The first Sunday-school in Newcastle was formed for boys and girls in 1784, by
the Rev. W, Turner, assisted by some of the young members of Hanover Square
Chapel. It has ever since been steadily supported. There is a master for the boys,
and a mistress for the girls. On October 1, 1785, a Sunday-school was established
in St. John's parish for 40 boys. In 1796, it was given up, but resumed December 17, 1817, through the zealous exertions of the Rev. C. Benson. (fn. 1) It is
supported by an annual subscription of 50 to £60, and an annual sermon, when a
liberal collection is usually made. In 1824, a school-house was built, on church-land
in Rosemary Lane, containing two large rooms, the one for boys and the other for
girls. It cost above £500. (fn. 2) The master is assisted by several young men, and the
mistress is often aided by young ladies. In 1785, some active and benevolent individuals organized a Sunday-school for boys and girls in All Saints' parish, which continues to flourish. At first, both sexes assembled and were taught in a large room of
the parish work-house. The girls, who are under two mistresses, now meet in the
Surgeons' Hall; and the boys, under the superintendence of two masters, in the
former place. St. Andrew's Sunday-school for girls, which was established in 1816,
is held in the Joiners' Hall, High Friar Street. The Society for the Encouragement
of Parochial Schools gave £10 towards its support in 1817, and also grants two guineas annually to the mistress. The school for boys in this parish was opened in
1819: they are taught by a hired master, in the Charity-girls' school-room. There is
no established Sunday-school in St. Nicholas' parish; but as many children as can be
accommodated assemble with the free scholars in the old school-rooms in the Manor
Chare, the other children being requested to attend the Church Sunday-schools in
their respective parishes.
The Wesleyan Methodists, at the suggestion of the Rev. Charles Atmore, then
superintendent preacher in the Newcastle circuit, opened a Sunday-school in the
Orphan House, early in the year 1790; and which has been continued with unrivalled zeal and success. (fn. 3) On the day it was first opened, seventy persons volunteered as
teachers, and one thousand and twelve children were entered as scholars. Taking
seven hundred to be the average number that has attended this school since its commencement, and calculating that each child remains only one year at school, then
upwards of twenty-five thousand children, betweeu the ages of six and fourteen years,
will have had the benefit of at least one year's education and religious instruction.
A second Wesleyan Sunday-school was established in Sandgate in 1812; but which
was, in 1814, removed to its present situation in the Carpenters' Tower. Another
Wesleyan Sunday-school was opened in 1817, in Westgate Street, which was subsequently removed to the Nuns-gate; but in consequence of the formation of many
similar institutions in the town, the number attending decreased, and, in 1820, it was
incorporated with the Orphan House school.
In 1811, the Methodists of the New Connexion opened the Bethel Sunday-school.
The Scotch Presbyterians, and other Dissenting bodies, soon after began to perceive the
necessity of forming similar religious nurseries. Accordingly, the Secession congregation of Sallyport established a Sunday-school in 1817, which example was followed
by their brethren of the Close meeting-house in 1818. Since that time, the number
of Sunday-schools in this town has rapidly increased. It ought, however, to be noticed, that the Baptist Sunday-school in the Tuthill Stairs commenced in May, 1807,
and was therefore one of the first formed by the Dissenters in Newcastle.
The Newcastle Sunday-school Union.
This society was instituted in 1815, for the purpose of more generally establishing
and encouraging Sunday-schools for the religious instruction of poor children. The
Union sell to Sunday-schools Bibles, Testaments, Catechisms, Hymn Books, School
Books, and other requisites; but schools connected with the Union have the privilege
of purchasing 10 per cent. below the price at which other schools are supplied. The
committee and officers of this institution have been peculiarly zealous and active.
In 1820, they canvassed the town and suburbs for scholars. They regularly visit the
schools, and make frequent journeys, at their own expense, through the counties of
Durham and Northumberland. Disapproving of the principle of Mr. Brougham's
Education Bill, as being unjust and oppressive to the Dissenting part of the community, the committee, in 1823, completed the survey of Newcastle and Gateshead, and
twelve of the most considerable parishes in the county of Northumberland, in order
to shew the inaccuracy of the returns made by the different parishes to the Education
Committee in 1818, and that the deficiency of the means of education did not exist
to the extent alleged.
The 17 parishes surveyed contained 113,394 souls; of which 16,885, or 6 7/10 of the
population, were receiving instruction in day-schools. There were found, besides,
10,645 children in Sunday-schools; about one-third, or 3548 of whom, did not attend
day-schools, which shews that 1 in 5½ are actually under instruction. Hence it follows, that, at that period, only 1 child in 3½, above 5 and not exceeding 15 years of
age, were destitute of instruction. Even this deficiency is not to be attributed so
much to the want of the means of instruction, as to the early age at which children
are sent into the coal-mines, and to the ignorance and depravity of the parents.
These calculations shew that the counties of Newcastle and Northumberland are
amongst the best educated districts in the kingdom.
The following is a statement of the parochial returns of children in day-schools and
Sunday-schools in Newcastle and Gateshead, made to parliament, compared with
those made to the Sunday-school Union:—
|St. Nicholas.||All Saints'.||St. Andrew's.||St. John's.||Gateshead.||Totals.|
|Parochial Returns made to Parliament||Population in 1821||5,105||20,877||8,115||9,410||11,767||55,274|
|No. of Children in Day-schools||74||628||87||966||350||2,105|
|No. of Children in Sunday-schools||494||300||794|
|Returns made to the Union||No. of Children in Day-schools||513||3,270||870||1,406||1,558||7,617|
|No. of Children in Sunday-schools||411||1,253||1,226||898||1,257||5,045|
|Numbers short returned to Parliament||Day-schools||439||2,642||783||440||1,208||5,512|
|Sunday-schools in Connexion with the Newcastle
upon Tyne Sunday-school Union. (fn. 4) 1823. ||Sunday-schools not in Connexion with the Newcastle
upon Tyne Sunday-school Union.|
|Orphan House||497||50||All Saints' (boys and girls)||320|
|Carpenters' Tower||277||28||St. Andrew's (ditto)||250|
|Bethel||88||14||St. John's, with Benwell (ditto)||260|
|High Bridge||337||31||St. Mary's, Gateshead (ditto)||60|
|Sallyport||115||12||St. Edmund's (ditto)||160|
|Close||83||13||Hanover Square (ditto)||75|
|Clavering Place||164||20||Catholic Chapel (ditto)||90|
|Zion Chapel||91||10||Tuthill Stairs (ditto)||190|
|Postern Independent||159||29||Independent Methodists (ditto)||145|
[The returns for these schools are taken partly from
the general survey, and partly from information
subsequently obtained. The county townships
are not included.
Gateshead, although in the county of Durham, could not be omitted in this statement without rendering the returns for Newcastle incorrect. It ought to be observed,
that St. Nicholas' enlarged Charity-school, the Carpenters' Tower day-school, and the
Union day-school, containing in all about 700 scholars, were formed after the paro
chial returns were made; but, on the other hand, the committee of the Sundayschool Union found, in surveying Newcastle and Gateshead, that from 15 to 20
day-schools, principally of the lowest order, had gone down. It is also necessary to
remark, that the townships of Byker, Jesmond, Fenham, Westgate, Elswick, Benwell, and Gateshead Fell, are included in the above enumeration.
Exclusive of the royal, corporate, and charitable foundations described in the preceding pages, there are, in Newcastle and Gateshead, as near as can be calculated,
one hundred and forty-five DAY-SCHOOLS, of which fifty-five are kept by masters, and
ninety by mistresses. In these schools, some of which are highly respectable academies, nearly 5000 scholars are taught. The committee of the Sunday-school Union,
in 1823, had the names, residence, &c. of above two hundred masters and mistresses
(including schools of every description) in this town and Gateshead upon their books,
and which are now before the writer; but the above statement is at the present time
very nearly correct.
The Ladies' Boarding-schools are, in general, well attended, and ably conducted.
The facility of procuring good masters, in every branch of polite education, renders
Newcastle a very proper place for such seminaries. Miss Kemp, Miss Kitteridge,
Mrs, Ogilvie, Mrs. Gibsone, and Miss Robinson, have respectable establishments.
Scarcely any masters, excepting Mr. John Bruce, whose academy is in Percy Street,
take boarders. On the whole, perhaps, there is not a town in England, considering
the population, where the means of obtaining a good education are better or more