The History of  
Hinchingbrooke House  

the Hart of Hinchingbrooke



oliver cromwell

edward montagu


fourth earl

5th-7th earls

Eighth Earl

ninth earl





Thomas Taylor

The Mystery Head Teacher ...

The standard history of Hinchingbrooke, and the history of Huntingdon Grammar School, are both by Dickinson, ex Head of History at the school.

The list of Head teachers he gives is:

1625 Rev Henry Cooke MA

1655 Rev Francis Bernard MA

1661 Rev Nicholas Pedley MA

however this is disputed by Graham Claydon, whose notes are given below. He suggests the list should be

1641-1679 Thomas Taylor MA

Where does this leave the other Heads? How did Dickinson omit Taylor? Read the account below and make your own mind up!

Rev.Thomas Taylor 1609-1679 married. Dorothy and had three children -
Ann 1639-1669 married Reverend Richard Hoods
Rebecca 1635-1712 married REv George Evans
Elizabeth married William Weaver

1609 Born
1628 Matric -Trinity, Cambs
BA 1631-2
MA 1635
163? Married Dorothy
1635 Rebecca born
1639 Ann born
1641 Huntingdon [Headmaster-so Venn]
1657 Rebecca marries George Evans
1658 First granddaughter-Ann
1659 allowance of £20 to the Master of the Free School Huntingdon [Shaw pg.599]
1661 7.7 Pepys uncle dies at Brampton ‘where Mr.Taylor buried him’
1662 Hemingford Abbots Hearth Tax …Thomas Taylor , gent 2
1664 ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ 3 one downe ever since the Retorne
1667 10th October Pepys visits Brampton and Lord Sandwiches two sons from Mr.Taylor’s
1668 Marriage of Ann to Richard Hoods
1669 Death of dt. Ann Hoods but birth of granddaughter Ann
1674 Hearth tax Mr Tayler 6 [only one person in HA has more!]
1679 Death & will
1683 Hearth tax still in his name- now 7 hearths!

Farm in Hemingford Abbots to wife Dorothy, executor
Wife’s kinsmen Augustilla and Jeremy Maydston
Grandts….Ann Hoods, Rebekah Evans, Dorothy Weaver
John Peacock
Priscilla and Ann dts. Of Jeremy Manning [dec’d] mourning rings
Cousin Thomas Jeniper and wife Elizabeth

Le Neve’s monumental Inscriptions, 4 pg 196 from gravestone in the chancel of All Hallows, Huntingdon
Hic jacet Thomas Taylor septungenerius E generosa stirpe eiusdem nominis In agrobEborucensi Oriundus, Qui Coll.trinit.Cantabr.AM. Per triginta et octo annos 1641-79
In scola Huntingdonensi Gymnnasiarchus indefategabilisi Fumo labore et honore Fideliter defudavit In cuis priammemoriam Moestiflima uxor Dorothea Hoc flebile mannor pofuit Obijt Aug.anno { etat 70 { Dni 1679 Cronisticon ThoMas Taylor ScholarCha HuntingdonIens Is pletatk et nstae LIteraVrate Athletes E SChola PletatIs et Vita reCessitt MDCCXXIX

Translation[ from 1684 Visitation- [Victorian edition]
Here lies Thomas Taylor aged seventy , sprung from gentle stock of the same name in the county of York who was at Trinity College, Cambridge, a Master of Arts, for 38 years he faithfuly exerted himself with quiet effort and renown as indefatigable headmaster of Huntingdon School in whose pious memory his most grief stricken wife Dorothy placed this sad marble. He died 17 August 1679 aged 70.
NB The chronistichon contains his year of death made up of 1x M, 4xC,5xL,4xV,9xI totalling 1679
Translates….Thomas Taylor headmaster to students of piety & moral learning at Huntingdon departed both school and his life 1679
Upon a gravestone in the chancel
Arms A cross patroni untinct
Crest On a wreath a greyhound head erased untinct.
PGM Dickinson Huntingdon Grammar school 1565-1965
Henry Holmeads document c.1600 founded a free school and funded a master at £10 p.a.chosen by the Bishop+ a scholarship to Emmanuel Cambs.
Before 1661 master of the school and hospital were one
1604 Thomas Beard
Then rev Henry Cooke, unsatisfactory, left 1639 sued by the corporation for neither teaching the boys nor relieving the poor, instead appointing a substitute, but ‘’somehow matters were patched up and he remained in office until 1655’
Cromwell left 1616
Pepys a pupil 1640
Rev Francis Bernard d.1661 …appears in Venn only as Rector of Houghton , Hunts 1656-79
Rev.Nicholas Pedley……appears in Venn as Recorder of Huntingdon and MP -not ordained!
2.9.1678 ‘Constitution of the Hospital of St.John and the free Grammar School’ new rules established

Pepys Diary 10.10.67 Pepys examines Lord Sandwiches two sons and is impressed. They are sent for from Mr.Taylors school

The case for Thomas Taylor being the Headmaster of Huntingdon Free School 1641-1679
The crux of the problem stems from the booklet by Dickinson produced for the 400th anniversary of the Grammar school in which there is an account of the Headmasters of the school in th 17th Century which makes no mention of Thomas Taylor who I believe to have been the headmaster of the school from 1641-79
These are the positive pieces of evidence that I have so far unearthed and I would be delighted if anyone can throw ant further light on him.
1.The main evidence is the Memorial stone in the Chancel of All Saints church.
I don’t know if it is still there but it is described in full in the ‘Visitation of Huntingdon 1684’
A copy of which is in the Records Office. This includes a translation which describes him as headmaster[ scholarcha] for 38 years i.e.1641-1679
2.In 1659 under the Commonwealth there were allowances made to the Masters of various Free Schools, including Thomas Taylor for Huntingdon [ Shaw’s History of the Church pg.599]
3. The reference in Pepys diary to the school calls it Mr.Taylor’s school [ October 10 1667]
4.Taylor , who had a farmhouse in Hemingford Abbot was clearly a significant local figure , ranking with the gentry and paying hearth-tax for a growing numbers of hearths in this period.This is not consistent with him being a mere undermaster of some sort, even if some of his money had been inherited.
5.The Alumni Cantabria compiled by Venn, summarising the careers of these alumni states that Taylor was the Headmaster of the School in this period.
6. The Alumni also lists various local Huntingdon students who are referred to as coming from Mr.Taylors school[ e.g. William Naylour of Offord D’Arcy, later MP for Hunts who went to Sidney College in 1663.
Who then are the characters spoken of in Dickinson’s pamphlet and where might he have got his material from? Whoever they were I have not found their names linked with the school from the synopsis of their careers in Venn’s Alumni Cantabria.
Henry Cooke does not seem to have been at Cambridge
Francis Bernard was, but is simply listed as Rector of Houghton 1656-79 , with no reference to the school.
There is a Nicholas Pedley connected with Huntingdon in the period but he was not apparently ordained and was probably the MP and certainly the Recorder of Huntingdon.
I would conclude from this mismatch that the Dickinson pamphlet has mixed up the source material and these names played some other part in the town and school at this time, unless the headmastership turns out to be some sort of absentee sinecure, in which case I would like to know of the evidence for this.

Graham Claydon <>

Students note - even historical researchers can be wrong. Interpretation of facts and human error can produce different stories. Summarise the two opinions. What do you think is the most likely explanation for the differences? How might you best find the right answer?



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