Preston Grammar School - The Headmasters And Their Work

Reverend Thomas Todd - The First Headmaster (1833 -1850)

Thomas Todd was born in Whitehaven in 1799, the son of Edward and Isabella Todd. Edward himself was a schoolmaster and Thomas attended St Bees, College, Whitehaven. This was an establishment founded in 1817 by Bishop Law (Bishop of Chester, and later of Bath and Wells) and endowed by the Earl of Lonsdale. Its purpose was to supply good and economical education for candidates for Holy Orders.
“Students previous to admission are expected to be well versed in the Classics, so that the course of study does not exceed 2 years. In this period the standard divinity works are diligently studied and such principles inculcated as are likely to form faithful ministers of the Gospel where as far as their spheres for exertion will permit may be able to preserve the Church in its original purity, free from those errors which indistinct notions are apt to engender”

Year lists for the academy appear in the “St Bees College Calendar” published in 1859. Thomas is listed in 1822. (This document can be found on line)

Kildale Church, where Thomas Todd became Rector in 1842


Thomas was ordained Deacon 10th July 1825 when he was appointed assistant Curate in Ingleby Greenhow with a £50 stipend. He did not possess a degree but was considered by the Bishop to be sufficiently educated for ordination following his course at St Bees, and became a priest on 2nd July 1826.
Alongside his holy orders Thomas also pursued the occupation of his father for he is mentioned in Pigot’s Directory of 1828 under “Academies and Schools” as running a Classical Day School for Gentlemen in the Stokesley district
Thomas married Elizabeth Jackson, from Wilton, in Stokesley on 14th March 1833. They had at least 4 sons and 3 daughters. Thomas’s younger sister, Elizabeth Todd also lived with them (see the 1841 and 1851 censuses). In 1841 Thomas and his family were living on Front Street, Stokesley. In the following year he was to become Rector of Kildale but nevertheless in the census of 1851 they were still living in the town, but in West End. This implies that a settled School Master’s House had not yet been purchased.

The Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 21st December 1833 shows Thomas recruiting for fee-paying students:
“The Rev Thomas Todd, Master of Stokesley Grammar School receives into his house a limited number of Young Gentlemen as Boarders and Pupils. They are instructed in the several branches of Classical, Mathematical and Commercial Learning; and strict attention is paid to the formation of their Principles and Morals. They are Parlour Boarders and treated as a part of the family.
For boys under 12 years of age – 26 Guineas per annum
For boys above 12 years of age – 30 Guineas per annum
An extra charge for washing only.
N.B. Three months’ notice required previously to the removal of a Pupil”

As Headmaster Thomas would have received the annual salary as stipulated in the “rules” laid down in 1834 plus any fees from paying students, which would appear to be a minimum of 26 guineas per boy per year. He would also have his stipend as Assistant Curate of Ingilby Greenhow, and later, as Rector of Kildale.

In 1834 there must have been sufficient pupils (whether fee paying or not) to warrant an extra member of staff, as we read in the York Herald Saturday 20th September:

“Wanted – An UNDER MASTER in the Preston Grammar school at Stokesley. Salary £50 per annum. Candidates to appear with testimonials at their expense, at Stokesley, on the First Day of October next, to be examined by the Reverend Leveson Vernon Harcourt.
Stokesley September 18th 1834”.

Later that same year,however, it would appear that someone was very dissatisfied with the way the Trust was being run, (perhaps because his son had not been chosen for admission as a “free place”):

“The letter of A Poor Tradesman at Stokesley, relative to certain abuses in ‘Preston’s Charity’ is under consideration. If inserted as written, it would be deemed libellous”
York Herald 1st November 1834

When in 1842 Thomas Todd became Rector of Kildale, he remained as Headmaster. His new post would presumably have increased his annual income, but put pressure on the time and energy he could devote to his school:
“Appointment – The Rev Thomas Todd, headmaster of The Preston Grammar School, Stokesley, and son of Mr Edward Todd of Whitehaven, has been instituted to the Rectory of Kildale, Yorkshire, by his Grace the Archbishop of York on the nomination of Mrs Livesey of Kildale Hall, the patron, vacant by the death of Rev James Serjeantson of Kirby Knowle”
Carlisle Journal Sat 12 November 1842

The Cleveland Repertory and Stokesley Advertiser January 1844 records an example of Thomas carrying out the examination of pupils and presenting prizes as set out in the conditions of 1834. It states that Rev Thomas Todd along with J P Sowerby, John Grey Esq, and Rev Baldwin Wake attended the half yearly prize giving following the examination of pupils at The Preston School. Prizes were awarded for Latin, Geography, Cyphering 1st Class, Cyphering 2nd Class and Writing. (J.P. Sowerby and J. Grey are known to have been Trustees)

By 1845 Thomas seems to have been successful enough to warrant asking for an increase in the fees for paying students as the following advertisement in the Yorkshire Gazette (19 July 1845) shows:
“The Preston School Stokesley
The Rev Thomas Todd, Rectory Kildale, Head Master has vacancies for TWO BOARDERS – Terms 30 guineas per annum. School re-opens on Monday July 21st 1845”.

Despite this, for unknown reasons, Thomas Todd seems to have relinquished his position as Headmaster round about the end of 1850. By 1853 he was reported as being in financial difficulties, whether as a result of losing his post as headmaster or perhaps even as a result of financial irregularities resulting in his dismissal.

He did however retain his position as Rector of Kildale, as evidenced in the London Gazette (issue 21408 4 Feb 1853):
“Whereas a petition of Thomas Todd of Stokesley in the Co of York, Clerk, Rector of Kildale in the said county, an insolvent debtor, having been filed in the County Court of Yorkshire at Stokesley and an interim order for protection from previous process having been given to the said Thomas Todd………. (he) is required to appear before the said court on the 18th day of Februaury inst. at ten of the clock in the forenoon precisely for his first examination touching his debts, estate and effects, and to be further dealt with according to the provisions of the said statutes and the choice of the creditors’ assignees is to take place at the time so appointed..”


Thomas Todd died in 1860, seven years after being declared an insolvent debtor, and is buried at Kildale.

How he got into such financial difficulties is not known with certainty. However he had lost his position as Master of The Preston Grammar School by 1851 as the Trustees were advertising for a new Master “immediately” in the February of that year.

There is no documentary evidence as to why the Reverend Todd should have lost this position but clearly the loss of his Master’s salary and of any fees from paying students would have hit him hard. Todd did not lose his position as Rector of Kildale so perhaps it may be assumed that his departure was due to poor performance by the boys in examinations or that his role as Rector of Kildale took him away from the school too often. Certainly the following advertisement suggests an element of the latter as the emboldened statement indicates:

“To Schoolmasters
Wanted immediately a MASTER of the PRESTON GRAMMAR SCHOOL at STOKESLEY in the North Riding of the County of York. He will be required to teach the Classics, Mathematics, Reading, Writing and Arithmetic, and procure from the Rector of Stokesley, a Certificate that he has been examined and is duly qualified for the Office, prior to his election. A Clergyman will not be objected to, but a layman will be preferred. Salary £54-15s- 8d a Year with a good Dwelling House, Garden and large School House. The Master will be permitted to take private pupils. An Under Master is attached to the Foundation. Testimonials to be sent to Mr Sowerby, Solicitor, Stokesley, of whom further particulars may be obtained”

York Herald Saturday 1st February 1851

After the death of Thomas Todd, his widow moved to Guisborough where in 1861 she and 2 of her daughters were occupied as teachers, the other being a governess. Her son Edward was also living with her. He was a Master Chemist and Druggist.

The last mentions of Thomas Todd in the press seem to be in announcements on the marriage of his eldest daughter to Thomas Quiggins Esq on 27th July 1864 at Guisborough and that of his second son, George at St Thomas’s church Salisbury on 3rd April 1869.

In both these announcements he is referred to as the “late Rev Thomas Todd, Rector of Kildale”.

Visitors to the church at Kildale can still see the memorial to Thomas and his wife, (pictured right), on the South Wall of the nave.

William Merry - The Second Headmaster (1852 - 1860)

Although there is a gap of one year from the advertisement reported above, (February 1851) and the advertisement below taken from the Yorkshire Gazette, the man who appears to have taken over from Thomas Todd was William Merry, whose appointment was confirmed in 1852. There may however have been an interim Master.
William Merry was born in Malton, North Yorkshire in 1818, and prior to his appointment at Stokesley was the Master of a Grammar School in Scarborough, where the 1851 census shows him living with his mother and sister. The census shows however, that the school was based in Merry's own house and was not a foundation comparable to the Preston School.

When he first took up his position in Stokesley, William seems to have traded heavily on his reputation from Scarborough :
PRESTON GRAMMAR SCHOOL, STOKESLEY. MR MERRY, late Head Master of the Scarboro Grammar School having accepted the like appointment at the above Establishment, respectfully informs the Friends of his late Pupils, and the public generally, that he will continue to receive a small number of Young Gentlemen into his House as Boarders
The Course of Instruction will be the same as that which Mr Merry has so successfully pursued at Scarborough during the last twelve years, comprising all the essentials of a Liberal Education.
The school will be opened on Monday Jan 20.
Stokesley Jan 7 1852

Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 10 January 1852

It would appear that William was soon examining pupils other than those at Preston Grammar School. In 1853 we find that he was involved in the examination of students at the Free Grammar School in Great Ayton:
Great Ayton, Cleveland. The Pupils of the Free Grammar School of this place, lately rebuilt and endowed by the munificence of the patron of the living, G. Marwood, Esq of Busby Hall, were examined by Mr Merry and Mr S Hunter M.C.P. on Wednesday 21st instant, in English Grammar, Bible and general history, geography, the higher branches of arithmetic, mechanics &c and acquitted themselves in a manner highly creditable to themselves and their teacher.
Yorkshire Gazette (Saturday 24th December 1853)

This is an especially interesting notice, particularly as William eventually became a teacher in Great Ayton!

On Thursday 4th January 1855 William Merry married Mrs Elizabeth Wilson of Habton Grange, Kirby Misperton. Elizabeth had previously been married to William Wilson, a farmer and had several children from her former marriage.
The 1855 Slater’s Commercial Directory lists 6 educational establishments in Stokesley including “Preston’s Grammar School, High Green – William Merry head-master; Henry Fawcett, second master"
(Henry Fawcett later became the fourth headmaster – see below)

Merry continued to advertise for boarders but no fee was specified, except to say that fees were “moderate”. Perhaps advertisements of this kind enabled him to adjust fees depending on circumstances. He is nevertheless insistent that the vacant positions are not for ordinary boys:
Mr Merry, Head Master of this school, begs to inform his FRIENDS, that he continues to receive into his house as BOARDERS, a limited number of YOUNG GENTLEMEN, whom, from his great experience in Tuition, Mr M. is enabled to instruct in all Branches of a liberal Education.
The VACATION will close (D.V.) on MONDAY January 20th 1856

Yorkshire Gazette (Saturday 5 January 1856)

The examination of pupils in 1858 again seems to have been accompanied by general approval of the progress being made and of the work being undertaken by Mr Merry and his under master:
STOKESLEY – The half yearly examination of the pupils at Preston Grammar School (Mr Merry, headmaster) was held on Tuesday last in the presence of the trustees, who awarded very handsome prizes to the most proficient in the various classes, and expressed the highest satisfaction with the attention which the masters had paid them
Yorkshire Gazette (Saturday 26 June 1858)

However, by the time the 1861 census was taken, William Merry had left the Preston Grammar School and was living in Bridge Street Great Ayton with his mother and sister. William at that time was described as 'school master' and his sister as 'schoolmistress'. It would appear that he no longer had the prestigious position of Master and that he was working as an ordinary teacher. William’s wife Elizabeth for some reason was living in Little Habton with her 2 daughters and 1 granddaughter. Under the category of occupation, the census describes her as living on a “Yearly Income”.

Elizabeth Merry died in 1864 and so the 1871 census records William Merry as a widow, still living with his sister in Great Ayton where both were still school teachers.
In the space of 15 years therefore, William Merry had taken up post as Master of Preston Grammar School, had married, had lost or left his post as Master, had lived separately from his wife and had become a widower.

William Merry himself died in 1878 aged 60. His career is difficult to summarize. Newspaper notices show that he had begun his time in Stokesley very positively but for some reason he left Stokesley for Great Ayton, where he ended his life as an ordinary schoolteacher rather than as Master of the prestigious Preston Grammar School. The reasons for Merry's departure from Stokesley are uncertain.

George Shirley Terry - The Third Headmaster (1860/61 - 1863)

George Shirley Terry was born in Bedale in 1838. His father was Rev George T Terry LL.B rector of Full Sutton, and Master of a school there. According to Archbishop Thomson’s Visitation Returns for the Diocese of York, 1865 Rev G. T. Terry had been head master of Lady Lumley’s Grammar School, Pickering and curate of Thornton Dale before moving to Full Sutton. He died at Full Sutton in April 1871 aged 66.

It would appear in retrospect that George S Terry lived a shorter but perhaps more eventful life than his father. In 1855 he was commissioned Ensign by the lord Lieutenant of the West Riding:
Commissions signed by the Lord Lieutenant of the West Riding
“……… George Shirley Terry, Gent, to be ensign……”

Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 15 September 1855

By 1860 he was Assistant Master at the Royal Naval School, New Cross, Kent. Either he, or his father, advertised his “expertise” in preparing young men, (or at least one certain young man), for examinations.

Master F HEMERY, who out of the eighty-eight candidates to be examined for naval cadetship, at the late examination at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth, obtained the ninth place, was prepared for his examination by Mr George Shirley Terry, son of the Rev. G T Terry of Full Sutton Rectory near this city.
Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 15 September 1860

This success was no doubt cited in his application for the post of Master of Preston Grammar School when it was advertised in September 1860. This advertisement makes mention of a house and gardens being provided for the Master and of the fact that there was a substantial number of existing fee paying pupils:
WANTED Immediately a MASTER of the PRESTON GRAMMAR SCHOOL, at Stokesley in the North Riding of the County of York. He will be required to teach the Classics, Mathematics, Reading Writing, and Arithmetic, and procure form the Rector of Stokesley a Certificate that he has been examined and is duly qualified for the office prior to his election. A Clergyman will not be objected to but a Layman will be preferred. Salary £42-2s-2d a year with a good Dwelling House, Garden, and large School House. The Master will be permitted to take Private Pupils, of whom there are now 40. An Undermaster is attached to the foundation. Testimonials to be sent to Mr Sowerby, Solicitor, Stokesley, of whom further particulars may be obtained.
Stokesley August 27 1860

Yorkshire Gazette 1 September 1860

(It is obvious from this that Merry had achieved no small success in attracting pupils, which fact raises as yet unanswered questions about his reasons for departing what might seem a thriving school and presumably a very good income! Possibly the acquisition of a property in which the Headmaster and pupil boarders would live did not sit well with Merry's plans…)

George Terry married on 26th January 1861 and took up post as Master of Preston Grammar School at about that same time. The following notice of his wedding shows how important social standing was to people at the time:

TERRY-GARWOOD On the 12th inst at Full Sutton church, by the rector of the parish, assisted by the Rev. R Skelton, rector of Levisham and incumbent of Rosedale, Mr George Shirley Terry, late assistant master in the Royal Naval College School, New Cross, Kent, and eldest son of the Rev. George T Terry LL.B, rector of Full Sutton, near this city, to Dorothy Ann, third daughter of Mr Ramsey Garwood, farmer of Full Sutton, and grand-daughter of the Rev. Edmund Garwood, late rector of Hessle in the East Riding of this county.
Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 26 January 1861

In Mr Terry’s first advertisement for pupils soon after taking up his post, he emphasised his proficiency in preparing pupils for the army and navy and he seems to have increased the annual fees – the highest fee now being 48 guineas per year. The advertisement may have been somewhat misleading to people unfamiliar with the locality as Stokesley is described as being near York, instead of 40 miles away!

The ensuing quarter will commence (D.V.) on the 3rd of April next. The course of Instruction pursued at this school comprises a thorough Classical, Mathematical and Commercial EDUCATION; and as only a limited number of Boarders are received in the Head Master’s House, they receive almost individual attention, united with the Comforts of Home. Candidates for Army, Navy or Civil Service quickly prepared for their Examinations.
Terms, from six to twelve Guineas per Quarter.

York Herald 16 February and 30 March 1861

The 1861 census shows George S Terry living with his wife, Dorothy, in 'South River Leven', in the house next to Bethel Chapel. This is where Preston House is situated, and this census entry indicates that the property must have been bought for the Master of the school between 1851 and 1861, and would have been the property mentioned when advertising for the Master in 1860. Also in the house in 1861 were John Braithwaite, a visitor aged 20, a boarder; William Braithwaite, aged 14, a scholar; and Margaret Swales a house servant.

The report on the examination of the pupils in June 1861 appears to indicate that that the Trustees found the new Headmaster an improvement on his predecessor, Mr Merry. They poured praise on Terry's work at the half yearly examinations held only 6 months after he took up post. Whether Terry had managed this himself or whether the boys had been taught well by Mr Merry is of course unknown. However, the mention of the “very great improvement” since Mr Terry took over suggests dissatisfaction with his predecessor, Mr Merry, although the fact that there were 40 private pupils at the school when he left must mean that not everyone was unhappy with his work.

The half yearly examination and distribution of prizes at this school took place in the presence of the Trustees on the 18th inst. Everyone remarked the very great improvement that has taken place in this school since the appointment of Mr Terry to the head mastership. The manner in which the boys acquitted themselves, the apt and ready answers they gave to the searching questions put to them, caused universal admiration, and plainly showed the great care and attention that had been bestowed upon them.
After the examination the following prizes were awarded by the trustees:-Classics: E.G.S. Harrison, Mathematics: Southeran, English History: 1st Mason, 2nd Marshall; Geography: Stephenson; Scripture History: William Barker; Writing: W.S. Ransom; Reading: R Calvert; Drawing: Harrison; General Improvement: J Barker and Brignalls.

Yorkshire Gazette 29 June 1861

Advertisements for pupils later in 1861 show Mr Terry still referring to his success in 1860 at the Naval College rather than successes during his time in Stokesley. Interestingly he is also offering reduced rates for boarders which may suggest that there had been a decline in numbers.

Head Master – GEORGE SHIRLEY TERRY late Assistant Classical and Mathematical Master of Royal Naval School, New Cross, Kent.
This school is most beautifully situated at the foot of the Cleveland Hills on the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Railway; and as only a limited number of Boarders are received in the Head Master’s House, they enjoy the comforts of Home. References given and required. Terms on application to the Head Master.
N.B. One of Mr Terry’s Pupils lately obtained the ninth place out of eighty nine Candidates at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth.

Yorkshire Gazette Saturday 20 July 1861

The Course of Instruction at this school is liberal and comprehensive and Pupils are prepared for the Universities, Army, Navy and Civil Service Examinations
Stokesley is beautifully situated at the foot of the Cleveland Hills on the North Yorkshire and Cleveland Railway. There are several Vacancies for Boarders in the Head Masters House, and a reduction is made in the Terms in the case of two brothers. There is also a Vacancy for the son of a Clergyman at reduced TERMS.
The domestic arrangements are so conducted as to ensure to each Boarder the comfort of home”

York Herald Saturday 21 September 1861

We also hear of extra-curricular activities and links with other schools - although not all local people were happy with school boys using their facilities!

The match between these schools was played at Stokesley on Tuesday last, in a field of Mr Tebb’s kindly lent for the occasion in consequence of the proprietor of the cricket field refusing permission to the Stokesley Grammar School to play their match on it. Only one innings was played on each side, and the game resulted in favour of Stokesley by 34 runs.

York Herald Saturday 5 October 1861
The Stokesley team consisted of: Hind, Young, Wrightson, Mothersdale, Terry (who scored 26 runs – the highest individual score in the match), G Kitching, Ransom, Wake, Fiddler, Taylor and F Kitching. Mr Terry also bowled out 4 of the opposition.

However, the next advertisement shows a complete change in the type of pupil that Mr Terry hoped to attract to his school. He now described Preston Grammar School as the place for “sons of farmers and tradespeople” and states that he had adapted his curriculum for boys from “the above mentioned classes”. No longer was he mentioning university, nor the teaching of Classics, but instead emphasised Bookkeeping and Land surveying. The fees had also been reduced from the earlier maximum of 48 guineas per year to a maximum of 26 guineas per year. Perhaps all was not well.

THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL at Stokesley is especially adapted for the above – mentioned classes, as each Boy is carefully trained for the situation he is destined to fulfil in future life. Especial care and attention is paid to the subjects of Reading, Spelling, Writing, Arithmetic, Book keeping, Land surveying and Mensuration. No extra whatever except Books and Stationery”.
Terms: - Under 12 years of age 20 guineas, above 12 and under 14, 24 guineas, above 14, 26 guineas per annum.

York Herald Saturday 15 March 1862

A comparison of the above advertisements for pupils seems to suggest that although Terry started by aiming high he was soon going down-market in his attempts to procure students. Certainly when the trustees advertised for his replacement there was no mention of 40 existing privately paying students - or any other number. Perhaps Terry's tender age, (23 when he took up post), and lack of formal qualification led some people to take their sons elsewhere.

In any event, Mr Terry stayed in Stokesley only for two or three years, after which time he appears to have taken a degree at Trinity College, Dublin and thereafter was ordained, first as Deacon in 1866 and then as Priest in 1867. He later became Vicar of Mold Green and in the 1871 census he is recorded as living in Huddersfield with his wife. Whether it was his lack of success at the school or simply the calling to become a clergyman that prompted him to leave Stokesley, he lived for only 11 years after leaving the Preston Grammar School.

George S Terry died on 12th December 1874 in Kent. His widow died in 1905 leaving her effects totalling £5.00 to 2 of her nieces. George Terry’s own will was finally proven in 1910, leaving his effects to the same nieces. His effects totalled £10.00.

Henry Fawcett – The Fourth Head Master (1864 – 1903)

Henry Fawcett was born in Great Ayton in 1836. His father was Thomas Fawcett, who at various times was a stonemason, teacher, church warden, and parish constable in the village. Henry's maternal grandfather was Bartholomew Simpson, a yeoman farmer in the Great Ayton district who had also been churchwarden and overseer of the poor.

Despite his apparent standing in the town, Thomas Fawcett was described in the 1851 census as a pauper and died only a few months after the census was taken. Presumably he had become too ill to work. How his son Henry subsequently managed to get to Trinity College, Dublin and obtain a degree is a mystery.

In 1855 Henry, 19 years of age, was listed in Slater’s Commercial Directory as “second master” at Preston’s Grammar School. However Henry then left the area and is next to be found in the 1861 census, living in Brighton and working as an assistant school teacher there. The census states that he is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin. The only Henry Fawcett recorded in the alumni of Trinity College at that time was awarded his degree in 1862, so it may well have been that he had already completed his course in 1861 and that the actual award came later.

An advertisement for a replacement for Mr Terry as Head of the Preston Grammar School was placed in the Yorkshire Gazette in November 1863. It was exactly the same as that used when Mr Terry was appointed in 1860 except that the 1863 version makes no mention of the number of pupils on roll, and asked that the successful candidate would take up post at Christmas 1863.

Mr Terry had stayed only a couple of years and his predecessor Mr Merry seems to have left to take up a lesser post, so in appointing Henry Fawcett it may be that the Trustees had decided to choose someone that they already knew as a previous assistant master, and who was known in, and had connections with the surrounding area. It also seems likely that they wanted someone with a degree, which Mr Terry had lacked, as this would attract more fee paying students. The York Herald, 2nd January 1864 reported his promotion:

Appointment – We hear that Mr Henry Fawcett B.A., Trinity College, Dublin has been appointed to the head mastership of The Preston Grammar School, Stokesley.

On January 14th 1864, Henry married his first wife, Ellen Berry, in Lewes, Sussex. The marriage certificate records that Henry was “Master of Stokesley Grammar School” and gives his father’s name as Thomas Fawcett, schoolmaster. Henry conveniently forgot to mention his father’s main occupation was stonemason.

By April the same year Henry was being recognised in his home town as something of an intellectual:

GREAT AYTON Lecture – A lecture was delivered on Tuesday evening the 29th ult at the British School-rooms, by Mr Henry Fawcett, B.A., headmaster of the Preston Grammar School, Stokesley, on “Ancient and Scripture Wines” being an examination of, and answer to, two lectures delivered by Mr Jabez Inwards. Mr George Dixon was in the chair. In such a teetotal population no arguments however forcible, were likely to be unopposed, but the difficulty consisted in finding on the adverse side one who could compete in scholarship with Mr H Fawcett. Mr Ralph Dixon, however, volunteered to refute the evidence adduced in a lecture to be delivered on the following evening.
York Herald 2nd April 1864.

The 1871 census shows Henry Fawcett living with his wife, Ellen, young son, Henry, 5 boarders and one servant in “South Street Stokesley”, presumably at Preston House, and over his almost forty year career there are many newspaper references to Mr Fawcett advertising for boarders or reporting examination results. These reports show that the original curriculum as set down in Rule 7 by the Lord Chancellor was adhered to and that prizes were allocated as stated in Rule 11 (See Pages 6&7). This adherence to the founder’s wishes was ironically to lead to the downfall of the school.

School Exam – the examination of the scholars at The Preston Grammar School conducted by Mr Henry Fawcett, B.A., head master, in the presence of the Trustees, took place on Tuesday last and passed off in a very satisfactory manner
York Herald 27th June 1868

The advertisement for pupils which follows is interesting as it shows that in order to avoid revealing “reduced rates” as previous headmasters had done, no fee is quoted. It also shows the importance attached to Henry’s qualifications, the number of staff employed and the success of students in an external examination organised by one of the esteemed universities.

The Grammar School, Stokesley
HENRY FAWCETT, B.A., Head Master (aided by Two Assistants) has a few vacancies for Boarders. Terms, which are moderate, will be forwarded on application. Five Junior Candidates were sent from this school to the Cambridge Local Examinations, held at Leeds, in December 1870, all of whom passed.

York Herald 30th September 1871

The Cambridge Assessment website, sets out, in its heritage section, the work it began to do in the 19th century to raise standards in education. The following are extracts from that website and show the standard that Preston Grammar School was setting for its pupils at that time:

Cambridge Assessment was established as the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES) by the University of Cambridge in 1858. We were set up to administer local examinations for students who were not members of the University of Cambridge, with the aim of raising standards in education. We also inspected schools.
UCLES, The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate was formed to set school leaving examinations for non-members of the university. The Syndicate comprised thirteen university academics (one as Secretary) who would set regulations, write question papers, preside over examinations, mark scripts and make the awards. The examinations were held in December to avoid conflict with the Oxford Examinations in July and the first centres were in Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Cambridge, Grantham, Liverpool, London and Norwich.
The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge set up the Oxford and Cambridge Schools Examination Board (OCSEB) to examine ‘first-grade’ schools and meet the needs of public school students destined to go to university.

The newspaper report of the Preston School prize-giving in 1877 shows two significant developments, firstly that Henry Fawcett had now obtained his Master’s degree and second that the school had moved to written exams. The emphasis is definitely on qualifications both for the masters and the students:

Stokesley – Preston Grammar School
Examination. On Tuesday morning the result of the half yearly examination was made known by the head master, Mr H Fawcett, M. A. , to the scholars and trustees present, Mr J. H. Heavyside and Mr John Cail………….

Mr Heavyside said that Mr Cail and himself were well satisfied with the result of the examination, which as they were aware had been conducted on paper instead of the usual vive voce examination in presence of the trustees. The present method would continue in future. It not unfrequently happened at viva voce examinations that many good boys were unable to acquit themselves creditably for the want of sufficient nerve. To those the present method would be an advantage. He hoped the boys as well as the masters would enjoy the vacation and return and work with renewed diligence.
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough 29th July 18771

One of the students, John Weatherill Hind, went on to further distinguish himself the following year:

Cambridge University Local Exams. J. W. Hind Stokesley Grammar School. Mark of Distinction- Latin. 52 gained distinction in this subject – Hind was 25th.
Middlesbrough Daily Gazette 13th May 1878.

J W Hind was the son of John Hind, the Assistant Master at the Preston School. He went on to become a clerk in Holy Orders, and is shown as such in Bradford in the census of 1891. In this same census, his brother William was listed as assistant master at the Preston Grammar School! By 1901, however, he had become a local government clerk.

Also in the 1870’s the boys enjoyed an extra day’s holiday on the marriage of Miss Emily Caroline Marwood to Mr E H Wynne-Finch, an event which was worthy of printing

The scholars of The Preston Grammar school and others were granted a holiday in honour of the occasion and swelled the throng.
Middlesbrough Daily Gazette 13th May 1878

The next decade, the 1880s, saw further press notices and advertisements concerning the school and its head. One notable story is an account of the destruction by fire of the church at Carlton in Cleveland, an interesting story in itself but particularly here as at the end of the report given in the Yorkshire Gazette, October 22nd 1881, it states:

It is fortunate that the diabolical act was not committed at a later period, as at the present time Mr Henry Fawcett, B.A., of Stokesley, is engaged in building a new organ for the church, which would have met with the same fate as the building itself.

It is to be wondered who the journalist was who thought the destruction of an organ would be as significant as the destruction of the church itself, but the article reveals another side to Henry’s talents and his involvement in the community of the Stokesley area.

The value placed on qualifications, not those of Henry but also of his Assistant, is evidenced again in an advertisement in the Northern Echo 18th August 1885:

Mr HENRY FAWCETT, M.A., assisted by Mr John Hind, B.A., has a few vacancies for BOARDERS – Terms on application, The Grammar School, Stokesley.

The following article refers to Henry Fawcett’s son, Henry, whom later census records show qualified at Durham University and eventually became a doctor, living in Mandale House, Thornaby:

Henry Fawcett, - a pupil in the Stokesley Grammar School, has passed with great success, the Durham entrance examination, held last week. He obtained a first class in 4 subjects and a second class in 5, and a mark of distinction in one subject.
Yorkshire Gazette 29th September 1884

The success of the school and its pupils was publicised even in the parish magazine in September 1885, where it was noted:

that at the present time the school (Preston Grammar) is represented by old pupils at three universities. Headmaster Mr H Fawcett. M. A.

In 1888, Henry Fawcett’s first wife died but within two years he remarried. (A wife was probably deemed necessary in an institution taking young boys as boarders!).

Death: Fawcett – On the 2nd inst, at Stokesley, aged 53, Ellen, wife of Henry Fawcett, head master of the Grammar School.
Yorkshire Gazette 10th March 1888

Marriages: FAWCETT-MARTIN On the 19th inst at St Martin’s Seamer, Cleveland Mr Henry Fawcett, M.A., head master of Stokesley Grammar School, to Mary, only daughter of the late William Martin, of St Martin’s, Ely, and formerly of Skipworth Grounds, Norfolk.
York Herald 23rd December 1889

Henry and Mary had one child, daughter named Mabel, born 1892.

At this very time (1888 – 1890) several Acts of Parliament were being passed which were to have a significant impact on the future of the Preston Grammar School:
The Local Government Act 1888 which enabled county councils to be formed. The North Riding of Yorkshire County Council was created in 1889.
The Technical Instruction Act 1889 which permitted local authorities to levy rates up to a maximum of one penny in the pound over a year to aid technical or manual instruction. County and Borough Councils began to provide technical instruction by day and evening classes. Grants were not to be made available to “any school conducted for private profit,” but Preston Grammar School was classed as a Charity school which could be confirmed by the Charity Commission (as of 1859). Any school applying for a grant had to meet certain conditions: the Council would be allowed to have representation on the governing body; accounts had to be submitted and verified; the curriculum had to include “instruction in the principles of science and art applicable to industries, and in the application of special branches of science and art to specific industries or employments”.
• The Local Taxation (Customs and Excise) Act 1890 This diverted 'whisky money' from publicans to local authorities for assisting technical education or relieving rates, thus boosting investment in technical instruction.

Together, these Acts enabled the newly formed North Yorkshire County Council to provide grants to schools which offered technical programmes of study. This might have seemed beneficial as it offered a new potential source of income for the Preston Grammar School, which may have already begun to find it difficult to exist solely on funding from John Preston’s endowment. As only the interest from the capital could be used for school expenses, including salaries, equipment, repairs etc. an additional source of income may have been very welcome. The school applied for and received the grant and amended its curriculum accordingly. This can be seen in the subjects listed in prize-giving reports throughout the 1890s. Several students went on to university level or other institutions and took up careers such as veterinary surgeon, doctor, and engineer. The success of the school in obtaining this grant may have led governors at a later stage to believe that they could easily receive further grants from the Board of Education. However, the existence of such grants gave scope for the establishment of other educational institutions which could in time be direct competitors to the Preston School.

In 1890 the school was again advertising for pupils, and portraying itself as an academic establishment where students were successful, this time in the Northern Echo, March 1890:

The Headmaster has a few VACANCIES for BOARDERS. The following Honours have been obtained by Pupils from the school:- First Class London Matriculation; A First Class Classics, Mathematics and English at Durham University Medical Preliminary Examination; Divinity Prize at Dublin University; and unfailing success at the Cambridge Local Examinations. For terms. &c, Apply to HENRY FAWCETT, M.A.

Also in the 1890’s there were in the press several reports of prize-givings which enable us to identify and investigate some of the students and their backgrounds.2 These prize-giving announcements also show how, although the school continued to teach the subjects laid down in the original scheme of the Court of Chancery, new elements, particularly sciences, were being added to the curriculum. A heavy emphasis was obviously being placed on external examination success and the fact that some of the boys went on to university. Sadly at least two of the boys listed in these articles died at quite an early age while others went on to fight in World War One, some of them sadly falling in the conflict.

Also during the 1890s, Henry Fawcett instituted annual Sports Days. These too were reported in the press, and the contests were not limited to the Preston pupils. Events were established at which the pupils of the Board School also competed, as well as opportunities for old boys and even the wider community tp take part. These events seem to have been very successful, and heightened and broadened the standing of the school - and of its Headmaster.3t

Henry Fawcett himself now enjoyed a high reputation and was involved in many other aspects of local study. In 1892 the Yorkshire Geological Society and Polytechnic met at Stokesley and reported the finding of a Post-Glacial Peat deposit or Forest Bed being found in Stokesley which had not previously been recorded. This discovery was apparently made by Henry Fawcett:

In the Autumn of 1892, Mr Henry Fawcett, Head Master of the Preston Grammar school, Stokesley, called my attention to a section exposed in digging a tank in the garden adjoining his house, some few yards east of the River Leven. After passing through 5ft. 6in. of surface soil and alluvial matter, a thickness of 1ft. 6in. of fine clay was met with, and immediately below this occurred a peaty deposit,……….. Subsequently Mr Fawcett and I gained further information regarding this bed of peat. Some years previously, when the late Canon Bruce was rector of Stokesley, he made an attempt to sink a well near the rectory……….. workmen thrust an iron rod into it to the depth of 12 ft. At a depth of 9ft from the surface they met with leaves and twigs…..
(Extract from a paper given to the meeting by John Hawell, Rev., M.A., F.G.S.)

Other press advertisements from the 1890’s throw light on the domestic arrangements at Henry Fawcett’s home at Preston House:

Housemaid wanted at once; age about 18, good character, reference. Apply Mrs H Fawcett, Grammar school, Stokesley
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough 14th November 1896

Stokesley – Furnished House (12 roomed) detached with good garden. To be let during the month of August. Terms Apply Henry Fawcett, The Grammar School
Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough 22nd July 1896

The first signs of possible future problems arose in 1892, when a letter was sent on behalf of the school's Trustees from Wm Lowther Carrick, solicitor, to the Department of Science and Art in London. This seems to have been in response to a request sent from the Department to Henry Fawcett asking for details of the school, the reason being that the new North Riding County Council had to support what was then known as technical education by means of awarding grants to schools which taught scientific and technical subjects.4
Carrick pointed out that the school “possesses an endowment and was founded in pursuance of the trusts contained in the will of one John Preston dated the 19th of November 1805”. He also stated that the Court of Chancery had settled a scheme upon the school which was still being followed. He went on to say that "the present income is £91-0-4 per annum derived from £3309-14-8. 2¾ % stock inverted in the names of the Charity Commissioners.” He enclosed a copy of the balance sheet and a copy of the scheme as laid down by the Court of Chancery.

A further Education Act in 1899 (The Board of Education Act) created a new government department to oversee education and to provide inspection of secondary schools. This created a new government department to oversee education and to provide inspection of secondary schools, ie schools other than the elementary schools which had up to that point been the only ones regulated by government. By this time the school leaving age for elementary education had risen to 12, and it had become obvious that if the Preston School was to survive it would have to become a secondary school under the terms of the 1899 act.

Thus it was that the Preston Grammar School was inspected in 1901.5 The Inspection Report (1902) which resulted generally stated that the scheme under which the school was founded in 1834 was not quite suitable to modern needs. The school building itself was deemed inadequate for the requirements of a modern secondary school. (The report indicates that there were no longer any boarders housed in the Master’s house).

Henry Fawcett himself was deemed “an able and efficient teacher” but it appears that at that time he had no assistant other than a visiting teacher of Drawing. However, the Inspector did feel that both Henry and the visiting assistant were “past the age at which it is generally considered desirable to pursue the teacher’s profession”, although Henry Fawcett’s “attainments both as a scholar and a teacher are greater than one would expect to find in a school where the emoluments are so small”. Perhaps the level of remuneration was no longer high enough to attract a suitable full time Assistant Teacher.

The fact was that other schools in the local area now had access to funding and could therefore offer wider curricular opportunities than had been customary when the Preston Grammar School was established. The Inspector asked the governors of the Preston School to consider how the school might be re-organised to the advantage of the Foundation. It should be noted that the curriculum still contained subjects for which the school was probably still in receipt of a Technical Instruction Grant.

Although the Trustees had been very pleased with the school's progress as stated in reports in the 1890s and despite the fact that a number of old boys had gone on to university, the school could no longer afford to compete in a modern world where public funding was available to the competition. Henry Fawcett himself took issue with some of the comments in the report and wrote a letter to the inspectors in relation to the curriculum which the Preston School provided. This resulted in amendments to the details in the report, but not to its fundamental conclusions.

In 1903, the year following the Report, Henry Fawcett left the school to which he had devoted his whole career and moved to Saltburn where he died on 17th May 1905, aged 69. He had named his new home Leven House, and it was there he passed his final months with his wife Mary and daughter, Mabel. Henry Fawcett was buried in Stokesley, although no gravestone remains.

It is extremely sad that a man who had been such a respected and successful Head Master for 40 years should end his career in such unhappy circumstances, especially as the inspector who condemned conditions in the school seemed to think that a man of Henry's talent could easily have secured a more prestigious and higher paid post elsewhere. Henry Fawcett had obviously chosen to stay in his home area, even with a smaller remuneration than he might have obtained by moving away, and by staying he contributed far more to the locality than just by being a teacher.

Perhaps the final sadness is that Stokesley today has no memorial of any kind to this unique character who gave so much to his community.

1. The full extract can be seen in the section Newspaper reports re Prize Giving and shows the presence of students from places other than Stokesley town. Presumably these were the fee paying boys. Many of the named students do not seem to fit the criteria of the legacy i.e. “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”. Therefore it is certain that there were many more students than those named as prize-winners.
Background information on individual pupils can be found in the Section Boys of the Preston Grammar School, Stokesley
2. See sections Newspaper reports re Prize Giving and Boys of the Preston Grammar School, Stokesley.
3. See section Newspaper reports re Prize Giving. These reports also name St John F Mitchell as Assistant Teacher. This unusual name leads one to suspect that this was Rev. St John Fanshaw Mitchell B.A. (Trinity College, Dublin), B.A. (Caius, Cambridge), and M.A. (Oxford). He had previously been recorded as a Classics and Maths teacher', had travelled widely and would have been at Trinity at the same time as Henry Fawcett. They may therefore have been friends. Certainly St John F Mitchell was an accomplished scholar.
4. See the brief account of the legislation above. Preston Grammar School had to comply with the regulations and under the new law, grants could be made to schools only as long as they could show that they were not run for profit. Preston School could now supplement its funds by expanding its curriculum beyond that of the original Charity Commissioners' scheme.
5. See section on School Inspection

Thomas J Cozens - The Fifth Headmaster (1903? – the end)

Thomas Cozens was born in 1859 in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, the son of Thomas Benjamin Cozens, a fruiterer and tailor, and Dinah Duff nee Hensby. Between 1861 and 1871 the family moved to Lambeth, in London where Thomas senior worked as a tailor.

1881 found Thomas James aged 21 as “assistant master” at Chipping Ongar Grammar School in Essex. In 1888 he was married to Annette Taylor in Ongar and they had 2 children in quick succession; Gladys, 1889 and Muriel, 1890. However, Annette was living with her parents in 1891 in West Hemmingfield Essex, whilst Thomas was living in Great Bookham, Surrey occupied as a tutor and journalist.

Thomas had written a book in 1890 which was reported in the Chelmsford Chronicle in March of that year:

Mr Thomas James Cozens, late an assistant master at Ongar Grammar School, has just published……….. a thrilling tale, entitled “A Dark Deed”. The writer, in a dedication to “my dear and loving wife, ANNETTE, says that this is his first ambitious work…

The account goes on to say that within the book Mr Cozens criticises stag hunting and calls it the “cruellest sport in England”. This would have been a remarkable view indeed at this period in history!

The 1901 census shows Thomas living with his family in Middleton in Teesdale where he is a Secondary School Master.

Thomas Cozens took up post at The Preston Grammar School in 1903 and lived in the School House, (still known as Preston House, situated next to the Bethel Chapel to the south of the River Leven. The 1901 inspection of the school, indicated that this house was too large for purpose without boarders.

Another landmark Education Act (1902) had recently given Local Authorities the power to provide Secondary education ("education other than Primary Education"), and made provision for Local Authorities to give grants to endowed Grammar Schools. To the Trustees of Preston School the provisions of the 1902 Act seemed to hold out the hope that the Preston School could obtain the necessary funds from the North Riding County Council. The National Archives website describes the new Act as "positive but inadequate", as the majority of children received only Primary Education. Working class children generally could not afford the necessary fees, although some scholarship awards enabled a minority to benefit.

Several attempts were made between 1905 and 1908 to try to keep the Preston School alive and to improve and extend its use for the benefit of the people of Stokesley.

Thus in the course of 1905 there was extensive correspondence passed between the Trustees, the Local Authority and the Board of Education relating to The Preston Grammar School from which it appears that the Preston Trustees were trying to gain support from the Board to convert their school into a Secondary School.

A letter was secured from the Charity Commission to verify the position of the Preston School as an endowed grammar School, which informed the Board that the endowment provided was held “solely for educational purposes” and pointed out the increasing pressures of the curriculum on the funding and facilities provided.

Thomas Fenney, school secretary, wrote on behalf of the governors to the Board of Education in January 1905 to assure them that the governors had
“Resolved unanimously that arrangements should be made to bring the curriculum of the school into harmony with the Regulations for Secondary Schools so that the School may be recognised during the Session 1905 – 1906 under existing rules.”
(The governors' aim was clearly to secure extra funding, without which the school would find it increasingly difficult to function).

However, a letter from the Board of Education (9 November 1905) to North Riding County Council warned that in order for Preston Grammar School, Stokesley, to continue to be recognised as “Science and Art Day Class No 14662” , it had to have a reasonable prospect of becoming a secondary school. The letter refers to a comment received from the governors in a previous letter:
The County Education Secretary has intimated that on completion of the new Council School the Authorities of the North Riding will hand over to the Trustees of the Preston School the commodious Infant School adjoining the Grammar School.
This will be equipped as a Chemical Laboratory with Class room.
Arrangements are also being made for wood-work to be taught at two workshops in the Town by practical joiners.
It is hoped also a Drill Instructor will be added to the staff of the School.
There are now 33 boys attending this school, 24 of whom are over 12 years of age.
The small number of boys attending previously has rendered it impracticable to arrange matters for the School to be carried on as a Secondary one under the Board’s Regulations.

Clearly the Trustees/governors had already taken steps to try to preserve Preston School, and they believed they had the backing the of the Local Authority in their endeavours.

However, on enquiring into this matter, the Board received a reply from the North Riding of Yorkshire County Council, (16 November 1905), that did not support the claim of the Trustees and in fact stated that there had been no communication with the governors re the handing over of the “commodious Infants’ School”. Furthermore a report on Preston School was attached which the Board of Education was asked to treat as confidential “as it has not yet been before the Education Committee”.

The report was based on a visit to Preston School in 1905, and shows how much the curriculum had changed since the 1890s prize-giving reports detailed above. The qualifications of the teachers were very different too. (As noted above, Henry Fawcett had a B.A. and M.A., his assistant John Hind also had a B.A.) The 1905 report noted that there had been an increase in the number of students to 35, although none were boarders, including 10 free foundation scholars. Fees for the others were set at 3 or 4 guineas per annum depending on the age of the students and gave other details as follows:
STAFF The staff consists of the Headmaster, Mr T J Cozens (registered) whose qualification consists in Science and Art Certificates and Mr N Yates who has passed certain examinations of the College of Preceptors. There is a visiting Drill Instructor.
CURRICULUM Science and Art Grants are earned under paragraph 39 (S&A) of the Board’s Regulations for Secondary schools. Chemistry (by demonstration) and Agriculture are taught. French and Latin are optional eight boys taking the former and four the latter with commercial arithmetic and Shorthand as alternative subjects. The usual examination taken is that of the College of Preceptors.
ACCOMMODATION There is only one room not too well suited for its purpose and quite sufficiently full
GENERAL REMARKS – The education of Stokesley except as to a very few children whose parents can afford to send them to Boarding Schools and others who may gain any scholarships which may in future be available must be self-contained. The connection with Middlesbrough by rail entails too much time for daily journeys to be advisable and the same is true of the connection with Northallerton.
Even at the present time the Preston School with its limited staff and poor buildings is shown to supply a want by the rise in numbers in about two years from five to thirty five scholars. The boys who come from the Council school enter the Grammar school at the right age i.e. about twelve years and a preparatory class is provided for those who enter the grammar school direct at a younger age. If the Grammar school were made available for girls as well as boys it appears as though a mixed school of more than sixty scholars would be possible. Other buildings would of course be necessary and it might be found possible to use the present Council’s Infants School for the purpose. This building was built on manorial land by subscription and the Lord of the Manor could apparently dispose of the building for any purpose on its ceasing to be used by the Education committee. If the Scheme were amended to provide for the education of girls, the Infants’ School taken over and some additional aid given by the county for at any rate a term of years a mixed secondary school of an unambitious but useful type could be provided. The endowment brings in about £90 annually. Further free scholarships will be provided by the new scheme for the Henry Edmund’s Charity at Kirby.

Nevertheless, a statement of intent from the local authority shows that it remained favourable to the idea of the support of the Preston Grammar School. This appears in a letter which North Riding Education Committee sent to the Department of Education on 12 December 1905 stating that in their view
a Secondary School at Stokesley is a necessary factor in the Secondary Education of the Riding and that a scheme which includes a Secondary School at Stokesley is being prepared”
and asks that Preston Grammar School should continue to be recognised for the purpose of Science and Art Day Classes ("under paragraph 39").

Despite all these pleas, the Board of Education proved totally unmoved and in 1906 turned down the application for grants under the Regulation for Secondary Schools. The Board pointed to the insufficient number of classrooms, inadequacy of provision for practical science, the absence of a playground and the need to find a suitably qualified additional Assistant Master. The governing body was invited to apply again once the above “failings” were addressed.

The consequent loss of funding rendered critical the financial situation of the Preston School. The governors pointed this out in a desperate plea to the Board:
If some temporary pecuniary aid be not forthcoming from your Board to assist the Governors during the coming year, a great hardship will necessarily fall upon the school, as they are not in a position out of the present income from the endowment to carry on the practical classes which they had formed in anticipation of a Grant of Aid.
An additional hardship if it is not helped by your Board at this juncture, for hitherto they have been in receipt of a grant of aid which has been withdrawn practically without any notice. It is of the utmost importance that assistance should be continued by your Board until the new premises are acquired otherwise the scheme which the governors contemplate cannot be carried out which will be a great hardship to this Town, as it is so difficult of access that parents cannot send their children as day scholars to any other Secondary School in the neighbourhood.
As you are aware, if the school is not to be recognised as a Secondary School, the grant from the County Council will be materially reduced and that will mean that the status of the teaching staff cannot be kept up as efficient as the Governors desire.
The Governors would request your Board to reconsider their decision in the matter, as the circumstances are exceptional

The Board was implacable. It simply stated that the Governors should look at paragrapg 39 of the 1904 and 1905 Regulations for Secondary Schools, and at the reasons listed in paragraphs XVIII and I of the Prefatory Memoranda. No provisional grant would be available.

The school somehow staggerred on, but it seems that the practical problems (especially that of finance) were beginning to overshadow the visionary zeal of Stokesley worthies. This is perfectly shown by the conference of 19th May, 1908, held to determine the future of the old council school buildings. Those present included Trustees of Langbaurgh West Schools, representatives of Stokesley Rural District Council, Governors of Preston School, the Local Education Authority, and Messrs Wager and Roberts.

The Lord of the Manor, Mr Wynne Finch, representing the Trustees of the Preston School stated that in their opinion the buildings should be sold and the money used to pay off part of the cost of the new buildings, to be erected at Springfields. He was supported by John Page Sowerby, lawyer, JP and Governor of the Preston School who went on to say that the governors of the school had come to the conclusion that it would be impossible for them to become a properly equipped and efficient secondary school in line with regulations and even that, in direct contradiction of all that had been said before:
The population is small and the close proximity of Stockton and Middlesbrough would enable all those who desired it to obtain suitable secondary education.

The Rural District Council’s view was that the buildings in question were public buildings and as a new school had been built to replace them it was only fair that the old buildings should be sold to help pay Stokesley’s share of the cost. They also agreed that:
Considering the small population and the facilities for Secondary education at Stockton and other places an Elementary School is all that Stokesley requires.

It was further agreed that in order to remedy the insanitary condition of the old elementary school buildings a large sum of money would have to be spent and therefore the use of these buildings for the purpose of a secondary school was out of the question. Even if a secondary school was desirable it would be better to consider a different site entirely.

Mr Fisher (Rector of Stokesley) added that although he had previously supported the idea of a Secondary School in Stokesley, he had now come to the conclusion that this was impossible because:
The population was too small: there were good schools near and it would be impossible to organise the School on anything like a satisfactory basis – In any case……the purpose would require the outlay of a considerable sum of money which would be better spent on a new site and buildings

Finally, this group of worthies concluded that the best solution was that:
If possible the buildings should be sold to the Vicar for purpose of his Sunday Schools – There is a strong feeling in Stokesley that the Vicar has a claim, and he is quite willing to find the money if the terms are reasonable.

Thus the ultimate fate of the school, and also for some time that of secondary education for Stokesley, was sealed. Problems of financial constraints eventually outweighed the philanthropic ideals upon which the school was founded. The Preston Grammar School continued to function right up to 1918. Fees paid by its students must have been an element in this survival.

In the 1911 census Preston House still belonged to the school trust, but only one potential school boarder is listed there - Robert Bamlett aged 13 from Scruton. The rest of the household at that time consisted of Thomas Cozens, his wife, their 2 children and Thomas's mother-in-law who was then a widow.

The 1911 census also reveals that Thomas was away from home that night and was actually a guest at Mulgrave Castle, Lythe. Other guests comprised Frederick William Orrey, Elementary school Head, Henry Barnby, a bank manager born in Stokesley (and a former Preston Grammar School student), a ledger clerk, a lay reader, a life assurance agent and a grocer’s assistant. There is no indication as to why they were there but at that time the Marquis of Normanby who held Mulgrave Castle was in the process of rebuilding the church, so perhaps these guests were in some way associated with his enterprise.

Thomas Cozens’ tenure at the Preston School had constantly been overshadowed by uncertainty, not only in relation to staffing and curriculum but even as to whether the school could actually continue to exist. The stress of insufficient funding to enable him to make any progress must have made life very difficult for Cozens and his family. His wife Annette died in the early part of 1917, aged 49. The school closed the following year.1

Thomas Cozens moved to Eastbourne where he re-married in 1918. His second wife was Jean E Bartaby. Unfortunately this marriage did not last long, and his divorce was recorded in 1926, by which time Thomas was living in Devizes. Thomas was granted a divorce on the grounds of his wife’s “misconduct”. Apparently only a year after their marriage she had left him, “with his permission” to return to her occupation as nurse. She apparently returned to Middlesbrough and then moved to London.

Also in 1926 Thomas successfully sued George French-Smith and his wife for “one third share of profits” from a private school they had set up together in Devizes. (Western Daily Press 1926)

In 1932, Thomas Cozens (now aged 63) married again, this time to a widow, Florence Edith Chivers (nee Burt). This third marriage was happily far more successful than his second as evidenced in the press in 1952:

Mr Thomas James Cozens (93) Estcourt Terrace, Devizes, Wilts., today celebrated his second silver wedding.
His third wife, Mrs Florence Cozens, (74) who has been twice married, was celebrating her first silver wedding anniversary. She missed a similar occasion by three years when her first husband died.
Mr Cozens met his third wife when he went to Devizes over 30 years ago. He became her boarder and five years later they married. He retired after seventy-two years as a teacher.

Aberdeen Evening Express 13 March 1952

Thomas died in August of the same year aged 93. Probate was granted to his wife, Florence. Florence herself died in Devizes in 1969 aged 90.

Thomas’ teacher’s registration document shows his qualifications and the various posts he took up during his career:

Certificates in: - Principles of Chemistry, Agriculture, Botany, Chemistry, Common Things, Practical Chemistry (Elementary) gained at Armstrong College
Certificates in: - Advanced Agriculture, Hygiene, Practical Chemistry, Botany, gained from Board of Education
Teachers’ Drawing Certificate
L.C. P. (Honours Botany)
Fellow of Faculty of Teachers in Commerce
Ongar Grammar school, Essex 1879 – 1883
Uxbridge School 1883 – 1886
Preston House school, Brookham (Army Tutor) 1889 – 1891
Middleton in Teesdale Grammar School 1891 – 1903
Head Master The Preston Grammar School, Stokesley 1903 – 1918
Science Master, Dauntsey School, Southbroom, Wilts 1922 – 1924
Principal, The School of Commerce, Devizes 1924 - 1926

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