Portrait of Dr John Wooll (1767-1833), seated half-length, in black robes oil on canvas 91.8 x 71 cm. (36 1/8 x 28 in.)
PROVENANCE: Sale, Sotheby's, London, 13 July 1964, lot 134
ENGRAVED: Charles Turner, mezzotint, published 1813
LITERATURE: Lord Ronald Sutherland Gower, Sir Thomas Lawrence, London, 1900, p. 169 Sir Warlter Armstrong, Sir Thomas Lawrence, London, 1913, p.172 Kennet Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence, London, 1954, p. 203 Kenneth Garlick, Sir Thomas Lawrence, A Complete Catalogue of the oil paintings, Oxford, 1989, Cat. no. 844, ill., pp. 287-8 (as whereabouts unknown)
Born in 1767, the son of John Wooll of Winchester and his wife Elizabeth, John Wooll was admitted as a scholar to Winchester College in 1779 under Joseph Wharton. He matriculated from Balliol College Oxford in 1785 but migrated to New College, where he later held a fellowship from 1788 until 1799. He vacated this post following his marriage to Mary, née Scott, in 1799. Later that year he was appointed to the headmastership of Midhurst Free Grammar School where he ran the school with great efficiency, introducing the system of tuition in use at Winchester.
In 1807 Wooll was appointed headmaster at Rugby School, where he remained until 1828. Whilst at Rugby, Wooll oversaw much rebuilding of the school, including the addition of a chapel in 1820. Under his headmastership, the numbers exceeded 380, making Rugby second only in size to Eton. His fault was considered to be an at times excessive use of flogging although it was noted that he rarely had recourse to expulsion. Pupil numbers declined after 1818, falling to 123 by the end of 1827. Following his resignatuion in 1828, Wooll settled in Worthing, Sussex, where he died in 1833. A monument was erected to his memory in the school chapel at Rugby.