Richmond Grammar School
Richmond School was the first school in Richmondshire, North Yorkshire. It accepted only boys and its only entry requirements were that pupils could read and write. Its original founding date is not know, however it first appears in a registry estimated to have been written in 1361-1474. It was awarded a charter ratifying its status on 14th March 1568 by Queen Elizabeth I and was one of the first free grammar schools in England. The School was built on what is now the Church Yard of St. Mary’s Church which stands opposite to and further up the hill to the current Richmond Lower School Building. In 1677 a new building replaced the Elizabethan one and this was used until 1850 when the school moved into a smaller building which still stands and until 2011 was used for teaching year 7 students.
James Tate (11 June 1771-1843) was the headmaster of Richmond School and canon of St Paul's Cathedral, London.[Headmaster 1796–1833.]
Tate was very successful; Richmond School become a nationally known school for classical learning. Tate sent up many scholars to Cambridge. (Known as "Tate’s Invincibles".) 21 became Fellows, 13 of them at Trinity College.
He was born in Richmond, North Yorkshire on 11 June 1771, the only surviving son of Thomas Tate, a working maltster originally from Berwick upon Tweed, and his wife, Dinah Cumstone, who came from a family of small farmers in Swaledale.
Having attended two private schools, in May 1779, Tate entered Richmond School. Whilst there, the headmaster Reverend Anthony Temple recognised his talent, and in 1784 found him a job as amanuensis to the rector of Richmond Francis Blackburne. Enjoying access to Blackburne's library acted as a stimulus for Tate, who with Temple's help obtained a sizarship at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.
Tate was appointed headmaster of Richmond School on 27 September 1796, the fulfilment of a childhood ambition. Tate was responsible for transforming Richmond School into one of the leading classical schools of its day, and the leading Whig school, attracting boys from throughout the country, at a rate of 100 guineas a year.
Between 1812 and 1833 six pupils a year on average proceeded to university. 21 of them became fellows, 13 of them at Trinity College, Cambridge. They became so "successful, admired and feared" whilst at Cambridge that they earned the title of ‘Tate's invincibles’. Their number included George Peacock, Richard Sheepshanks, Marcus Beresford and James Raine. Another pupil was Herbert Knowles. Tate rejected corporal punishment for his pupils, and refused to rule by fear, but instead inspired in them a love of learning.
Tate was a widely respected classical scholar. Robert Surtees, the Durham antiquary, recalled a night spent with him quoting from The Iliad, and Sydney Smith, who by chance travelled in the same coach as Tate, declared to a friend that Tate was "a man dripping with Greek". The Times printed a glowing obituary, noting that "as a teacher of classical learning, none of his contemporaries were more successful".
William Carr, ‘Tate, James (1771–1843)’, rev. M. C. Curthoys, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004