The Fellows of St Peter’s College, Radley

Singleton and Sewell maintained that a small stipend would attract able men to teach at Radley who would be motivated by vocation and by a desire to form the community of like-minds they were assembling rather than by career enhancement or the accumulation of wealth. They persisted in this belief despite doubts cast by some parents, and by the rapid turn-over of staff. Between 1847 and the reform of the Fellowship system in 1866, sixty men were elected Fellows of Radley. Of these, thirteen served for only one year, twelve for two years, six for three years, five for four years, three for five years and five for six years each. Only six out of the sixty served for longer than six years, of whom two were the Precentors, Edwin Monk and George Wharton, and three served as Sub-warden – William Haskoll, Richard Norman and William Wood, the latter two eventually becoming Warden. The other man to serve more than six years was Henry West who died in post, the first teacher to die whilst serving on the staff at Radley.

All were able men, hand-picked by Singleton and Sewell. Thirty-six were students or Fellows of Oxford Colleges, with three or four representatives from most of the colleges; nine were from Cambridge and two (including Singleton’s brother, Samuel) from Trinity College, Dublin. Only two were not university men: Captain Haskoll and William Austin, the first teacher to have been a boy at the school, who taught for one year before taking up a Demyship at Magdalen College, Oxford.
As Sub-warden under William Sewell in the 1850s, William Wood constantly emphasized the difficulties which the small stipend imposed on young fellows who, not unnaturally, eventually planned to marry. Sewell’s opinion was that each received a stipend from their respective College fellowships in addition to the Radley salaries.

1857: March 17th, Tuesday

After dinner had an hour’s talk with the Warden about Radley matters… He then went into a long explanation of his objects in founding the school and making the experiment of whether the English Church could find men who (quoting the statutes) for “victus, vistitus etc.” would work for her disinterestedly. He did not know how far he had succeeded… The old conception of the place was that the Fellows should receive £130 and the Warden £250. This could not be carried out, and Singleton had urged on him the propriety of making some change in the (actual) stipends. The Subwardenship was raised to £250 which Cox also received, because he saw the necessity of keeping Cox at that time of difficulty. The fact of my holding a Fellowship at Oxford enabled him in my case to revert to his original purpose. But he was so conscious of the use I was to the school, that it became a question whether an increase of stipend or, at all events, some present of a sum of money down were not the only fit way of showing his appreciation of it. He was very reluctant to make any permanent alteration. It would be abandoning the position he originally took up. For this purpose he had from time to time made such presents to those of the Fellows who required it, as eg. to Haskoll (who had people dependent on him), West on his illnesss – he had also promised to send him away to recover his health – Norman on leaving, Wanklyn ditto…

I told I could speak the more freely because I did not think it likely I could remain here so long as that any change would much affect myself. My own mind was made up as the necessity, if the school was to last at all, of securing that the staff should be permanent. This would be done in no way but by increasing the stipends of those who had been here longest. In this, a little expenditure would go a long way. At present, just when a man was of most use to the school from his 2 or 3 years experience, he found he could not afford to remain longer. For a man in old age there was nothing further to be wished for, but a young man looked forward to being able to save a little money and marry. If a person’s mind was made up to celibacy again, the case was different, and this constituted the essential difference between the English and Roman Church. It was a difficulty the English had to deal with. On first coming here, the stipend was ample, but when in middle life, a man began to look forward to parish work and a home, or possibly to having to leave his work from shattered health, it did seem very hard that his 6 or 7 years at Radley, a place which was in the receipt of a very great income, should have no permanent and tangible results to show…

I told him I had thought much of the question and talked about it with others, and that everybody agreed with me as to the necessity of the school increasing its stipends if it were to remain an efficient place of education… [I quoted] [Nugent] Wade speaking at St Columba’s where a friend said … “if the Fellows make the sacrifice the boys will be the victims”. I said also that I was thoroughly convinced not only of the feasibility of the system, but that in taking it up as one’s task in life, I was really fulfilling my ordination vow, as much as in parish work. That I had urged this very strongly on others of the Fellows, when they felt disposed to give it up. We held together here wonderfully, but in great measure from the great love we had for each other…

The Warden said if once the place became a mere ordinary school for making money, he would shut it up at once…

I replied … at present a man can barely live on his stipend, but if he found he was saving every year £50 or £100 from it, he would be induced to remain on and on … “This is the vital point. If the place is to live, it must live by the school: this requires that the education must be efficient, it implies men able and experienced, this demands the means of inducing them to come originally and to remain.”

[The Warden replied] … “then, how would it work, if (instead of increasing the annual income, which increase a Fellow might spend in luxury,) a certain sum were set apart in each Fellow’s name, and go on accumulating during the period of his stay, to be paid over to him when he left. This would save my principle, for such an object would be one of the legitimate ones I contemplated in the statutes. It is reasonable a man should look forward to marrying.”

I did not see much difference either in principle or in fact between the sum remaining in his name or directly placed in a bank by himself. … “Let me reassert once more my very strong conviction that it is for the interests of the place, and indeed necessary, if it is to exist at all as a good school that something should be done. That would be best done by a stated increase in the senior stipends…. Speaking commercially, Monk was the only person whom the college paid according to the use he was of; and why? Because it could not get him otherwise…”

So our palaver ended, satisfactory so far as giving me an opportunity of expressing freely my sentiments on the matter, unsatisfactory (as I expected) in that nothing seems likely to be done. A skilful use of kind words is not enough to patch up a defective system, which it is Quixotic to hope to carry out. I wish from my heart that I had not so profound a distrust of the Warden’s common sense.

(from the Diary of William Wood, Radley College Archives, unpublished)