How to set up a school in 1770

We came across this book published anonymously in 1770 with containing full instructions for someone who wished to set up their own academy – a sort of ‘how to‘ guide. It was very lengthy but we thought you might find some of the instructions below quite interesting, the link highlighted above will take you to the full book.

Are you desirous of engaging in the management of an Academy? Are you in low circumstances? Are you a broken attorney, or excise-man? A disbanded Frenchman, or superannuated clerk? Offer your service for a trifling consideration; declaim on the roguery of requiring large sums, and make yourself amends in the inferior articles; quills, paper, ink, books, candles, fire, extraordinary expenses, taylors and shoe-maker’s bills, are excellent items in academy-accounts. You may charge them as amply as you please, without injury to your reputation.

Twenty-five pounds is the least you can ask. Nor are you to neglect to avail yourself of the preceding items; but deem it a general rule that your extraordinary advantages are to bear a direct proportion to your stated terms.

Keating, George; The School Door; Museum of English Rural Life; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-school-door-27031
Keating, George; The School Door; Museum of English Rural Life

Advertising

If you have promised to confine your attention to a trifling number by advertising that one or two are still wanting, or by decreasing your terms, attempt immediately to retract this promise.

Apply to your first benefactors; hope they will permit you to accommodate a few pretty little masters, sons of Mr. Such-a-one, who may be of the greatest service to you. They will not deny you; they will consider it as a proof of your rising reputation.

When advertising for boys does not answer, advertisements for servants may probably succeed. The following is an approved copy.

Wanted at an academy near London three domestics; A complete penman, accomptant, and mathematician, with an undeniable character: A steady careful person capable of teaching the English language grammatically, and willing to attend the children to bed:  A cleanly sober wench to look after the children’s linen, and do other occasional work

By properly publishing advertisements like this, you will seldom fail of attracting the attention of the public.

If you are at any time desirous of enlarging your terms, expostulate plentifully on your intended improvements, and the large stipends your assistants require. Your expenses are extremely great, and the business above measure fatiguing; you have been long accustomed to children, and are fond of seeing them about you; and indeed, otherwise the business would be insupportable.

Diet

Among the first articles enquired after, both by parents and children, are those of the table.

You cannot therefore be too early instructed in the desirable art of giving all reasonable satisfaction in this matter, at the least possible expence.

  1. Remember then always, to see the fruit-basket amongst your boys before dinner. Fruit is least prejudicial to an empty stomach; and if the children will indulge themselves with biscuit and gingerbread, who can help it.
  2. If your number of boys or their allowances deserve not a fruit-woman’s attendance, then your wife may properly enough engage in the office; it will prevent the boys from being cheated, and be a proof of her humility.
  3. If there be no considerable parish work-house near you, it will be your interest to secure the stale loaves and neck-beef; the former is excellent in boiled milk or plumb-pudding, the latter in boullie for a Saturday’s dinner. The butchers and bakers you must remember have been time immemorial the best academy-ticks.
  4. The worse your fresh joints are dressed the better for you; the boys will eat the less, and it is always the cook’s fault.
  5. Whenever the boys find fault with the quality of your meat, appear at the head of your table, declare the extraordinary price you have given for it, and call your servants to witness that you sent for the best in the market.
  6. I allow of no pies except a little before the holidays. Delicacies and dainties are not to be expected in a school.
  7. The less salt, vinegar, pepper, &c. at dinner upon the table, so much the better; boys want no such provocatives.
  8. If you oblige your boys to eat all you send them, it will prevent the frequent return of their plates, and learn them an excellent custom; if not, what they leave will make excellent hashes, and seem more indulgent: in this point I find few who are agreed.
  9. If you are afraid they will eat more than you have provided, say grace.
van Host, P.; The Village School; Fairfax House; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-village-school-9873
The Village School by P van Host; Fairfax House

Lodging

  1. Few instructions may suffice on this head. The lighter the boys are covered, and the harder the bed, the more natural and more healthy.
  2. The fewer chamber-pots the better; it will prevent the boys catching cold by rising in the night, and make them unwilling to drink much beer at supper.
  3. The more you put in the bed the better also; it will endear them to each other, and prevent their playing wicked tricks.
  4. Lodge the great boys always farthest from you, it will prevent them disturbing you in the night. If they lie near the maids, so much the better; the maids may give you proper notice of their behaviour.
  5. Your usher must always be stowed amongst the little boys, to prevent them from tumbling out of bed, and to help them in the night.
  6. If you allow the occasional use of a close-stool, let it be locked up in the garret that they may not abuse it. But I rather approve of their easing themselves in some corner of the room, that they may have the less pleasure in resorting thither in the day-time, and tumbling the bed-clothes about; and that their mothers, who always pay a visit to the bed-chambers, may be sensible what trouble you have with them.
  7. Let the beds be always to be made, at the time of undressing. Going to bed is a thing the boys dislike. This little respite, therefore, will please them mightily, and they will please the maids.
the-schoolmasters-return
The schoolmasters return. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Recreation

  1. The more holidays the better; it will give the boys an opportunity of feeding themselves at their own expence, and, by tasking them well, you will prevent the complaints of their parents.
  2. Give a holiday always on public rejoicing-days; it will be considered as a proof of your loyalty; and let that day of the month on which your predecessor died, be always a feast for the boys; it is a tribute due to his memory.
  3. Send your boys always on a holiday to see something or other in the neighbourhood; it will please both them and their parents, prevent their lurking about the pantry, and employ your ushers.
  4. Boys commonly endeavour on these days to dispatch a letter or two privately. It will be your business to intercept them; they may be negligently written; there may be solecisms in them, or misrepresentations of facts, which might be displeasing to their friends.
lwlpr06274
A droll thought of Tom the school boy, or Two heads are better than one. Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

Discipline

  1. Remember always to exercise your first severity on poor people’s children, and day-scholars. The first floggings are a perpetual disgrace, and it is but reasonable that they should bear it, by whom you are least profited.
  2. Never punish the favourite of a family, if he have any younger brothers.
  3. Boys who bear flogging best are commonly those who most deserve it. If four be accused, therefore, he who bears flogging best is always in the fault.
  4. If a father gives you full power over his son’s posteriors, be not afraid to use it, but make him the scape-goat of the school as often as convenient.
  5. No good to be done with a boy who has not a good opinion of his master. If a boy, therefore, accuses you, or your ushers, of ignorance or incapacity, take the first opportunity to expel him, especially if he be clever, and likely to make a progress, in which you may be ill-qualified to accompany him.
  6. Severe discipline is never to be inflicted immediately before the school breaks up, or very soon after the return.
  7. Setting a maid upon her head, or pissing upon a mistress’s new gown, is a flogging matter, no more; it might look like partiality.
  8. The best punishment for idleness is confinement and short commons.

 

 

Featured Image

Courtesy of Lewis Walpole Library

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6 thoughts on “How to set up a school in 1770

  1. I suspect that this is both a satire, and a warning to parents when it comes to choosing a school for their children.

    This, however, is real. It is advice to a young gentlewoman on setting up a charity school for the girls in her village. It dates from about 1835.

    Establishing schools is an important duty which the rich owe to the poor. Every girl ought to be able to sew neatly and well, and to read, write, and keep accounts. I think also it would be a great advantage if all the girls who have attained the age of fourteen were to receive a few lessons in dress-making, and making waistcoats and boys’ clothes, from the regular mantua-maker and tailor of the village; or you might pay for this out of your own pocket, and make it a reward for good conduct. It is particularly useful to the wife of a labouring man to know how to cut out and make or alter clothes, as work of this kind can be taken up and laid down while the mother is nursing her children, or watching the boiling of a pot, or some similar kind of simple cookery.
    … You should, if possible, get the daughters taught the best way of cooking food suitable to their rank in life, by some experienced person, and that then it should be left for the mothers to adopt these new plans or not, as they liked.
    Generally speaking, I would not have you too fond of offering to have the daughters of the cottagers taught anything by your own servants. The modes of living of the rich and the poor are necessarily so different, that a cottager’s daughter would reap very little advantage from seeing how the dishes were prepared for your table, while she might be rendered discontented by observing the very great difference between the mode of living in your kitchen and in her own cottage. There are, however, exceptions to this rule, in the case of girls who wish to become servants; and, whenever that happens, I would advise you always to have the girls sent to the mansion-house, to be placed under the direction of the servant in whose department she might wish to be employed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It sounds like a rather less malevolent Dotheboys Hall. Very amusing. Written by a junior master or embittered ex-schoolboy, do you think? And it may be a satire but not that far removed from the truth, even in living memory. My husband went to a prep school where similar economies were practised. 🙂

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    1. All Things Georgian

      I’m sure it is satire, but there will no doubt be elements of truth in it given the comments we’ve had from people who think it sounds familiar to their education!! I thought the section on diet might appeal to you 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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