Sumner Road, HA1

Place Name

Robert Carey Sumner 1729 – 1771), the 13th headmaster of Harrow School who served between 1760 and 1771, is said to have “[flitted] like a splendid meteor over the history of Harrow, but leaves little trace of his personality”. Under his leadership he improved the school’s academic reputation and increased the number of pupils. Among his main battles was to get rid of some of the privileges of upper class pupils. He was said to be “a constant smoker, when the habit was by no means common in England, Dr Sumner beguiled [Samuel] Parr into a like indulgence; so that we read of cloudy symposiums wherein were discussed maxims of a Whig tendency, such as doubtless confirmed Parr’s all-known political opinions.” Sumner died aged 41. William Whately called him “the best schoolmaster in England”. This is one of a cluster of streets named after teachers and headmasters of Harrow School.


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