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Hancock County Historical Markers


  • Source: David Seibert
  • Marker: Rockby
  • Location: Ga. 16 about two miles east of Sparta


About 1 mi. from here, Richard Malcolm Johnston, lawyer, educator, and author, operated Rockby, a school for boys revolutionary in its day. Disgusted with the harsh disciplinary methods of the time, Johnston instituted an honor system whereby students were expected to report their own misdemeanors. His system of discipline, “at once so liberal and so exacting,” worked remarkably well, and Rockby enjoyed wide patronage. Opened in Jan., 1862, the school prospered until after the Civil War.

Johnston left Ga. in 1867 under the social and financial pressures of Reconstruction and reopened his school as Pen Lucy School in Baltimore, Md. Forty Ga. boys followed their teacher to Md. and Pen Lucy continued in the Rockby tradition for about six years. Financial distress in Ga. later curtailed Johnston’s main supply of boarding pupils, and, finding his honor system less effective when applied to day pupils with whom the teacher had limited contact, he finally closed the school

Johnston’s best-known literary work, Dukesborough Tales, was inspired by his own experiences. In his autobiography he identified Powelton, Hancock County, Ga., as “Dukesborough.”