The most serious schoolboy misdemeanour seems to have been swearing. At Oundle School in Rutland the master was instructed to give the boy "three stripes" for every oath spoken. Also treated seriously was fighting but, not nearly so common, was lying, stealing or playing unlawful games such as cards or dice. Boys were also warned against robbing gardens or breaking into orchards. At the beginning of 1573 in Stratford, there must have been a major disturbance as it is recorded the schoolroom's windows were broken and woodwork damaged. The usual instruments of punishment were the birch and ferula. The latter was a flat piece of wood like a ruler, widened at the inflicting end into a circular shape, which was sometimes pierced for raising blisters. Whipping posts were provided at some schools for particularly unruly boys! That William never wrote of schoolmasters in a kindly light may suggest he received more than his fair share of punishment.

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