Sunday, 30 January 2011

Adult migration 1600-1980

Migration was an integral part of the political process through which British identity, the British state and the British Empire were constructed. Although the notion of imperial Britain may not have been well received in Scotland, Wales and Ireland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, there was greater common ground in the idea of imperial Britain existing overseas. British settlement in the American colonies became the basis for Britain’s notion of empire and emigration, at least until the late eighteenth century, was an expression of the movement of British energies from east to west in Ireland and then further west to the American colonies. Attitudes to emigration were, however, ambivalent and Parliament banned the emigration of groups such as artisans who were seen as central to Britain’s economic expansion. Adam Smith suggested that colonial wealth could impoverish countries rather than enrich them and implied that emigration reduced the energies of the country when population was needed for the transformation of Britain itself. Colonies could be populated by slaves and by Protestants from northern Europe rather than British emigrants and Britain could still expand its empire.

During the nineteenth century, retaining Britain’s population was increasingly viewed not as the basis for economic and commercial growth but as a cancer that threatened the basis of British society. Emigration provided a solution that allowed the poor to escape from the impoverished rural and urban slums to the expanding colonies, themselves a source of wealth for Britain’s continuing prosperity and greatness. Emigration to the British colonies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was openly encouraged by the government and charities and by individuals and parishes. Whether this was the British state ‘shovelling out the poor’ as some colonial commentators believed, its aim was to populate the empire with British citizens as well as alleviating social distress in Britain and Ireland. [1] Rising levels of literacy meant that pamphlets calling for emigration proved popular among working- and middle-class audiences. For instance, John A. Etzler published Emigration to the tropical world for the melioration of all classes of the people of all nations in 1844, while J. Boyd wrote State directed emigration in 1883 and P. J. Andrews The coming race?: some reflections on the inherent dangers of mass civilisation in Britain and the opportunities for balanced spiritual development by peopling the dominions in 1929. The Empire Parliamentary Association issued pamphlets on emigration to Canada and Australia and the Salvation Army Organised Empire migration and settlement in 1930. There were also publications from other organisations such as the Imperial Immigration League, the Landholders and Commercial Association of British India, the London Compositors’ Emigration Aid Society, the Fund for Promoting Female Emancipation and the Clerkenwell Emigration Society. Books, children’s literature, souvenirs, paintings, public monuments and lectures all transmitted narratives of martial heroism from the mid-nineteenth century reinforcing the notion that emigration was not only practical but also, in some ways, heroic. [2] Foreign missionary representatives canvassed working-class Sunday schools and chapels and middle-class philanthropists for subscriptions but the missionary presence at local level extended far beyond this. [3] The effectiveness of missionary organisations was such that contemporaries could justifiably claim that ‘many a small tradesman or rustic knows more of African or Polynesian life than London journalists’. [4] Popular culture was saturated by imperial images from films and plays to sauce bottles and biscuit tins. This was populist propaganda on an industrial scale. [5]

Scottish and especially Irish emigration were far greater than that of the English in proportion to the size of their respective populations. Emigration from proved particularly successful. [6] Sir Charles Dilke, writing in 1869, remarked:

In British settlements, from Canada to Ceylon, from Dunedin to Bombay, for every Englishman that you meet who has worked himself up to wealth from small beginnings without external aid, you find ten Scotchmen. [7]

The Scots grasped the opportunities afforded by union in 1707 and there were large outflows of men and women looking for a new life and a new beginning, initially in North America. Between 1763 and 1777, 50,000 Scots largely from the west of Scotland settled in North America. [8] They quickly dominated the tobacco trade and other areas of economic life, such as fur-trapping in Canada. Education and religion were other areas of cultural life where the Scottish influence was dominant. Such was the strength of the Scottish presence in America that 19 of the 56 delegates who signed the Declaration of Independence came from Scotland or Ulster. The Scottish presence was also strongly present in India. Henry Dundas became President of the Board of Control in 1784 and with his support Scots came to dominate the activities of the East India Company. By 1792, they made up one in nine Company officials, one in eleven common soldiers and one in three officers. The first three Governor-Generals of India were Scots. Scottish scholars and scientists made important contributions to Indian culture and society: for instance, Colin Campbell completed the first geographical survey of India; Alexander Kydd created the Botanic gardens in Calcutta while others developed the infrastructure of India. Even after the dissolution of the East India Company in 1857 and the introduction of competitive entry into the British administration, they still played an important part in the running of India. Scots were important to the development of the Empire in diverse ways: as businessmen, as educators, as missionaries, as imperial administrators and soldiers. Whether this made the empire a ‘Scottish empire’, as some historians have argued is debatable. [9] Whatever the importance of Scots as emigrants or administrators of empire, decisions about the direction of empire and the policies through which it was ruled were made in London. It was the British state that dominated the empire.

As concerns over ‘surplus population’ grew, there was an increase in landless peasants from the Highlands and unemployed craftsmen, labourers and small farmers from the Lowlands willing to emigrate. Most were aged between 16 and 29 and men rather than women. Whatever the cause, Scotland lost between 10 and 47% of its natural population increase every decade between 1830 and 1940; a rate exceeded only in Ireland and Norway. However, even these countries were dwarfed by emigration from Scotland in the years 1904-1913 and again in 1921-1930, when over half a million people emigrated exceeding the entire natural increase and constituted one-fifth of the total working population. [10]

Until about 1855, a number of the emigrants from the Highlands were actually forced to leave the land because of mass evictions. The Emigration Act in 1851 made emigration more freely available to the poorest with the Highlands and Islands Emigration Society established to manage the process of resettlement. Under the scheme a landlord could secure a passage to Australia for a nominee at the cost of £1 and between 1846 and 1857, over 16,000 people, largely poor young men, were assisted to emigrate. Many settled in Canada in places such as Ontario and Nova Scotia, where they could continue to farm and maintain their style of life and ethnic identity. In Nova Scotia in the first half of the nineteenth century, 59% of settlers from Britain were Scots-born. In the Lowlands, the decision to move abroad was nearly always the outcome of the desire to improve living standards because they experienced low wages, poor housing conditions and unemployment and, unlike in the Highlands, was voluntary. Emigration was seen by trades unions and other voluntary groups as a practical solution to unemployment and economic depression. The high points in emigration corresponded with years of severe economic depression in the late 1840s and early 1850s, the mid-1880s and between 1906 and 1913. Emigration was so heavy in the period 1871-1931 but it more than offset the increase in the population due to new births. This trend was brought to a halt in the 1930s as the global depression saw emigrants returning home and the numbers leaving Scotland were at their lowest for a century. [11]

Canada was the most important destination of emigrants during the first half of the nineteenth century and between 1825 and 1835, over 70% of emigrants from Scotland settled there. [12] However, this changed substantially after 1860 and especially 1900 as skilled urban workers became the most important emigrants. In 1912 and 1913, 47% of adult male emigrants from Scotland described themselves as skilled, compared with 36% of those from England and Wales. Only 29% classed themselves as labourers. It seems also that in the late-nineteenth century wore on and emigration, individuals’ social standing determining the country where they settled. Unskilled labourers tended to opt for Canada and Australia, while skilled workers preferred South Africa and the USA. [13] The middle-classes strongly preferred South Africa. Emigration acted as a safety valve for modern Scotland and although the British Empire was the main beneficiary of this process, Scotland also benefited in terms of wealth and profit. The great commercial mansions of Edinburgh and Glasgow were built from the profits of the colonial trade. In addition, substantial areas of employment were dependent on Empire providing the economic mortar that held the Union together. The collapse of the Empire after 1945 forced Scotland to make a painful transition from an economy based on heavy industry to one dependent on services and electronics. It also led to a redrawing of the political map as the Unionist vote evaporated. In 1955, Scottish Conservative Party took 50.1% of the popular vote and held half of Scotland’s 72 parliamentary seats. This high-point was followed by a gradual decline from 1964 until in 1997, with 17.5% of the popular vote, it took no seats at all and only one seat in the 2001, 2005 and 2010 general elections [14]

The adult experience of emigration in England and Wales paralleled that in Scotland. The bulk of the migrant population went to the United States in the eighteenth century, although Canada and Australia were popular destinations after 1815. After 1900, America fell behind Canada and Australia in attracting large groups of emigrants and South Africa was beginning to attract emigrant in significant numbers. In 1911, of the more than 450,000 Britons who left the United Kingdom, almost half settled in Canada, nearly a quarter in Australia and approximately one tenth in South Africa. Subsided emigration made it possible for certain sections of the population to be sent abroad, most to North America and Australia. The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 secured the passage of more than 25, 000 ‘paupers’ by 1860 and the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners helped 370,000 people move to Australia between 1840 and 1869. Young men tended to make up the vast majority of migrants, although couples and family units were also prominent. Migrants came from many different types of occupations. For instance, most Welsh emigrants were miners or worked in the iron, steel, copper and tin industries. However, general labourers and worker of the building trades and textile workers, engineers, farmers, clerical and commercial workers were also represented. In the 1880s, when emigration had reached massive proportions, the most important group among the immigrants was urban unskilled workers. This suggests that, by the 1880s, the occupations of British emigrants reflected closely those of the population as a whole. [15]

Adult emigration, whatever its motivation in Britain, was determined by the economic needs of the colonies that were different at different times. The majority of New Zealand’s English, at least until 1920, were largely from the rural, working-class. Unlike the United States, which attracted unskilled labourers and industrial workers, NZ recruited agricultural labourers and pre-industrial craftsmen among the men and domestic servants among the women. NZ needed labourers and tradesmen for its farms, ports, mines and towns and artisans to meet the needs of its growing population. Builders were in especial demand and emigrated in large numbers helped by the introduction of assisted migration in 1871. Migration from England tailed off in the late-1880s and 1890s because of depression in the NZ economy. [16] This also corresponded with a change the regional origins and occupations of the English arrivals. The numbers engaged in agricultural work declined, while those working in industry and mining increased. These trends continued in the twentieth century and became even more marked after 1945. The post-1900 development of coal mining in New Zealand was aided by the arrival of miners from northern England. Industry expanded with the influx of skilled industrial workers from Yorkshire and Lancashire. The rapid growth of trade unions after 1890 was associated with the migration of English workers in the textile, clothing, footwear, mining and marine transport industries. Over 80,000 assisted British migrants arrived in NZ between 1947 and 1975, selected for the contribution that they could make to industry, education and health. [17] As NZ became less focused on England and ended all forms of assisted migration, and as England turned its attention to Europe rather than to the Commonwealth, so the appeal of migrating to New Zealand began to fade.[18]


[1] See, for example, Moran, Gerard. ‘‘Shovelling out the poor’: assisted emigration from Ireland from the great famine to the fall of Parnell’, in ibid, Duffy, Patrick J., and Moran, Gerard, (eds.), To and from Ireland: planned migration schemes c.1600-2000, (Geography Publications), 2004, pp. 137-154.

[2] MacKenzie, J. M., ‘Heroic myths of empire,’ in MacKenzie, J. M., (ed.), Popular Imperialism and the Military, (Manchester University Press), 1992, pp. 10-38, considers the heroic reputation of Henry Haverlock, David Livingstone, Charles Gordon and T. E. Lawrence.

[3] Thorne, Susan, ‘‘The Conversion of Englishmen and the Conversion of the World Inseparable’: Missionary Imperialism and the Language of Class in Early Industrial Britain’, in Cooper, Frederick, and Stoler, Laura Ann, (eds.), Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a Bourgeois World, (University of California Press), 1997, pp. 238-262.

[4] London Quarterly Review, Vol. 7, (1856), p. 238.

[5] Porter, Bernard, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society and Culture in Britain, (Oxford University Press), 2004, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, insists that popular culture promoting the imperial ideal had no effect on the general public.

[6] Gray, M., ‘The Course of Scottish Emigration 1750-1914: Enduring Influences and Changing Circumstances’, in Devine, T. M., (ed.), Scottish Emigration and Scottish Society, (John Donald), 1992), pp. 16-36, provides a good summary.

[7] Dilke, Charles W., Greater Britain: A record of travel in English-speaking countries during 1866 and 1867, (Harper & Brothers), 1969, p. 511.

[8] Dobson, D., Scottish Emigration to Colonial America, 1607-1785, (University of Georgia Press), 2004, and Landsman, Ned C., ‘Nation, Migration and the Province in the First British Empire: Scotland and the Americas 1600-1800’, American Historical Review, Vol. 104, (1999), pp. 463-475.

[9] On this issue see, Devine, T M, Scotland's Empire, (Penguin), 2003, and Fry, M, The Scottish Empire, (Tuckwell Press), 2001.

[10] Richards, E., ‘Varieties of Scottish emigration in the nineteenth century, Australian Historical Studies, Vol. 21, (1985), pp. 473-494.

[11] Harper, M, Emigration from Scotland between the wars: opportunity or exile?, (Manchester University Press), 1998.

[12] Hornsby, Stephen J., ‘Patterns of Scottish emigration to Canada, 1750-1870’, Journal of Historical Geography, Vol. 18, (1992), pp. 397-416. See also, Campey, Lucille H., The Scottish Pioneers of Upper Canada, 1784-1855: Glengarry and beyond, (Dundurn Press), 2005, and An Unstoppable Force: The Scottish Exodus to Canada, (Dundurn Press), 2008. On Canadian immigration policy, see Kelley, Ninette, and Trebilcock, M. J., The Making of the Mosaic: A History of Canadian Immigration Policy, (University of Toronto Press), 1999.

[13] Macmillan, D. S., Scotland and Australia, 1788-1850: emigration, commerce and investment, (Oxford University Press), 1967, ‘The Scots’, in Jupp, James, (ed.), The Australian people: an Encyclopedia of the Nation, Its People and Their Origins, (Cambridge University Press), 2001, pp. 644-665, and Prentice, Malcolm D., The Scots in Australia: A Study of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland 1788-1900, (University of Sydney Press), 1983, provide the context.

[14] Devine, T. M., ‘The Break-up of Britain?: Scotland and the end of Empire: The Prothero Lecture’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, sixth series, Vol. 16, (2006), pp. 163-180.

[15] Erickson, Charlotte, Leaving England: Essays on British Emigration in the Nineteenth Century, (Cornell University Press), 1994.

[16] Simpson, Tony, The immigrants: the great migration from Britain to New Zealand, 1830-1890, (Godwit), 1997.

[17] Hutching, Megan, Long Journey for Sevenpence: Assisted Immigration to New Zealand from the United Kingdom, 1947-1975, (Victoria University Press), 1999..

[18] Phillips, Jock, & Hearn, Terry, Settlers: New Zealand Immigrants from England, Ireland & Scotland 1800-1945, (Auckland University Press), 2008: see http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/home-away-from-home/sources

The state intervenes 1833-1862

Everyone was agreed that any education worth the name had a moral and therefore a religious core. But if religious, which denomination? Anglicans, as members of the established church, argued that any school named in law and supported by government funds should be theirs. Nonconformists and Roman Catholics hotly disputed this. It was for this reason that the two voluntary day school societies were joined by the Catholic Poor School Committee, in 1849. This was the sectarian divide that dominated developments in elementary education up to 1870 and arguably 1902.

Public provision for elementary education began with a grant of £20,000 in 1833 in aid of school buildings. This was channelled inevitably through the two religious societies because these alone could show any degree of efficiency. This was the beginning of a system of ‘giving to them that hath’. Government initiatives and funding were most needed in areas of ‘educational destitution’ where there were no middle-class enthusiasts to start schools. In 1839, therefore, the Whigs attempted to grasp the nettle of the ‘religious problem’ with a scheme that included grants to districts according to need and government training schools for teachers organised on a non-denominational basis.[1] The Tories mobilised against it in both Commons and Lords and the opposition of almost the entire bench of bishops brought most of the scheme down to defeat.

In 1843, the Tories attempted to take the initiative in the education clauses of Graham’s Factory Bill creating Anglican-run factory schools. They faced a comparable storm from Nonconformists and Catholics and likewise retreated.[2] Thereafter there was a stalemate with neither side strong enough to break through to a new system. The amount of grant continued to rise but still the money went only to localities already making an effort. Middle-class enthusiasts broadly agreed that working-class children should be in school, not at work. The problem was which school they should attend and whether government aid could be deployed to ensure that there were schools within the reach of all working-class children.This was finally broken by the Education Act of 1870.[3]

The debacle of 1839, where non-sectarian developments were effectively vetoed by the churches, did result in the creation of the Committee of the Privy Council on Education. Opposition continued from the Church of England resulting in the ‘Concordat’ of 1840 under which the church authorities secured control of the appointment of the inspectors of state-aided schools and the right to frame the instructions for religious education, though not over non-Anglican schools. The most positive result of the Concordat was the appointment as secretary to the new Committee of Education of James Kay-Shuttleworth.[4] Resistance to state elementary education and the sectarian conflict made it impossible to start a national system using the established technique of a Royal Commission followed by a governing statute. A step-by-step approach was adopted: from the small grant of 1833 to the Privy Council Minutes of 1846 that governed the mid-century expansion. However, in the 1830s and 1840s, there were two other roots from which a national system of primary education might have grown: the new Poor Law and the Factory Acts.[5]

Chadwick saw education as a depauperising influence sharing the assumption that universal education would in some unexplained way cure unemployment and render poor relief largely unnecessary. His enthusiasm was shared by several of the Poor Law Assistant Commissioners, who believed that pauperism as well as crime could be eradicated by early training. The architect of poor law education was James Phillips Kay (Kay-Shuttleworth as he called himself after his marriage). Son of a Rochdale cotton manufacturer, trained as a physician in Edinburgh, founder-member of the Manchester Statistical Society and a writer on social questions, he was recruited as Assistant Commissioner for Norfolk and Suffolk in 1835. He found little or no education for pauper children: some were sent to local schools, but always the cheapest and worst and there was no industrial training. Kay began by persuading more enlightened guardians to employ young trainee teachers.[6] He claimed in his autobiography, that this improved the workhouse schools up to a point where the Guardians would be persuaded to take more interest in pauper education and perhaps consent to the creation of school districts.[7] When Kay was appointed Secretary to the new Committee of Council on Education in 1839, he selected an establishment in Norwood for his experiment in pauper education. In three years, he turned it into a model for the district school movement and a nursery of pupil teachers for elementary schools. After 1842, however, Peel‘s government slowed down the plans for district schools as it was not prepared to coerce the Unions and the movement never achieved more than three Metropolitan School Districts and six small rural ones. [8] The failure of the district-school movement was partly compensated by the growth of separate schools in the more enlightened Unions. By 1857, 57 of these were listed. Some smaller workhouses had detached schools on the workhouse site. School standards greatly improved after 1846 with the beginnings of poor law school inspection and the decline in the use of untrained pauper teachers. Poor Law education never aspired to becoming a basis or a model for state elementary education.[9] It was intended for workhouse children but there were, in 1855, some 277,000 children in families on outdoor relief not provided with any education except in refuges or mission or ‘ragged’ schools. It was on too small a scale even to fulfil its own task, a criticism evident once the Local Government Board took responsibility for their operation in 1872.[10] Workhouse schools provided national coverage but the stigma attached to the workhouse meant that they could never provide the nationwide system of elementary education that by the 1860s many regarded as essential.

The factory school was not new in 1833.[11] Voluntary provision can be traced back to the 1780s and was pioneered by enlightened manufacturers such as Henry Ashton at Turton Mill, the Peel family and Robert Owen. The factory master was traditionally responsible for the education of his apprentices. Many progressive millowners were alienated by the education clauses: W.R. Greg, an enthusiastic organiser of factory schools, became a leading opponent of the Act.[12] After 1833, much of the enthusiasm for the voluntary provision of factory schooling was lost.[13] The Factory Act 1833 made millowners responsible for the education of children workers who were not their apprentices but lived with their own parents. 80% of all pupils attending factory schools were concentrated in Lancashire, Cheshire, the West Riding and Monmouthshire, where literacy levels were low and there is little to suggest any marked improvement in factory districts in the aftermath of the legislation. Inspectors were authorised to enforce attendance but the Act did not require employers to provide education themselves, only to obtain a certificate of school attendance for the previous week. Millowners unable or unwilling to provide their own schools tried to obey the law by sending their children to the local day schools. These arrangements were often unsuccessful. Factory education became embroiled in the sectarian debate over Graham’s Factory Bill of 1843 and the act eventually passed in 1844 was shorn of its education clauses.[14] The Newcastle Commission was damning in its indictment of the inadequacies of factory education. Factory education might have improved, at least in small mills, if the millowners had co-operated in setting up shared schools. The failures of factory education, especially its involvement in sectarian disputes, certainly delayed the spread of elementary education. Disgusted Nonconformists turned to the voluntarist movement and Anglicans seemed to prefer the perpetuation of ignorance to giving up their own control of education. Faced with such attitudes, the government contribution to the development of education in the mid-century had to be made largely be stealth.

Government intervention in education was made more difficult as a result of sectarian conflict. Grants provided the first form of intervention but during the 1840s and 1850s other forms of central control over education were instituted largely through the work of Kay-Shuttleworth whose period as secretary of the Committee of Council for Education lasted between 1839 and 1849. He believed that the key to better standards was better-paid and trained teachers. He set out to change the monitorial system into a sound preliminary to a professional training and to attract teachers of the right class and calibre by raising salaries. [15] By the Minutes of 1846 selected pupils would be apprenticed at the age of 13 to their teachers and would receive a grant of £10 increased annually to £20 when they were 18. [16] They were taught by the master for 90 minutes a day and had to pass the annual Inspector’s examination.[17] They were to assist the master in teaching and he would train them in class management and routine duties and would be paid according to their level of success in the examinations. This system was not new. Kay-Shuttleworth had used it at Norwood. Although the first pupil-teachers came from pauper schools, he intended that the bulk of them should form a social link between the children of labourers in elementary schools and the school managers, who were clergy or gentry. They would therefore be mostly from the upper-working and lower-middle-classes. The top section of this ladder of recruitment and training was formed by the teacher training colleges. In 1839, there were four training colleges with model schools in the United Kingdom that took students through very inadequate courses of six weeks to three or four months. Beginning with the Battersea Training College in 1840[18], by 1858 there were thirty-four colleges partly financed by the Education Department through Queen’s Scholarships.[19]

education 2

The Minutes of 1846 may have led to the trained elementary teacher but did it really improve the standard of teaching?[20] To some degree any response to this question is subjective. Much school teaching was mechanical, overloaded with ‘facts’ for memorisation. The Teacher Training Colleges did provide a little teaching material, method and possible much-needed self-confidence. They were, however, severely criticised by the Newcastle Commission for their long hours, vast syllabuses, and addiction to textbooks and the superficial nature of many of their courses. The main cause of poor teaching in elementary schools was generally considered to be the low wages of teachers. The Minutes attempted to solve the problem by state grants but the basic variations and inequities were left untouched. Salaries varied from area to area and school to school depending on endowments, contributions and school fees. By 1855, the average annual pay of a certificated schoolteacher was assessed at £90. Higher pay would have removed elementary teachers too far from the class of their pupils and weakened the sympathy and understanding supposed to be felt between them. The reality was often different. Elementary teachers were educated above their station and in the 1850s began to demand promotion of the Inspectorate, to leave the schools for better jobs or to go into the church

The growth of grants to elementary schools increased dramatically from the original £20,000 of 1833 to £724,000 by 1860. From 1856, the Committee of Council on Education had a Vice-President to represent it in parliament. Yet the 1850s were considered a period of comparative educational stagnation. This was partly because all reformers (except the voluntarists) were not convinced that a national school system could not be completed without support from the rates. In addition, continuing sectarian bitterness defeated all attempts to secure rate support: bills in 1850, 1852, 1853 and 1862 all failed as did the recommendation of the Newcastle Commission in 1861. The continuation of central grants ensured the survival and increase of the Inspectorate; from 2 in 1840, they had become 23 with 2 Assistant Inspectors in 1852, 36 with 25 Assistants in 1861 and 62 with 14 Assistants in 1864. Grants and inspectors came together with the introduction of the payment by results principle in the reconstruction of the government grant in the Revised Code of 1862-1863.[21] The bulk of a school’s grant, roughly half its income, was to be dependent upon satisfactory performance by each child over seven in examinations conducted by HMIs. It was unwelcome to those who thought that government should be doing more but was praised by those who though expenditure was mushrooming out of control and who doubted that the grants were giving value for money. Grant aid to education fell almost by a quarter and the levels of 1861 were not reached again until 1869. In effect, payment by results was a piece-rate system, putting teachers in the position of factory operatives.

Kay-Shuttleworth had, through the central government department, established an inspectorate and a system of training teachers. Under his successor Ralph Lingen (1849-1869) the work of the Education Department, as it became in 1856, steadily expanded but on more formal and bureaucratised lines.[22] The age of creative innovation was over and the department’s primary goal was to manage the system as efficiently and economically as possible. Lingen saw his job as being to

...stem the growth of a system of subsidies and to control the expansionist tendencies of inspectorate and educational public.[23]

A Royal Commission on Elementary Education, chaired by the Duke of Newcastle was appointed in 1858 and reported in 1861. [24] In general, it considered that the system of state aid had worked well, but argued that the objectives had been set too high for the majority of children who attended the schools. It was desirable that results should be tested to ensure that schools were providing value for money, a recommendation used by Robert Lowe, the minister who spoke for the education department in the House of Commons, to establish the Revised Code in 1862 linking annual grants to pupil results.[25] It also recommended involving local as well as central government in the provision of schools, allowing local government agencies to offer rate support to supplement government grants and suggested that this rate support should be dependent on the school’s results, in effect a series of incentive payments.

Until the late 1850s, much of the schooling of the working-classes was still informal or semi-formal. Efforts to bring government resources to bear had so far been hampered by the ‘religious problem’ and it took another twenty years to cut through this knot. Elementary education in the 1860s entered a period of some regression. The Newcastle Commission set low intellectual targets for the education of the poor and this can be compared with the hardening of Poor Law attitudes in the 1870s.[26] A national system of elementary education had to await the legislation of 1870 and 1880.


[1] On this issue see, Newbould, I.D.C., ‘The Whigs, the Church, and Education, 1839’, Journal of British Studies, Vol. 26, (1987), pp. 332-346.

[2] Ibid, Ward, J.T. and Treble, James H., ‘Religion and education in 1843: reaction to the ‘Factory Education Bill’’.

[3] Paz, D.G., The Politics of Working-class Education 1830-1850, (Manchester University Press), 1980 is the best analysis of state intervention.

[4] Ibid, Selleck, R.J.W., James Kay-Shuttleworth: Journey of an Outsider, is now the standard biography of this seminal figure.

[5] Ibid, Paz, D.G., The Politics of Working-class Education 1830-1850, pp. 44-69.

[6] On the early development of workhouse schools see, Kay-Shuttleworth, James, Four Periods of Public Education as reviewed in 1832-1839--1846-1862 in papers, (Longman, Green, Longman and Roberts), 1862, pp. 287-292.

[7] Bloomfield, B.C., (ed.), The autobiography of Sir James Kay Shuttleworth, (Institute of Education, University of London), 1964.

[8] Hill, Florence Davenport, Children of the state: the training of juvenile paupers, (Macmillan and Co.), 1868, pp. 63-78 considers critically the development of District Schools.

[9] Richson, Charles, Pauper education: its provisions and defects; with certain objections to its extension, considered in a letter to the Right Hon. Sir Geo. Grey, Bart., M.P., (Rivington), 1850 and Browne, Walter, ‘Facts and Fallacies of Pauper Education’, Fraser’s magazine for town and country, Vol, 18, (Longmans, Green), 1878, pp. 197-207 considers the problems posed by pauper education while Chance, William, Children under the poor law: their education, training and after-care, together with a criticism of the report of the departmental committee on metropolitan poor law schools, 2 Vols, (S. Sonnenschein & Co.), 1897 provides later, more positive analysis.

[10] See, for example, Local Government Board, Annual Report, Vol. 1, (HMS0), 1872, pp. 224-235.

[11] See, for example, Sanderson, Michael, ‘Education and the Factory in Industrial Lancashire, 1780-1840’, Economic History Review, new sereies, Vol. 20, (2), (1967), pp. 266-279. Robson, A.H., The Education of Children Engaged in Industry, 1833-1876, (K. Paul, Trench, Trubner), 1931.

[12] See Rose, Mary B., The Gregs of Quarry Bank Mill: The Rise and Decline of a Family Firm, 1750-1914, (Cambridge University Press), 1986, pp. 56-58.

[13] Robson, A.H., The Education of Children Engaged in Industry, 1833-1876, (K. Paul, Trench, Trubner), 1931.

[14] Ibid, Paz, D.G., The Politics of Working-class Education 1830-1850, pp. 114-125 considers the 1843 Bill.

[15] Ross, A.M., ‘Kay-Shuttleworth and the training of teachers for pauper schools’, British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol. 15, (1967), pp. 275-283.

[16] These were the minutes of the Committee of Council on Education minutes of August and December 1846. See, Kay-Shuttleworth, James, Public Education: as affected by the Minutes of the Committee of Privy Council from 1846 to 1852; with suggestions as to future policy, (Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans), 1853, pp. 54-112.

[17] Dunford, J.E., Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools in England and Wales, 1860-1870, Leeds, 1980.

[18] For Kay-Shuttleworth’s take on the Battersea Training College, see, ibid, Kay-Shuttleworth, James, Four Periods of Public Education as reviewed in 1832-1839--1846-1862 in papers, pp. 294-431.

[19] Dent, H.C., The training of teachers in England and Wales, 1800-1975, (Routledge), 1977.

[20] Ibid, Kay-Shuttleworth, James, Four Periods of Public Education as reviewed in 1832-1839--1846-1862 in papers, pp. 437-551 provides an explanation of the Minutes of 1846.

[21] Mason, Donald, ‘Peelite opinion and the genesis of payment by results: the true story of the Newcastle Commission’, History of Education, Vol. 17, (1988), 269-281 and Marcham, A.J., ‘The revised Code of Education, 1862: reinterpretations and misinterpretations’, History of Education, Vol. 10, (1981), pp. 81-99.

[22] Bishop, A. S., ‘Ralph Lingen, Secretary to the Education Department, 1849-76’, British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol. 16, (1968), pp. 138-163.

[23] Cit, Johnson, Richard, ‘Administrators in education before 1870: patronage, social position and role’, in Sutherland, Gillian, (ed.), Studies in the growth of Nineteenth-century Government, (Routledge), 1972, p. 135.

[24] Anon. Report of the commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of popular education in England; Reports of assistant commissioners etc.; Correspondence etc. Parliamentary papers, [2794-I] H.C. (1861), Vol. XXI, pt. 1, 1; Parliamentary papers, [2794-II-VI] H.C. (1861), Vol. XXI, pt. I-VI; Parliamentary papers, H.C. 231 (1861), Vol. XLVIII, 295; Parliamentary papers, H.C. 354 (1861), Vol. XLVIII, 307; Parliamentary papers, H.C. 410 (1861), Vol. XLVIII, 341; Parliamentary papers, H.C. 325 (1861) and Vol. XLVIII, 305.

[25] ‘Payment by results’ proved highly divisive issue; see for example, ‘Popular Education—The New Code’, London Quaterly Review, Vol. CCXXI, (1862), pp. 38-59, Menet, John, The Revised Code: A Letter to a Friend, suggested by the pamphlets of the Rev. C.J. Vaughan, D.D., Vicar of Doncaster, and the Rev. J. Fraser, Rector of Upton, (Rivingtons), 1862 and Kay-Shuttleworth, James, Memorandum on Popular Education, (Ridgway), 1868. See also, Rapple, Brendan A., ‘A Victorian experiment in economic efficiency in education’, Economics of Education Review, Vol. 11, (4), (1992), pp. 301-316 and Fletcher, Ladden, ‘A Further Comment on Recent Interpretations of the Revised Code, 1862’, History of Education, Vol. 10, (1), pp. 21-31.

[26] Several areas of social administration went through periods of administrative regression in the third quarter of the nineteenth century: education in the 1860s and the poor law and public health in the 1870s.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Quebec or Montreal: tensions within French Canadian nationalism?

The Patriote movement had its origins in the decade after the Constitutional Act of 1791 and during the mid- to late-1790s a loose opposition group of Canadien deputies challenged, largely unsuccessfully, the policies of the executive from their dominant position in the assembly. This oppositional group cannot be called a Parti Canadien but it was responsible for moving Lower Canada towards one based on ethnic politics. It was not until the first decade of the nineteenth century that Pierre-Stanislas Bédard, a deputy for Quebec gave real cohesion to the Canadien deputies. It was he who formed the Parti Canadien, which later became the Parti Patriote and in 1806 founded Le Canadien, the first reformist and French language newspaper in the province, to put forward its political ideas and to counter the views of the hostile anglophone newspapers. The reformist ideology of the Parti Canadien led to conflict between the assembly and the executive especially during the governorship of James Craig between 1807 and 1811. In 1812, Bédard was appointed a judge in Trois-Rivières and the question of his succession created deep divisions within the Parti Canadien that were to persist until and beyond the rebellion in 1837.

Elected at a by-election in Montreal in December 1811, James Stuart, a British deputy, was the first to replace Bédard as leader of the Parti Canadien in the assembly. At the same time, the deputies of Quebec and Montreal were working behind the scenes to appoint a permanent successor. The problem was that

Bédard was intimately associated with the city of Quebec for which he was a deputy…and the caucus in Quebec believed that it was the natural heir over the direction of the Parti. [1]

Moreover, almost all the candidates who wanted to succeed Bédard came from the city of Quebec; only Louis-Joseph Papineau came from Montreal. [2] From 1815 to 1827, all Papineau’s rivals were neutralised one after another. His strong personality and eloquence in the assembly allowed him to establish himself as the real leader of the Parti and he proved capable of uniting most reformist forces in Lower Canada.

Louis-Joseph Papineau was launched into politics when he was only twenty-two when he decided to follow in the footsteps of his politically influential father Joseph. His entry into the political arena was certainly helped by his father’s reputation. He was elected for the county of Kent, a district of Montreal in 1809 and during the constitutional crisis precipitated in 1810-1811 he became an influential member of the Parti Canadien. [3] He took part in the War of 1812 as a militia captain and this enhanced his political reputation. His father’s retirement, after than of Pierre Bédard thrust him into the upper ranks of the Parti. At the end of the war in 1815, the deputies needed to elect a new speaker for the assembly after the nomination of Jean-Antoine Panet to the Legislative Council. They chose the thirty-year-old Papineau. It was the critical tuning-point in his career and gave him the opportunity of increasing his influence within the party and by 1818 Papineau increasingly dominated the assembly. He was already appearing as the real successor to Bédard. Such was his dominance over his colleagues that in 1820 he was nominated as a member of the Executive Council, a move he was able to head off.

The election of Papineau as Speaker marked a major change in the direction of the Parti Canadien. Ouellet suggested that

Until 1815, the leadership of the Parti Canadien and also of reformist ideas was concentrated in Quebec. However, with the election of Louis-Joseph Papineau to the post of Speaker of the assembly and president of the Parti, leadership progressively gravitated towards Montreal. [4]

It was certainly at this time that the more radical influence of Montreal began to increase while the more moderate position of the capital declined. This was a pivotal time for Papineau’s career and that of the Parti Canadien. Several deputies from Quebec supported Taschereau rather than Papineau for the post of speaker and in general several French-speaking deputies, especially those from the Quebec area either would not support Papineau or only supported him half-heartedly. One problem was that Papineau assumed two functions after 1815. Unlike Panet who acted simply as speaker, Papineau was also head of the Parti Canadien. Taschereau, Blanchet, Borgia and Bourdages found it difficult to accept his election but he had the support of the deputies from Montreal and a certain number from Quebec.

Despite the rivalries that plagued the Parti Canadien, Papineau’s authority continued to grow with the ever increasing concentration of problems in the Montreal region. A little after his election, a group was formed in Quebec with the intention of ousting him in 1820. The following year, Bourdages, Blanchet and Cuvillier proposed a law for paying deputies that Papineau opposed. In 1823, when Papineau was in England to counter attempts to unify the two Canadas, the abbé Jérôme Demers from Quebec urged the deputies to remove him from office and reassert their control over the Parti Canadien.[5] On his return he had some difficulty in resuming his position as speaker of the assembly that Joseph-Rémi Vallières de Saint-Réal had occupied during his absence. [6] Vallières de Saint-Réal initially refused to give up the post in 1824 but the following year Papineau was re-elected by thirty-two votes to Vallière’s twelve. The rift between Papineau and Vallière personified the divisions between the deputies from the Montreal area and those from Quebec

In 1826, Papineau lost two key supporters, Moquin and de Planté, who had exercised considerable influence on the Quebec deputies. In the same year, Papineau reorganised the Parti Canadien and it became the Parti Patriote. Not only did this reinforce its regional and local bases, while remaining primarily a Montreal party in which the Papineaus, Vigers, and Cherriers enjoyed great influence, but it also acquired the newspaper La Minerve, edited by Ludger Duvernay. If Papineau believed that this would end the rivalry between Montreal and Quebec, he was sadly mistaken.[7] In 1827 and again two years later, Joseph-Rémi Vallières de Saint-Réal, with support from Quebec, sought to seize the post of speaker from Papineau. In a further example of the rivalry, the Quebec deputies refused to sign a petition that originated in Montreal denouncing the refusal of Dalhousie to accepted Papineau as speaker. Vallière and the other deputies from Quebec were prepared to sign a petition but they thought its wording was too critical and proposed an alternative. Papineau resigned himself to the double petition but thought the Quebecois too soft and was highly critical of their hesitant approach.

More important in this period for the Parti Patriote was the growing rift between Papineau and John Neilson, the owner of the Quebec Gazette. [8] From 1828, Neilson moved inexorably away from Papineau. Neilson was a liberal and supported both political reform and defended the principle of racial equality but refused to accept democratic ideas purely on nationalist grounds. In 1833, Neilson, supported by several deputies became a resolute opponent of his old friend. The rift with Neilson deprived the Parti Patriote of its more thoughtful elements and further divided the reformers of Quebec and Montreal. In 1834, the deputies from Quebec blocked Papineau’s strategy in the assembly by refusing to boycott the session. Their attitude placed a major obstacle in Papineau’s desire to put pressure on the executive and Ouellet argues with some justification that as a result of the unwillingness of the Quebec deputies to follow Papineau’s approach, they precipitated the production of the Ninety-Two Resolutions.[9] The following year, they attempted to unseat Papineau by proposing that he went to London to defend the assembly’s case

This was clearly an attempt to remove Papineau from Lower Canada to allow the more moderate deputies to take control of the party; an approach had been previously attempted when Papineau was in London in 1823. [10]

In 1836, the deputies once more tried unsuccessfully to remove Papineau as leader of the Parti Patriote. The antagonism between Quebec and Montreal continued and had an impact on the stability of the Parti Patriote throughout the rebellion. Although the tensions between Quebec and Montreal were highly personal and explain why support for the 1837 rebellion in Quebec was so insignificant, they reflected differences in strategy between those who sought change through a moderate approach and Papineau’s desire to confront the executive. However, there was also a conflict, largely concealed in the 1820s, between those such as Papineau who wished to change the political system without interfering with social structures and an active if small minority seeking political and social revolution.


[1] Ibid, Laporte Gilles, Patriotes et Loyaux, p. 88.

[2] Important biographical works on Papineau include: David, L.O., Les deux Papineau, (E. Sénécal et fils), 1896, Decelles, A. D., Louis-Joseph Papineau, (Morang), 1912, Ouellet, Fernand, ‘Louis-Joseph Papineau (1786-1871)’, Éléments d`histoire sociale du Bas-Canada, (Hurtibise HMH), 1972, pp. 319-350, Rumilly, Robert, Papineau et son temps, 2 Vols. (Fides), 1977 and Papineau, Nadeau, Louis-Joseph Papineau, (Lidec), 1994.

[3] In the course of his political career, Papineau represented the counties of Montreal West (1814-1838), Surrey (1827-1828), Montreal (1834-1835), Saint-Maurice (1848-1851) and Deux-Montagnes (1852-1854).

[4] Ouellet, Fernand, ‘Papineau et la rivalité Québec-Montréal’, Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française, Vol. 13, (1959), p. 319.

[5] ‘Jérôme Demers’, DCB, Vol. 8, pp. 210-215.

[6] ‘Joseph-Rémi Vallières de Saint-Réal’, DCB, Vol. 7, pp. 876-882.

[7] Ibid, Ouellet, Fernand, ‘Papineau et la rivalité Québec-Montréal’, p. 321.

[8] ‘John Neilson’, DCB, Vol. 7, pp. 644-649.

[9] Ibid, Ouellet, Fernand, ‘Papineau et la rivalité Québec-Montréal’, pp. 323-324.

[10] Ibid, Laporte, Gilles, Patriotes et Loyaux. Leadership régional et mobilisation politique en 1837 et 1838, p. 93.

Emerging day schools and religion

From the 1780s, working-class enthusiasts and middle-class reformers alike were much concerned with what might be done to extend working-class children’s schooling through the voluntary principle. Among the most successful enterprises were Sunday schools. They originated in the eighteenth century and by the early 1830s it has been estimated that over a million children and adolescents were attending them. [1] Sunday schools fitted into the interstices of working-class struggles for economic survival very well. Sunday was the one day when schooling did not compete with work. Chapel or church could be used as schoolroom; and teachers gave their services free, so that if fees were charged at all, they were very low. All Sunday schools taught reading and a minority writing and even arithmetic. From 1807, controversies ranged, especially among Methodists, as to the appropriateness of activities other than reading on a Sunday and the teaching of writing was usually a good guide to those schools under local and lay control rather than under religious domination. [2]

Sunday schools differed from most day schools because of their low running costs Regular weekday school required some sort of building and paid teachers, that in turn required an initial capital outlay, either from endowment or charitable subscription or both, as well as a reasonably regular and sizeable income from fees. The promotion of day schools led to the formation of two voluntary Religious Societies, designed to co-ordinate effort and spread best practice nationally. The National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church in England and Wales was formed in 1811 and three years later the British and Foreign School Society (it replaced the Lancastrian Society formed in 1808).[3] The sectarian divide had been established: the Anglican National Society and the broadly Nonconformist British and Foreign School Society.

Education 1

Sunday school c1830

The attractiveness of these voluntary schools was not enhanced by their teaching methods. Both favoured the monitorial or mutual system of teaching, by which a teacher taught the older children (or monitors) who then passed on what they had learnt to groups of younger children.[4] It was designed to enable a single teacher to cope with very large groups of children. It was mechanical in its approach relying on rote learning and memorisation but it was economical and this appealed to many contemporary adult observers. The reaction of the children who endured this approach was far less positive.[5] At the same time, many monitorial schools were more ambitious trying to teach reading, writing and arithmetic as an integrated package

These voluntary religious day schools offered an experience significantly different from the pattern of schooling familiar to the working-class and one that many of them chose to avoid.[6] The number and persistence of what middle-class contemporaries disparagingly called dame or private adventure schools is striking. Their flexibility and informality, willingness to accept attendance on an intermittent basis, parents paying when they could, fetching their child out to do an errand or job, were part of their attraction. It is difficult to generalise about them and in some contemporary reports they are viewed positively. However, their inadequacies were illustrated by a study conducted in 1838 by the Statistical Society of London that found nearly half of all pupils surveyed were only taught spelling, with a negligible number being taught mathematics and grammar.[7] They were small in size, seldom more than thirty children and often as few as ten. They met often in the teacher’s home, in a back kitchen, basement or living room. They might simply be reading schools, taught indeed by an elderly woman or dame; but writing and arithmetic could be tackled for an additional fee. They did not have the resources of the monitorial schools but they lacked the noise, numbers and barrack-room discipline. They functioned often as an extension of the child’s familiar domestic environment rather than places separated from and often alien to it.[8]

In competing for the custom of working-class parents and their children, the voluntary societies and the schools affiliated to them had one resource that the working-class private day schools lacked: access to central government and thus the possibility of mobilising its power and resources in their support. Day schools could not copy the mushroom growth of Sunday schools. They were more expensive to run, an expense reflected in fees ranging typically from two pence to five pence per week. They also competed directly with work and work almost always won. This competition made it difficult to get a child into a day school at all and even more so to keep him or her there. Despite these problems and pressures, in the decades between 1810 and 1860, the number of childrenn attending day schools increased. In 1833, Lord Kerry’s Returns on elementary education concluded that about 1.2 million or about a third of all children in England and Wales aged 4 to 14 were attending day schools; 1.549 million or under half were attending Sunday schools, of whom a third went to day school as well. He concluded that the proportion of children attending day schools was 1:11 of the population, an increase from the 1:17 in Lord Brougham’s Returns in 1818.[9]


[1] Robert Raikes of Gloucester has traditionally featured as pioneering Sunday schools in the 1780s but in fact teaching Bible reading and basic skills on a Sunday was already an established activity in some nonconformist and evangelical congregations.

[2] Orchard, Stephen and Briggs, John H.Y., (eds.), The Sunday school movement: studies in the growth and decline of Sunday schools, (Paternoster), 2007, Laqueur, T.W., Religion and Respectability, Sunday Schools and Working Class Culture 1780-1850, (Yale University Press), 1976.

[3] Binns, H.B., A century of education: being the centenary history of the British and Foreign School Society, 1808-1908, (T.C. & E.C. Jack), 1908.

[4] It was sometimes known as the Madras system’ where the Anglican clergyman Andrew Bell first developed it or the ‘Lancastrian system’ after the Nonconformist Joseph Lancaster who independently developed the same system in England. See, Tschurenev, Jana, ‘Diffusing useful knowledge: the monitorial system of education in Madras, London and Bengal, 1789-1840’, Paedagogica Historica, Vol. 44, (2008), pp. 245-264.

[5] Dickens, Charles, Hard Times: a novel, (Harper & Brothers), 1854, pp. 18-19, 33, 35, 58, 65-66, 99 contains the best satirical account of the monitorial system in action under the teacher Mr McChoakumchild while in The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, (Chapman and Hall), 1839, pp. 58-73 he caricatures the ‘practical’ nature of education at Mr Squeer’s Dotheboys Academy.

[6] Allen, J.E., ‘Voluntaryism: a “laissez-faire” movement in mid nineteenth century elementary education’, History of Education, Vol. 10, (1981), pp. 111-124.

[7] Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol. 1, (1839), pp. 451-452.

[8] Higginson, J.H., ‘Dame schools’, British Journal of Educational Studies, Vol. 22, (1974), pp. 166-181 and Grigg, G.R., ‘“Nurseries of ignorance”? Private adventure and dame schools for the working classes in nineteenth-century Wales’, History of Education, Vol. 34, (2005), pp. 243-262.

[9] This reduction continued: in 1851 the proportion was 1:8 and by 1858, 1:7: Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, Vol. 24, (1861), p. 209.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Child and youth migration 1600-1980

Child migration played an important role in emigration as early as 1617 when the Virginia Company considered sending ‘vagrant’ children to the Americas. Although a hundred children were sent in 1619, question about its legality were not resolved until early 1620 when the Privy Council authorised child migration. Throughout the seventeenth century, children were sent to the American and Caribbean colonies in increasing numbers but this failed to meet the perennial labour shortage and in 1645 kidnapping or ‘spiriting’ children has grown to such an extent that Parliament made it a felony. This did not prevent the practice and in the 1740s, over 500 children were kidnapped for the colonies in Aberdeen and its surrounding area though it declined with the loss of the American colonies after 1775.

By the early-nineteenth century, there were increasing concerns about the numbers of children and young people especially, though not exclusively in urban areas, regarded as ‘outcasts’ within few prospects and a tendency to become involved in criminal activity. Some historians argue that this represented an ‘invention’ of juvenile crime but there was not so much an ‘invention’ as a ‘reconceptualisation’ of the juvenile offender during the nineteenth century.[1] Contemporary reports commented on the swarms of ragged children infesting the metropolis and investigations by social and penal reformers were heavily influenced by a hard-core of juvenile offenders. People’s awareness of juvenile crime was raised by the publication of Oliver Twist in 1837. Dickens shocked people with his description of the Artful Dodger and Fagin’s trained gang of metropolitan pickpockets. His story may have been fiction but it was successful in getting people thinking about child crime and how to deal with it. Discussion of juvenile offenders occurred in other parts of the country but it was rarely as influential as the metropolitan perspective. [2]

As a result, there was a proliferation of voluntary organisations, strongly motivated by evangelical zeal, and some state involvement in sponsoring migration as a means of improving the life chances of children. In 1830, the Children’s Friend Society, which aimed to reform outcast children, was formed and during the 1830s sent between 700 and 800 boys as child migrants to the Cape Colony and a smaller number to Toronto in Upper Canada. In 1849, Ragged Schools, a movement founded five years earlier, received £1,500 to send 150 children to NSW. The following year, Parliament enabled Poor Law Guardians with the consent of the Poor Law Board to fund the emigration of any child in their care. This led to some child migration as, for instance, the St Pancras Poor Law Guardians sent a small number of children to British colonies in the Caribbean. In 1875, John Doyle, Poor Law inspector was highly critical of some aspects of child migration to Canada and this led to a decline the number of children being sent abroad by workhouses, industrial schools and reformatories. Most child migrants now came from private care institutions.

The initial focus for migration was Canada. [3] Scottish-born evangelist, Annie Macpherson opened her House of Industry in Spitalfields in 1869 to encourage emigration of children from the deprived East End of London. [4] The following year, she escorted her first party of 100 children to a receiving centre at Belleville in Ontario. In 1872, she opened two further Canadian receiving homes at Galt in Ontario and Knowlton in Quebec arranging emigration parties from Barnardo’s, the Orphan Homes of Scotland (founded by William Quarrier) and the Smyly homes of Dublin as well as her own London Homes of Industry. [5] In this she received growing support from Thomas Barnardo who had begun his own work with the poor in London and who, by 1881, had embraced child migration enthusiastically. [6] The Custody of Children Act 1891, largely the work of Barnardo, legalised the work of private emigration societies in what had previously been a grey legal area. The Catholic Church was also involved in child migration that was pioneered by Father Nugent in Liverpool from 1870 but was centralised though the Archdiocese of Westminster’s ‘Crusade of Rescue’ in 1899.

The rhetoric of child migration changed in the early twentieth century and became less religious and more imperial in tone. The National Waifs Association published Emigration schemes for poor law children by Thomas Barnado in 1905 and Thomas Sedgwick wrote Lads for the Empire in 1914. Mrs Elinor Close adopted a new approach when, in 1903, she called for the training of workhouse children in Canadian farm schools before their placement with Canadian farmers. Kingsley Fairbridge popularised the farm school movement with the support of the Oxford-based Child Emigration Society and the offer of land near Perth by the Western Australian government. [7] From 1911 to 1939, the Dreadnought Trust subsidised youth migration to Australia, largely to NSW, with some government assistance. Fairbridge established the first home at Pinjarra, some thirty miles south-east of Perth. [8] The outbreak of war in 1914 ended all emigration from Great Britain but the often tentative approaches to child migration developed since 1900 laid the foundations for post-war developments.

British care societies resumed sending children to Canada in 1920 though on a smaller scale than before the war and increasingly the focus lay in Australia. The Empire Settlement Act in 1923 provided money from central government to assist emigration including child and youth migration. The first Barnardo child migrants arrived in NSW and Kingsley Fairbridge received substantial support from the Overseas Settlement Board in London for his farm school in Pinjarra and although he died the following year, his farm school movement was accepted as a superior approach to child migration. In 1924, Sir Richard Linton founded the Big Brother Movement in Sydney to encourage youth migration on a large scale. Child migration to Canada was ended during the global slump in the 1930s and there was also a significant reduction in the numbers of children going to Australia. Catholic leaders in Australia were also involved in child migration planning a farm school at Tardun that was staffed by the Christian Brothers in the mid-1920s but it was not until 1938 that the first 114 child migrants under Catholic auspices arrived in Western Australia. [9]

The outbreak of war in Europe in 1939 led to the suspension of child and youth migration. The publication of the Curtis Committee Report in 1944 heralded a change in child care principles. Social change meant that few British children were available for child migration and youth migration to Australia was far more popular. In 1952, John Moss, a retired Home Office inspector and member of the Curtis Committee toured Australian child care institutions and his report was sympathetic to child migration for some deprived British citizens. [10] However, a Home Office committee that visited Australia four years later was more critical in its analysis. Its confidential report was highly critical of some Australian care institutions and far less sympathetic to the whole idea of child migration. [11] Child migration had not resumed to Australia until 1947 with most migrants placed in Western Australian institutions and about half of the migrants were from Catholic families. The Big Brother Movement, NSW and Tasmania renewed its youth migration to Australia and during the 1950s brought 400 young men a year. Overall, some 12,500 teenagers came to Australia under the scheme since its inception in 1925 and 1983, when it ceased to sponsor youth migrants. British Catholic care organisations ended child migration in 1956. In 1967, the final nine child migrants came to Australia with the Barnardo organisation. In all, 7,000 child migrants came to Australia between 1947 and 1973 and 1,300 to NZ, Rhodesia and Canada. Child migrants were seen as an appropriate source of cheap labour on Canada’s farms, as a means of boosting Australia’s post-war population and as a way to preserve white, managerial elite in Rhodesia. One of the earlier motives of the schemes had been to maintain the racial unity of Britain’s Empire and certain groups of children were excluded as countries would not accept physically handicapped or black children. [12]

From the mid-1980s, there had been an intense controversy over child migration and especially the physical and sexual abuse migrants suffered. In 1986, the Child Migrant Trust was established to assist former child migrants find their relatives and reunited them with their families. The publication of Lost Children of the Empire in 1989 publicised child migration and encouraged popular and academic interest in the issue. [13] This was followed by the formation of organisations in Britain and Australia and government enquiries into child migration and legal action for compensation by former residents of Christian Brothers Boys Homes in Western Australia. In August 1998, the Western Australian Legislative Assembly passed a motion apologising to former child migrants for any abuse they had suffered in the state’s institutions during their childhood and In November 2009, Kevin Rudd the Australian Prime Minister apologised to the 500,000 ‘forgotten Australian’ who were abused or neglected in orphanages and children’s homes from 1930 to 1970 and those child migrants taken from Britain to Australia after the war often without their parents’ consent. [14] In February 2010, Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologised for the United Kingdom’s ‘shameful’ role in sending more than 130,000 children to former colonies where many suffered abuse. [15]


[1] Shore, Heather, Artful dodgers: youth and crime in early nineteenth-century London, (Royal Historical Society), 1999, Duckworth, Jeannie, Fagin’s Children: Criminal Children in Victorian England, (Hambledon), 2002, and Abbott, Jane, ‘The press and the public visibility of nineteenth-century criminal children’, in Rowbotham, Judith and Stevenson, Kim, (eds.), Criminal conversations: Victorian crimes, social panic, and moral outrage, (Ohio State University Press), 2005, pp. 23-39. See also, Carpenter, Mary, Reformatory schools for the children of the perishing and dangerous classes and for juvenile offenders, (C. Gilpin), 1851, and Adshead, Joseph, ‘On juvenile criminals, reformatories, and the means of rendering the perishing and dangerous classes serviceable to the state’, Transactions of the Manchester Statistical Society, (1855-6), pp. 67-122.

[2] Ibid, Harper, Marjorie, and Constantine, Stephen, Migration and Empire, pp. 247-276, provides an up-to-date analysis of child migration.

[3] Bagnell, Kenneth, The Little Immigrants: The orphans who came to Canada, (Macmillan), 1980, and Parr, Joy, Labouring Children: British immigrant apprentices to Canada, 1869-1924, (Croom Helm), 1980 provide a sound history of the Canadian migrations. See also, Dorbett, Gail H., Nation Builders: Barnardo Children in Canada, (Dundurn Press), 2002, pp. 11-64, and Parker, Roy, Uprooted: The Shipment of Poor Children to Canada, 1867-1917, (The Policy Press), 2010.

[4] Lowe, Clara, M. S., God’s Answers: A Record of Miss Annie Macpherson’s Work at the Home of Industry, Spitalfields, London and in Canada, (Nisbet and Co.), 1882.

[5] Macpherson, Annie, Canadian Homes for London Wanderers, (Morgan, Chase & Scott), 1870, and Summer in Canada, (Morgan & Scott), 1872, furnish Macpherson’s views on child migration while, Christopher, Alfred, M. W., Visits to Miss Macpherson’s three homes for boys and girls in Canada, 1872, provides supportive comment.

[6] Wagner, G. M. M., Barnardo, (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), 1979, and Williams, A. E., Barnardo of Stepney: the father of nobody’s children, (Allen and Unwin), 1966.

[7] See, Fairbridge, Kingsley, ‘Child Emigration to British Colonies’, The Child, Vol. 1, (1910), pp. 251-254, and Crane, Denis, John Bull’s Surplus Children: A Plea for Giving Them a Fairer Chgance, (Horce Marshall), 1915.

[8] Sherrington, Geoffrey, and Jeffery, Chris, Fairbridge: Empire and Child Migration, (Woburn Press), 1998, examines the creation of the Fairbridge child migration scheme and its history in Canada and Australia.

[9] Coldrey, D. M., Child Migration, the Australian Government and the Catholic Church, 1926-1966, (Tamanarick Publishing), 1992, remains an important study. See also, Gill, A., Orphans of the Empire: The Shocking Story of Child Migration to Australia, (Random House), 1997.

[10] Moss, John, Child Migration to Australia, (HMSO), 1953.

[11] Child migration to Australia: Report of a Fact-Finding Mission, (HMSO), 1956.

[12] On post-war migration see, Paul, Kathleen, ‘Changing Childhoods: Child Emigration since 1945’, in Lawrence, Jon, and Starkey, Pat., (eds.), Child Welfare and Social Action in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: International Perspectives, (Liverpool University Press), 2001, pp. 121-143.

[13] Bean, Philip, and Melville, Joy, Lost Children of the Empire, (Unwin Hyman), 1989.

[14] Pierce, Peter, The Country of Lost Children: An Australian Anxiety, (Cambridge University Press), 1999, traces the ambivalent and disturbing history of the figure of the lost child.

[15] ‘Gordon Brown sorry for ‘shameful’ colonial child resettlement programme’, The Times, 25 February 2010.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Elementary education: introduction

English elementary education grew in the face of constant fear and opposition from sections of the upper- and middle-classes.[1] Education, it was believed, would teach the working-classes to despise their lot in life, enable them to read seditious literature and make them less deferential to their social superiors. This attitude persisted, especially among rural farmers and gentry, throughout the nineteenth century. In 1846, the Rev. John Allen, Inspector for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire wrote the following that he maintained reflected rural opinion

We cannot help having a school, but we think it advisable that as little as possible be taught therein.’[2]

Overt hostility to any form of education may have retreated into the backwoods of rural England but there were many who wished to give the working-classes just enough education so that they could read the Bible, learn their duty to God and Man, and the place in life to which Providence had been pleased to assign them. William Lovett, the Chartist leader, denounced these educationalists as

...favourable to the securing of their prey, another portion, with more cunning, were for admitting a sufficient amount of mental glimmer to cause the multitude to walk quietly and contentedly in the paths they in their wisdom had prescribed for them.[3]

In time this attitude also weakened, partly through the actions of Lord Ashley who, though an enemy of secular state schools, was an enthusiastic champion of working-class education. Its successor was the ‘Morals before Intellect’ view of those who demanded that working-class education should be primarily religious, because its primary purpose was to inculcate good morals and obedience. This was often found among High Churchmen who believed that

...no secular knowledge really desirable for the bulk of the population could be fitly taught apart from a constant reference to religion.[4]

This also resonated among conservative landed gentry

I consider those schools to be the most promising where The Commandments and the Duty of God and Man are regularly taught, because without moral and practical religious training there can be no real education.[5]

Secular educationalists were, until the 1860s, a small, noisy group advocating moral without religious training. Modern historians often maintain that the purpose of early Victorian educationalists was the social control of one class by another or as Harold Silver puts it ‘Rescuing the poor for religion and a concomitant stable society’.[6] But the concept of social control, though important in any examination of education, is oversimplified. As a label ‘social control’ is crude covering a multitude of stances from the crudely manipulative and instrumental attitude of Lord Londonderry building schools in his mining villages after the Chartist disturbances to the wholly sincere attempts to remake the working-class child in the middle-class image.[7] Among middle and upper-class philanthropists it was an argument for enlightened self-preservation; to Ashley and Kay-Shuttleworth education would rescue the working-classes from crime and sedition. The means varied. Churchmen sought to inculcate religion and morals to buttress duty and obedience while liberals attacked sedition and socialism by developing popularised versions of classical political economy. Motives and means might have varied but there was a good deal of common ground among all educationalists. Lovett and Owen no less than Ashley and Kay-Shuttleworth looked to education to rescue the working-classes from vice and crime accepting the relationship between ignorance and criminality. Education as a means of ‘improvement’ embodied in the idea of the ‘march of mind’ and provided a counter-force to the Law and High Church preoccupation with faith, duty and obedience. The interesting question is not whether a given educational scheme was designed as social control but what sort of society it was intended to produce.

One reason why education in the 1830s appeared to be an instrument of class control was the decline of the parallel conception of education as a means of social mobility. It had declined as the professional and industrial middle-classes turned to defensive measures against the working-classes forming below them. Education, as a result, became involved in the class struggle and became politicised. By the 1830s, there were voluntary Church schools teaching the Anglican catechism, voluntary Nonconformist schools teaching private morality from the Bible and public morality from readers of classical economics and voluntary Owenite schools propagating socialism. It was the dominance of the rescue motif, as interpreted by middle-class enthusiasts that prevented education from permanently dividing into forms of propaganda serving conflicting social and political aims.


[1] The most straight-forward study of education between 1830 and 1914 is the relevant chapters of Lawson, John and Silver, Harold, A Social History of Education in England, (Methuen), 1973. Smelser, Neil J., Social paralysis and social change: British working-class education in the nineteenth century, (University of California Press), 1991 is both a detailed history of educational development and a theoretical study of social change. The focus of much study has been on the education of the working population. Central to the period 1830-1870 are the contrasting views of West, E.G., Education and the State, (Institute of Economic Affairs), 1965 and Education and the Industrial Revolution, (Batsford), 1975 and Hurt, J.S., Education in Evolution: Church, State, Society and Popular Education, 1800-1870, (Rupert Hart-Davis), 1971. The work of Harold Silver is also important especially his The concept of popular education, (Methuen), 1965, and his collection of essays Education as History, (Methuen), 1983.   Simon, B., The Two Nations and the Educational Structure 1780-1870, (Lawrence and Wishart), 1974 and Sutherland, G., Elementary Education in the Nineteenth Century, (The Historical Association), 1971 are essential reading. Johnson, Richard, ‘Really useful knowledge: radical education and working-class culture 1790-1848’, in Clarke, J., Critcher, C. and Johnson, R., (eds.), Working-class Culture: Studies in history and theory, (Hutchinson), 1979, pp. 75-112 is valuable.   Burns J., ‘From Polite Learning to Useful Knowledge 1750-1850’, History Today, Vol. 36, (4), (1986), pp. 21-29 and Harrison, B., ‘Kindness and Reason: William Lovett and Education‘, History Today, Vol. 37, (3), (1987), pp. 14-22 are interesting.   Laqueur, T.W., Religion and Respectability:  Sunday Schools and Working-class Culture 1780-1850, (Yale University Press), 1976 is the seminal work on a major educational movement. Ibid, Sanderson, M., Education, Economic Change and Society in England 1780-1870 provides a brief bibliographical statement.

[2] Kay, David and Kay, Joseph, The Education of the Poor in England and Europe, (J. Hatchard and Son), 1846, p. 220.

[3] Ibid, Lovett, William, Life and Struggles of William Lovett, p. 111. See also, ibid, Harrison, B., ‘Kindness and Reason: William Lovett and Education‘.

[4] Rev. Alexander Watson, curate of St John’s, Cheltenham in 1846, cit, ibid, Henriques, Ursula, Before the Welfare State, p. 201.

[5] Sir Charles Anderson of Lea, near Gainsborough, Lincolnshire in evidence to the Newcastle Commission in June 1859, Parliamentary Paper, Education Commission: Answers to the Circular of Questions, Vol. 5, (HMSO), 1860, p. 9, cit, ibid, Henriques, Ursula, Before the Welfare State, p. 201.

[6] Ibid, Silver, Harold, The concept of popular education, p. 26.

[7] Johnson, Richard, ‘Educational policy and social control in early Victorian England’, Past & Present, Vol. 49, (1970), pp. 96-119.