Ipswich school boyStories

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. Ezekiel Cheever was the schoolmaster there until he relocated to Boston in 1660, and was succeeded by Schoolmaster Thomas Andrews.

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

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. Young Benedict Pulcifer had been led into mischief by two associates brighter and more cunning than himself. He was nineteen years old but his father, alson named Benedict, 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 Collins 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.

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.” 

The last we hear about the younger Benedict Pulsipher was recorded in Cotton Mather’s Magnalia Christi Americana about a skirmish with the Indians during the Northern Wars: “In the scuffle, one sturdy and surly Indian held his prey so fast, that one Benedict Pulcifer gave the Mastiff a blow with the edge of his broad ax upon the shoulder, upon which they fell to it with a vengeance, and fired their guns on both sides, till some on both sides were slain.”

In 1704 the town voted to replace the early school house by building a new 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.”

Daniel Rogers, born in 1667, was the son of President John Rogers of Harvard and Elizabeth Dennison, daughter of Gen. Daniel Denison, a distinguished and much honored leader of Ipswich. he graduated from Harvard in 1686 in his nineteenth year and first became the teacher of the Ipswich Grammar School. Fifteen of his students at the Grammar School subsequently entered Harvard College.

In 1702 Daniel Rogers was admitted to practice law in the Ipswich Court. On the cold wintry afternoon of December 1, 1722, Rogers was returning to Ipswich from a court case in Hampton and got lost deep in the Salisbury marshes. His body was found a few days later, with evidence suggesting that he was murdered. Daniel Rogers’ body was brought home and he was laid to rest in the Old North Burial Ground in Ipswich

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