In their "Chronicles of Portsmouth" (pub. 1828) Henry and Julian Slight wrote:-
In the year 1732, Dr. Smith, a physician long resident in the town, bequeathed an estate called East Standen Farm, in the Isle of Wight, in trust to the Dean and Chapter of Christ Church, Oxford, for the establishment of a free grammar school in the town, and authorising them to pay salaries of 50l. per annum to a master, and 30l. to an usher. In the year 1750, the rents having accumulated to a sufficient sum, the trustees purchased the house in Penny-street, for the master to reside in, rent free, and erected the school behind; they have appointed the masters from time to time, and within a few years raised the salaries to 80l for the master, and 60l the assistant; but no person had ever been gratuitously educated in pursuance of the founder's bequest. The farm is now held on lease by the widow of the late Mr. Henry Roach, at the rent of 200l per annum.
Sixteen years since, several public-spirited inhabitants instituted a suit in Chancery to enforce a fulfilment of the founder's intent. The affair was referred to one of the Masters of the Court. The trustees contended that the founder's intention was merely to provide a school and masters; but that, nevertheless, the scholars were to be instructed at their own expense.
Decree of the High Court of Chancery, respecting this institution:- That the master shall be required to educate fifty boys, provided so many shall offer, being the children of resident inhabitants of the said Borough of Portsmouth, or the children of persons who were resident inhabitants of the said Borough at the time of the birth of such children, in cases where the parents are dead, being the children of persons professing the Protestant religion, free of expense; and that he shall be at liberty to take into his house, for the purpose of education at the said school, as many boys, to lodge and board at his house, as he shall think fit, and upon such terms as may be agreed upon between him and the parents or guardians of such boys; and also, to take into the said school, for the purpose of education, as many day scholars as he shall think fit, and upon the terms to be agreed upon as aforesaid.
That the said boys so to be educated gratuitously at the said school, shall be nominated by the Dean and Canons of Christ Church.
That no boy under the age of seven years shall be admitted as a free scholar into the school, or remain in it after the age of seventeen.
That all the boys, both free scholars and others, shall be educated in, and taught the elements of, the Greek and Latin languages, and the principles and religion of the Established Church of England.
That all the lower details, such as the hours of opening and closing the school daily, and the times of the several recesses or holidays, shall be left to the appointment and direction of the master, so that the hours of schooling shall not be fewer than six, and the recesses shall not be more than two in each year, - the one of them commencing on the Friday preceding Christmas, and the other on the Friday preceding the 21st of June in each year, nor for more than one month each; and holiday shall not be more than one whole day, and the afternoon of one other day in each week.
That the duty of superintending the said school shall be left to the direction of the Dean and Canons of Christ Church according to the will of the said testator.
That the fifty boys first to be appointed free scholars, shall be appointed on or before the 1st day of January, 1823; and that all vacancies which shall afterwards happen by death or otherwise among the said boys so appointed, shall be filled up by other boys, to be appointed in like manner, once in each and every year, that is to say, on some day in the first week in the month of January in each and every year, notice being first given thereof such notice to be in writing, and to specify the number of vacancies to be filled up, and fixed on the doors of the several parish churches within the Borough of Portsmouth, for the space of fourteen days at least before the day to be fixed for that purpose.
That two forms of prayer shall be prepared and approved by the Dean and Canons, the one to be read on the first coming into the school in the mornings and the other on leaving the school in the evening, by one of the free scholars, to be appointed by the master for that purpose and that the master and usher, or one of them, be present at the reading thereof.
That all the boys educated at the said school (not day-scholars, who are to be left to the care of their friends in this respect) as well the boarders in the master's house as the free scholars, do attend the public worship of God, in one of the parish churches within the Borough of Portsmouth, at least once on every Sunday throughout the year and such other days as may be appointed by the master; and that the master and usher, or one of them, or, in case of their absence, some fit person or persons to be appointed by the master, do attend them to and from church and do see to their good behaviour whilst there, and that each and every of the boys be furnished with a Bible and Prayer-book, at the expense of his parents or guardians.
That the master shall write or cause to be written in a register book, the name and age of every free scholar admitted to the said school, and the time of admission, and also of his leaving the school, to the intent that a register be kept of the said school, and that the continuance of the scholars may appear, and also their proficiency in learning, according to their time, and that such book shall from time to time, and at all times, be open to inspection, when required by the Dean and Canons or to such person or persons as the said Dean and Canons shall appoint.
That if any free scholar shall be found unduly and needlessly absent, that is to say, without just cause of sickness or other impediment to be allowed by the master, for three days, when the school is open, either together or at several times, in any one year shall be considered and stand utterly expelled, and unable of being again admitted into the said school.
That each and every free scholar shall appear at the school clean and decently clothed, and that no boy who has any infectious or loathsome disease, or who shall be shall be addicted to swearing, or profane or lewd conversation, shall be either admitted or suffered to continue in the said school.
That books, pens, ink, paper, and slates, be provided for each free scholar, by or at the expense of his parents or guardians; and that no free scholar be admitted or suffered to continue in the said school, who is not provided with such books, pens, ink, paper, and slates and other matters as the master shall direct.
That no master, or usher, or other person employed in or about the said school, shall demand, or require, or receive, or take, any sum of money, present, or gratuity whatever, from any free scholar, or the parents, or guardians, or friends, or relations, of any free scholar attending the said school, either directy or indirectly, or under any pretence, on pain of being removed from the said school, on proper representation being made thereof to the Dean and Canons aforesaid.
Trustees.......The Dean and Canons of Christ Church, Oxford.
Head Master........ Rev. R. H. Cumyns
Second Master.........Edward Nayler.
The school-room is large and handsome and above the fire-place is a large ornamented stone slab, with this inscription:-
VIRTUTI ET LITERIS SACRUM,
EX MUNIFICENTIA GULIELMI SMITH, M. D.
QUI OBIIT XI DIE FEB, A. D. MDCCXXXII."
- and at each corner are busts of Homer, Cicero, Virgil, and Horace.
The stone slab is now situated in the main hall of the junior school - see Memorials in Portsmouth.