The 1841 census lists John Hives (35 years), schoolmaster, at (what is now) 25 High Street. The 1847 Kelly's Directory states he ran a Gents Boarding School in the High Street. The 1847 Commoners List has John Hives as occupier of 25 High Street, which was owned by the Misses Westall. However, the property was leased the following year, 1848, to James Bodman the draper.
The lease mentions John Hives, but it seems that by 1850, the Slater Directory recorded that he had become "Master of Endowed Grammar School, Church Cross (i.e. The Croft)".
It will be remembered from the section on the Free Grammar School that John Hives may not have been the best of teachers! In 1866 the Grammar School was inspected and was given a bad report! At that time there were 46 boys at the school, nine being foundation scholars (learning Latin) and the other 35 being fee-paying pupils, some boarding and some as day pupils. Of the boys that were tested, none was of the expected standard; neither the Master, John Hives, nor his assistant had any teaching qualifications and "there was not even a blackboard in the premises!"
As there were other better schools, including the National School (established 1814) offering elementary education in the town, the Free Grammar School in The Croft went into decline and closed in 1884.
It is thought that John Hives had taught at 25 High Street since c1838. It seems he had taken over responsibility for the Free Grammar School by 1848.
A relative of the Hives family, Mrs Ann Long of Isle of Wight, wrote the following notes in a letter in May 1997: "John Hives came from Hickling in Notts, his wife came from Cornwall; they were married in London and presumably arrived in Hungerford about 1838.
Their children were all born in Hungerford and one or two grandchildren, but after the closure of the Grammar School they all departed - in fact most had already departed by 1884; Edward took over from his father, John Hives, and then he went to West Ham with his family. The High Street and Grammar School are the only relevant addresses, and of course son George was at 6 Bridge Street for a while. John Hives might not have had a degree or been a very good teacher of arithmetic but his Reading grandchildren had very good mathematical and engineering brains. I wonder what he would have said, had he known that little Ernest Walter Hives, born after his death, was to be raised to the peerage in 1950 and receive honorary degrees of Doctor of Science and Doctor of Law and awarded the Royal Aeronautical Society Gold Medal for work on aero engine development. Although John Hives chose the teaching profession his ancestors had been wind and water millers for hundreds of years -an aptitude for dealing with machinery that has followed on through many generations."
- 25 High Street