The Boy Who Couldn’t Remember

Lionel Chute became the first Ipswich schoolmaster in 1636, but the first Ipswich grammar school was not constructed until 1653. It faced what was known then as the School House Green, now the South Green.

The first schoolmaster of the Feoffee’s school at the South Green in Ipswich was Ezekiel Cheever.

Ezekiel Cheever was the schoolmaster there, followed in 1660 by Schoolmaster Andrews.

Thomas Franklin Waters recorded the following story in Ipswich in the Massachusetts Bay Colony about an unfortunate but mischievous lad who was the nemesis of the esteemed Mr. Andrews. Benedict Pulcifer had been led into mischief by two associates brighter and more cunning than himself. He was nineteen years old but his father begged the favor of the Court in May, 1682, as he had always been a boy of simple mind.

” My son is of a very weak capacity, and therefore he might be easily enticed. I pray God to give him more understanding. I put him to the great School where Goodwife Collens was accounted above many for that faculty of teaching children to read.

To her my son went to school the space of four years in which time he could not be brought by her to know his letters. She complained that she never amongst all that ever she taught saw any so dull learned, having in a manner no memory.”

Schoolmaster Lionel Chute was the first Ipswich schoolmaster, teaching in his own home

Then from her I put him to school unto Mr. Andrews who I thought would learn him if he were capable to Learn of anybody, and with him he was the space of two years, but in all that time Mr. Andrews could not bring him to learn any sense, though to know some of his Letters which soon after he forgot.

When I asked Mr. Andrews what he demanded for his pay for teaching my son, he answered that he had taken more pains than ordinary to teach my son but he was not capable of learning and therefore was ashamed to ask anything. Yet I satisfied him to his content.” 

In 1704 the town voted to build a town meeting house on Meeting House Green “with a school house under it.” The ancient record book of the Feoffees of the Ipswich Schools contains the following entry: “At a meeting of ye Feoffees in ye new school house, Mr Robert Payne in behalf of ye Rest having received the school house from the Committee of the Town, did in ye Name of the Rest deliver ye same to Mr Daniel Rogers, the School master, desiring him to remove thither as soon as he could, with convenience.

The former Payne School on Argilla Rd. in Ipswich

This is a photo of the Ipswich High School that sat at the intersection of County and Argilla Roads. After the Manning School was built on Central Street, this school was discontinued and the building was moved a short distance down Argilla Road and was used as a stable by the Lathrop Brothers Ice Company. It was later torn down.

The old high school near the South Green

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