[From High Bailiff Laughton's Recollections, 1911]
My readers must by no means imagine that during my, probationary state I circumscribed my studies with too much severity to legal questions alone. The tendency of my youthful mind was comprehensive. In the course of my general newspaper readings, which were multifarious, I happened to come across the following advertisement in the " Liverpool Mercury ":
" Education. Education at Manor House, Kirkby Stephen, Westmorland. Youths are boarded clothed, provided with books, and educated by Mr. Twycross, either for professions or trade, at £20 per annum. There are no extras nor vacations Respectable references can be given to parents and guardians in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Kendal and other places. Letters addressed as above will be answered by return of post."
Having read Dickens' skit upon this class of school I was anxious to find out for myself whether his description of " Dotheboys Hall," had exaggerated the evils and' absurdities of these scholastic establishments.
Accordingly I commenced a correspondence with the Headmaster, representing myself to be a grazier and butcher, with a large and growing family of boys (I is myself only nineteen), whom I wished to send to a goods boarding school, and I requested particulars of what he taught, etc., etc.
To this I received a prompt reply, accompanied by a printed Prospectus, headed by a sketch of the School which I thought looked more like a prison for criminals than an abode for happy boys.
In this Prospectus Mr. Twycross was good enough to inform the general public that "he gave an economical and advantageous education to the students at the Manor House, Kirkby Stephen; and that young gentlemen were genteely boarded, clothed, and provided with books, and educated by himself, assisted by experienced Teachers, on the following terms:-From six years of age to twelve, £20; and from twelve to fifteen, £25 per annum; which included every extra, excepting medicine and pocket money. and there was to be no vacation." The circular further stated that the education " included English, French, Latin, Greek, Stenography, Arithmetic, Merchant's Accounts, Geometry, Land Surveying, Gauging, Geography, Use of the Globes, and other branches of Mathematics !! !
After a prolonged correspondence, containing on my part the most egregious requests for various attentions to my boys, and on his part a most willing acquiescence, I finally wrote out a perfectly absurd " Bond," which he actually executed in the presence of three! witnesses. I append it, to show to what ridiculous lengths people of his class were prepared to go in search of pupils.
" KNOW ALL MEN to whom these presents shall come GREETING and to Thomas Twycross of Kirkby Stephen these presents come Greeting from Alfred Nelson Laughton of the Isle of Man and LET ALL MEN take; notice and be warned that this present is a BOND of EDUCATION BOARDING LODGING and CLOTHING covenanted to be given by the said Thomas Twycross to three boys under the aged of twelve years the sons of the said Alfred Nelson Laughton for and in consideration and counterbalance of sixty pounds (£60 0s. 0d.) sterling per annum for so long as the said three boys shall be and remain in the lawful possession of the said Thomas Twycross his heirs or assigns of the school now kept by the said Thomas Twycross and the said Alfred Nelson Laughton covenants to equit or outfit his said three sons according to the printed card issued by the said Thomas Twycross and the said Thomas Twycross covenants engages and solemnly agrees to perform the following condition namely THAT he will equip or outfit the said boys when they leave his school in such plentitude that their clothes shall not value less than ten shillings at the lowest value AND the said Thomas Twycross also covenants that neither one or the other of the said boys shall de deprived of more. - than one meal in the course of one day by way of punishment or for any other cause or reason of whatsoever nature the same may be the Act of God and FIRE excepted AND the said Thomas Twycross also cove. nants that forasmuch as the above and nevertheless and notwithstanding former practice that . may have been usual in the said School the said Thomas Twycross hereby covenants that that particular species of pudding commonly called and known by the name of STICKJAW shall not be administered to either of the boys here inbefore alluded to previous to the participation in a due quant.urn of wholesome beef at dinner nor shall they or either of them be persuaded or forced to partake of treacle and brimstone as a medicine, or otherwise but in case of illness the said Thomas Twycross hereby binds and obliges himself to send information to the said Alfred' Nelson Laughton to that effect and in which case · the said' Alfred Nelson Laughton hereby engages to send monies as the same may become requisite for the obtaining medical advice and medicine and which said monies shall not be deducted from the aforesaid considerative money but shall be considered as an extra expense pay able by the said Alfred Nelson Laughton to the said Thomas Twycross AND the said Alfred Nelson Laughton on his part engages and covenants nevertheless and foras much as that so soon as the said boys severally attain the ages of twelve years that from and after that period of time the said Alfred Nelson Laughton shall and will pay after the rate of Twenty-five Pounds (£25) per annum, for each boy so attaining the age of twelve years AND for the due faithful and proper performance. of these presents in every particular clause condition and covenant ' of whatsoever nature the. same may be or consist that is contained in the before written Deed or Bond, as styled in the first page of these presents the said Thomas Twycross and the said Alfred Nelson Laughton bind and oblige themselves their Exors. Admors. and Assigns AND in witness of their assent to each and every condition or covenant herein contained they the said' two parties with their faces reverentially turned to the East send their hands upon their Hearts according to an old form contained in one of the Statutes of the Georges of these Realms affix to these presents their own proper signatures without Benefit of Clergy and in case either party break any one of more of these covenants or conditions the party so offending or breaking the same shall be considered in the light of a defaulter and may if obstinately persisting in breaking the same, but not until three times severally requested) to obey the same the said party be he the ' aforesaid Thomas Twycross Schoolmaster on his part or the aforesaid) 'Alfred Nelson Laughton on his part to be liable to be compelled to execute and make good the particular cover nant and condition herein contained that he may have broken and lastly these presents now are signed to make this DEED valid ' but previous to signature it is understood that this Deed shall be a mere dead letter until the said Thomas Twycross signs it and returns it to the said Alfred Nelson Laughton and until the said Alfred Nelson Laughton sends back an exact copy hereof duly signed by himself to the, said Thomas Twycross THEN but not till then this DEED to be valid for then each party will hold his deed of covenants binding on the opposite party THE said Thomas Twycross this Twentyfourth day of April 1848 signs this deed
THOMAS TWYCROSS Signed in presence of
HENRY JACKSON Kirkby Stephen Westmorland
GEORGE BROWN Kikby Stephen
WILLIAM BROWN Kirkby, Stephen.
Mr. Twycross subsequently discovered that he had been hoaxed, and threatened proceedings at law. With this threat, however, the matter ended.