United Schools Committee, 1874-76

As the result of the arguments about the Infants School in 1871-73, a new committee was formed to oversee all the schools (Infants, Girls and Boys) operating under the Education Act. This was to avoid the creation of a school board funded from the rates. Regular reports from the committee were published in early 1874, and some are given below. The Bicester Herald was a Liberal paper and sometimes reported things differently from the others, probably with material supplied by W.H. French.

Bucks Herald, 10 Jan

  A public meeting was held on the New Infants’ School-room on Friday week, to take into consideration the best means of carrying on the present schools of the town.  The meeting was attended by a large number of the tradesmen, and an amount of interest was manifested throughout the proceedings, which at times were very lively.

  The gentlemen present included the Rev. A. M. Preston, (vicar), Sir T. F. Fremantle, T. F. Fremantle, Esq., D. T. Willis, Esq.,  Dr. Newham, Merrick Lowndes, Esq., Mr. James King, Mr. R. W. Jones, Mr. W. H. French, Mr. G. [=E.] Braggins, Mr. J. Woodward, Mr. S. Syratt, Mr. H. Monk, Mr. J. Grace, Mr. J. Hathaway, Mr. W. Neal, Mr. Rand, (of Shipton), Mr. C. Treadwell, Mr. A. Barton, Mr. G. Jennings, Mr. T. Saving, Mr. J. Sear, &c.

  Dr. Newham presided, and in the course of his address said that according to the returns for the parish of Winslow, they were compelled to provide accommodation for 75 infants.  Some parishioners considered the school sufficient, but they were driven to the present enlargement, of which he hoped they would agree upon.  The Vicar had not been thoroughly and heartily supported in this work, and the result was the handing over of the schools to the Education Department.  Now the parishioners had a new room; he must also tell them that a mistress had been engaged, and would attend school duties in the course of ten or twelve days.  He need not tell them of the good Mr. Preston had effected in performing as he had done his duties aright.  Their Vicar had been the means of keeping the school going for many years, and the deficiencies in money which had often arisen were met by him, and their thanks were due to that gentleman.  (Hear, hear).  They now stood as it were at a crisis.  Mr. Preston had come to resign the treasurership of the schools into their hands.  The boys’ and girls’ school was in thorough working order, and a mistress had been engaged for the infants’ school.  The schools, as they were aware, had been carried on by voluntary subscriptions, and it was for them now to consider if that course should be pursued in the future. As to the Government grant, he must tell them the amount received by trustees was in accordance with the amount of voluntary subscriptions.  Supposing £50 was collected as voluntary subscriptions, they would be entitled to £50 from Government.  The committee of the present schools considered it incumbent upon them to do something in connection with the schools, and call all voices into the matter.  They had only two measures before them - one, the carrying on the schools as before by voluntary subscriptions, and the other, the election of a School Board to carry it on for them.  He hoped the trustees would sanction the transfer of the twenty boys, especially on the promise of giving them a thoroughly sound education, and that they might work amicably together, and believe the old proverb “If we help the trustees the trustees will help us.”  The question was: They had £90 to collect; should the present schools be carried on as usual, or go to the alternative of a School Board?

  Mr. Neal proposed, “That the school shall be jointly carried on by a committee with the present trustees added, and that such a committee being elected by the parishioners, shall be answerable for the necessary funds.”
  A long discussion ensued.
  Other resolutions and amendments, all of which tended to the amalgamation of the bodies as one committee, were put and withdrawn.
  The Chairman then put the first resolution to the meeting, which was carried.

  Mr. W. H. French proposed and Mr. Hathaway seconded, “That the committee shall consist of gentlemen, at present serving on the boys’ and girls’ school, and such other names as shall be deemed expedient at this meeting.”
  After further discussion.
  Sir Thomas Fremantle said he came there as a representative of the trustees of the boys’ school, and he was very pleased to see the way in which the tradesmen of Winslow had come forward to support measures concerning the education of the children.  He considered the voluntary system the more preferable of the two, and was glad to see them supporting it.  The only difficulty would be providing sufficient funds, and he thought that of very little importance as they had carried them on for many years.  He would like to say one word with regard to the amalgamation of the trustees and committee.  He did not think that the trustees of the other school should have anything to do in the management of that school.  As one of the trustees of the other schools it was his duty to see that the funds were well expended, and these of course would have to be handed over to the new committee.

  Mr. Monk said he was pleased to see Sir Thomas amongst them.  His offer, which was something like £42 per year, would be very acceptable.

  The proposition of Mr. W. H. French was then put by the chairman and carried.

  The Chairman asked the meeting to nominate gentlemen whom they thought fit to act as committee-men, and the following were proposed, seconded, and elected:- W. Selby Lowndes, Esq., jun., Mr. G. D. E. Wigley, Mr. W. George, Mr. W. H. French, Mr. Silvanus Jones. Mr. James King, Mr. H. Monk, Dr. Newham, Mr. T. P. Willis, Merrick Lowndes, Esq., Mr. Grant King, Thomas Fremantle, Esq., Mr. J. Woodward, Mr. W. Rand, Mr. J. L. French, Mr. J. French, jun., Mr. R. Gibbs, to act together with the present trustees, viz.,- The Vicar and Churchwardens, Messrs. E. W. S. Lowndes, D. T. Willis, S. B. Dudley, Dr. Wynter, G. Maydon, R. W. Jones, A. Barton, and W. Neal.

  Mr. James King proposed, and it was seconded, that Messrs. Willis and Willis be treasurers, and Mr. Grace proposed, and Mr. King seconded, that Dr. Newham be secretary.

  Sir Thomas Fremantle proposed a vote of thanks for the able manner in which Dr. Newham had filled the office of Chairman, which was duly seconded and acknowledged.
  A list of subscriptions received was then read, and the meeting separated.

Bucks Herald, 14 Feb


  The managers of the above schools met on Monday, January 19th, at the Bell Inn, and Mr. R. W. Jones was voted to the chair.

  Mr. Silvanus Jones proposed that notice should be given at each meeting of any resolutions to be brought forward; he certainly was surprised that at a meeting called to consider details and expenses such important resolutions should have been hastily passed as were passed at the previous meeting.  Had he known that a resolution excluding the vicar from giving religious instruction in the schools was to be discussed he should have attended.

  Dr. Newham said that notice was given of the different questions which were considered, but on correction from the meeting, he found himself to have been in error.

  The meeting then resolved to grant the use of the room in response to the applications of the Rev. A. M. Preston, Mr. J. L. French, and Mr. Bailey.

  Mr. W. H. French considered that the question which at present had been brought before the managers, it was not in their province to consider.  Their duty was to conduct the schools in the manner most likely to attract the children in large numbers, and to give them the best and most suitable education.  The Infant School had only just been started, and perhaps the managers need not be surprised that only 16 children attended while 70 still went to the Old School, but in the Girls’ School, while 54 names stood on the list, the average attendance had been 36, on that day it had only been 26; 17 girls were absent without leave and 11 with.  This was not satisfactory, and a cause should be found for such a state of things, and a remedy provided.  Some elder girls had just been removed by their parents from the school because the girls had been sent up to be educated with the boys and by the master during the absence of the mistress.  He considered that the managers ought to have been consulted on this point, before so improper a step was taken.

  Dr. Newham said it was only for a day or two.  The mistress left on Thursday on account of her father’s sudden illness, and returned on Saturday.  It was impossible to consult the managers, the time being insufficient.

  Mr. W. H. French found the secretary to be in error.  On Monday the mistress gave notice that she must go home, and she only returned that day (Monday).

  Dr. Newham certainly had not thought the time so long, but he considered Mr. French’s remark amounted to a vote of censure on him, and he thought that they should take that form.

  Mr. W. H. French wished for nothing of the sort, but he considered it high time that the managers returned to their legitimate duty of increasing the efficiency of the schools.

  As no further business could be done that evening on account of the passing of Mr. S. Jones’s proposition, Mr. R. W. Jones gave notice that at the next meeting he should bring forward Mr. Preston’s application to give a Scripture lesson once a week to the boys of the school, when he hoped the committee would recall the determination to forbid the Vicar from instructing the children religiously.

  Mr. W. H. French gave notice of a motion “That this committee at once resume its sittings in the New Infant School.”

  There being no other notices of resolutions the meeting then came to a close. 

[report continues] The managers of the above schools met at the George Inn, on Friday, Jan. 30th, when Mr. Neale was voted to the chair.  The other members present were Messrs. R. W. Jones, T. P. Willis, W. George, S. Jones, Dr. Newham, J. Grace, W. H. French.- Mr. R. W. Jones proposed and Mr. W. H. French seconded, “That the offer of Mr. Preston to give a Scripture lesson to the boys be accepted.”- Carried.

  Mr. W. H. French proposed, and Mr. S. Jones seconded, “That this committee at once resume its sittings at the New Infant School.”  He considered it unseemly that the School board of Winslow should find it necessary to adjourn to a publichouse, and should be glad to see the meetings held at the proper place, the schoolroom.

  Mr. S. Jones seconded the proposition, and thought it unbusiness-like and contrary to the usual plan, for a board to meet at a publichouse, with a schoolroom so near.

  Mr. Neale, as chairman, said that all who came to his house were welcome, and those who chose to stop away were welcome to do so.

  On a show of hands, Messrs. R. W. Jones, W. H. French, and S. Jones supported the proposition, and Mr. Willis, Dr. Newham, Mr. Grace, and Mr. George opposed it.  So the next meeting was fixed for the Bell, and Dr. Newham, taking up Mr. French’s question, of how to increase the efficiency of attendance at the school, suggested that a circular be printed, reminding parents of the impending Agricultural Labour Bill, and calling for the co-operation of all classes in extending the usefulness of the schools.

  Mr. French was glad when he opened this question at the last meeting, to hear Mr. Neale offer a parish document, from which might be obtained the actual number of children in the place.

  Mr. Neal said that the list was in charge of the proper official, who, he doubted not, would be able to give an approximate account of the ages of the different families.

  After a few more words the circular was decided on, and the meeting came to an end.

Bicester Herald, 27 Feb


Met on Friday, February 13, at the Bell Hotel, Winslow.  There were present:- Messrs. T. P. Willis, R. W. Jones, W. Neal, J. Grace, W. H. French, Silvanus Jones, W. George, and Dr. Newham.  Mr. W. Neal was appointed Chairman.

  The first business was the signing of agreements between the managers and the master and mistress, who both complained of a report which appeared in the papers to the effect that they had acted improperly in educating boys and girls together.  They considered they had acted in one form, though it was regretted that three valuable scholars had been lost through this action.

  Mr. W. H. French said- The words were mine.  I (not the paper) thought the step an improper one, and I am still of the same opinion.  I am not considering the legal position of the case ; but I consider that the parents showed a high and proper sense of decency in removing elder girls from such a position.  In saying this I make no implication on the master or mistress.

  Mr. Neal said- Mr. W. H. French proposes “That this committee at once resumes its sitting at the New Infant School.”  I think this notice of motion should be ignored.  The thing has so recently been settled that I consider it an act of great disrespect for Mr. French to bring it forward.

  Mr. W. H. French- I shall continue to bring it forward until I have induced a majority of the Board to consent to meet at the proper place, or till I am stopped by an express resolution of the committee.

  Mr. S. Jones- The notice is placed in due form, and I think, as Mr. French can be stopped by a resolution, he should be heard.

  Mr. Neal- But I want to stop him now.

  The meeting resolved that the resolution should be considered.

  Mr. W. H. French- I think we ought to give such a proof of earnestness as is involved in forgoing the comfort of a snug room for the sake of good taste and propriety.  The education question has been raised by legislation to the rank of an imperial one, and is not a thing to be contemptuously thrust aside for discussion in the nearest public-house.  That mode of dealing with the subject may have benefit for the middle of the last century, but not for this.  At the same time, I am not prepared to accept Mr. Neal’s invitation to stay away from these meetings, as given at last meeting.

  Mr. Neal- I gave no such invite.  I said all were welcome to use my room for this purpose.  Those who came to my house were welcome, and those who stayed away were equally welcome to do so.

  Mr. French- I am sorry to have misunderstood Mr. Neal’s words.

  Mr. Neal- You certainly did.  If you, gentlemen, think it best, I will put the resolution to the meeting.

  It was then proposed by Mr. W. H. French, and seconded by Mr. R. W. Jones. “That the committee at once resume its sittings in the New Infant Schools.”  Messrs. W. Jones, S. Jones, and W. H. French were in favour of using the school-room, and Messrs. Grace, Willis, and George, and Dr. Newham against.  The proposition was, consequently, lost.

  It was proposed by Mr. W. H. French, and seconded by Dr. Newham, “That two members of the committee act as visitors of the schools for each month, and that the visits be paid at any time, either morning or afternoon, as may be convenient to the visitors.”  The proposition was carried.

  The following arrangement for the coming four months received the sanctions of the committee, and was ordered to be posted up in the schools:- March- Dr. Newham, Mr. W. Neal; April- Mr. R. W. Jones, Mr. W. H. French; May- Mr. J. Grace, Mr. Silvanus Jones; June- Mr. T. P. Willis, Mr. W. George.

  Mr. Neal- I now propose “That the secretary send to the local papers the official minutes of these meetings,”” and I do so because of an isolated report which I find in a newspaper, which must have been sent by a member of the committee of so partial a character that, while I acquit the gentleman whose name appears most prominently thererin of any intention of self-glorification, I attribute it to the spleen of a disappointed partisan.

  Mr. S. jones- Your remarks seem so pointed, Mr. Neal, that I think you must have an inkling of who sent the report.

  Mr. Neal-  I have not the least idea.

  Mr. French- I shall propose as an amendment, “That reporters be invited to attend.”

Mr. Neal- You cannot do it.  You can only give notice of such an amendment.

  Dr. Newham- I think that some latitude should be given to the secretary as to which minutes should be sent.

  Mr. W. H. French- I think all previous minutes should be sent, to give a correct idea of their connexion.

  It was proposed by Mr. W. Neal, and seconded by Mr. W. George, “That the official minutes of each meeting of the committee be sent by the secretary to the local papers.”  After some discussion, Mr. Neal’s proposition to publish only future minutes was carried by a majority.

  The committee have issued the following address
“To the inhabitants of the Parish of Winslow:-
  “The committee of the above schools beg to inform the inhabitants, that schools for the education of boys, girls, and infants are now open under the Elementary Education Act, and with duly certified teachers.
  “The committee are sorry to find that the numbers in attendance at the schools are much below what they ought to be; and they appeal to every ratepayer to use his influence in persuading parents to give a good education to their children.
  “Employers of labour are much interested in this matter under the Agricultural Children’s Act, which comes into operation in January 1875.  By this Act it is ordered that no child whatever to be employed upon the land under the age of eight years.  Between the ages of eight and ten, the child must have registered 250 attendances at school during the year 1874 and 150 attendances if between the ages of ten and twelve.  The committee, therefore, trust that occupiers of land will assist them in procuring these attendances.
  “It is possible that, unless voluntary education is properly carried out, compulsory attendance at school will be adopted by Government, and, to avoid this, the committee hope that parents will hasten to take advantage of the school provided.
  “In the case where persons are in the receipt of permanent parish relief the fees of the children are paid by the Board of Guardians; but if such children do not attend properly at school, the guardians have power to suspend the relief of the parents.
“Finally- The committee wish it to be understood that they will not only provided a good education, but are unanimous in declaring that this educations shall be based on the solemn truths of the Bible.
“Winslow, February, 1874.”

Bicester Herald, 3 April

  WINSLOW UNITED SCHOOLS.- A meeting of the committee of these schools was held on Friday, March 20, when the following gentlemen were present- Messrs. T. P. Willis, Neal, Grace, R. W. Jones, W. H. French, S. Jones, George and Dr. Newham; Mr Neal in the chair.  The following is the only business allowed to come before the public: It was proposed by Mr. Grace, seconded by Mr. R. W. Jones, and agreed to without a division, “That when any resolution has been rejected by this committee, it shall not again be brought forward for six months.”  It was proposed by Mr. W. H. French “That the Rev. A. M. Preston take the place on this committee vacated by Mr. James King,” but the suggestion found no seconder, and after discussion, it was decided that the committee have no legal power to fill up vacancies in their body.  The motion, by Mr. W. H. French, “That reporters of the Press be allowed to attend the meetings,” not meeting with the views of any other member, was not seconded.  The report of the visitor’s which gave a favourable account of the working of the schools, was read, and when a considerable amount of routine business had been transacted, the meeting closed.  It appears from the above scanty report, furnished by the hon. sec, that Mr. French is the only member of the committee who is willing for a full report of the meetings of that body to come before the inhabitants of Winslow and the public.  It is a bad sign when the transactors of public business wish to do it privately.

Buckingham Advertiser, 21 Nov


  The Committee have received the following reports from Her Majesty’s Inspector who visited the schools for the purpose of examination on the 9th July last.

  Great difficulty has been experienced in obtaining a mistress for the girls’ school, which has, consequently, been closed for three months; but the Committee have now secured the services of Miss Vipond, a highly qualified mistress, who will re-open the school in about a fortnight:-

  Boys’ school- “This school continues to be well disciplined and well taught, and the results of the examination are creditable throughout, the paper work especially neat, and (as a rule) accurate.”

  Girls’ school- “This school continues in a fair state of efficiency.  The first standard is somewhat week, but this may be accounted for by the want of a good infant school up to this time.  The arithmetic has apparently improved.”

  Infants’ school- “Miss Halstead has only been in charge of this newly-opened school since January.  It promises to do well under her management.”  

Buckingham Advertiser, 23 Jan 1875


  Messrs. Willis and Willis’ account as treasurers for one year from the 1st January 1874, to the 31st December 1874.  Submitted to, and passed by general committee January 7th, 1875.

  Receipts- Voluntary subscription for year 1874, £91 12s. 6d.; Government grant to July, 1874, for the three schools, £68 16s; pence from children- girls, £8 7s. 9d.; ditto infants, £8 19s. 6½d.; ditto, boys, £23 4s. 8d.; home lesson books, ditto, 17s.8d.; from trustees of land at Kimble towards master’s salary, 1874, £42; total, £243 17s. 7½d.

  Expenditure – Boys’ school – Master’s salary year ending 1874, £70; cleaning, washing, registers, slates, books, ink, &c. as per book £3 9s. 4d.; repairs of school, £7 13s. 6d. half of the Government grant to master, £18 18s. Girls’ school – Mistress’s salary to July 1874, £29 12s. 3½d.; ditto 1st December to 31st December, 1874, £5 16s. 8d.; half Government grant to mistress, £10 11s.; cleaning, washing, &c., £1 12s. 9d.  Infant school – Salary of mistress, £60; cleaning, washing, &c., £4 12s. 11½d.; new school apparatus, books &c., £12 12s. 1d.  United schools – Printing £4 5s. 11d.; gas fitting, £2 2s. 6d.; Coals, £5 1s. 8d.; collector’s commission, £3; secretary for sundries as per book, £3 6s. 1d.; balance in treasurer’s hands £1 2s. 10½d.; total £243 17s. 7½d.

  Outstanding liabilities – United schools – Total, £23 0s. 8d.

  At the annual meeting of the general Committee held January 7th, 1875, the sub-committee, treasurers, and secretary were unanimously re-elected.  Mr. Henry Monk was appointed to the sub-committee in place of a member who has retired.

  Last year it was estimated by the honorary secretary that in order to carry on the schools upon the voluntary principle, subscriptions to the amount of £120 would be required.  It will be seen by the above balance sheet that this sum has not been realised.  Through the kindness of the treasurers, the committee are still able to keep the schools open, and they appeal for more help, or they will be compelled to relinquish their efforts.  In such case, a very heavy burden will fall upon the ratepayers, a burden much in excess of the sum at present asked for. –

William Neal, chairman.

Buckingham Advertiser, 26 Aug 1876

  These schools continue their useful work with increased success; giving satisfaction to the committee who superintends them, to the subscribers who support them, and to the parents of the children educated in them.  The following reports have been recently received, and will, no doubt, be read with much interest.
  The committee have much reason to be proud of their work.  The order and discipline in the schools are all that could be desired, and the annual grants to the schools have increased from £7 5s. 2d. in 1871, to £89 in the present year.
  Boys’ School-National.- The school is progressing favourably.  The examination in elementary subjects has produced, upon the whole, good results, and the condition of the School is quite satisfactory.
  Girls’ School-Parochial.- This School is in good order as far as it goes.  There are very few names on the books, but those who are in attendance are well looked after.  The reading of the lower standards, and the arithmetic of the upper standards, are the two weak points.  The sewing is excellent.
  Infants’ School-Parochial.- This is a very efficient little infant school.  The first class are thoroughly drilled in the rudiments of the elementary subjects, and seem cheerful and well-cared for.
  Boys’ School.- This school is in a satisfactory state throughout; the answering of the boys is bright and intelligent, and their knowledge is good. – Prize, Frederick Lomas; commended, Roads and Kennings.
  Girls’ School.- The religious knowledge is very fair, some of the older girls answering with intelligence.  It would be advisable for them to learn more by heart.- Prize, Georgina Roads; commended, Fanny White, and Martha King.
  Infant School.- This school is in a satisfactory state; the children know much by heart, and for their age, the religious knowledge is good.- Signed: Edward M. Holmes, Local Diocesan Inspector.

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Copyright 21 October, 2020