The Harrow School governors' policy of appointing Etonian Head Masters reached its consummation and faced its severest challenge between 1746 and 1785. The social and commercial success already described in this book was inseparable from an academic reputation which was only securely established by its association with Eton College. The remarkable wide acceptance of Eton's superiority was due in part to its unique nature. Although Winchester was comparable in being part of a dual-collegiate society that offered its scholars security of education at school and university followed by good prospects for church livings and aristocratic patronage, it lacked the crucial dimension of the aristocratic Oppidans, as well as being hidebound by incestuous parochialism and Founders' Kin. In common with all other 18th-century public schools in England, Winchester also lacked Eton's numbers, a significant factor when the families in the ruling class were numbered in dozens or scores rather than hundreds. This chapter looks at three Harrow Head Masters with Etonian backgrounds: Thomas Thackeray, Robert Sumner, and Benjamin Heath.
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