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

AS my wife's health did not improve, she resigned her position as teacher of the girls, and Eliza Gowland was appointed as governess to take her place.

She entered upon her duties the 14th of 5th mo., 1841; although exempt from all her duties my wife was ever ready to extend a helping hand when it was required.

Her health not improving, at a committee meeting held 4th mo., 12th, 1842 she resigned her situation as Female Superintendent, which is recorded in the following minute: “Alice Dixon, whose health has been delicate for some time past, having tendered her resignation as Female Superintendent it is agreed to accept the same, subject to such arrangements as may be agreed to by John Pease and Isaac Sharp in conjunction with the Women's Committee.”

There were two old cottages across the boys’ play ground which had been weavers’ shops; these Philip Heselton had fitted up for a residence for a Joseph Devey and his wife, who had been well to do, but were in very reduced circumstances. They had removed to another cottage on the green, and my wife was allowed to occupy this cottage at once, as she wanted ore repose than she could have in the institution.

After a short interval, Martha Burgess, of Leicester, was appointed to succeed my wife as housekeeper, and she held that office till 1816, when she married John Fletcher, of Little Ayton.

Martha Burgess was a very executive person, but the situation of house-keeper in those early days of the institution was no sinecure. In the report for 1843 it is stated “As much time has been devoted to field labour by the boys as was contemplated; whilst by the training of the girls in domestic employment, in almost every department, the house-keeper, children and one servant have been found competent to meet the household duties of the family, a little help for washing, &c., excepted.” The employment of the boys in out-door work in 1844 exceeded the average, and that of the girls was short. The report states that the average labour per day in the whole school during the year was, for boys four hours, and for girls five hours. The scholars now began to leave the institution; the report states: “For nearly the whole of the fifteen children who have left the institution, situations have been provided, and the reports received of the diligence and good order of nearly the whole of these have been such as to encourage the hope of their future welfare.”

The following minute of the 8th month, 25th, 1846, is expressive of an appreciation of her services. “On the suggestion of the Friends of the women’s committee, it is agreed that a dinner he provided on these premises for Martha Burgess and her friends on the day of her marriage, in recognition of her valuable services in this institution. It is further agreed that the children he allowed, on that day, such liberty from their school and other duties as the superintendent may approve, and that for them a suitable supply of coffee and cake be provided.”

The school also suffered a further loss of officers this year by the resignation of the governess, Eliza Gowland.

Both scholars and teachers were sorry to part with Eliza Gowland. She was kind and affable and ready to help us to name the flowers growing in the district. We attribute to her the introduction of the study of botany into the school. The following reminiscences of her sojourn at Ayton will be read with interest by her old pupils:-

“I do not assume that my reminiscences of Ayton school will be of much interest to the general reader of the book purposed to be published as a memento of the celebration of its jubilee, but I will endeavour to write out a few left in my mind after the lapse of about forty-five years.”

“In the first place, before saying anything about the school itself, I should like to refer to the locality in which it is situated. At that time, the nearest railway station was at Middlesbrough. There were no quarrying or mining operations carried on in the district. A solitary sandstone quarry might exist here and there, but not affecting the general appearance of the country, which was picturesque and beautiful. The view from the top of Liverick, the slope of this ridge, on the side facing Ayton, being well wooded, was at all seasons delightful, and here it seemed

”That smiling spring its earliest visit paid,
And parting summer’s bloom delayed.”

Many somewhat rare plants were found in the neighbourhood of Ayton, and as for mosses and lichens, &c., in abundance and variety few localities could surpass it.

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