1849 February: Ragged School Union Magazine; Intelligence

Golden Lane Ragged School.

A Special Meeting on behalf of the above School was held on Thursday, January 25th, in the Lecture Room of the City of London Literary and Scientific Institution, Aldersgate Street; the Lord Mayor in the chair.


Prayer having been offered up by the Rev. J. Branch, the Chairman said, it often fell to the lot of the chief magistrate of London to preside over public meetings, but he thought no meeting could be convened for a more important object than that which they were then met to support.


He had to apologise for the disappointment occasioned by his non-attendance when the meeting was previously announced, arising out of a confusion of engagements. As ho had recently suffered a very heavy domestic affliction, nothing but a desire not to repeat that disappointment, and a wish to support such an institution as that for whose advocacy they were met, would have induced him to be present on that occasion.


As a magistrate, he knew that the juvenile offenders against the laws consisted, for the most part, of those who could neither read nor write, and who had been suffered to wander whither they chose, without reference to the society they kept, or the occupation they followed. By supporting these institutions, society not only benefited the rising generation, but promoted its own interests, by diminishing the expense of punishing crime, and thus lessening a considerable item in the national taxation.


The Secretary then read a statement respecting the operations of the school, and an appeal on behalf of its funds. The following is an extract:— “ The locality for which we plead is situated in the parishes of St Luke and Cripplegate—viz: Golden Lane, Whitecross Street and neighbourhood. From thence are daily issuing into our streets and thoroughfares hundreds of forlorn and destitute children, who are only educated in the arts of beggary and theft; and are growing up, the certain subjects of our workhouses, penitentiaries, and prisons.


“To lessen this evil, the Golden Lane Ragged School was established. The Committee feel that its two years’ existence has proved its adaptation to meet the moral wants of these suffering and neglected outcasts. Many of them hare been taught to read and write, and have obtained an acquaintance with the practical truths of the word of God. But these blessings have been only extended to a few, while hundreds more are ‘perishing for lack of knowledge.’


“With a view to meet their case, the Committee have taken, for nineteen yean, a Urge school-room in Honduras street, (adjoining Golden Lane,) which is capable of holding 350 children. By this arrangement they have contracted a debt of £200, which, if once removed, would leave only a small annual rent, and the current expenses of the school. It is now open as a free infant school, with a daily attendance of 120.


“It is also open four evenings each week for boys, who are taught reading, writing, and ciphering—and three evenings for girls, who, in addition to reading, are taught sewing, by which means articles of clothing are made up and given to them, or sold at a trifling cost.


“It is also open for religious instruction on Sabbath morning, afternoon, and evening—in the latter case, from 250 to 300 are in usual attendance, and taught by 25 voluntary teachers.


“The Committee are thus affording gratuitous instruction to upwards of 300 poor destitute children, many of whom would otherwise become the victims of vice and shame—and to enable them to give permanence and enlargement to these efforts, they venture to make thia Special Appeal for assistance in removing the debt on the school-room.”


Mr. Wire, ex-under sheriff, moved the first Resolution. He adverted to the magnitude of juvenile pauperism in general, and the metropolis in particular, contending that nothing but some such agency as that exercised by the Ragged Schools could remedy the evil. It was only by such means that the future peace of the country could be relied on. Many of the revolutions effected on the continent had been brought about by the very class of persons whom the Ragged Schools designed to reach; and one of the reasons why England had enjoyed tranquility in the midst of so much confusion and disorder,


was to be found in the active and energetic exertions of Christians in seeking out the poor, in endeavouring to administer to their wants, and to train them to industrious and virtuous habits. In this case, as in most others, the benevolent course was found to be the cheapest. The amount expended per head per annum upon the instruction of children in Ragged Schools, that in Westminster for example, was almost beneath notice, whilst the good effected by the outlay was incalculable.


The Resolution was seconded by Mr. W. Locke, who, after paying a deserved compliment to the Ragged School Teachers, on whom, he said, had fallen the heat and burden of the day, narrated several instances of the wretched condition of some of the children who had been reclaimed by them. One lad, he said, who had been an inmate of one of the schools, slept for some time in a pigstye, until the owner bought a pig, when the poor lad was turned out of his resting-place. Another had not slept in a bed for three years; and another, who had no recollection of having ever seen his parents, had been an inmate of the Westminster workhouse, and was afterwards imprisoned for taking part in Chartist riots.


The Rev. J. Weir, in supporting the Resolution, expressed the gratification he felt in finding that it included religious education, without which, he said, people could not effectually perform even the common duties of life. He attributed the excessive burden of the poor-rates in a great measure to the ignorant and idle habits of our pauper population. Just in proportion to the lack of education, crime invariably prevailed.


Knowing, then, that ignorance was the source of crime, and, as proved by the statistics of “ Bulwer’s France,” that a merely secular education did not secure public morality, how ought we to be animated in our efforts to give religious instruction to the people! Much had been said respecting California and its gold; he thought, however, that the Ragged Schools were the best gold mines; in these we had a shaft to sink to obtain unsearchable riches, and if we penetrated deep, we should bring up fine gold—aye, rubies, more precious than ever shone on the brow of beauty, or glittered in the diadem of a monarch. (Applause.) The Resolution passed unanimously.


Joseph Payne, Esq., Barrister, moved the second Resolution, in his usual humorous style. He drew a vivid picture of the condition of England at the time of the Reformation, contrasting its spirit with that of the scene before him. Mr. Payne concluded by some verses which he had composed on the Ragged School movement, which will be found in another part of our columns.


The Rev. J. Branch, in seconding the Resolution, read some statistics, the accuracy of which, he said, his own experience could verify, respecting the prevalence of crime in the locality in which the school is situated. The inhabitants of these districts, he said, had been too long neglected; so long as that neglect continued, why should we go to the expense of building a new court-house for the trial of criminals, whose crime might have been prevented by educational training ‘ Hitherto there had been too great a chasm between the rich and the poor; but he rejoiced that it was now narrowing; and facts proved that the extended intercourse between the two classes, so far from diminishing, tended to increase and deepen the feeling of respect which the poor entertained towards those in higher stations in life.


Mr. Cuthbertson supported the Resolution, expressing his regret at the desecration of the Sabbath by so many thousands in the metropolis. He adverted also to the want of additional teachers in carrying out the objects of the School. The Resolution was unanimously agreed to. A collection was then made, which amounted to £10. 11s. 6d.


A vote of thanks was, on the motion of John Wood, Esq., unanimously accorded to the Chairman, who, in replying, repeated the expression of his interest in the Ragged School movement. The Doxology having been sung, the meeting terminated.


Westminister Juvenile Refuge And School Of Industry

The second Annual Meeting of the above school was held on Wednesday, the 5th February, at Willis’s Rooms, St. James’s, the Right Hon. Lord Ashley, M.P., in the chair. A hymn having been sung by the children of the school, who, during the early part of the meeting, were stationed at the end of the room, facing the platform, the Chairman briefly explained the object of the Ragged School movement, which wav, he said, to provide receptacles for a class of persons who had hitherto been altogether neglected by the superintending authorities of the realm, and in many instances by their own parents and relatives—the class which had been emphatically denominated “ ragged.”, The Westminster Juvenile Refuge was recommended to the public by very singular advantages.


Most of the other Ragged Schools might be regarded as mere palliatives of a great mischief; many children were, by their means, brought within the scope of education, and, imperfect as the system was, they had reason to rejoice over many instances of signal reformation which it had produced. But it was only such institutions as the Westminster School that could be really effective.


In this school the education was extended over the whole of the day, so that the children were kept out of the way of temptation and mischief; they were also provided with food and clothing. Now this class of children had no means of sustenance but that arising from begging or thieving; if, therefore, they were taken from the streets, and from those avocations in which they were engaged, it was absolutely necessary to provide for them that | which would enable them to go through the day, and receive the instruction afforded. The school likewise furnished an industrial education.


For three hours daily the children were occupied with shoemaking and tailoring—not that they were all to be shoemakers or tailors, but that all should be taught the value of industry—the honour attaching itself to all honest occupations.


It was contemplated to establish a refuge in which a certain number of meritorious children, selected from Ragged Schools, should be placed for some six months, and then be sent as emigrants to the Colonies, in a lit state to enter upon a course of industrial occupation. Thus vagrancy would be checked, children would be educated, and the colonies would be provided with useful, industrious, and well-principled inhabitants. (Applause.)


In this way only would they be enabled to grapple with that enormous and disgraceful amount of mischief which stared them in the I face in this metropolis—that exhibition of juvenile depravity, destitution, and misery, which was unparalleled in the civilized world. The evil was not beyond | their reach; it only required patience and energy to meet and overcome it. The children of the Refuge here sung another hymn, and retired.


The Secretary then read the Annual Report of the Institution. That document stated that, since the last Annual Meeting, thirty additional boys had been received into the Refuge; so that there were now in the Institution 130 children, nearly the whole of whom were daily supplied with food, and were receiving the elements of a useful education.


During the past year, five boys from the Refuge had been apprenticed to master tradesmen, and were conducting themselves to their entire satisfaction. As there were now twenty other well-trained lads in the school, who could be recommended by the Committee, it was hoped that masters would be found to take them as apprentices, or employ them as errand or shop-boys.


Fifteen boys were homeless, and for these lodging” were provided on the premises; as a return for this, they did the domestic work of the house, under the direction of the housekeeper. Several boys had been given a free passage to Australia; their gratitude for the kindness shown them had been expressed in the moat pleasing terms.


The Marquis of Blandford moved that the Report should be adopted, and the Committee be encouraged to persevere in their efforts. It devolved, he said, upon those to whom Providence had given increased means, and larger opportunities than others for doing good, to be careful not to minister solely to their own wants and comforts, but to consider those who were starving and perishing in the streets.


Let those, too, who had been richly blessed with spiritual benefits, seek to impart religious instruction to the hundreds of wandering outcasts of the city, and they would often be blessed with the sight they had just witnessed— that of children from whose lips had been heard the ribald jest and disgusting expression, raising those same voices in singing the praises of Almighty God.


The Rev. Wm, Arthur, of Paris, in seconding the Resolution, expressed a hope that that kind of encouragement would be given to the Committee which they so much needed—not that which simply manifested itself in words and attendance at public meetings—but real personal aid and pecuniary assistance. The rev. gentleman adverted to the immense benefits that might result from the education of the “ragged classes,” not simply to the children themselves, but to others with whom these might be brought into contact. The Resolution was unanimously agreed to.


J. C. Wood, Esq., moved the second Resolution, “ That, considering the deplorable state of many parts of Westminster, it is much to be lamented that the Committee have not the means to enlarge the Juvenile Refuge, and thereby to extend their operations; and this meeting pledges itself to use every effort to obtain an increase of subscriptions, so as to rescue from ignorance, pauperism, and crime, a large number of destitute children.”


A few years ago, he said, the different scholastic institutions of Westminster were sufficient to provide for all the outcast children of the neighbourhood; but, owing to the increase of population, and other circumstances, that class had increased to such an extent, that nothing but the establishment of Ragged Schools could save the inhabitants from disgrace and loss, fearful even to contemplate. He would invoke the aid of all classes in behalf the new movement, both on the ground of self-interest, and of duty to others, reminding them that it had been said, ” Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these little ones, ye have done it unto me.”


The Hon. F. Byng, in seconding the Resolution, said, he had lived in Westminster all his life, and knew well the amount of wretchedness which existed in the city—wretchedness not confined, as some supposed, to the lower districts, but which might even be witnessed not two hundred yards from the spot on which they were then met. People in general were, he believed, utterly ignorant of the misery and ignorance which prevailed in the city, and nothing but ocular demonstration could persuade them of the deplorable fact. A collection was then made in the meeting, amounting to £21. 3s. 1d.


The Rev. Owen Clark moved the third Resolution, to the effect, ” That Industrial Schools, established in our large towns, would diminish the crime and pauperism which now extensively prevail.” There were many localities, he said, in London and other places, needing Refuges as much as Westminster itself. He felt fully persuaded that when the benefits of such institutions became known, their importance would be fully seen.


Dr. Daniel briefly seconded the Resolution, which was passed unanimously. Mr. W. Locke, the Hon. Secretary, in proposing a vote of thanks to the Chairman, made an appeal on behalf of the Refuge, and stated that he did not think the benefits of Ragged Schools could be justly appreciated, or the contributions towards their support would be much more liberal. The vote of thanks having been seconded by Mr. Maxwell, was unanimously carried. After a few remarks from the Chairman, the meeting terminated. —


Bristol And Clifton Ragged School Society.

The second anniversary of this Society was held on the 10th of January, at which the Lord Bishop of Gloucester and Bristol presided. The Committee calculated the daily attendance at the schools during the present year at not less than 550 children. The income of the Society during the past year amounted to £335. fit. 11d. From the interesting statements of the Right Hon. Lord Teignmouth, it appears that very large and important fields of labour are” white unto the harvest.” We trust the active exertions of the Committee will not diminish until the effectual cure becomes co-extensive with the evil.


Alnwick Ragged School.

We have been favoured with an interesting Report of this school, from which it appears that,like many other such efforts, a great amount of good is being done at small expense. The receipt for the past year only amount to £11. 6s. 7d., and yet 30 boys and 50 girls are receiving instruction in the elementary branches of reading and writing.


“Several who knew nothing of either on entering the school can now read the Scriptures, and others can write a good small-hand. But while attention has been paid to these branches, the great object of the Institution has not been forgotten, viz:—the moral and spiritual interests of the children.


May the strength of our friends not only be augmented by an increase of funds, but also by a large addition to their staff of teachers, that their hearts may be encouraged by seeing the ” work of their hands ” more fully established.


The above is a reproduction of the article ‘Intelligence’ found in the 1849 February publication of the Ragged School Union Magazine.

Some history around the period includes:

  • 13 January – Second Anglo-Sikh War: British forces retreat from the Battle of Chillianwala.
  • 22 January – Second Anglo-Sikh War: The city of Multan falls to the British East India Company following the Siege of Multan.
    February–May – shareholder enquiries into the conduct of railway financier George Hudson begin his downfall
  • 1 February – abolition of the Corn Laws by the Importation Act 1846 comes fully into effect.
  • 17 February – 65 people, almost all under the age of 20, are crushed to death in a panic caused by a small fire in the Theatre Royal, Glasgow.[1]
  • 21 February – Second Anglo-Sikh War: Battle of Gujrat – British East India Company forces defeat those of the Sikh Empire in Punjab.
  • 1 March – Nathaniel Cooke registers the design of the Staunton chess set, which is first marketed in September by Jaques of London with an endorsement by Howard Staunton.
  • 3 March – the Arana-Southern Treaty with the Argentine Confederation ends British involvement in the Anglo-French blockade of the Río de la Plata.
  • 30 March – the Second Anglo-Sikh War ends with the U.K. annexing the Punjab.
  • 21 April – Great Famine (Ireland): 96 inmates of the overcrowded Ballinrobe Union Workhouse die over the course of the preceding week from illness and other famine-related conditions, a record high. This year’s potato crop again fails and there are renewed outbreaks of cholera.[2]
    May – first exhibition of paintings by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in London: John Everett Millais’ Isabella and Holman Hunt’s Rienzi at the Royal Academy summer exhibition, and Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s Girlhood of Mary Virgin at the Free Exhibition on Hyde Park Corner.
  • 19 May – Irishman William Hamilton arrested after shooting blank shots at Queen Victoria on Constitution Hill, London.[3]
    Summer – Karl Marx moves from Paris to London, where he will spend the remainder of his life.
  • 2–12 August – Visit of Queen Victoria to Cork, Dublin and Belfast.[4]
  • 9 August – “The Bermondsey Horror”: Marie Manning and her husband, Frederick, murder Patrick O’Connor in London. On 13 November they are hanged together publicly by William Calcraft at Horsemonger Lane Gaol for the crime.[5]
  • 13 December – foundation stone of Llandovery College is laid.
  • 17 December – the customer, probably Edward Coke, collects the first bowler hat (devised by London hatmakers Thomas and William Bowler) from hatters Lock & Co. of St James’s

Information drawn from Wikipedia