Charity Commissioners and first days of the School


 “For educating eight young orphan gentlewomen. From the recitals contained in a decree of the Court of Chancery, dated 30th April 1783, in which His Majesty’s Attorney­ General, at the relation of William Henry Bouveriel1 and William Hussey,2 was informant, and William Godolphin and others were defendants: and from a copy of the Will of Elizabeth Godolphin, widow of the Honourable Charles Godolphin.”

In this report there is a recital of the scheme proposed by Elizabeth Godolphin.

The Dean and Chapter of Salisbury having refused Elizabeth’s request to act as trustees of the property, she found it necessary to file a Bill in equity for carrying the scheme into effect, and a decree was pronounced in the cause on the 4th day of July 1721, and the funds, amounting to £4859, 7s. l0d., having been remitted, were afterwards invested under the authority of the Court of Chancery.

The Charity Commissioners of 1833 state that they have not been able to discover what the circumstances were which rendered the proceedings in Chancery necessary which terminated in the decree of 1783, but it seems clear that Elizabeth’s scheme for the little school was not brought into operation before that year. The Master of the Court of Chancery reported on the 13th June 1788 that “a governess and eight young ladies had been appointed, and that the school had been opened on 9th August 1784, in Rosemary Lane, adjoining the Close in Salisbury and the trustees appointed Miss Giffard, who became Mrs. Davis, to be the first governess.”

The heirs of William Godolphin, to whom possession of the charity estates was given by the order of 1788, were Godolphin William Burslem, Richard Chaloner Cobbe, Barbara Mapletoft and Susanna Mapletoft. Both Barbara and Susanna Mapletoft died many years ago without issue. Godolphin William Burslem died in 1809, leaving his daughter, Margaretta Ann, now the wife of Harry Biggs, Esq., of Stockton House, near Deptford Inn, Wiltshire, his only child and heir-at-law. Richard Chaloner Cobbe died in 1829, leaving Charles Marshall Godolphin Cobbe, an infant of tender years, his heir-at-law. Henry Samuel Hammond, Esq., of Edmonton, surgeon, was appointed guardian to the infant by the Court of Chancery in July 1830.

In the course of our examination into the state of this charity, we have hitherto found no reason to impute wilful blame.

Miss Anna Maria Alford succeeded Mrs. Davis (nee Giffard), the first governess, and continued governess from January 1815 to June 1829. Upon her resignation Miss Emly became governess, and continued so till her death, which happened in the beginning of October 1832. Both these ladies were appointed by Mr. and Mrs. Biggs, with the concurrence of Mr. Richard Chaloner Cobbe, and we have every reason to believe that persons more fully qualified for the education of the young ladies could not have been selected. During the whole of Miss Alford’s time there were eight young ladies in the school. She received annually £320 on account of the school, £290 of which was received from Mr. and Mrs. Biggs, being at the rate of £35 for each young lady, and £30 in name of house rent was paid by Mr. Long. Miss Emly began with four children, and the number was increased to six between Midsummer and Christmas 1830. Since March 1831, the full number of eight has been kept up. The allowance received by her has always been at the rate of £35 a year for each young lady, and £30 a year from Mr. Long for house rent. The young ladies have been instructed by Miss Alford and Miss Emly in English, writing, arithmetic, French, and needle­work ; Miss Alford has added geography. Under Miss Alford, all or mostly all learnt music, and many dancing. Miss Emly has not taught dancing directly, but the young ladies on the establishment looked on when her private scholars received their lessons, practised with them when the master was absent, and occasionally when he was present. Housewifery has not been taught otherwise than this, that the children have been instructed to provide for themselves in the best manner, and make the best appearance small means would allow. Clothing, books and washing have always been paid for by the parents or friends of the children. Mr. and Mrs. Biggs have nominated half of the pupils, and Mr. Cobbe the other half. Since Mr. Cobbe’s death, half of the nominations have been made by Mr. Hammond. When a girl is nominated, a letter is brought by her or sent to the governess, specifying her name and age, but not usually the circumstances of her family, and requesting her to be admitted. During Miss Alford’s time the girls generally came about twelve, and remained four or five years. None remained after nineteen, except one, who came at nineteen and remained a year. In the time of Miss Emly they were admitted between ten and fifteen, and none remained after sixteen. All those admitted have been the children of parents professing the religion of the Church of England, and have themselves attended the service of it at all proper seasons.

1 Great-great-great uncle to the present Earl of Radnor, a Governor of the Godolphin School, 1908-1912.

2 Great-great uncle to Miss Hussey, a Governor of the Godolphin School, 1898-1928.


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