In August 1880 the Master of the Rolls heard a case in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice brought by the Attorney General. The defendants were Edward Leigh Pemberton and the other Governors of Borden School. Officers of the Charity Commission had been prompted by the Headmaster, who wanted to know the future of the School. The Attorney General brought the action to establish what the School's future should be.
The Court's decision was to appoint John Moxon Clabon (of the Charity Commission) the Receiver of the School. He was to supervise School accounts, investing for future use any surplus funds. Mr. Clabon was to undertake this work unpaid – he was, of course, the salaried Solicitor of the Charity Commission. Although a senior public official, he was to guarantee £1,700 as a safeguard against the misappropriation of any of the funds.
The Receivership lasted nearly 10 years, until a revised Scheme produced a new Governing Body in 1889.
Life for the Headmaster was agreeable, with a Receiver instead of a Governing Body. As Mr. Clabon pointed out, any decisions needed could be obtained promptly by post (letters between Borden and Westminster arrived the next day): much more convenient than waiting for the next scheduled meeting of the Governing Body.
The progress of the boys was monitored by annual examinations conducted by visiting examiners, who were selected by the Headmaster but reported to the Receiver.
Mr. Clabon visited once a year to preside at the annual prizegiving. He had known the School during its formation as an Officer of the Charity Commission, and seems to have been very well disposed towards it.
At one prizegiving, typical of them all, the Headmaster read the report of the examiner, who that year had been the Revd. E.E.W. Kirkby, M.A., late scholar and chaplain of Trinity College, Cambridge. Mr Kirkby was extremely complimentary. So fulsome was his praise that he prompted Mr. Clabon to launch upon an impassioned call to those present not to hesitate to send their boys to the School, and to praise the work of Mr. Bond and Mr. Maltby. He seems to have been carried away, and preached a sermon. A journalist recorded his words.
“And now, boys, I must exercise the privilege I possess for a few short moments in saying a word of counsel. On the verge of three score years and ten, I cannot hope to come amongst you for many times more, if ever. You may think I am preaching to you – but why may I not do so, if the text is good and the sermon short? I desire to say a few words on the subject of honour. “Honour before Honours” is the motto (so said Mrs Ewing in one of her most charming books) which came from an ancestor who lost the favour of the king for refusing to do something against his conscience for which he would have been rewarded. The motto seems trite at first, but will bear deep examination. Honour before Honours. Whence come Honours? Who rewards the victorious general, the wise statesman, the historian, the poet, the painter? Who makes the duke and the baronet? Answer – man. Honours come from man. The first lesson in our last Sunday's service tells us that riches and honour come from God. And what is honour? When a boy is known as a fellow of his word, that is honour. When he does as he would be done by, that is honour. When he speaks the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, that is honour. When he helps protect the weak little boy from the bully – I hope you have no such boy in the School – that is honour. The verse in Micah well describes honour - “To do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly before God.” The parents of that great man of this century, Lowder (who preached in the alleys of East London, and, visiting daily and hourly in the wretched homes of the poor, was called their father), well describes honour - “They possessed nobility of character sanctified by grace.” The way of life – it is the way to death – to Heaven – to hell. The old man ventures, as his last word, to ask his dear young friends to keep to the path of honour as their way of life.”
The next chapter in the series, to be published in the next few days, will give a full account of the school throughout the time of the first Headmaster, the Rev William Henry Bond.