Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lyon, John (1514?-1592)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

LYON, JOHN (1514?–1592), founder of Harrow School, a yeoman of Preston in the parish of Harrow, Middlesex, son of John Lyon and his wife Joan, and first cousin of Sir John Lyon, lord mayor of London in 1534, was probably born about 1514, being over twenty in 1534, when he applied for admission to certain lands held by his father in Harrow; he came of an ancient house, for his descent is traced to John Lyon or Lyoun, who was admitted to lands at Kingsbury in the parish of Edgware in 1370. He was wealthy, and in 1562 had the largest rental in Harrow. For many years he spent twenty marks a year on the education of poor children. On 13 Feb. 1571–2 he obtained from Queen Elizabeth a charter and letters patent for the foundation of a free grammar school for boys at Harrow, constituting his trustees a body corporate as governors of the ‘Free Grammar-school of John Lyon.’ He bought lands in Marylebone in 1571, to be held by himself, his wife, and the governors of his school, the rents to be applied to the repair of the high-road between Edgware and London, and the surplus to the repair of the road between Harrow and London. In that year, the clerk to the signet having proposed to levy 50l. from him as a loan to the state, Sir Gilbert Gerard [q. v.], the attorney-general, interposed on his behalf, representing that Lyon should not be forced to sell lands bought for the maintenance of his school. He drew up statutes for his school in 1590, providing for a schoolmaster of the degree of M.A., and an usher a B.A., both to be unmarried. A regulation of importance as regards the future of the school allowed the master to ‘receive so many foreigners over and above the youth of the parish as the whole number may be well taught and the place can contain,’ and of these, if not of the founder's kin, he might receive ‘such stipend and wages as he could get.’ The amusements allowed by Lyon to his scholars were ‘driving a top, tossing a hand-ball, running, shooting, and no other.’ All were to learn the church catechism and attend church regularly. Greek was to be taught to the two highest forms, the fourth and fifth, and minute arrangements were made by the founder as to the whole course of study to be pursued at the school. Lyon died on 3 Oct. 1592 without leaving issue; his wife Joan died on 30 Aug. 1608. Both were buried in the parish church of Harrow. A brass bearing their effigies, with an inscription, was during a modern restoration torn from the floor, with injury to the figures, and placed against the wall of the church; but in 1888 a marble slab with Latin verse inscription was laid over his grave. Besides those appropriated to his school and the repair of roads Lyon left some other benefactions, such as 10l. to be paid yearly for thirty-seven sermons in Harrow Church, the schoolmaster or the vicar of the parish to be preferred as preacher. His house, built before 1400, is still standing at Preston.

[Thornton's Harrow School and its Surroundings, containing, besides an account of Lyon in the text, a calendar of the Lyon papers preserved at the school; Carlisle's Endowed Schools, ii. 125 sq.; Ackermann's Hist. of the Colleges … and the Free Schools of Harrow, &c.]

W. H.