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WILLIAM OF WYKEHAM AND ST. MARY'S COLLEGE
WILLIAM WYKEHAM, or William Long of Wykeham, the founder and endower of the two great colleges of St. Mary of Winchester in Oxford, (commonly known as New College,) and St. Mary's College in Winchester, the latter the nursery of the former, was born at Wykeham in Hampshire, in 1324, in the eighteenth year of the reign of Edward II. The names of his father and mother (as well as the month and day of his birth) are not known; but his parents were of good reputation and character, although in such narrow circumstances as not to be able to give the son a liberal education. This greater boon than that of birth—which Wykeham expressed in a motto, that has since his day become celebrated, “Manners makyth man "-was supplied by Nicholas Uvedale, lord of the manor of Wykeham, and governor of Winchester Castle, an officer of great note in those days, who maintained him at the High School in Winchester, (which was as old at least as the days of King Egbert,) and afterwards took him into his family as his secretary. By Uvedale he was introduced to Edyngdon, Bishop of Winchester, and by both to King Edward III.
Whatever may have been his social condition or education, Wykeham possessed talents and executive ability which were equal to every exigency of his fortunate career. In May, 1356, he was made clerk of all the king's works in his manors of Henle and Yeshampsted, and in October following he was made the king's surveyor for the castle and park of Windsor, and superintended the rebuilding of that magnificent residence, as well as of Queenborough Castle in the Isle of Sheppy. During this period he was continuing his clerical studies, and was admitted acolyte in December, 1361, subdeacon in the March following, and ordained priest in June, 1362. In June, 1363, he was made warden and justiciary of the king's forest, and in 1364, keeper of the privy seal, and in 1966, secretary of the king. In 1365, he was one of a commission (consisting of the chancellor, treasurer, and the Earl of Arundel) to treat of the ransom of the King of Scotland and the prolonging of the truce with the Scots, and in 1367 he was consecrated Bishop of Winchester, and in the same year he was constituted Chancellor of England, in which office he remained until March, 1371. Besides enjoying these high offices, as was the custom in those days he held seventeen canonries in different dioceses, besides a deanery and an archdeaconry; and the only apology which a modern church reformer can find for this great plurialist, is the fact that he used the emoluments of his various offices more munificently than did the king himself, and did the country more service than any ordinary • seventeen canons, dean, and archdeacon put together. He repaired all the episcopal buildings in his diocese, visited in person, three several times, the monasteries and religious houses, issued injunctions for the reformation of abuses, and established two colleges of students “for the honor of God, and increase of His worship, for the support and exaltation of the Christian faith, and for the improvement of the liberal arts and sciences; hoping and trusting that men of letters and various knowledge, and bred up in the fear of God, would see more clearly and attend more strictly to the obligations lying upon them to observe the rules and directions which he should give them.” To this end and in this spirit, he reopened and enlarged, in 1373, the old High School at Winchester where he was educated, but which had fallen into decay, and in 1394 gave it a complete equipment of building, and invested it with chartered privileges under the name of “Seinte Marie College of Winchester.” At the same time in 1373) he commenced a school at Oxford, for which he purchased a site, and obtained the king's patent in 1379, procured the pope's bull, and published, in 1380, his charter of foundation, by which he entitled his college “Seinte Marie College of Wynchestre in Oxenford.”". The corner-stone was laid at 8 o'clock of the morning of March 5, 1380, and the societyconsisting of a warden, seventy-four scholars, students in theology, canon and civil law and philosophy, ten priests, three clerks, and sixteen boys or choristers to minister in the service of the chapelmade their public entrance into the building with much solemnity and devotion, singing litanies, and marching in procession with the cross borne before them, at 9 o'clock in the morning, on the 14th of April, 1386.
Wykeham died in 1404, having enjoyed the pleasure, not only of building up his colleges after his own plan, but of seeing the good effects of his own beneficence, and receiving in them the proper reward of his pious labors of observing them growing up under his
eye, and even before his death bringing forth those fruits of virtue, piety, and learning, for which he had instituted them, and which he had reason to expect from them. They continued after his death to rise in reputation, and to become consolidated into the structure of English society, farnishing the Church and State with many eminent and able men in all professions, and furnishing the agents, the incentives, and the models of similar works of beneficence. One of his own scholars, Henry Chicheley, whom he had introduced into his college at Winchester and who graduated in his college at Oxford, and who became Archbishop of Canterbury, founded “All Souls' College in Oxford.” Henry VI. founded his two colleges, the “College of the Blessed Mary of Eton, near Windsor," and the -"King's College at Cambridge,” entirely upon Wykeham's plan, whose statutes he had transcribed without any material alteration, and whose head-master, William of Wayneflete, he transferred to Eton, and made provost of the college. Wayneflete himself followed the noble example of Wykeham in his ample foundation of Magdalen College in Oxford.
Dr. Lowth, from whose “Life of William Wykeham” the above facts have been gleaned, after ably sketching the private character as well as the public career of this great educational benefactor of England, concludes as follows:
We frequently hear of men who, by the force of their genius, by their industry, or by their good fortune, have raised themselves from the lowest stations to the highest degrees of honor, power, and wealth; but how seldom do we meet with those who have made a proper use of the advantages which they have thus happily acquired, and considered them as deposited in their hands by Providence for the general benefit of mankind! In this respect Wykeham stands an uncommon and almost singular example of generosity and public spirit. · By the time that he had reached the meridian of life, he had acquired great wealth: and the remainder of his days he employed, not in increasing it Lo no reasonable end, but in bestowing it in every way that piety, charity, and liberality could devise. The latter half of a long life he spent in one continued series of generous actions and great designs for the good of his friends, of the poor, and of his country. His beneficence was ever vigilant, active, and persevering; it was not only ready to answer when opportunity called, but sought it out when it did not offer itself. No man seems to have tasted more sensibly the pleasure of doing good; and no man had a greater share of this exquisite enjoyment. The foundation of his colleges, the principal monuments of his munificence, was as well calculated for the real use of the public, and as judiciously planned, as it was nobly and generously executed. Whatever Wykeham's attainments in letters were, he had at least the good sense to see that the clergy, though they had almost engrossed the whole learning of that age, yet were very deficient in real and useful knowledge; beside that, by the particular distresses of the times, and the havoc that several successive plagues had made in all ranks of the people, but especially among the clergy, the Church was at a loss for a proper supply of such as were tolerably qualified for the performance of the common service. It was not vanity and ostentation that suggested this design to him; he was prompted to it by the notorious exigence of the times, and the real demands of the public. The deliberation with which he entered upon it, and the constant attention with which he pursued it for above thirty years, shows how much he set his heart upon the success of his undertaking, and how earnestly he endeavored to secure the effectual attainment of the end proposed, the promotion of true piety and learning. In a word, as he was in his own time a general blessing to his country, in which his bounty was freely imparted to every object that could come within the reach of his influence, so the memory of this great man merits the universal regard of posterity, as of one whose pious and munificent designs were directed to the general good of mankind, and were extended to the latest ages.
ST. MARY'S COLLEGE IN WINCHESTER,
Founded in 1373
1. HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT.* LONG before William Long, or William of Wykeham, founded and er dowed St. Mary's College in 1373, Winchester had been known as “a school of kings." There Egbert had placed his son Ethelwulf under the teaching of Bishop Helmstan, and there the great Alfred had sat at the feet of St Swithun. The Saxon Athelwold, whose praise was in all the churches, a true saint and scholar, was in all likelihood educated there; and his biographer, Archbishop Alfric, has au evident pride, near nine hundred years ago, in writing himself down "Wintonensis alumnus." There had been a “High School” there from time that had become almost immemorial even in Wykeham's days; and even that, tradition would have said, was a mere modern institution—a temple of Apollo had preceded the monk's cloister. But later and more personal memories influenced Wykeham's choice. In that High School he had himself been educated by a rich friend's liberallty; he saw it now falling into decay; he saw young scholars, poor but deserving, much in need of the same help which he had found; and his first idea seems to have been to reëstablish and endow his old school for this purpose. He was not a man to do things by halves; and in 1373 he appears to have reopened it at once with seventy scholars, for whose charges le undertook to provide. They were lodged on St. Giles' Hill, just outside the city; and there, under Richard de Herton and other masters, the infant community remained for twenty years. Meanwhile, Wykeham was gradually carrying out the rest of his plan; purchasing "Otterbourne Mead" and other lands in Winchester, for the site of his college there, and gradually establishing in Oxford the mother institution—the "new College" of St. Mary-which was to receive his Winchester scholars in due course for the completion of their education. Not until that noble foundation, with its warden and seventy fellows, chaplains and choristers, was launched into full life within those stately walls which are still the pride of Oxford, did he begin to build at Winchester.
Wykeham drew up for his college a carefully digested body of statutes. Long as they are, they are worth reading through by any one who still cherishes the idle notion that the monkish teaching and discipline of the fourteenth century were necessarily narrow and superstitious. Wykeham's ordinances, at any rate, are full of sound and liberal wisdom. He willed that his boys should grow up as Christians, as scholars, and as gentlemen; and he held these qualifications to be intimately connected. He would have them intelligent students of Holy Scripture, that they might be able to teach others; agreeing in this with a man of a very different age and in many respects very dissimilar spirit-.
* Abridged from Blackwood's Magazine for January, 1864.