Westminster School has its origins with the Benedictine Abbey at Westminster and records of the school date back to the late 14th Century. The foundation was established as a King’s School following the Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 1540s and re-founded by Elizabeth I in 1560. The Elizabethan statutes established a school of 40 scholars and permitted further pupils to be admitted as ‘Town Boys’.
The Town Boy Ledgers, lodged in the school’s archive, are a near continuous record of school life at the heart of the capital spanning over 100 years. The Ledgers were kept by the pupil elected ‘Head of the Town Boys’ (Princeps Oppidanus) and provide a vivid account of school boy experiences written exclusively for the benefit of future generations of pupils. They provide a rarely recorded perspective upon education at the time as well as fascinating references to local and national events.
In 2014 the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust generously granted the archives money to get these unique volumes conserved so that they could be safely used by pupils and researchers. You can read more about this work on the Conservation page.
Now from 2015, 200 years after the first entry was made in the ledger, the school has begun a project to serialise the ledgers on-line. An entry will be posted on this blog every week day during the school’s terms. Where possible we will include additional information to provide context to the posts and we will also build a Glossary to help with unfamiliar terms.
This project has been greatly supported by pupil volunteers in the school’s archive and particular thanks are given to Harry Spillane, Xavier Chitnavis, Lily Yu and William Mirza for their work transcribing entries. We are extremely grateful to the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust for supporting the project and to Ann-Marie Miller ACR for carrying out the required conservation work. Any queries about the Town Boy Ledgers should be addressed to the School Archivist, Elizabeth Wells, at firstname.lastname@example.org.