The Jewel in the Crown is Merchant Taylors’ School, founded in 1561 by Richard Hilles, Master of the Company, and owned and maintained by the Company ever since. Originally in Suffolk Lane in the Parish of Lawrence Poutney, it moved to Charterhouse in the 1870s, and to Sandy Lodge, Northwood, in 1933. It is now a fee-paying public school educating 800 boys.
St John’s Preparatory School at Northwood was purchased by the Company in 1984.
Merchant Taylors’ School has always had close links with St John’s College, Oxford, founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas White, Master of the Company in 1535. Until recently there were a number of closed scholarships from the school to the college, and in the late sixteenth and early 17th centuries the President and Fellows would travel to London every year to choose the best candidates.
Other schools of which the Company was trustee from the very beginning were at Crosby near Liverpool (Merchant Taylors’ School, founded by John Harrison, 1620); Wallingford (Walter Bigg, 1659); Ashwell, Hertfordshire (Henry Colbron, 1664); and Merchant Taylors’ School for Girls, Crosby (1878). Wolverhampton Grammar School was also administered by the Company from its foundation by Sir Stephen Jenyns in 1512 until a dispute between the Company and the town in 1786. Links have since been renewed.
Other schools founded by wealthy members of the Company but with which the Company was not involved include Macclesfield (Sir Thomas Percyvale, 1503); Market Harborough (Robert Smyth, 1607); and Londonderry (Matthias Springham, 1617). The Company has since established links with many of these.
Further information can be found in Matthew Davies and Ann Saunders, The History of the Merchant Taylors’ Company (Maney, 2004). This includes a select bibliography. Copies are available from the Company.