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The Free School

[Also known as 'The Thomas Hardye' or 'Dorchester Grammar School']

By Michael Russell OPC for Dorchester September 2009
(Revised July 2010)

The 10 Trustees for the endowment made by Thomas Hardye
of Melcombe Regis on 3rd August 1579

1. William Marquess of Winchester (1)
The Marquess of Winchester at the date of the endowment was William Paulett KB (1532-1598) who became the 3rd Marquess of Winchester in 1576 when he succeeded his father. He was the son of John Paulett (1517-1576) and Elizabeth Willoughby and he married in 1544 to Agnes Howard the daughter of William Howard (1510-1573) 1st Baron Howard of Effingham. He was later made Lord Lieutenant of Dorset in 1580. Although mainly a figurehead he had a position of importance and influence in the community.

2. (Sir) George Trenchard of Wolverton (2)
He was the son of Thomas Trenchard Esq of Wolverton and his wife Elenora the daughter of Sir John Horsey knight of Clifton. He married twice. 1st to Anne the daughter of Sir George Speke knight of Whitelackington by whom he had 3 sons and 3 daughters. His sons were (Sir)Thomas his heir, John of Warmwell, and Sir George Trenchard (1575-1630) who was also knighted 10 June 1603 and resigned as Recorder of Dorchester in 1610. His second marriage was to Jane daughter of Hugh Bamfield and relict of Thomas Chaffin of Folke. They had 3 daughters, including Jane who married John Williams of Herringston another renowned family in Dorchester. George Trenchard was MP for Dorchester in 1572 and knighted by Queen Elizabeth in 1588.

3. John Browne of Frampton Esq (3)
He was the father of Sir John Browne (1558-1627), and grandfather of John Browne JP (1582-1659). He married Thomazine daughter of John Warham of Compton Valence and died, probably at Frampton, in 1585. His will was proved 1st May that year and is available at the National Archives.

4. (Sir) Robert Napper of the Middle Temple (4)
Sir Robert Napper was the third son of James Napper of Swyer in Dorset and graduated a fellow of Exeter College Oxford 1559-1566. He obtained a BA 29 Oct 1562 and became a student of the Middle Temple in 1565. He was appointed Lord Chief Baron of the exchequer, Ireland 1593, and knighted the same year. He purchased the estate of Middlemarsh and was MP of Dorset 1586/7, Bridport 1601, Wareham 1604-11 and was Sheriff of Dorset in 1606. He died 20 Sep 1615 being survived by his wife Magdalen (d.1625) and made notable benefactions to Dorchester. The well known almshouses known as 'Nappers Mite' which he built to 'honour God' were started before his death and completed in 1616.

Nappers Mite - Dorchester

Picture kind permission of:
Nigel Mykura

5. John Browne the younger of Frampton (5)
This is Sir John Browne (1558-1627) of Frampton - see brief outline given under the biography of his son John Brown JP (1582-1659)

6. John Henninge (6) He was the son of John and Jane Henninge born c1536 and became High Sheriff of Dorset late in life (1610). He married Dorothy the daughter of Edward Wareham of Warmerston and lived in Poxwell, Dorset and occupied a dwelling in Durnelane in Dorchester in 1574 and he bought a garden in West Walls Dorchester the following year. In 1577 he acted as a witness to the bond given by Luke Adyn to Thomas Hardye of Frampton.(Charter 707) and is recorded as a lessee of property in St Peters Parish in 1582 and named as a burgess in a deed dated 1586. He died in 1611 his will being proved 16 July that year naming as overseers of his will, "my special good friends", Sir George Trenchard, Sir John Browne, Sir John Williams, Knight, John Warham, Robert Napper, gent. and William Alberte

7. William Churchill (7)
The Churchill's were a family that had prospered in the 16th Century doing well out of former church lands after the Reformation. An ancestor John CHURCHILL, a clothier and an established figure in the town during Henry VIII's reign, was Bailiff in 1525 and again in 1540. In 1549 he acquired part of the property of the dissolved Hospital of St John. Some of it he sold, but on part of it he built a fine house at Colliton on the edge of town. Colliton and the nearby cottages in Colliton Row were eventually to be within the Parish of Holy Trinity but not the Borough an anomaly that was to cause endless litigation. Colliton house was still in the possession of the family in 1889 and still exists today partly occupied by the Colliton Club.

Colliton House Dorchester
Photograph by Phillip Allingham (

William Churchill was born in Dorchester c1541. He is shown as the head of the family in the 1623 visitation but this does not name his wife. He married in 1565 in Dorchester to the daughter of John Swayre of Blandford and his wife Agnes Ryves but she only appears to have been known as 'Missy'. They had 6 children one of which was John Churchill of Muston & Stinsford (born about 1566) who married Eleanor Miller of Came and their descendants are covered in the visitation.

8. William Aden (Adyn) alias Barbett or (Barbette) or (Barbour) (8)
According to David Underdown in his book 'Fire from Heaven', the Adyn family occupied civic offices in Dorchester more or less in rotation but took little part in the affairs of the County. The family also used the surname 'Barbette' which the Municipal Records also record as 'Barbour'. We know from Charters in the Municipal Records that both William and Robert Adyn were the sons of John & Edith Adyn of Dorchester. Their father left a Will dated 25 June 1546 (Charter 641 - proved 11 May 1547) which bequeathed 2 properties in Dorchester, one on the north side of the high street to Robert and one at Durnlane to his widow Edith for her life and then to William. Charter (No.662) states that William Adyn was a gentleman, and a woollen draper by trade, and that he purchased a dwelling house on the west side of High South Street in Dorchester on 27 Oct 1565, the year he was bailiff of Dorchester. He was also bailiff in 1563 & 1577. The property came with 7 acres of land lying within the west walls of the borough, and 7 acres of meadow lying together in the West ward next to the great bridge (called New Bridge) and on the north side of the stream. He also represented Dorchester in Parliament in 1571, the last person to do so for 30 years. He is said to have married Mary Ryves the daughter of John Ryves and Amy Harvey abt 1556. The latter are listed in the 1623 visitation of Dorset (p.80), but I cannot see a daughter Mary. There is no doubt that he was closely involved with the Ryves family however as under Charter 645 the widow Joan Ryves leaves him property in Dorchester where it states '' for the intimate love and special zeal she bears to William Aden, alias vocatus William Barbet, of Dorchester, draper". He certainly married as the pedigree for the Hayne family of Dorchester shows that a daughter of his, Cicely, married Oliver the son of Richard Hayne (d.1570) a mercer of Dorchester. Olivers death was recorded in William Whiteways diary (p.49) on 13th Dec 1622.

9. Robert Aden (Adyn) (9)
See comments above under William. His brother Robert was also a woollen draper by trade and Bailiff of Dorchester 1549/50 and 1552-53 but appears to have died in 1564 as a Will exists at the National Archives proved on 20 June that year. Another Robert Adyn, probably that mentioned above was Bailiff in 1581-2. One of these owned a house next to Luke Adyn on the north side of High East Street which he sold in 1562 (Charter 657).

10. Lawrence Stratforde (10)
Very little information has so far come to light. He was appointed bailiff of Dorchester in 1582 and constable the following year. He is mentioned in various municipal deeds in 1575, 1584, 1586 etc and we know from a charter in the municipal records (708) that he was a goldsmith by trade in 1593. He may have died in 1619 as a will is registered at the National Archives under the name Lawrence Stafford of Dorchester.

Genealogical Notes:-
(1).   :   :  Wikipedia
(2). Sources: A genealogical and heraldic history of the commoners of Great Britain Vol 4 by John Burke p.77 available to view on google books; William Whiteway his diary 1618-1635 published by Dorset Record Society; Oxford Alumni: Fire from Heaven by David Underdown p.10
(3). Sources: 1623 Visitation of Dorset; National Archives Wills; 'good friend'.
(4). Sources: Oxford Alumni; William Whiteway his diary, Fire from Heaven; Picture picture SY6990 Copyright Nigel Mykura and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
(5). Sources are given in the Biography
(6). Sources: 1623 Visitation of Dorset, Page 54/55. This also gives immediate descendants. :
(7). Sources: 1623 Visitation of Dorset, Page 28: 1677 Visitation of Dorset: Nat Archives Wills Prob 11/100 Probate 18 Nov 1602
(8). Sources: CLDS: Municipal Records of Dorchester - they also give his alias as Barbett or Barbour; p39 Bailiff: Fire from heaven by David Underdown:
(9). Sources: CLDS: Municipal Records of Dorchester: Fire from heaven by David Underdown:
(10). Municipal records of Dorchester

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