The New International Encyclopædia/Rugby School

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The New International Encyclopædia
Rugby School
Edition of 1905. See also Rugby School on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

RUGBY SCHOOL. A famous public school, situated at Rugby, England, founded in 1567 under the will of Lawrence Sheriffe as a free school for the children of Rugby and Brownsover. Edward Rolston was appointed the first master in 1574. Up to 1667 the school remained in comparative obscurity. Its history during that trying period is characterized mainly by a series of lawsuits between descendants of the founder, who tried to defeat the intentions of the testator, and the masters and trustees, who tried to carry them out. A final decision was handed down in 1667, confirming the findings of a commission in favor of the trust, and henceforth the school maintained a steady growth. Under the vigorous administration of Francis Holyoake, headmaster from 1688 to 1731, Rugby assumed considerable importance among English public schools, there being at one time an enrollment of more than 100 pupils. Thomas James, an Etonian by education, was elected headmaster in 1778, He was an accomplished scholar in classics and mathematics, and a firm disciplinarian. He introduced exhibitions, forms, tutors, ‘præpostors,’ and fags, and in general all the methods in vogue at Eton. At the end of his régime (1794) the attendance was about 200. James was the first real organizer of Rugby as we find it to-day.

The choice of Thomas Arnold (q.v.) in 1829 as headmaster of Rugby marks the beginning of a new spirit in English education. The aim hitherto had been the inculcation of knowledge with a view to preparation for university examinations. Arnold conceived the idea of education that makes for character. He sagaciously accepted the organization of Rugby as he found it, but he infused new life and light into it. He did not abrogate the liberty of the older boys, but he added to it responsibility by placing the discipline of the school in the hands of the sixth form. The unhappy lot of fags was under his influence considerably ameliorated. Since his death in 1842 the successive masters have with more or less success striven to maintain the high standard set up by Arnold. In 1868 the government of the school was transferred to a board of governors, the board of trustees retaining management of the finances and the appointing of masters. The lower school was established in 1878 for foundationers, Rugby School proper being devoted to the education of non-foundationers. The studies at Rugby are still mainly classical. The modern tendencies are, however, fast making an inroad into the school curriculum. There are 14 competitive scholarships, ranging from £20 to £100 annually. In 1900 Rugby had an attendance of about 600, distributed among the classical, specialist, and modern ‘sides’ and the army class. The principal buildings are the Rugby and New Big Schools, built in quadrangles; the chapel, the gymnasium, and the museum. In 1900 there were 9 dormitories. The ‘Close’ is the principal playground and contains about 17 acres, the most popular game being football. Rugby includes also a library, a laboratory, a vivarium, and a workshop. Two missions, one home and one foreign, are supported by Rugbeians. The Meteor is the principal publication. By far the best known of English public schools, Rugby owes its celebrity in part to the truthful picture of the school life of real boys as drawn by one of her sons, Thomas Hughes, in his classic Tom Brown at Rugby.