Fireplace Old Grammar School, possibly John Fereby or Sir Baptist Hicks
As the original documents have been lost it is not possible to be absolutely certain precisely which John Fereby (or Varby, Ferby, Feriby – there are several versions of the name) founded the school.
The 1627 lawsuit claims that Fereby was born near Campden, possibly at Hinchwick, a farm which he left to his wife Margery in his will. The money to fund the school was to come from property at Lyneham in Oxfordshire which came into the ownership of the Ferebys in 1427.
John Fereby was a clerk to the Royal Household at the Court of Henry V (1413-1422) and Henry VI (1422-1471) and was appointed by the Crown to numerous posts. In 1408 he was given the Wardenship of the Hospital of St Michael at Llanderweryn and in 1410 he became Controller of the custom and the subsidy of wools, with the keeping of part of the coket seal. He is thought to have been in France in 1415 and, if he was, he would probably have been at the battle of Agincourt. In that year the Crown awarded him a life annuity of 12d per day out of the fee farm of the City of London and soon after he is referred to as King’s Esquire and Controller of the Royal Household.
By 1421 he had become a Surrey county magnate, granted the manor of Witley and in 1424 and 1427 he served on the commission of the peace for Surrey. In 1432 he was Parker and Keeper of the Warren.
In 1434 and 1435 he was Knight of the Shire for Surrey which meant he had a seat in the House of Commons. In this period two knights were elected for each of the 37 counties under royal jurisdiction. When a new Parliament was summoned, writs were issued from Chancery (the royal secretariat) to the county's sheriff to call a County Court for an election of knights of the shire, and in the early days of Parliament all freemen had the right to vote. The rules were changed by a statute of 1429 which decreed that only freemen who owned freehold land worth 40 shillings had the vote. The 40 shilling franchise was only abolished in 1832 by the Great Reform Act.
In 1435 Fereby loaned the King £40 for the defence of the realm; this could be a chancy business, but presumably with his annuity and the various perks of his other offices he could well afford it.
He died in about 1440 and his will was proved in 1441.
So what is his connection with the founding of the school?
During the Reformation of the Church in the reign of Henry VIII, in an attempt to put an end to abuses – and coincidentally divert money to the Crown – a Chantries Act was passed by which the income from “colleges, freechappelles, chantries, hospitals, brotherhedds, guilds and stipendiarie priests having perpetuity for ever” reverted to the Crown, rather than the founders and patrons. However, as well as having a religious function, many were schools and so measures had to be taken to keep the schools when the religious foundations were dissolved. Commissioners were appointed under the Acts and it is from their reports that we get our evidence for the foundation of Campden Grammar School.
The Commissioners stated that the endowment was to:
“fynde a preste for ever to kepe a ffreeschole to have for hys salary by year VIII Li (£8). To kepe an abyt and to give almes an yerely XLs.”
A further Chantries Act was passed under Edward VI and the Commissioners then said:
“the Schole maister seuice (service) al. dict. Fferbye seuice founded by one John ffebye and Margery his wife, and the lands put in feoffment to thintent to fynde a preste to maynteined a ffreescole in the said pish. (parish) of Campden for ever”.
This is followed by a note:
“Md. tht there hath byn tyme out of mynde kept within the said pish. a grammar schole frelie taught, comenlie furnished with the nombre of IIJXX or IIIJXX Scolers (i.e. three or four score) ffor mayntenacne and keeping wherof oon Johnn fferbye and M’gery his wife gave and putt in feoffment the moytie of a certain manor, wt the appurtens amountynge to the yerlie value of XIIJ Li. VJs. VIIId (£13.6.8) by wich yerlie rent comynge of the pmisses, the seid schole hath byn always, and yet is kepte and maynteigned accordinglie, the teacher having sometimes X Li, for his salary sometimes XIJ Li. by yere, as his learning qualities and behavyor bin. The residue thereof hath byn distributed for Relevyinge of poor people and in paying a Stuard’s fees of XXs. by yere.”