From the 1851
History, Gazetteer, and Directory of Staffordshire
by William White.
The Free Grammar School, (now
in two departments called the Grammar and Commercial
Schools) was founded in 1554, by the letters patent
of Queen Mary, who endowed it with land at Woodend,
Shelfield, Bloxwich, Norton, and Tipton, which now
consists of about 298 acres, let for £418 per annum.
She also appointed "ten of the more discreet and
honest inhabitants of Walsall to be governors, and
be a body corporate, with power to hold lands, elect
a master and usher, etc."
The property of the charity has
undergone some alteration, and its objects
considerably varied by an Act of Parliament passed
in 1797, "for enabling the governors of the Grammar
School to sell certain mines under part of their
lands, and to sell and exchange certain parts of
their lands lying dispersed; for improving and
extending the benefits of the said school; for
enlarging the trust and powers of the said
governors, and for enabling them to build a chapel,"
Under this act, the governors
sold the coal under the land at Tipton, for a term
of 42 years, at £505 per acre, amounting in the
whole to £12,243, which, agreeable to the terms of
the act, was paid over to the accountant general of
the Court of Chancery, with some other portions of
the school funds, to be reimbursed for the future
extension of the charity.
The act empowers the governors
to purchase freehold land in Walsall, and erect a
chapel thereon, to be in their patronage, and under
the pastoral care of the master of the grammar
school; to build and establish as many schoolhouses
and schoolrooms, in convenient situations in the
town and parish of Walsall, as they should think
necessary, and to direct how many boys and girls
should be admitted into the said schools; what they
should be taught, and how many to be maintained,
clothed, and put out apprentices, or to service; and
from time to time to appoint masters and mistresses
to teach boys and girls of the parish of Walsall in
reading, writing, knitting, sewing, arithmetic,
mathematics, etc. so that nevertheless there should
always be one headmaster and one usher, to teach the
classics, in conformity with the letters patent of
Queen Mary; such headmaster to be a clergyman of the
Church of England, in priests’ orders, and a
graduate at one of the universities; and have, in
addition to his school salary, an annuity of £50, as
minister of St. Paul’s Chapel, which was built in
1826, at a cost of more than £2,300, exclusive of
the site and the land called The Close, for which
the governors in 1822 paid the enormous price of
In 1813, £2,750 was paid for
the purchase of a house, warehouse, and other
buildings, with a garden in Park street, to be
converted to two schools and two schoolhouses for
the master and usher of the grammar school; and in
1817, no less than £940 was paid for altering the
said premises; swelling the total cost of the old
school premises to £3,690. These premises were sold
to the Railway Company a few years ago, and the
present large and commodious schools, in Lichfield
Street, have been recently erected in the
Elizabethan style, with dwellings for the two
Classical masters and the head Commercial master.
The entire foundation now
consists of the Grammar and Commercial Schools, and
the number of free boys in the former is limited to
45, and in the latter to 70. The freedom of these
now ably conducted schools extends to the whole
parish, for boys eight years of age and upwards, who
are able to read, spell, and write. Parents have the
choice of the school into which they propose to
enter their children, and every boy is required to
wear the cap appointed for his school, and to attend
divine service on Sundays at St. Paul's chapel.
The scheme of instruction in
the Grammar School embraces Greek, Latin, Ancient
and Modern History and Geography, English Grammar,
Composition, Writing, Arithmetic, Mathematics,
General Science, etc. The scheme of instruction in
the Commercial School is the same, with the
exception of the Classics, Ancient History, and
Ancient Geography; and it supplies a business
education of a superior character to those who do
not wish to learn Latin and Greek. The present
masters and their yearly salaries are - the Rev. J. B. Pugh, M.A. head classical master, £250, of which
£50 is paid to him as chaplain of St. Paul's; Mr.
Thomas Conroy, second classical master, £110; Mr.
Thomas Hughes, commercial master, £90; and Mr.
Samuel F. Blower, assistant commercial master, £70.
The three first named are also provided with
commodious dwellings in the school premises.