Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X
Chapter XI
Chapter XII
Chapter XIII

Return to History

FOR the next stage of the proceedings we are chiefly dependent on the minutes of Durham Quarterly Meeting. Their contents may be abstracted as follows:-

Friends' School 1942A conference was held at Darlington at the close of the Quarterly Meeting in 10th month, 1840, at which George Dixon reported the result of his visits to Rawden, Penketh, and Brookfield Schools. The following paper, setting forth the objects aimed at by the advocates of the new school, was adopted by the conference, and ordered to be circulated throughout the Quarterly Meeting. Isaac Sharp was appointed Secretary, and the Friends whose names are given below were appointed a Committee to collect information bearing on the subject.

“The education of children not members but having claims upon the care of our Society is a subject which has long engaged the lively interest of many Friends, and been recently recommended to further attention by the Yearly Meeting. Many and almost insuperable difficulties present, in the prosecution of this object, so long as the children remain under the parental roof, and exposed to the association which too frequently contaminates this class and hence the value of establishments in which they can be cared for, in all respects, upon easy terms. Successful efforts have been made at RAWDEN, PENKETH, and BROOKFIELD, near Lisburn, Ireland, but there yet remains a considerable number, especially in the Quarterly Meetings of DURHAM, CUMBERLAND, and NORTHUMBERLAND, and WESTMORELAND, who cannot avail themselves of the schools now in existence, several of which are quite full. Under these circumstances, the inquiry arises as to how far there is that lively sense of duty which would warrant the commencement of an entirely new institution of this description. It may here be suitable again to advert to the moving causes for such an undertaking. Our attention is periodically turned to children who are in membership, by the answering of our queries, and we trust they do not generally suffer for want of school learning; but there are others equally needing our care, who, although both they and their parents may generally attend our meetings, have, it is to be feared, received but very partial assistance. Consistently with the rules of our Society, a line of separation is drawn between the two classes, which unintentionally becomes broader than christian charity seems to mark out; that spirit which would do good to all, especially points to those who, though not altogether of our household, attach themselves to us rather than to any other christian body, and pass for Friends, and to these we may render efficient aid, without that infringement of our religious views which sometimes follows our closely uniting in many of the praiseworthy exertions of philanthropic individuals in the present day; whilst there arises the pleasing hope, that from amongst those so educated in our christian principles, not a few might be raised up, under the Divine blessing, to adorn our profession. Some who have been trained in the schools already alluded to have conducted themselves with much propriety, and given evidence that the labour bestowed has not been in vain. The practice of admitting children into membership for the purpose of entitling them to education in our public schools has rarely answered.”

Having premised that properly conducted boarding schools best meet the various exigencies of the case, and trusting that Friends may concur in the sentiment, the subjoined observations are submitted in reference to following up the proposed plans:-

“We suggest that experience is proving the value of a considerable portion of time being devoted to agricultural pursuits; manual labour is adapted to the previous and prospective habits of those who would enter such a school, it promotes health and materially decreases expenditure, and as those of this class are not unfrequently less able to educate their children than our members, a very close attention to frugality in every branch of expenditure, as well as liberal pecuniary assistance on the part of Friends, seems indispensable; otherwise the cost of admission will be beyond their reach. It does not appear eligible that the institution should be placed where the inmates alone would form the meeting, or even where very few Friends reside, if this can be avoided. On the score of needful assistance and example we should prefer a location near a more considerable number of our Society. The land ought to be such as would fairly repay the labour bestowed upon it, and in a situation easy of access, especially within a moderate distance of public conveyances.

“Cases are not wanting in which it has been found prudent to commence by renting premises, the furnishing and stocking of a house and farm not requiring large funds; to carry on the establishment with the greatest economy perhaps forty to sixty children would be desirable; but the experiment might be made upon premises accommodating twenty-five, and we hope a suitable superintendent might be obtained.

“Taking into review the attention required from Friends of Yorkshire, Lancashire, and Cumberland to the schools within those Quarterly Meetings respectively, we suppose there may be no district more suitable for the establishment of an 'Agricultural School for the North of England' than the County of Durham, and having thus introduced the subject to our friends, we invite their close consideration and sentiments; and should sufficient encouragement arise, a time and place for further conference will be fixed in order that the co-operation of the Quarterly Meeting may be solicited, and ulterior measures considered.”

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