Today we celebrate the 400th birthday of Robert Aske, by whose generous benefaction (what have grown to be) The Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School and Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls were founded.
Born on 24 February 1619 and the son of a draper, Aske was apprenticed to John Trott, a Haberdasher and merchant with the East India Company. Aske rose quickly within the Haberdashers' Company and by the 1660s was a very wealthy man. In 1668 he was elected Master of the Company, and remained so until 1687 when he was stripped of this position by King James II. Still a rich man, his will made on 18 January 1689, bequeathed £20,000 and the residue of his estate to the Haberdashers' Company to build an almshouse for 20 poor single freemen and to purchase enough land to yield an income of £20 for each of them. Any remainder was to be used 'for the maintenance of soe many poore Boyes at 20 pounds each for Meate, drinke, clothing and Schooling'.
Aske died on 27 January 1689 and following a royally assented Act of Parliament, the building of a 'Hospital' consisting of an almshouse for 20 resident old men and a school for 20 boy boarders was approved at Hoxton. This opened in the autumn of 1695, with the first boys being admitted in November 1697. These were the first pupils of what has now become The Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School and its sister school the Haberdashers’ Aske’s School for Girls.
For further details please see Dr John Wigley’s excellent history of the School 'Serve and Obey', available from the School Shop in the Medburn Centre.