When Thomas Deacon died on 19 August 1721, his will - dated 13 January 1719 - changed the lives of many people, both at that time and to this day. Throughout his life he had been influential in the life of the town. He was a major landowner in and around the town, a feoffee (a trustee who holds an estate in land, for the use of a beneficial owner), a Governor of the Town Estates and a significant member of the woollen trade in the town. His will left the bulk of his land to St John's church and the town feoffees with strict instructions that all the profits were to be used for charitable ends. One such end was that a school, with a schoolhouse, should be set up in Peterborough for the teaching and instructing of twenty poor boys whose parents had assets worth less than £50. The boys were to be taught to read, write and cast accounts and, in due time, should be placed as apprentices. The school closed and reopened in 2007 as the Thomas Deacon Academy, in buildings that OFSTED described as 'impressive and thoughtfully designed'. (Miller, Julie, People of Peterborough, Peterborough Museum Publications, 2009)
Taken from The Peterborough Book of Days by Brian Jones, The History Press, 2014.