Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Chapter 13. Agitation, Ambition & Education

Mr Barlow, now established in his parish, was eager to make improvements to the church in Rudby.  On 2 July 1833, the churchwardens' accounts record that
At a meeting held this day according to Publick Notice Sarah Hebbron was elected Sexton and to have £2-12 per year for doing the duty of a Sexton to attend to the fires and keep the church clean.  The Churchwardens to see about getting the stove in repair. 
It was signed by Mr Barlow, the Middleton farmer Thomas Righton, the doctor Thomas Harker and John Sidgwick the grocer.

Mr Barlow must have been very anxious to have the stoves in working order – the Primitive Methodist chapel, only ten years old and packed with an enthusiastic congregation, would be much warmer and more attractive in the winter.  Unfortunately the stove could not be repaired and had to be replaced at a cost of £18; the result of the ensuing work – including more than £5 to the stone mason – was an expenditure of nearly £65.

Whilat Henry Bainbridge was happy to assist the vicar with this – perhaps in part because Hutton Rudby Methodists still brought their babies to baptism in the otherwise unheated church – the people of Hilton were not so amenable.  For historical reasons Hilton still paid a levy towards the upkeep of Rudby church, and not surprisingly in 1833 they refused to pay [1].  It was not only Nonconformists who found church rates objectionable.

Stokesley may have become a much quieter town during the previous decade, but it was still very much agitated by political argument on the great issues of the day.

The Hon William Duncombe, son of Lord Feversham of Duncombe Park, had come to the town during the December 1832 election campaign, as candidate for the North Riding – there were some 65 voters in Stokesley, from labourers to gentlemen.

He arrived on a market day and attempted to address the crowd, which was very reluctant to hear him, and riotous scenes resulted.  One of his supporters, a Redcar miller named Stephen Coulson, quickly issued a pamphlet accusing the Stokesley mill-owner Thomas Mease of fomenting the uproar.  He and his brother John had by then nearly completed their new mill on Levenside; it was to have a steam engine and a gasometer, which would enable longer working hours by providing artificial light.

Mease was a veteran of the pamphleteering world and a chief protagonist in the Stokesley pamphlet war of the 1820s.  He replied in print with Two Letters, on Tithes and Corn Laws, addressed to the Hon William Duncombe, M.P, printed on 29 June 1833 by Pratt [2].

His tone is majestic and measured; he quotes from the Biblical book of Proverbs and the works of Harriet Martineau and Isaac Taylor, demonstrating that he may not have had the benefit of a gentleman's classical education but he was widely read in the current thinking of the day.  He denied the imputations –
I had never conversed with any of my work-people on political topics – nor did they know to which of the candidates I intended to give my support, 
and counter-attacked with allegations of political chicanery on the part of Duncombe and his supporter Sir William Foulis.  They had financed Coulson's attacks, and so Mease did not hesitate to address Duncombe himself, declaring,
Besides, Sir, I have yet to learn, why any humble Plebeian may not address himself to the highest Nobleman in the land.   
He defended his own political position: he was not one of those selfish employers who called for the emancipation of slaves while neglecting the plight of the factory children (which he however describes as "voluntary engagement"); he had
signed petitions to both houses of parliament in favour of the Ten Hours' Bill, 
intended to reduce the hours laboured by children.
From this, Mease moved on to another hotly contended topic of the day – Coulson, he declared, had been assisted in his most recent pamphlets by a clergyman, hence the change of style and above all the stout defence of church tithes.  To abolish this source of revenue, Coulson's pamphlet had alleged, would "be tantamount to denying the divinity of the Bible!" 

This opening gave Mease ample scope, as a Wesleyan class leader, to expound the case against tithes, citing Biblical authority and local instances of nepotism and abuse of position.  He declared his highest respect for many of the ministers of the established church, but did not hesitate to affirm
that almost all culpable disorders in the Church are mainly attributable to its alliance with the State. 
From this, he moved on to the question of the repeal of the Corn Laws – as an employer, he was naturally in favour of this, believing that the price of corn would then go down and the pressure to raise wages would be reduced.  Farmers, he asserted, would be compensated for their loss by the abolition of tithes. 

His pamphlet demonstrates the Nonconformist position locally and nationally – and it is in this context that Mr Barlow's own public declaration must be seen.

Mr Barlow was asked to preach the sermon at the visitation of the Archdeaconry of Cleveland on 25 June 1833 and he took as his text 1 Timothy 4:16: 
Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.  
The Archdeacon the Revd Henry John Todd was pleased with the address, which was printed at his request by Pratt of Stokesley. 

Naturally, the content of the sermon was serious and unexceptional.

Barlow spoke with sympathy of the comparative poverty of the junior clergy and with warmth of the important role of Bishops in church administration (without them "we should be as an army without a leader, a body without a head").  He urged the continued presence of Bishops in the House of Lords "to watch over the interests of Christianity".

Conscious of the fact that his listeners were well aware of his superior knowledge of conditions in Ireland, he spoke out against the actions of the Education Board in Ireland's choice of undenominational Biblical texts for children as a "shameful mutilation of the Bible" –
It becomes a disgrace and a shame, that Protestant England should sanction such corruption of the word of God.  
(His views were very like those of another Trinity graduate and clergyman, the Orangeman Hugh McNeile, who was to defeat a later attempt to introduce a similar selection into Liverpool schools.)

He urged his own high view of his clerical calling upon his audience, which would have shared his essential conservatism.  The clergy should set a good example, showing "disapprobation of the want of godliness and propriety in others".

Some, he said, might think him too severe, but he urged clergy not to spend too much time in society, and to select such recreations as would not disturb their imaginations.

They should lead a blameless life, as "fathers of our flocks, and as school-masters over their children", showing a "lively concern" in our people's "wants and distresses".  Their task was to "lead men to Christ, not to fill them with idle declamation", to "teach men to be meek, to be lowly, to be obedient; not to think too highly of themselves, and to depend on Christ alone for salvation".

He ended with a moving declaration of his own faith.  They ought
never to enter the sanctuary of God, or perform any ceremony, without endeavouring to realize to ourselves this soul inspiring thought, - 'the very ground whereon I stand is holy' [3].
The position of the established church was assailed on all sides – it was in 1832 that Dr Thomas Arnold had written, "the Church as it now stands no human power can save", and in 1833 Keble's sermon would begin the Tractarian Movement.

Mr Barlow himself was largely unaffected by the question of tithes, as those of Hutton Rudby were paid to laymen, but the outspoken weavers of the township did not conform to his wish for men to be meek, lowly and obedient, and he certainly felt the pressure of Nonconformity in his own parish – and not only from the Methodists.

Shortly before his sermon, on 22 June 1833, the Roman Catholic Bishop Penswick confirmed thirty candidates at the Roman Catholic chapel in Crathorne, including six from Rudby parish:  Susan & Edward Bainbridge [4], Mary & Jane Hansell [5] and Martha Hood [6] of the Catholic Meynell family in Hutton, and William Moor of East Rounton. [7] 

Education was available for the children of Hutton Rudby.

On Sundays, the children of Primitive Methodists could attend Sunday School, while another forty to fifty children were taught by Mr Barlow; the Union Sunday School had closed.  Besides this, there were, according to the Parliamentary Papers 1835, four schools in the village: the Bathurst Charity School beside the church in Rudby took twenty-four boys and girls, five being educated free of charge; one fee-paying private school held ten girls and four boys; another had opened that year taking four girls and four boys; and finally there was a day school, run by a master and mistress, which took forty-five boys and forty-five girls [8].

It seems that Mr Barlow had become the sole manager of the day school, and had persuaded the married couple who ran it to take on an extra forty to fifty pupils, at 2½d a head, of which he paid 1½d and the parents the remaining penny [9].

The number of school places available in the village was much the same as it had been in 1818[10] , but since that date the population of the townships had increased by about a hundred, while the recession in the linen industry had made it harder for parents to find the fees. 

Mr Barlow's involvement in the children's education can be seen in the entries in the Middleton Book [11], which opens with William Sayer's calculations as to the Middleton tithes, and was subsequently used over many years as a notebook by Mr Barlow.

His entries include a list of those who had bought spelling books, catechisms and prayer books, "the expenses of Rudby School" in 1832 and 1833 (a list of unspecified weekly payments totalling a little over £17 a year) and of receipts (being donations from Lord Falkland and others), a list of girls, twenty-seven in all, and a similar list of boys.  In December 1832 he had bought several books as school prizes – testaments, catechisms, and Wonderful Trees and Animals.

Education was a much-debated topic of the time.

Even at the end of the 18th century there had been those who thought that a parson had no influence in his parish without a school, and this was the impetus behind the growth of the schools' societies – the ultimate aim being to increase congregations.  The burning question was, what sort of religion should the children be offered.

The High Church party objected to the Bible Society offering scriptures without note or comment; it founded the National Society for the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church.  Others, especially Evangelicals, sought to propagate an undenominational Christianity.  They joined with Dissenters – as they had in the Bible Society and the Sunday School Union – to establish the British & Foreign Schools Society.

Undenominational scriptural education was seen as particularly desirable in Ireland, where in 1831 a Board of Education had been set up, consisting of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Archbishops of Dublin, a member of the synod of Ulster, the Lord Lieutenant and three laymen, including a Unitarian.  They arranged for clergy to be able to visit schools to teach children in their own denomination, and for teachers to be given an anthology of selections from the Bible for use in ordinary lessons [12].  It was this anthology that Mr Barlow excoriated in his sermon of June 25th. 

Small grants from the state began to be made in 1833, in proportion to the money raised by the societies themselves.

Consequently, the National Society, which had access to the deeper purses of the upper classes, received the most in grants.  In October 1833 Mr Barlow received a circular from the National Society, inviting schools in townships of over 1,000 to apply for membership.  He was not a High Churchman, but this gave him the opportunity he needed, and the project that followed must have occupied much of his time over the following three years.

Hutton Rudby itself had a population of 1,027 in the 1831 census, with 1,270 in the parish.  Mr Barlow wrote on 28 October 1833 to the Central Committee of the National Society:
there are few places that stand so much in need of assistance as the Town of Hutton Rudby … moral and religious feeling is at a very low ebb amongst them.  For the last two years I have had with wonderful effect from 40 to 50 children at a daily and Sunday School, the Master and Mistress receiving them in addition to their own private school at the rate of 2 ½d for each scholar, of which the parents pay one penny … the apartments being confined do not conveniently admit of classes being as well arranged as we could wish … There are from 20-30 children running wild and I ought to say that I shall be obliged to diminish instead of increase the number at my school so that if the Committee would grant an annual sum of £10 an adjoining house might be added to enlarge the school apartments for about £5 and the remaining £5 would allow me to add 15 scholars … [13]
In reply to his request for £10 annually, the Society suggested that Mr Barlow might raise a subscription from local farmers and landed proprietors.

Mr Barlow declared this was impossible owing to "the sluggish indifference" of the former and the lack of any "spark of liberality" among the latter.  Only £3 was raised for the Charity School from the farmers, and Lord Falkland was the sole subscriber among the gentry.  This is borne out by his notes in the Middleton Book – Lord Falkland gave £6, Mr Barlow himself gave £5, Dr Merryweather of Whitby gave £1 and the farmers between them gave £2-1-4 ½d.  He may have expected an additional obstacle in the farmers' Methodism.

The vicar declared that his own purse and the generosity of the parish had been completely exhausted in his efforts to redeem his church from "Gothic barbarity" – a theme that recurs throughout his time in the parish.  However he urged his parishioners’ appreciation of education for their children, despite their general degradation, and promised the National System would be adopted [14].  Indeed the villagers of Hutton Rudby evidently thought highly of education in general – in 1835 and 1836 the Hutton Wesleyans gave more to the Wesleyan Schools collection than most of the other villages, including Great Ayton [15].

The National Society granted him membership in December 1833, but by this time he had moved on to a more permanent solution.  Instead of breaking through into the house next door to enlarge the schoolroom, he suggested a new building costing £100. 
The existing two day schoolrooms which were also inhabited by the master and mistress and their family, were 'miserable and unwholesome' and too small. [16]  
He proposed two new, bigger schoolrooms built of brick, in which he could offer daily and Sunday instruction to each child for 1d a week [17]

To support his suggestions, he made a list of children aged between seven and thirteen, and found that there were about 160 of them [18].  An uncompleted list is to be found in the Middleton Book, which does not support this statement – but the number quoted does correspond with the total number of children in education in the village in 1833 (according to the Parliamentary Papers) plus the 20 to 30 children estimated by Barlow to be "running wild". 

He then evidently rethought his original scheme, telling the National Society that he thought it ill-judged to build too small a schoolroom.

He had clearly been inspired by the building work at Skutterskelfe and the ready availability of expert help.  He had asked Mr Parr, who was in the village as clerk of works for Lord Falkland’s business (and as such was mentioned in Lord Falkland's letter to George Brigham), to draw a rough plan of a school house that would cost £230.  Mr Parr had kindly said that he would give his services free, which would save £50.  Subscriptions and labour worth £60 could be obtained "by extending my solicitations to the Neighbouring parishes and gentry".  Mr Barlow now needed £120 from the Society. 

In October 1834 the Lords of the Treasury granted him £80 from central funds and the National Society gave him £55.  However, again the situation in Hutton Rudby had changed.

Mr Barlow now announced that he could only provide £40 in private contributions, together with
a most eligible site and £5 to cover the legal expenses for its acquisition.  
Farmers had promised help in transporting materials, which would save £10.  He appealed to the Society to press the Treasury to make up the deficit. 

Once more he had changed his plans.  Parr's design had been for a two-storey building of two rooms, measuring 30 feet x 16 feet x 10 feet, but Mr Barlow had evidently been working on these and now proposed his own design for a single storey building "approved of by Mr Parr".  It was to be built of brick, with a slate roof and a floor laid with Gilbert flags.  The rooms were to be 18 feet, rather than 10 feet, in height.

At this point John Mease of Stokesley planned to run a powered flax mill on the site of the former paper mill by the river.  This was presumably to carry out machine heckling and spinning of the flax; Mease must have expected a growing demand for more yarn from local weavers, and possible sales to other areas.  It was expected to bring more work to the village: 
Since my appeal to the Society there has been a large cotton mill erected in the Town … Several families have already come to the Parish and I understand that next Spring, when the mill is to commence work, there will be an increase of 30 families. 
A larger school house would also be desirable [19].

In the event, the flax mill, in which Thomas Mease joined his brother, was only in existence for a short while before the depression in the linen trade caused its failure.  The population of the village was further reduced by families leaving for the new town of Middlesbrough in the late 1830s; the village population did not rise again until the 20th century.

The extra money for the new school was not immediately forthcoming and in March 1835 Mr Barlow wrote to the Society, implying that he had begun work but was in need of funds to finish the building.  In response they granted him another £15.

A month later, he revealed to them that while everything was in a "state of forwardness", work had not actually begun.  Mark Barker had given them half an acre of land at a peppercorn rent, timber had been cut in a saw pit at Linden Grove, cast metal window sashes were on order, and local farmers' readiness to help with transport had allowed him to substitute good quality stone for brick [20]

In May the additional grant came through, and now it emerged that Barlow had only contracted with the builder for the labour, and was ordering the materials himself.  He claimed that this saving, together with a second subscription from Lord Falkland, would enable him to build rooms an extra two feet wide, and ten feet in height, leaving a cloakroom at each end of the building for the children [21]

On 10 March 1836, the deed for the site at the corner of Sexhow Lane was executed: a 999 year lease at a peppercorn rent made between Mark Barker, the lord of the manor and owner of the plot of land, and the five trustees, the vicar and the major local landowners Lord Falkland, Sir William Foulis, Henry Vansittart and George Merryweather.

The building was nearly finished by the autumn; the fencing remained to be done, and so on 9 November 1836 Mr Barlow appealed to the Society for another £15 to £20.  The National Society protested that the school "was larger and better than he undertook to make", but all the same gave him another £10, Barlow promising to complete the operation at his own expense, if necessary [22]

The new school was made of stone and lined with brick.  Where timber had to be used, it had been partially charred and thoroughly covered with tar.  The roof was of best Welsh slates with wide zinc gutters, and a parapet wall to protect the slates.  Mr Barlow declared that he had obtained all his materials "at the mechanics’ price", saving between £50 and £100 by "designing, economising and superintending" the work himself.  He had raised £101 from the locality, made up as follows: Lord Falkland provided £20 and 10,000 bricks, Sir William Foulis and Henry Vansittart had each donated £20, and Colonel Hildyard £5, the farmers' transport had saved £30, and there were sundry gifts amounting to £6. 

In the Middleton Book Mr Barlow made a list of "Expenditure in Building the School house".  It came to £248-14s-3d.  A list entitled "Brick acct", records farmers' names, dates and figures:  Kilvington, Righton, Terry, Chapman and "self" are mentioned.

In total, Mr Barlow seems to have received £160 from the Society and the Treasury, with £101 plus bricks from the locality, and the site itself.  The farmers and landowners had in fact given him much more than he expected – and the list indicates that a Nonconformist like Mr Terry, in spite of the involvement of the National Society,  nevertheless gave generously to the school.

It was to be run according to the regulations of the National Society, and managed by the Vicar, the Archdeacon of Cleveland and any Anglican men who attended the parish church and subscribed at least £2 a year to the school [23]

In the course of two and a half years, Mr Barlow had contrived to build a larger building than originally agreed, to an entirely different plan and on a totally different site.  He had flung himself at the project – writing letters, raising funds, drawing up plans, becoming involved in the building work itself – and had made a series of impetuous decisions which had nevertheless resulted successfully in a new schoolhouse for the village.  He must have felt enormously pleased with the result. 

Hutton Rudby School, in the 1960s


[1]  Rudby-in-Cleveland:  Local Government & Society 1600-1900 Hastings. After this payments were made on occasion, but these ceased entirely in 1851.

[2]  Northallerton County Library

[3]  A Sermon, preached at the visitation of the Archdeaconry of Cleveland, held at Stokesley, June 25, 1833 [Cambridge University Library]

[4]  children of the carrier Reuben Bainbridge (baptised Anglican, his father Reuben was Protestant and mother Susannah Bewick was Catholic) and Mary Meynell, daughter of Edward Meynell, publican and wheelwright

[5]  whose mother was Jane, daughter of Joseph Meynell, who married William Hansell, Protestant

[6]  whose mother was Martha, another daughter of Edward Meynell, publican and wheelwright, who married James Hood, Protestant

[7]  Births & Baptisms Register Book, St Mary's RC Church, Crathorne. Entries from 1777 to 1839. Held at the National Archives (Public Record Office) at Kew. I have supplied a transcription to the Stokesley Library and Father Terence at Osmotherley.

[8]  Parliamentary Papers 1835, quoted by Hastings, to whose The Reverend R J Barlow and the Hutton Rudby National School I am indebted for the following details

[9]  ibid, and correspondence with National Society

[10]  compared with the figures given in Parl. Papers 1819. IX.2.HC 224 Digest of Parochial Returns to Select Cttee p 1122, quoted in Hastings

[11]  NYCRO:  Mic 1204: PR/MIL 2-6

[12]  A History of the Methodist Church in Great Britain:  volume 2, (pub 1978). General editors:  Rupert Davies, A. Raymond George, Gordon Rupp. Church and Society in the first half of the 19th century by W.R.Ward

[13]  Hastings

[14]  Barlow's letter 26 Oct 1833: taken from Hastings' paraphrase

[15]  Stokesley Wesleyan Methodist Circuit Book 1815-37 [NYCRO: Mic 2254]

[16]  Hastings

[17]  Barlow's letters 6 Feb 1834 and 17 Feb 1834, and application for aid 4 Dec 1833:  Hastings’ paraphrase

[18]  Barlow's letter 17 Feb 1834

[19]  Barlow's letter 26 Oct 1834

[20]  Barlow's letter 20 April 1835

[21]  Barlow's letter 11 May 1835

[22]  Society's letter of 16 Nov 1836, and Barlow's letter of 15 Dec 1836

[23]  The fact that "all male subscribers" and "two pounds" are underlined in pencil on the original deed suggests that queries were raised about this at some later date, presumably as a result of some dispute – or possibly when management was handed over to a School Board after Mr Barlow's death.

No comments:

Post a Comment