The Free School was founded by the Rev. Edward Vernon, in the 9th James I., by an endowment of £120; and William Johnson also gave $pound;100 for the "maintenance of a Free Grammar School, and a sufficient learned and godly schoolmaster to teach and train up young men and children in knowledge and learning."
In 1619, a school-house, which had been erected by the parishioners and inhabitants in the churchyard of Audley, was conveyed (with the consent of the ordinary, patron, and incumbent), with a right of way thereto through the churchyard, to the trustees for the use of the scholars.
In addition to the above endowment funds, the following
bequests were subsequently made:
£ s. d.
John Stonier 60 0 0
Thomas Lovatt 50 0 0
John Middleton 50 0 0
Dorothy Smith 5 0 0
Thomas Twiss 2 10 0
Lady Bellot 100 0 0
The whole of these bequests, except Lady Bellot's, have been
laid out in the purchase of lands, and the rents, with £4 interest
per annum for the last named £100, are paid to the schoolmaster.
Lady Bellot left her legacy on the following conditions
:That eight children (at the most), of the tenants of her estates at Wolstanton should be taught to read English, or else four to be taught grammarsuch children to be nominated by the Yicar of Audley, and by Eobert Berks and his successors ; but the schoolmaster was to receive the interest of the £100 whether such children were sent or not. A parchment copy of the orders, by E. Vernon, the founder, ordains that two proctors be chosen by the feoffees, to oversee all things concerning the school and master; and should the master misconduct himself or neglect his scholars, that they should give him a quarter's notice to quit; .also that they should let the lands, receive the rents, and pay the master.
That when the feoffees were reduced to three or four, they were to elect a number to make them 17 in the whole, of the "same generation and progeny" as were then put in trust.
That the schoolmaster should freely teach all the children inhabiting within the parish of Audley, and the children of them that were born in the parish, and not elsewhere without receiving any money or money's worth.
That all other scholars coming from any other place were to agree with the schoolmaster, or else not to come there; and to pay at their entrance sixpence towards the upholding of the said school-house.
At the time of the Charity Commissioners' visit, in 1824, the
lands, rents, and legacy were as follows :
£ s. d.
Two houses and 37 acres of land at Tean 67 0 0
Land at Knutton (14 acres) 40 0 0
Meadow at Ravenshall (1A. 2B. 1P.) 3 18 0
Land at Eardley end 5 10 0
Bellot's legacy 4 0 0
£120 8 0
Audley is an out-of-the-way, quiet place, and on my visit I found the School was just recovering from a violent bloodletting, performed by the doctors of the Court of Chancery.