Richard Hale


Richard Hale , born in the 1500’s and died in 1620, eldest son of Thomas Hale of Codicote, was the Founder of the School. His family coat of arms, slightly modified, is that of the School. The request for King James I’s approval for the founding of the School was granted in the Letters Patent of 29th April 1616, and on 19th February 1617 Richard Hale gave £800 to be invested for the provision of the School’s income. Richard Hale was a merchant and eminent citizen of London, and like many successful merchants he translated his fortune into real estate. In 1595 he was able to buy the manor of King’s Walden Bury, which improved his status in his native county and improved the marital prospects of his female heirs. The family sold the house in 1884, and in 1888 the family papers were acquired by the British Museum.In few periods of English history has there been such enthusiasm for the benefits of education than the later years of Queen Elizabeth I and the reign of James I. To the founders of new schools and colleges it appeared that education would provide both an answer to society’s ills and a guarantee of social well?being. It would train good men, virtuous rulers and useful citizens in accordance with the ideals of the humanists; it would advance the Protestant Reformation by banishing ignorance and implanting knowledge of the truth; it would provide opportunities for the advancement of talented children from humble origins in an orderly process of social mobility; finally, it would promote the prosperity of the commonwealth and strengthen the bonds of the social order.William Hale, Richard’s great-grandson, was a boarder at the School in 1647. By his will in 1663 William left lands to provide: that out of the same rents and profits seven scholars should be maintained forever in the College of St Peter’s (ie Peterhouse) Cambridge … and that every year for ever one of the said scholars should be elected and chosen out of and from the free school of Hertford of his grandfather’s foundation there. In 1948 the Master and Fellows of Peterhouse gave to the School the portrait of Bernard Hale, a grandson of Richard, who was also a benefactor of the School and Master of Peterhouse. (This portrait hangs in the Dining Hall.)

Richard Hale died in 1620 and was buried in Saint Dunstan’s Church in East London. Unfortunately his memorial was destroyed when the church was burnt down during the Great Fire of 1666 and again by airraids in World War II. On 2nd October 1946 a group of sixth formers visited St Dunstan’s and unveiled a small commemorative plaque recording the connection of Richard Hale with the School and the Church. They were accompanied by the Headmaster, the Head Boy, and a Governor. After this the Headmaster, T. H. Bunt, together with a party of senior boys, attended an annual service at St Dunstan’s in memory of our Founder and, afterwards, received tea at the Grocer’s Hall.