This essay analyses an early seventeeth century English “grade book,” the register in which the Headmaster and Ushers of the Merchant Taylors’ School, London, recorded the thrice annual testing of the boys in the school in order to demonstrate the boys’ progress and their own diligence in teaching to the Merchant Taylors’ Company, which founded and maintained the school. The school was the largest of the Elizabethan grammar schools, in which boys were systematically taught Latin grammar and rhetoric from the ages of the seven to seventeen. The institution was thus a robust forerunner of the modern school which dominates childhood. The analysis looks at what happened to the boys who were in the first form in 1607, the year the register begins, and reflects on what a document like this can tell us about the experience of schooling and schools as institutions.


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pp. 411-427
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