Richard Busby

Dr Richard Busby (1606-1695), the most celebrated schoolmaster of his time who held the post of Head Master of Westminster School for 55 years, is buried beneath the black and white marble pavement of the Choir of Westminster Abbey, which he presented in 1677. He was famous for his liberal use of the cane to discipline the boys and his pupils included the poet John Dryden, architect Christopher Wren, and scientist Robert Hooke.


Busby's white marble monument is in the south transept. His coat of arms at the top shows three black arrows on a gold shield with three gold stars above. He reclines on a mattress holding a pen and an open book and looks upwards towards the long Latin inscription. This can be translated:

See! underneath, lies the image of Busby: such as he appeared to human eyes. If you desire to see that part of him more deeply impressed in their minds, thoughtfully survey the shining characters of both universities, and the law, in the court, the parliament and the church. When you have viewed around such a full-sown and plenteous harvest of ingenious men; only consider what he must have been who sowed it. This must be he, who, the natural genius in everyone nicely discovered, usefully managed and happily improved. This he, who, by his instructions, so formed and nourished the minds of youth, that they learned to grow wise, as they learned language; and while they were educated as boys, they improved as men. As many as taught by him appeared in public, so many faithful and strenuous asserters were raised to the monarchy and the Church of England. Lastly whatever fame the School of Westminster boasts, and whatever advantages mankind shall reap from thence, is principally owing to Busby, and will be owing to him in all ages. So useful a member of the Commonwealth, God was pleased to bless him with length of days and increase of riches. And in return, he cheerfully devoted himself and his [wealth] for the promotion of piety, to relieve the poor, to encourage learning, to repair churches. These were his ways of enjoying wealth; and what he did not employ in his life-time to this purpose, he bequeathed at his death

Below on the plinth:

Richard Busby of Lincolnshire, S.T.P. [Professor of Sacred Theology]. Born at Lutton 1606 Sep. 22. Head Master of Westminster School 1640 Dec. 23. Installed Prebendary in the Church of Westminster 1660 Jul. 5. Installed Treasurer at Wells [Cathedral] 1660 Aug. 11. Died 1695 Apr. 5


Busby was a son of Richard Busby, churchwarden at Lutton in Lincolnshire and the family moved to Westminster shortly after his birth. Young Richard attended Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. Many of his books still remain in the School library.

He built the church at Willen in Buckinghamshire and left several benefactions to trustees for the relief of the poor, as he died unmarried. William Busby, son of Robert Busby, was one of the first trustees. Richard Busby, son of Sir John Busby, was the Doctor's godson.

Further Reading

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

"Memoir of Richard Busby..." by G.F. Russell Barker, 1895

Archives concerning the Busby Trust (including Willen church) are now kept in the archives of Westminster School.

A copy of his will can be purchased via The National Archives website


22 September 1606


5 April 1695




South Transept

Memorial Type


Material Type


Richard Busby
Richard Busby

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

Richard Busby
Richard Busby memorial

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster