Dundalk Grammar School

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  • County Louth Archaeological and History Society

    Dundalk Grammar SchoolAuthor(s): Michael QuaneSource: Journal of the County Louth Archaeological Society, Vol. 16, No. 2 (1966), pp. 91-102Published by: County Louth Archaeological and History SocietyStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27729125 .Accessed: 14/06/2014 02:17

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  • Bunbaife Grammar ?s>d)uol

    By Dr. Michael Quane

    In the year 1891 a visitor to Dundalk noted that "

    at the entrance to the town there is a

    Charity School, as appears by the following inscription in golden letters over the door1: This School was founded at the sole expence of the Honourable Anne Hamilton for the education of

    Twenty Boys and Twenty Girls, 1726. And improved into a Charity Working School 1738. Train up a child in his youth the way he should go in, and when he is old he will not depart therefrom.

    The date, 1726, would, however, appear to be incorrect, as in a pamphlet published in 1721 for

    J. Hyde, Bookseller, Dame Street, Dublin, there is a notice of two Charity Schools in County Louth?one in Drogheda (supported by local subscriptions and a yearly sermon) and one in Dundalk with regard to which one reads

    Dundalk. A Charity School erected about 1716 of twenty Children, Clothed, Taught and to be put out to

    Services; supported by the Honourable Mrs Hamilton of Dundalk.2

    These Charity Schools were set up in Ireland by the wealthy minority in imitation of hundreds of similar schools set up in England from 1698

    " by persons eminent for their Learning and Piety . . .

    wherein the Children of the Poor might be decently clothed, and usefully educated, being taught to read, write and cast accompts, and instructed in the Knowledge and Practice of the Christian

    Religion, as professed and taught by the Established Church, and from whence they might be

    apprenticed to useful trades and callings."3 When the movement spread to Ireland, Protestants here

    " Considering also that by the laws

    of this Realm, no Papist can teach School, and a succession of the Romish clergy is likewise

    prohibited, the children of Papists must be abandoned to the grossest ignorance of Christian and moral Duties, unless some care be taken to breed them up in the knowledge of them ; and forasmuch as mild and gentle methods are in their own nature most effectual for the Propagation of Religion : it has been judged a farther reason for erecting Charity Schools in this Kingdom, wherein the

    Children of the Popish Natives, being Instructed, Clothed and taken Care of, along with our own, may be so won by our affentionate endeavours, that the whole Nation may become Protestant and

    English, and all such Rebellions as have heretofore arisen from the Difference between us in

    Religion, Language and Interest, for the future be prevented/'4 The Charity School movement in Ireland

    " obtained only in a place of two till the year 1710,"

    but in 1716, when Mrs. Hamilton set up her school in Dundalk, there were about thirty schools.

    By 1720 the number of schools was about one hundred and sixty, with more than three thousand children in attendance. Children were taken in between the ages of eight and twelve, and subse

    quently bound as apprentices to trades or services with masters who were bound to "

    cause his said apprentices to attend the Divine Service of the Established Church on every Lord's Day at least in the Church of the Parish where he shall dwell, without permitting him to be present at

    any other place of worship whatsoever."

    Lady Ann Hamilton, mother of James Hamilton, Viscount Limerick, had purchased in 1716 Lord BeUew's property in Dundalk. She later made further purchases of various premises in the

    town, and in 1724 she conveyed all her Dundalk property to her son, Viscount Limerick, declaring that she had bought it in trust for him. Before her death, Mrs. Hamilton nominated three trustees to continue her Charity School. These were her son (Viscount Limerick), the Protestant Primate and Thomas Fortescue. The Charity School movement was not, however, producing the results

    i. Report for the year i8gi on the Fund for the Preservation of the Memorials of the Dead, ed. by Col. P. D.

    Vigors, 1893, p. 448. 2. Methods of Erecting, Supporting and Governing Charity Schools, 3rd edn. Dublin, 1721.

    3. ibid., p. 3.

    4. ibid., p. 3.


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    expected of it; the main reason being that the Catholic parents declined to send their children to these schools. Another scheme then emerged which w7as to be known as the Charter School

    system. Under this scheme a new set of charity schools were to be set up on a nation-wide basis,

    and the children in these schools were to be all Catholics. On 17 April, 1730 the Protestant

    Primate, the Lord Chancellor, the Archbishops, Noblemen, Bishops, Judges, Gentry and Clergy of his Kingdom of Ireland represented to George II by petition

    That in many parts of our said Kingdom there are great tracts of mountainy and coarse land, of ten, twenty and thirty miles in length, and considerable breadth, almost entirely inhabited by Papists, and that in most

    parts of the same and more especially in the Provinces of Leinster, Munster and Connaught, the Papists far exceed the Protestants of all denominations in number. That the generality of the Popish Natives

    appear to have little sense or knowledge of Religion, but what they implicitly take from their Clergy, to whose guidance in such matters, they seem wholly to give themselves up, and thereby are kept, not only in

    gross ignorance, but also in great disaffection to our person and government, scarce any of them appearing to have been willing to abjure the Pretender to our Throne. So that if some effectual method be no tmade use of to instruct these great numbers of people in the principles of true religion and loyallty, there is little

    prospect but that Superstition and Idolatry and Disaffection to us and Our Royal Posterity will, from Generation to Generation, be propagated amongst them.

    That amongst the ways proper to be taken for converting and civilising of the said deluded persons, and bringing them (through the blessing of God) in time to be good Christians and faithful Subjects, one of the most necessary, and without which, all others are likely to prove ineffectual, has always been thought to

    be the erecting and establishing a sufficient number of English Protestant Schools, wherein the Children of the Irish natives may be instructed in the English tongue, and the fundamental principles of True


    In this way the infamous Society for the Promotion of Protestant Working Schools in Ireland came into existence. The main purpose of this project was to increase the Protestant population by

    " rescuing the children of the poor natives from that ignorance, superstition and idolatry, to

    which they were devoted from their infancy ; and to train them up in the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, which alone are able to make them wise to salvation ; and in the pure Protestant faith and worship." The Society so founded by the Charter of 24 October, 1733 founded a Correspond ing Society in England, from which substantial financial aid was annually obtained because of such representations as

    Charity can never be carried higher than to rescue the Souls of Thousands of poor Children from the Dangers of Popish Superstition and Idolatry, and their Bodies from the miswries of Idleness and Beggary. This is not retailing Charity to Particulars, but diffusing it over a whole Nation ; it is a Charity that will make those who are at present a Nuisance and a Burden to their Country, to become a Treasure and a Blessing to it; that will make honest and industrious Men, of those who would have been brought up in Thievery and

    Rags, it is a Charity that wTill multip lyobedient and peacable Subjects to the King and render the Protest ants of Ireland safe in their Lives and Possessions. And it will for ever take away the chief Cause of those

    Disquietudes and Apprehensions, which, upon some former Conjunctures, have alarmed the Government and People of England, by reason of the neighbourhood of a formidable Body of Papists, devoted to the See of Rome, and ready to rebel at the Instigation of their Priests, or the secret Machinations of a foreign Enemy.2

    The first Charter School was erected at Castledermot in County Kildare in 1734, and in the years following schools were established all

    over the country. Some of these wrere based on, and exten

    sions of, existing Charity Schools. In 1738 Viscount Limerick and his fellow trustees approached the Incorporated Society with a proposal that they should make over the Charity School founded in Dundalk by Lady Ann Hamilton, with the lands of Killinchy, to the Society

    " that it may be a

    Charter Working School under their Conduct and Direction."3 The following notice of the taking over of the School was published by the Society :

    Dundalk in the County of Louth: A School-house having formerly been erected there, the Society have

    expended about ?114 to inlarge the building: It was opened in June last and twenty children admitted. Both boys and girls are instructed, and employed by the gentlemen who carry on the Cambrick Manu

    i. Preamble to Charter of 24 October, 1733 incorporating the Society for the promotion of English Protestant

    Working Schools in Ireland.

    2. Brief Review of the Rise and Progress of the Incorporated Society in Dublin from 6 Feb. 1733 to 6 Dec. 1744. Lond. 1745, p. 26.

    3. A Continuation of the Proceedings of the Incorporated Society from 24 March, 1737 to 25 March, 1738. Dublin, 1738, p. 14.

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    facture there ; in which they have made such a proficiency, that one girl particularly spins Thread of Sixty Hundred, which is finer than any they yet use in Cambrick?four hundred pieces of Cambrick have been

    already wrought by the Manufacturers.1

    The manufacture of cambric had then been started in Dundalk by the de Joncourt brothers, who had been encouraged by Archbishop Hugh Boulter, Viscount Limerick, the Earl of Kildare and others to introduce a colony of Huguenots from France to establish the industry there. The girls found ready employment in the new industry, and the Society decided to accommodate the boys in other schools and to confine admissions to Dundalk School to girls only. There was another reason for the intake of girls as it was the considered view of the Society that

    the Education of Girls in the Protestant Religion, as not less deserving their attention than that of the

    Boys, who by this means will, at the age of maturity be provided with Protestant Wives : The necessity of

    this is too evident from Experience in some Parts of the Kingdom, where we see many Popish families with English Names, descended from the Soldiers that came over to suppress the Rebellion of Forty-one. These obtaining Settlements in Places wiiere Protestant Women were not to be found, took Popish Wives ; in Consequence whereof, their Off-spring are Zealous Papists at this Day.2

    The connection of Dundalk Charter School with the local cambric industry is again referred to in a pamphlet issued by the Incorporated Society in 1745 :

    Dundalk, County of Louth. This School owes its Foundation and Encouragement to the late Honourable

    Mrs Ann Hamilton, who endowed it with the lands of Killinchy in the County of Down, let to responsible Tenants at ?35 2 4 half-penny per ann.

    It consists of twenty girls only, who under the care of a qualified Spinning-Mistress, are instructed in

    Spinning, for the Cambrick Manufacture in this Town, in which they are become great Proficients.3

    By 1749 the number of girls in the School had been increased to thirty, and by 1772 the number had been increased to forty?all the children being engaged in spinning. At about this time, however, there was a good deal of uneasiness concerning the conditions in the Charter Schools

    throughout Ireland. A Committee of the Dublin House of Commons was appointed in 1788 to

    inquire into the state of these schools. This Committee considered a report from John Howard, the philanthropist, who had visited Dundalk School on 21 July, 1787. It was as follows:

    Forty girls. The House clean, but the children seemed by their countenances to be scantily fed. Pantry

    empty. Allowance now z\d. a day. linen wanted; no towels; no table cloths; only one sheet on a bed.

    The Committee considered also a report from Sir Jeremiah Fitzpatrick, Inspector of Prisons, which read

    He states that he visited twenty-eight Charter Schools, in most of which he found the Children rather

    delicate, many of them afflicted with Itch, Scald, &c. and that the Athleticity so strongly marked in the

    Children of the Poor in this Kingdom, however shabby their Clothing, is not to be found in Charter Schools, which he attributes in a great Measure to the Nature of their Employment, the bad quality of their Food, to Confinement, and to the Effects of unwholesome Exhalations from filthy Bed-clothes and foetid Straw incloased in odiously besmeared Tickens. He says the Nature of their Labour injures the health of many

    who sit carding and spinning at the Linen Wheels; the Attitudes cripples their Limbs, whilst the constant

    discharge of Saliva to wet the Thread injures their Digestions ; and employed at the large Wheels, their Limbs

    being yet in the gristly State, they contract the Habit of turning in their Knees and Toes, and otherwise become distorted, which follow from the Positions into which they are thrown, which even in the state of

    Manhood speaks the...


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