HC Deb 11 July 1870 vol 203 cc33-5

said, he wished to ask Mr. Solicitor General, Why the Special Commissioners appointed under the Public Schools Act, 1868, having had the opportunity of reconsidering the statutes framed by them for determining and establishing the constitution of the new Governing Bodies of Winchester and Harrow Schools, with reference to the principles laid down in the Endowed Schools Act, 1869, have restricted the Governing Body of each of those Schools to members of the Church of England, although Winchester School was a pre-Reformation foundation, and in the case of Harrow School no such restriction as was now proposed has hitherto existed?


said, in reply, that the two schools in question stood upon different grounds. Winchester was founded long before the Reformation by William of Wykeham, upon the strictest ecclesiastical principles, and for the bringing up of persons strictly devoted to the pursuit and study of religion; and from the passing of the Act of Uniformity to the present day it had always been considered that a Church of England character was distinctly impressed upon it. In the discussion which took place in this House it was understood on both sides that the case of Winchester was peculiar, and it was a conceded point that Winchester must be treated as a Church of England school. Somewhat different was the case of Harrow, founded by John Lyon, who in his lifetime issued a number of orders and regulations which had ever since been the governing statutes of the school, and had not been materially altered. These stipulated that the scholars should learn the catechism; that they should attend Divine service; that they should hear the Scriptures read and expounded; and that, at the expense of the founder, 30 sermons a year should be preached by the Master in the church, which implied that he must be a member of the Church of England; and it was expressly stated that on Sundays and holydays use should be made of the catechism by Nowell, one of the founders of the Reformation, a Principal of Brazenose, a Dean of St. Paul's, and a Canon of Windsor—a catechism which he drew up at the instigation of the two Archbishops, which had always been considered one of the symbolical books of the Church of England, which was approved by the Convocations of Canterbury and York, and which, by the 79th Canon of 1603, every Master was required to read on pain of suspension. Coupling these circumstances with the terms of the Act, it would seem that the Public School Commissioners had good grounds for exempting Harrow. Further, he had received letters from Dr. Butler, the present, and Dr. Vaughan, the late Head Master, confirming the conclusion as to the exclusively Church of England character of the school. In stating these facts, which he considered to be sufficient to justify the action of the Commissioners, he did not wish to separate himself from them, although he took no part in the decision to which they came.