Early Years Part 2

From the Handbook of Jamaica, 1881, p.388

The Jamaica Free School was established at Walton, near The Moneague m the Parish of St. Ann.

This School had its origin in a bequest of Charles Drax of St. Ann, who by his will dated in 1721 bequeathed a house and estate, with charges on other estates in case of deficiency, for the purpose of establishing a free school for the education and maintenance of eight poor boys and four poor girls belonging to the Parish of St. Ann, who were to be apprenticed at the expiration of a certain time to some manual labour or occupation.

The bequest lay dormant until the year 1798 when the Parish instituted proceedings for its recovery, which resulted in an arrangement whereby the sum of £11,200 (currency) with interest was paid over to the Justices and Vestry of St. Ann.

In 1802 an Act was passed (43 Geo. Ill, c.32) appointing Trustees, who were incorporated under the name of “The Trustees of Drax’s Free School,” for the direction and management of the school and the Fund, but they appear to have taken no active steps towards the object for which they were created until the year 1806, when they purchased Walton Pen with a house upon it for £8,000 and invested the remainder of the fund, about £4,956, in the Island Treasury, for which 8 per cent was allowed.

In the year 1807 it was determined to in large the Institution, and to make Mr. Drax’s bequest the nucleus of a fund “for the benefit of a more enlarged and general institution,” and with the consent of the Trustees and under the provisions of an Act, 48 Geo III, Chap 25, Walton Pen and the existing funds, then amounting to £6,500 currency (£3,900 sterling) were assigned to and vested in the Trustees and Governors of a School to be called “The Jamaica Free School,” which was to be a Free Grammar School for the maintenance and education of poor children, the right being granted to the inhabitants of St Ann’s, in consideration of the pen and moneys so surrendered to appoint ten scholars annually, to be maintained and educated at the School, such appointment to be made by the Magistrates, Churchwardens and Vestrymen in Vestry assembled.

The nomination of the other scholars was vested in the Governor. In the year 1820 the sum of £6,579 currency (£5,947 sterling) proceeds of a chancery suit which was declared applicable to such charitable purposes as the Crown might appoint was, under grant from the Crown, added to the fund of the school

Of the scholars on the foundation, as now constituted, thirteen are now nominees of the Governor, of whom two are maintained free by the Head Master in consideration of the use of lands attach- cd to the house; and ten are nominated by the Parish of St. Ann, being twenty-three boys in all educated at the Institution.

In 1868 Sir John Grant, the Governor, transferred the Governor’s right of nomination to the School to the Custodes of the several parishes (excepting St. Ann) in rotation as vacancies occur. The minimum age of a child to be nominated is eight years, the maximum twelve years, and sixteen the age of superannuation.

The system of education adopted is said to be closely assimilated to that of the Charter House School in England.

The income of the School, amounting to v996 per annum, is derived from the sum of £12,451.16s which has been funded with the Government in perpetuity under the 28th Vic., c.23, at 8 per cent interest, and the following is the appropriation of it:-

Item Cost
Officers £225
Servants £ 60 21
Scholars @ L30 per annum each (allowed to the Head Master for their maintenance) £630
Total £915

Under Section 41 of Law of 1879, “The Schools Commission Law,” the Walton Free School and all funds and property thereof are absolutely vested in the Commission and the Trustees removed.

Provision is made by the Law for the establishment of a School to be called “The Jamaica High School” at which there shall be provided a good liberal education. Free education and maintenance is to be provided for a limited number of scholars, to be called “Foundationers”, and the School is to be open to all religious denominations. This Law came into operation on the 1st November, 1880.

End of Extract from Handbook of Jamaica, 1881.
From the Jamaica Almanacks