Leonard Robinson was a retired solicitor of apparently considerable substance who, by his will of March 10th, 1720, founded the school, and to the until the Schools closure in June 1991, this date was celebrated as Founders Day every year during the Schools activities.

In his will, after a bequest of £40 per annum to his wife and £20 per annum. to the Curate at Bolton on Swale, he established a body of Trustees to administer the school which was to be endowed with all his *messuages, lands, tenements, and hereditaments wheresoever with their appurtenances, situate and being within the town, township and prescincts and territorys of Scorton…."

 
 

A schoolmaster was to be appointed within a year of his death to teach Latin or Greek. without charge, and he was to be of exemplary character. He was to have the use of Leonard Robinson's house, with the adjoining orchards gardens and outbuildings. He laid down that "this should be a free school for all persons after being qualified to enter upon learning the Lattin tongue" and he then directed that the master should take the boys to divine service in Bolton Church every Sunday and holiday.

If the schoolmaster should falter in his duties, he could be "displaced, removed" or "turned out at pleasure" by the Trustees. An usher. too, Was to be appointed. His job was to assist the schoolmaster, and his salary was £10 a year. He could likewise be replaced by the Trustees.

By a codicil to the will dated April 6th, 1721, Leonard Robinson also left £10 a year out of his estate, Scale Park, near Skipton, for apprenticing one or more boys who had been at least two years at the school. In future years, there was often considerable competition for this grant.

In this way, the school was founded. When one of the eight original Trustees died or resigned, another was elected to his place. We know little about them (and it is virtually of no importance that we should) except one, Timothy Dickinson, who was drowned in the Swale on December 13th, 1726.

At first, the school appears to have been known as "Robinson's School" and until his death in 1767, the Revd. John Noble was its first Master, a position he held for nearly thirty two years. Apparently, from the death of the founder in June, 1721, until 1735, there was no Master at the school, though according to the founder's will, the school should have been founded within a year of his death, by the summer of 1722. There is evidence of the death of George Jackson, Usher at the school, in February 1737, at the age of twenty nine, but there is no record of how long he had held this position (A memorial is on the wall at Bolton-On-Swale church).

Although information about this early period is Scanty, it appears that under Mr Nobles leadership, the school gained a distinguished reputation as a private boarding school. It is on Ascension Day, May 3rd, 1753, that there is the first record of an external examination in the school, and during Mr. Noble's headmastership, at least fourteen boys went to Cambridge.

In a biography of Thomas Scott, an eighteenth century Biblical Commentator, who was a boy at the school, the Revd. John Noble is described as "an able teacher of learned languages".

The actual number of boarders in these early years is not known exactly, though without doubt there were not as many as today. Local parish registers reveal that one, Thomas Billings of Sunderland, died in October, 1739.

Mr Nobles time in Scorton seems to have been characterised by vigorous activity in other spheres as well. The village green was created, supposedly out of a rubbish dump, by his and the boys' efforts, for a school playing field. He planned and supervised too the building of the school (his name is engraved on the bell) largely at his own expense, and under him, changes were made in the school house, which was still the Headmaster's home and the Junior Boarding house at the Schools closure. Whether or not his authority declined with age, however, one cannot tell for sure, for in the biography of Thomas Scott, there is a reference to Mr. Noble at this time. now "old, lethargic, and though assiduous, was greatly imposed upon by the boys". Boys it seems, never change.

 
 

 

On his death, John Noble was buried in Bolton Church where his tomb and monument can still be seen. Here he is described as "A man of primitive simplicity and faith, A true Christian priest. A most sweet friend, the best of patrons. A learned, faithful and pious teacher". He does not appear to have been married, and his memorial, was erected by his pupils, "saddened by his death, but with minds solaced by religion".

The story of the early years of the school would be incomplete without a further mention of Thomas Scott. He was born in Lincolnshire in 1747, the tenth of thirteen children, and was sent to Scorton at the age of ten where, he plaintively tells, "I remained five years without returning home, or seeing any relation or acquaintance" He would gladly have stayed a further year to prepare for university, but he was taken away and apprenticed to a surgeon and apothecary an engagement which lasted only two months. After an unsettled career as a shepherd, he became a priest in 1773 and until his death in 1821 built up a reputation for scholarship and saintliness. He wrote 'The force of Truth' and six large volumes of 'Commentary on the Scriptures' from which his publishers are reputed to have made £200,000 while his income was only £2,000.00