspeople, which had been lost near 80 years. He was ready to oblige every one in his Power, and willingly offended none; was always steady to the Principles and Interest of the Church, yet of so courteous a temper, as all parties respected him. He did, not only in his life do a great many good works, but left considerable Sums to several Charitys of divers kinds when he died, and lamented by most who knew him.”
Other clergy and teachers [1660 onwards]
The teacher Thomas Ponder, probably a Cambridge graduate, and quite elderly, provided a steady presence in the parish during the constant changes before Warley’s arrival. His wife Priscilla was one of the Garrard family, whose wealth was starting to decline; she was the sister of nonconformist Robert Garrard(2). Ponder was authorised by the bishop in 1662 ‘to teach children and others in the Rudimentes of Grammar and such other English books as are lawfully allowed to be taught in the Realme of England’. In 1664 his was reported to be the town’s only licensed school, though there were other ‘private schooles taught by women’. He was also curate of the adjoining parish of Cressing. Nine Witham wills were witnessed and probably written by him between 1669 and 1678, many more than were witnessed by the vicars. He lived in a two-hearth house, but was recorded as a pauper in 1662 and again at his death in 1679, when no valuation was made of his goods, even though the parish register called him a ‘gentleman’. Two bequests made to him by his Witham relatives may in the circumstances have been acts of charity. His brother-in-law Robert Garrard(2) left him a ‘coat that is in John Skinner’s hands to be altered’, and his nephew John Ponder left him £10, some clothes, and two books by Laudian authors. His widow Priscilla seems to have fared rather better, perhaps with funds from her relatives, as she bought a house in Newland Street in 1687 (where no.20, ‘Tiptree Villa’, now stands). Her goods were worth £25 when she died in 1696. She left the house to her youngest daughter Elizabeth, together with a Bible. Elizabeth, then aged 30, was ‘not in her Right Sences’, so her brother was to supervise her property.
Vicar Francis Wright had no curate, but his successor John Harper appointed one, William Howe, in 1669. John Ponder, Thomas’s nephew, wanted Howe to preach his funeral sermon in 1678, and left him forty shillings for doing so. Howe also witnessed the will, but did not witness any others in Witham. One other teacher was layman Robert Burchard(5), like Ponder connected with a family of gentlemen and yeomen who had been established in the parish since the late sixteenth century. The Burchards had lived in the same Newland Street house throughout (now the site of nos.103/109, part of the Co-op in 1998). Robert(5) is first recorded as teaching in 1706, but he was already aged about 56 by then, and may have begun earlier. By the 1720s, his establishment seems to have been the only one in the parish that was regarded as a ‘school’. Amongst his pupils were five ‘Charity Children’ paid for by the bequest from vicar Jonas Warley.
(b) Other schools founded by parish and churches
(i) ‘Sunday and day school’
Admission registers 1787-1813 survive in the parish records for a Sunday school and for a ‘Monday and Friday school’ (which became called the Day school) (D/P 30/1/2A)). They give details of parents and their occupation, and of where the children went when they left. There was an essay submitted for the Emmison prize in 1965 about the Sunday School (T/Z 13/106).
(ii) National School
Established 1813 at top of Avenue Road (now the site of 64 Avenue Road). The whole site was only 38 feet across and 26 feet deep. Intended for 80 boys and 80 girls. By 1841 it had 98 boys and 126 girls, and new schools were built to replace it in Guithavon Street (Accession 5605 (part)).
(iii) British School
Built 1837 in Guithavon Street (D/NC 3 various). Probably preceded by teaching at the Independent church – see also Charles Case above.
The parish workhouse in Church Street, built 1714, may have had some teaching also. The Union workhouse, built c.1838, had a school (e.g. see census returns).
 Guildhall MS 9539B/14, 9537/24/140v, 9583/2, part 3, f.125v; O.E.D. In c.1760, boys’ and girls’ boarding schools began to advertise in Witham. Church schooling began here in 1787, with new Sunday and Day Schools (Ipswich Journal, 20 Oct.1759, 10 Jan.1761; E.R.O. D/P 30/1/2A).
 P.R.O. PROB 11/586/167 (at first Warley left his ‘Library of Printed Books unless Duplicates’ to the master and fellows of Clare Hall in Cambridge, but this was amended by a codicil so that instead they were to have £50 when they began to build a new chapel and another £50 towards the building of a ‘New Theater’); Elham [Kent] Parish Magazine, December 1984 (Anne Brambleby kindly pointed this out); E.R.O. D/ACW 28 (Deborah Warley); manor no.156; Charity Commissioners Report, p.914; Fowler, 1911, p.22; E.R.O. D/P 30/25/92. Lilly Butler, vicar 1762-82, who took the school money, became chaplain to the Duke of Buckingham in Ireland, and Dean of Ardagh; he died in Boulogne in 1792 (Alumni Cantabrigiensis,).
 Alumni Cantabrigiensis; E.R.O. D/P 30/25/90, 91; E.R.O. D/DA T549; E.R.O. D/P 30/1/1; Gyford, 1996, pp.187, 191-92; Guildhall MSS 9539B, f.14, 9537/16, ff.17, 18v, 9537/18, f.27v; 9537/19, f.23, 9583/2, part 3, f.125v. Thomas Ponder was probably ordained in 1637. In 1654 he and his wife had lived at Stoke by Nayland in Suffolk. Venn gives him as curate of Witham as well as of Cressing in 1664, but this probably arises from a misinterpretation of the entry as schoolmaster at Witham in the same year. The churchwardens’ presentment of that year says that there was no curate in Witham. In 1669 Ponder may have been about to leave Cressing, as the vicar was ordered to get a new curate (Guildhall MS 9537/16, f.18v, 9583/2, part 3, ff 124-25v). Wills witnessed by Ponder: E.R.O. D/ACW 18/112, 18/140, 18/226, 18/318, 18/357, 19/18, 19/80, 19/112. He also witnessed other documents such as apprenticeship indentures (E.R.O. D/P 30/14/1; E.R.O. D/P 30/18/3). House, poverty, bequests etc.: E.R.O. Q/RTh 1/29, 5/18, 8/9, 9/7; Guildhall MS 9538B, f.14; E.R.O. D/ACAc 2, f.74; E.R.O. D/P 30/1/1; E.R.O. D/ACW 19/46, 19/80, 22/102; D.N.B; manor no.102 (see also 170, 173); E.R.O. D/P 30/1/2. The two books were ‘Geography’ by Peter Haylin, and a set of sermons by Lancelot Andrewes.
 Howe: Alumni Cantabrigiensis; E.R.O. D/ACW 19/18. Burchard: Guildhall MS 9537/24, f.140v; E.R.O. D/ACW 14/194, 20/100 (probably wills of Robert Burchard(5)’s grandfather and father respectively); manor no.1; P.R.O. PROB 11/586/167; E.R.O. D/P 30/25/93; E.R.O. D/P 30/1/2 (11 June 1738, burial of ‘Mr.Robert Burchard, formerly schoolmaster’, aged 88); E.R.O. T/A 778/2 (microfilm of Guildhall MS 25750/1). In 1722 it was said that the children were ‘only taught to read and write’ at Burchard’s school, but it was ‘duly manag’d and attended’.