John Lyon (school founder)

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John Lyon (1514?–1592) was a farmer and benefactor who endowed Harrow School, founded in 1572.

He was an educated man who lived at Harrow on the Hill, now in North West London. As a wealthy farmer, he was able to endow Harrow School, and this led to the creation of The John Lyon School. He established a trust for the maintenance of Harrow Road and Edgware Road. Since these roads are now owned and maintained by the council, the income from his estate is controlled by John Lyon's Charity who give grants to benefit children and young people in nine London boroughs: Barnet, Brent, Camden, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Kensington & Chelsea, Harrow, Hammersmith & Fulham and the Cities of London and Westminster. Grants are awarded to registered charities and state schools.

John Lyon lived at Preston which was at the time "...a hamlet in the parish of Harrow-on-the-Hill". There are brasses of him and his wife in the church of St Mary's, Harrow on the Hill.


A yeoman of Preston in the parish of Harrow, Middlesex, he was son of John Lyon and his wife Joan, and first cousin of Sir John Lyon, lord mayor of London in 1534. He was probably born about 1514, being over twenty in 1534, when he applied for admission to certain lands held by his father in Harrow. He was wealthy, and in 1562 had the largest rental in Harrow.[1]

Lyon died on 3 October 1592 without leaving issue; his wife Joan died on 30 August 1608. Both were buried in the parish church of Harrow. A brass bearing their effigies, with an inscription, was during a modern restoration removed from the floor, with injury to the figures, and placed against the wall of the church; but in 1888 a marble slab with Latin verse inscription was laid over his grave.[1]

Lyon had a lion in his coat of arms. This canting charge has been taken up as a supporter in the modern coat of arms of the London Borough of Brent and as a crest in the modern coat of arms of the London Borough of Harrow.


For many years Lyon spent twenty marks a year on the education of poor children. On 13 February 1572 he obtained from Queen Elizabeth a charter and letters patent for the foundation of a free grammar school for boys at Harrow, constituting his trustees a body corporate as governors of the "Free Grammar-school of John Lyon". He also bought lands in Marylebone in 1571, to be held by himself, his wife, and the governors of his school, the rents to be applied to the repair of the high-road between Edgware and London, and the surplus to the repair of the road between Harrow and London. In that year, the clerk to the signet having proposed to levy £50 from him as a loan to the state, Sir Gilbert Gerard, the attorney-general, interposed on his behalf, representing that Lyon should not be forced to sell lands bought for the maintenance of his school.[1]

Lyon drew up statutes for his school in 1590, providing for a schoolmaster of the degree of M.A., and an usher a B.A., both to be unmarried. They covered admission, fees, and amusements to the scholars (driving a top, tossing a handball, running, and shooting). All were to learn the church catechism and attend church regularly. Greek was to be taught to the two highest forms, the fourth and fifth, and the whole course of study was specified.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d  "Lyon, John (1514?-1592)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 

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 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain"Lyon, John (1514?-1592)". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.