The Reverend William Rogers was born in 1819 and became Rector of St. Botolph’s Church, Bishopsgate in the City of London in 1863. He was a pioneer in the education of children and in the early years when legislation for compulsory child education had just been introduced, was involved in opening many schools in the east end of London.
Rogers soon realised that as well as a need for simple elementary education for children, there was a need for a more extended form of tuition directed towards the sons of skilled workmen and tradesmen who were able to pay only a limited amount towards their sons education and which would prepare them for entry to business, the professions and university. With the assistance of the Lord Mayor of London and other wealthy patrons, he set up in 1866 the Middle Class School, initially occupying the site of the old French Protestant Hospital in Bath Street in the City of London.
This soon proved inadequate and a site for the new School was purchased in Cowper Street. A photograph exists (date about April 1867) of the boys and their masters in the playground at Bath Street with the architect and the headmaster looking at plans for projected new permanent buildings in Cowper Street, close to the City, where a site some two acres in extent had been purchased. The Foundation Stone was laid by the Lord Mayor in 1868 and the new school buildings in Cowper Street were opened on 29th February 1869, the great hall being erected and opened in 1873. Fees were set at £4 per annum, a significant, although affordable, sum and the school rapidly expanded to take 1000 pupils.