Establishment Of The School And Its Rules Of Governance

Varying dates have been given for the opening of the Preston Grammar School. The Victoria County History, 1923, states that “a school was founded by John Preston in 1805”, (which was actually the date of John Preston junior’s will), while Samuel Lewis’s A Topographical Dictionary of England states that "the school was founded by John Preston who bequeathed the money in 1814", (the date of his death).

What is certain is that the contest over John Preston’s will carried on for some years and it was actually on Saturday 5th May 1832 that the Yorkshire Gazette reported:

Charity School at Stokesley.
The foundation of a charity school at Stokesley in Cleveland was laid on Monday last by the Venerable Archdeacon Harcourt, who made a very excellent speech on the occasion. The school will be endowed under the will of the late John Preston Esq, and the Rev T Todd (Master of the Cleveland Academy at Stokesley) will be appointed Head Master

Sir Henry Brougham, Lord Chancellor 1830-34


The Chancery Scheme for the Preston School, 1834

In 1834 the Court of Chancery recorded its official scheme for the Regulation and Management of The Preston School. These accurately reflected the terms of John Preston's endowment and instituted 18 rules which can be condensed as follows:

1. That the charity is designated “The Preston School”
2. That the entire direction and management of the School is “vested in the Rector, Churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the township of Stokesley for the time being together with the Trustees in whose names the Funds of the Charity shall for the time being be invested
3. Those appointed to manage the school shall be named Trustees and Overseers of the school. That they form a committee which will have full authority to establish rules and regulations as they see fit to benefit the school (as long as they do not contravene those sanctioned by the Lord Chancellor).
4. That at the next committee meeting in January 1835 2 Trustees should be appointed to make the number up to 5 and that at each annual meeting thereafter to ensure that sufficient Trustees are appointed not exceeding 5 and not less than 3.The Lord of the Manor of Stokesley should be one of the Trustees unless he objects.
5. Majority decisions will be needed to settle differences of opinion and the Chairman will have the casting vote.
6. The Committee may apply to the Lord Chancellor for permission to buy a house for the Master if such a convenient opportunity arises and to use part of the funds for the purchase as “his lordship may think fit to order for that purpose”.
7. There should be a “Master qualified for teaching the classics, Mathematics, Reading Writing and Arithmetic and an Under Master qualified to teach the latter three branches of education”.
8. The Master assisted by the Under Master or Usher should teach subjects as set out in rule 7 to the children of those who are able and willing to pay in part for their Education (the charges to be paid to the Master to be fixed by the Committee) and also to teach the same branches of education (or those areas directed by the Committee) to 12 poor children, more or less (the number to be fixed by the Committee) belonging to the parish of Stokesley (first preference to those in the township of Stokesley), whose parents “may in judgement of the committee be thought so poor as not to be well able to pay for themselves”.
9. Apart from any fees the Master receives from paying students he shall receive a salary of £130 paid half yearly once the Dividends of the stock are received. Out of his salary the Master shall pay the Under Master or Usher an annual sum to be fixed by the Committee.
10. If a house is purchased as in rule 6 then the Master will have an annual sum decided by the Committee, deducted from his salary in lieu of rent. The Master will be responsible for the upkeep of the house and for paying all taxes and assessments on the property.
11. Once every half year the boys are to take public examinations in the several Branches of Education and the best rewarded “for their Proficiency by Prizes”. £5 will be set aside out of the Dividends to pay for such prizes.
12. Any surplus dividends will be set aside to pay for repairs and improvements. The Committee will not be allowed to touch the capital without permission of the Lord Chancellor and without making a separate application to him for that purpose.
13. In December each year the Rector will convene a General meeting by giving written notice to all Committee members. The meeting to be held no earlier than the 15th December and no later than 30th January. At this time the accounts will be audited and signed by a majority of the Committee present at the meeting. If the Rector is away from Stokesley then any four members of the Committee can and should call a general meeting after 1st January giving 10 days’ notice.
14. Any four members of the Committee can call a meeting in relation to the regulation and management of the Charity and its funds. The reason for the meeting must be stated when notice is given. Those present will be within their rights to act on the business specified in the Notice given.
15. The Rector of Stokesley shall be the Chairman for the time being but in his absence the Chairman should be chosen from a majority of members present at any such meeting. If there is no majority decision then the members present shall draw lots for a casting vote.
16. The committee shall be responsible for appointing the masters as required but no one shall be appointed without “previously producing a Certificate in the hand writing of the Rector, for the time being, that he has been examined and is duly qualified for the office”
17. The Committee have the power to remove any master for misconduct or irregularity, who will be immediately removed from the schoolroom and premises. The key will then be kept by the Rector until a new appointment is made.
18. Whenever the Committee is mentioned in any of these rules the decision of the majority of those present is to be understood and the Chairman will have an additional or casting vote when voting is tied.

These rules provided the framework for the running of the Preston School for nearly twenty years, but the powers of the Trustees were later to be further curtailed by legislation in parliament.

The Charitable Trust Act 1853 - 'An Act for the better Administration of Charitable Trusts'

A “Trust” is defined as the giving of property i.e. buildings, shares, bonds, bank annuities etc. for the benefit of people and it is administered by Trustees.

• The above Act came into being on 20th August 1853 and was designed to ensure that Trusts were effectively and fairly managed. Its impact on The Preston Grammar School and its governance was to take away direct control and management of the Trust’s capital whilst still leaving the day to day management of the school to the administrative trustees.
• The Expression “charity” in the Act meant every endowed foundation and institution in England and Wales “within the meaning or interpretation of statute of the 43rd year of Queen Elizabeth ch 4.”
• The Act established The Charity Commissioners for England and Wales. There were to be 4 commissioners, three of whom would hold office “during good behaviour”, including two who had to have been barristers for a minimum of 12 years. One of these three commissioners would be the Chief Commissioner. The 4th Commissioner and any secretary or inspector would hold office “at the Queens’ pleasure”.
• The Commissioners formed The Board which would enquire into all charities except those exempted from the Act and into all cathedral, collegiate, chapter and other schools.
• The Lord Chancellor could issue rules and regulations to a charity particularly if the charity had been or was in the Court of Chancery – (as the Preston case had been)
• Existing Trustees could be ordered to transfer stock/shares/money to “Official Trustees”
• The Secretary of the Board was to be known as “treasurer of public charities”, and was to permit the persons acting in the administration of the charity to have possession and control of trust estates, and the application thereof.
• The Secretary of the Board and such other public officers as the Lord Chancellor were to appoint, or to be, Official Trustees of Charitable Funds to whom stocks or annuities etc. could be transferred. The Official Trustees would then pay the income thereof to the trustees or persons acting in the administration of the charity
• Trustees acting in administration of the charity must submit accounts and statements if required to Inspectors and must return in writing answers to any questions asked of them.

Thus the Charitable Trust Acts of 1853 and the subsequent amendment in 1855 created the Charity Commissioners as an body with full advisory and supervisory powers over endowed charities, i.e., charities the capital of which had to be preserved and which could use only their income. Those powers included the right to require the submission of accounts and to control dealings in land. The Trustees of the Preston School were therefore no longer truly independent, and even the terms of the endowment might be altered by the Charity Commissioners..

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Preston Grammar School - the Headmasters and their Work

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