Willen People

Dr. Richard Busby

Richard Busby (1606-1695) came from Lincolnshire. He was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church College, Oxford, where, after graduating in 1628, he became a tutor. In 1638 (at the age of just 32) he became (Head)Master of Westminster School. He also held many important church appointments.

Busby was an outspoken royalist. After Cromwell's death, he helped at the coronation of Charles II. There is a story that when Charles II visited Westminster, Busby asked, and obtained permission, to keep his hat on lest, 'The pupils should think that there was a greater man in England than their Master'.
While working as headmaster he published many classical school books including Latin and Greek grammars. He was also a strict disciplinarian: it is reputed that in his 58 years as headmaster only one pupil passed through the school without being personally beaten by Busby. It was not only the pupils who were on the receiving end of his 'robust attitude to discipline'. It is said that Busby, displeased by a certain undermaster, Bagshawe, showed his disapproval by sending a group of sixth formers with axes to chop down the staircase leading to Bagshawe's appartment!
The rhyme opposite was composed after Busby's death when a Dr Freind had replaced him as Master of Westminster. Ye sons of Westminster who still retain
Your ancient dread of Busby's awful reign,
Forget at length your fears, your panic end -
The monarch of the place is now a Freind.
During his mastership, Westminster had many distinguished pupils, both Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke were in his own house and remained good friends with him in adult life. Busby bought the entire manor of Willen in 1672. Busby demolished the medieval church and commissioned Hooke to build the present one, which he furnished completely. When he died, Busby directed in his will that a Trust should be set up to manage his estates, including Willen. This 'Busby Trust' still exists today.
Picture of Busby, courtesy of the Busby Trust