Records : Education

Pages 252-258

Register and Records of Holm Cultram. Originally published by T Wilson & Son, Kendal, 1929.

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We have already seen that the Elizabethan tenants of the Holm laid some stress on education by their remark in the petition of 1581 on the 'Cambrydg man' they had for the teaching of their children. His salary was only £7 a year, but the schoolmasters of the district always got the cockpenny at Easter, as well as contributions in money and in kind to eke out their living. Though Bishop Nicolson in 1703 found the master at the Abbey teaching 'without salary or licence,' we may be sure that his work was not unremunerated. At that time the north aisle of the abbey church had been forsaken for a separate house in which school was held. In 1718 arrangements were made for a schoolhouse near the churchyard, described below in an extract from the XVI Men's minutes; for it was they who had the oversight of the school. Their appointments, as far as we can gather them, are given in the following entries.

1580. Rowland Chambers has been named as parish clerk (p. 176) and a little later 'one of the Addamsons a Cambrydg man' was schoolmaster (p. 194). The appointment to the combined offices of clerk and schoolmaster rested with the vicar and the XVI Men, whose first entry on the subject relates to one Thomas Nicholson. When he became infirm it was agreed that he should be paid £3 a year for acting as clerk during his life; that the sum be paid regularly in money and not in meal as formerly and that in addition each scholar pay 6d. per quarter.

1627. Richard Harding was appointed.

1628. Richard Sealby of Blitterlees, schoolmaster (and felon), is named (p. 214).

1628. "Whereas Rich. Harding parish clarke hath hitherto wrongfully received and deteyned those wages which have bene and are due to the clerk and schoolm. notwithstanding divers orders by us formerly made to the contrary And that the Schoolm. now being hath bene thereby p'judiced and the parish wronged and the School likely to be decayed It is this day ordered and agreed upon that Robt. Wittye nowe Schoolm. shall (in conciderac'on of his paines already taken in instructing of ye youth wthin ye said parish) receive … the same wages being due at Easter last; he payinge to the said Rich. Hardinge the sume of iijl. lawful English money (if he have not already received soe much) and so continue from yeare to yeare."

1651. R. Witty complained to the Governor of Carlisle [as Steward of the Holm] and a warrant was issued for John Chambers and William Brisco to appear at Carlisle on March 25. Being unable to go, they wrote—"Robt. Witty was schoolmaster duranti placita yet the said Robt. Witty did neglect the paymt thereof although he received it and made us forfeit or Bond And had almost starved the sd Richard Harding if good neighbours had not helped him. Neither is it nor was it [ordered] to take any pt of the schoolmasters wages from him Tho he did most unjustly and unworthyly deserve it in respect that by his idleness and carelessness he neglects the Schoole And soe forces several pttes in the psh to hire other masters to teach their children by his neglect. And besides whereas by this order of the whole psh he is but to have 6d. p. Qrtr. for every p'shoners child, Yet he takes twelve perce of ev'y scholar …" This letter is addressed "to the Hon. Coll. Thos. ffitch, Governor of the Castle and Citty of Carlile, to the Worshipfull Mr. Thos. Craister, Maior of the same, and to Captaine Cuthbert Studholme, etc."

Witty has been mentioned before (p. 180) and his name occurs in the diary of James Jackson, then bailiff, from 1653 to 1667 (C. & W. Transactions, n.s. xxi, 102-114). He held office for thirty-six years and was then superannuated as his predecessor had been. James Jackson's diary mentions the death of Mungo Dalton in 1668, who appears to have been schoolmaster.

1674, Jan. 18. "The XVI Men doe approve of Cuth. Raper to teach School at Abbey till Easter next and there shall be payed to him from Robt. Witty [the acting clerk's and teacher's fees] that ye said Cuthbert in ye interim doe officiate and duly execute both the saide places aforesaid."

1676-78, James Jackson's son (and others) attended Bromfield Grammar School to prepare for the University.

1692. Thomas Fothergill was appointed schoolmaster and clerk.

1695. Another schoolmaster was appointed, to be paid 1s. per quarter for each child. "The said James Farish shall not let or hinder anie person in each Quarter (Abbey Quarter only excepted) to teach or instruct children or youths sent to him or them to be taught so that he or they be found able and sufficient so to do, and that the said person or persons so instructing or teaching shall not proceed to go on to teach them in the rudiments of the Latin tongue without the Lycense or Leave of the Bishop or of the aforesaid James Farish."

1703. Isaac Anderson has been named as schoolmaster (p. 182) teaching in a house at some distance from the church.

1714-5, March 6. "Robert Paipe of the Abbey having a Son a very good Scoller did for the good of the Psh and alsoe his own Improvm[en]t agree wth the p'shoners that his son should officiate as Clark and Scoolmaster though contrary to the Canon by reason of youth, but he acting so prudently in the place of a Clark the inhabitants are therwith very well satisfied and though he be but of Little Stature yet by the Course of Nature Hopes he will improve."

1718, April 15. To the influence of John Penrise the following may be ascribed. "Whereas we the XVI Men … having assembled ourselves att ye Church … and forasmuch as the Scoolmaster belonging to the p'sh hath formerly taught and all this time teacheth scollars in the said Church to the much disorder thereof both in breaking of the windows and spoiling of the seats by running over them as we have this day observed Wherefore for the good and better government of the scollars and benefit to the parish in respect to the Church It is ordered … that a house be farmed for the said master to teach the scollars in And having information yt Benjamin Farish hath one firehouse containing two room steads near adjoining to the Churchyard to lett to farm … we have agreed with the said Benjamin Farish and farmed the house from him ye said Benjamin for one year after the day of the date herof and ye said Benjamin to repaire the house in thack and to keep it drop free, And to glaiz the windows with good glass at his own proper cost and charge. In consideration of which we have promised to pay unto the said Benjamin or his assigns the sum of ten shillings att or upon the 15th day of Aprill next after the date herof which will be in the year of our Lord God one thousand seven hundred and nineteen."

1720, Oct. 22. "We have being to us presented as we suppose a very able honest and sufficient person viz. Mr. Thomas Nicholson our present curate who will oblige himself … to teach … children and youth within the sd Lorppe untill they be found fitt for the University if their parents think it convenient to prefer them."

1722. Thomas Harrison appointed schoolmaster.

1723. Thomas Palmer appointed schoolmaster.

1727-8, March 23. "Whereas certain of our Parishners did undertake and hire Mr. William Martindale to officiate as Parish Clerke and Schoolmaster for the present year for the sum of £16 5s. and sometime lately did make proclamation for the inhabitants to provide a Clerke for the ensueing year for they desire to keep the sd Mr. William Martindale for a private School and to confine him to a certain number of scholars and accordingly did, which caused a great murmuring and complaining amongst the whole inhabitants which was excluded the school, We … did make proclamation for the inhabitants so complaining to provide a sufficient parish clerke and that we would meet them at the usuall place this day … but none being offered but the same Mr. William Martindale We deferred granting him any order till Easter Tuesday and then if we could not better our hand we wod agree with him." Martindale was given the order, but on condition that he opened the school to all comers.

1743-4, March 7. "Be itt remembered by all that in this present year of our Lord 1743 the Parishioners of Abbey Holme being nonplussed for a clerke and schoolmaster, There arose a dispute between the Vicar Mr. Thomas Boak and ye parishioners in and concerning ye appointment nomination and election … The Vicar aforsd claimed ye sole right and prerogative in nominating his own clerk. According to ye ancient custom, ye parishioners and ye XVI Men had ye choice Together with ye Vicar but ye Vicars voice only as another Man and no further. (It looks highly reasonable ye parish should have ye great sway in choice … of a clerke and schoolmaster as his salary wholly depends upon Them and are compelled by order from ye XVI Men of ye pay[ment] of ye clerks wage time immemorial.) Upon this dispute above the undernamed persons being some of ye most exact and curious in seeing their Ancient Custom kept up as not willing to have ye least Jott or tittle diminished, at their own proper cost and charges went to Lawer Christian for an opinion and gott itt in their favour together with Mr. Holmes assistance [which] cost them £3 16s. It was thought proper to Insert itt in this Book as a never dying Evidence That hereafter no Unnecessary Costs or troubles may arise upon such an unwarrantable claim That may hereafter be made by ye Vicar of Abbey Holme. For ye aforesaid Mr. Boak seeing himself so eagerly withstood by ye undersigned for their Right and priviledge returned itt into their hands to do their pleasure in choice of a Clerk and Schoolmaster and George Whinfield was elected Clerke and schoolmaster March ye 7th '43."

By 1695 (see the entry of 1651) there were other schools in the parish. East Waver had one, on the site occupied by the present school. Holm Low had a small building, now converted for use as a cottage, which stands at the three road-ends at Causeway head opposite the public house. St. Cuthbert's had a similar school on the Green at Mawbray, taught in the early eighteenth century by Daniel Waite. At Aldoth was a little school on the site of the present. From entries in the MS. book of James Jackson we find that St. Rooke's schoolhouse was repaired in November 1775, and at that date scholars from the south-western end of the Holm attended school at Newton. A century earlier we have noticed that boys preparing for the university went to Bromfield grammar school.

At Abbeytown in 1768 proposals were made for establishing a proprietary school to be built near the highway at the west end of Abbeytown by subscription; the subscribers enjoying the right of voting on the appointment of the master and of paying 6d. less in fees than others. The four subscribers of a guinea were John Reed of Knowhill, Thomas Stalker of Brownrigg and Mosside, Joseph Liddle of Applegarth and Seavill Cote, and Mungo Glaister of Red Flatt; 52 paid half a guinea and five paid 5s. each, On Nov. 3, 1768, John Hogarth, curate of Holm Cultram, was elected master and signed a promise to surrender the school when called upon by a majority. The last master was Glaister Stubbs, born in 1795, educated at Green Row academy, and for a time a sailor. He was able to give lessons to advanced students of mathematics, but was said to be addicted to drink and to 'a plentiful application of the rod.' He died in 1853, and the little school, measuring 24 ft. by 16 ft. in the south west corner of the present playground, was then replaced by a new building under the National Society, at a cost of about £400. In modern times, £150 raised by voluntary effort was spent in extension.

In the middle of last century the old schoolhouse at Aldoth was taken over from Joseph Rigg, who was compensated with £50, and a new building was put up; by the help of neighbours who lent their services in leading materials it cost less than £100, and another class-room was added later. At Silloth the ancient school was endowed in 1850 by John Longcake in memory of his son, and the new buildings were used for church services until the church (see p. 190) was finished. After 1878, when the schools were transferred to the School Board, an Infant school was built and the original buildings were enlarged. At St. Cuthbert's, new schools were part of the scheme inaugurated by Canon Simpson in 1845; the cost of the buildings, with a master's house, was £330. And in Holm East Waver the ancient schoolhouse stood until 1868, when by the efforts of the Rev. W. M. Shepherd the new school and master's house were built for about £800; and in 1897 a class-room was added.

The most remarkable educational effort in the Holm was Joseph Saul's Green Row Academy. He came of old Quaker stock at Beckfoot, the son of John Saul, a minister of the Society of Friends who died in May 1812, aged 84 years. Joseph Saul was brought up by an aunt at Causeway head and spent his early days at New Cowper. About 1783 he began teaching, with two pupils; in 1811 he had 135, and his advertisement in the Carlisle Journal for July 4, 1812, runs:—"At Greenrow young gentlemen are boarded and taught the English, Latin, Greek and French Languages, Writing, Stenography, Drawing, Arithmetic, Booking, the Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. In Navigation, Geography and Astronomy the Students are accommodated with Maps, Globes, Sextants, Telescopes, etc. and in the several branches of Natural Philosophy they have the use of appropriate Apparatus. The French Language is taught by a Native of France, and drawing by a Student of the Royal Academy … Terms Twenty-five guineas per annum. Vacation from June 20 to July 20 annually." Then follow the names of 188 pupils with their 'subjects of education' in each case; the list contains seven or eight foreign names. At the end is 'Wigton is the Post town nearest Green-row, with which it has communication four times a week.'

A report on this school by John Christian Curwen of Workington, (fn. 1) after praising the management, continues—"No noise! and yet the gaiety which was discoverable in every face proclaimed this not to be the reluctant submission effected by the fear of punishment but the fruit of an early sense of propriety. To my astonishment, I was in the next room to 135 boys at supper, without being incommoded. My surprise was so great that I could not be satisfied until I had visited the room and convinced myself, from the great good humour which reigned in every face, that this proceeded alone from their sense of what was right … I do not know how a higher eulogium can be made on any man than to state he was the author of what must procure so much happiness … And a further gratification arises from contemplating what Mr. Saul has done. He was educated in this parish, and affords an instance of what the good sense and spirit of the inhabitants of this district are capable of effecting when properly called into exertion. The opposition given by some highly respectable characters of the Established Church to Mr. Lancaster's (fn. 2) system of education arises from the want of that which is so happily conspicuous in its effects at Green row …"

Joseph Saul's obituary appeared in the Carlisle Journal of Nov. 5, 1845; … "few men have passed through a long life in a situation so onerous, with so much respect. He was a man of great acquirements and the influence which his talents and public spirit acquired for him, not merely in the district where he was best known but throughout the county when he mixed in public affairs, was probably greater than was ever possessed by any other private individual." He was a considerable farmer. He bought a tract of common land and built Balladoyle, which he so named after the home of some of his Irish pupils. It was thought at one time that he would go into Parliament, but in spite of all his success he met with financial reverses, partly, it is said, through the failure of Foster's bank. He died in October, 1845, and was buried at Beckfoot; a tablet was placed in the porch of the Abbey church to his memory.


  • 1. John Christian of Unerigg Hall took the name of Curwen in 1782 after marriage with Isabella, the heiress of the Curwens of Workington. He was M.P. for Carlisle from 1786 and later for the county until his death in 1828.
  • 2. Joseph Lancaster, 1778-1838, the educational reformer. Southey said, about this time "The Lancastrian scheme must needs operate to undermine the Church Establishment" (quoted in O.E.D.) but Saul's Academy was started while Lancaster was still a boy.