A History of King Henry VIIFs Boys Grammar School at Abergavenny PART I Grahame V. Nelmes The Early Foundation The foundation of King Henry VIII's Free Grammar School at Aber- gavenny came about as a result of Henry VIIFs attempts to salve his conscience for the expropriation of the wealth of the monasteries to feed his own extravagant appetites. The Letters Patent founding the school were issued on July 24th 1542. In these, the tithes of the churches at Llanfiangel Crucorney, Llandewi Rhydderch, Llanellen, Llandewi Skir- rid and Bryngwyn and part of the tithes of the rectory of Llanwenarth, all of which had formerly been in the possession of the Benedictine Priory of Abergavenny. Added to these were the more distant tithes of the rectory of Badgeworth in Gloucester, formerly in the possession of the monastery at Usk. These revenues were to form a Trust under the guardianship of "the bailiffs and commonalty", the equivalent of the modern day town council. The school was to be a Free Grammar School for boys only. Its primary purpose, as outlined in the Letters Patent, was the teaching of Latin Grammar. It gave free tuition to only a few of its pupils and so could only be termed a free grammar school in that there were no restrictions as to entrance into the school. The teaching was to be in the hands of a master sufficiently versed in the science of Latin grammar and was to be appointed with an annual salary of £ 13 6s 8d. An assistant master or usher was also appointed at a salary of £ 6 13s 4d. The first "headmaster" was appointed by Henry VIII, himself, in the Letters Patent. He was Nicholas Oldsworthy who had an M.A. degree and was "learned and instructed". Nothing more is known of him, but if the following job description of a contemporary headmaster gives evidence that a 16th century headmaster needed to be the perfect man. He needed to be, "a graduate of one of the universities, not under seven and twenty years of age skilful in the Greek and Latin tongues, a good poet, of a sound disposition, neither Papist or Puritan, of good Behaviour, of a sober and strict conversation, no Tippler or haunter of alehouses, no puffer of tobacco and above all that he be apt to teach, and severe in his government." Potential Headmasters take note. Little about the life of the 16th century school can be evidenced from the Letters Patent. Only the following prayer, supposedly written by Henry VIII himself, and was to be said by the boys daily: