Education of poor girls in north west England c1780 to 1860: A study of Warrington and Cheshire

Ireland, Joyce Valerie (2005) Education of poor girls in north west England c1780 to 1860: A study of Warrington and Cheshire. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This study is an attempt to discover what provision there was in North West England in the early nineteenth century for the education of poor girls, using a comparative study of two towns, Warrington and Chester. The existing literature reviewed is quite extensive on the education of the poor generally but there is little that refers specifically to girls. Some of it
was useful as background and provided a national framework. In order to describe the context for the study a brief account of early provision for the poor is included. A number of the schools existing in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries continued into the nineteenth and occasionally even into the twentieth centuries and their records became the source material for this study. The eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century were marked by fluctuating fortunes in education, and there was a flurry of activity to revive the schools in both towns in the early nineteenth century. The local archives in the Chester/Cheshire Record Office contain minute books, account books and visitors' books for the Chester Blue Girls' school, Sunday and Working schools, the latter consolidated into one girls' school in 1816, all covering much of the nineteenth century. Warrington Library archives contain similar records on the Warrington Blue Coat School, the Warrington National and Sunday schools, the Society of Friends' school at Peniceth, Warrington, and the British and Foreign school. An important and original find were the records kept by many women who had managed girls' schools in every aspect from selecting and employing teachers, fund-raising, curriculum, welfare, discipline, school times and holidays and keeping detailed accounts. The final conclusions were that while provision for educating poor girls was almost always included at the outset, their education could be dispensed with when financial difficulties arose and their curriculum was usually much less ambitious than that for the boys. This study has gone some way to remedy the neglect of the history of educating poor girls that was found in most of the literature.

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