Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 2, Issue 1, 1987
Bishop's School Roll: An Analysis
School rolls, registers and classification lists are becoming an increasingly important tool in the search for genealogical information. Individuals researching their family histories are turning to them, not only to expand the knowledge they already possess, but also as an important primary resource. In the absence of other information, these listings can provide any, or all, of the following information: date of birth, names of parents or guardians, an address, schools attended before and after that in which they are currently enrolled, admittance to boarding establishments and occupations at the end of education.
It was in such a genealogical context that the roll for Bishop's School was first examined. The names of the children of an ancestor were proving to be exceedingly enigmatic, as they had been registered only as males at the time of their births. It was with relief and the usual element of delighted surprise that three of them were found:
|No. 127||Stanton, Frank. Admitted 66/1 aged 10
Residence: Collingwood Street
Length of time at school: 5 years
|No. 174||Stanton, Arthur. Admitted 68/10 aged 8
Residence: Collingwood Street
|No. 280||Stanton, Albert. Admitted 75/4 aged 11
Father: Agent Wm Stanton
Examination of the printed rolls for Nelson College indicated that Frank continued his education there from 1868–71 and Arthur from 1872–75. A headstone at the Wakapuaka Cemetery and the Registrar's records completed the life of Albert William Richard, who died on January 1, 1878 from appendicitis.
In the course of indexing this roll (1), it became apparent that it was more than a genealogical resource. Not only was the history of the school closely inter-woven with the history of the Anglican Diocese of Nelson, but also with the educational and social development of Nelson City itself.
Bishop's School had its beginnings with Bishop Selwyn, in August 1842. He planned an educational system which involved the establishment of church schools in all the main settlements. There were to be two branches, elementary and grammar, the latter to prepare students for St John's College, Tamaki. There are no school rolls extant for this period (1852–54) for Nelson, but William Hammond, J. Home, John Greenwood and Joseph Foorde Wilson are named as foundation members of the grammar school. Thomas Miles, Henry Beit, Thomas Wilson, James Wilson, James Hooper, Frederick Howeard, George Howard were among the private pupils.
The actual numbers attending the school are hard to estimate. Bishop Selwyn, in 1845, mentions 80 (2), whereas the Examiner of the same year says about 60 boys and girls (3). Selwyn, three years later, in 1848, indicated that there were 100 pupils in attendance (4), but the headmaster, H. F. Butt, in a report for that year, writes that the "number of page 4children on the books is 100, the average attendance this year has been 50". (5).
In 1854 the school was closed. The major reasons appear to have been the lack of endowment, coupled with parents' unwillingness to pay fees for education. Politically too, there was confusion. Rev. Charles Reay, the clergyman responsible for the school had, both publicly and privately, mis-represented the Nelson School Society Schools (Matthew Campbell Schools) to the Bishop, especially in the matter of religious education. Bishop Selwyn personally examined pupils, at the time of his 1848 visit and found this to be completely untrue. Public approval of the schools following this (6) certainly added to their popularity and, conversely, reduced the importance of Bishop's School in the providing of education.
The Nelson Education Act, in 1856, took over the schools of the Nelson School Society, except for Sunday School purposes. Bishop's School was let to the Local Board of Education as a boys' and girls' school. 1859 saw the arrival of Edmund Hobhouse, consecrated first Bishop of Nelson and it was he, out of his own pocket, who saw to the reestablishment of Bishop's School. This included the restoration of the old brick building, a wooden extension and then, in 1863, the erection of a further private classroom. It is in 1860 that the extant school roll begins, and it is this roll which is the subject of this paper.
It is a paper which will point to areas in Nelson's social and educational history which should be further investigated. Comparative work on school rolls, especially that of Nelson College and the surrounding contributing schools, may have a marked bearing on, and change, some of the conclusions drawn here. An analysis of the geographical development of the city, through plans and rating rolls, would broaden the scope of the material which could be drawn into investigations of this kind in the future.
Four boys were enrolled in October 1860:
|No. 1||Reimenschneider, Frederick W. admitted 10.60 aged 10
Father: Missionary of the Reformed Church of Germany
Residence: Bridge Street and Taranaki
Refugee from Taranaki and returned to Otago
|No. 2||Brown, John admitted 10/60 aged 9
Father: Clergyman Church of England
Residence: Port and Taranaki
Refugee from Taranaki, returned to Taranaki
|No. 3||Newland, George admitted 10/60 aged 12
Residence: The Wood and Taranaki
Taranaki refugee who returned
|No. 4||Hale, Sam. John admitted 10/60 aged 9
Residence: The Wood
Length of time at school: 6 years
These pupils were joined, in January 1861, by a further sixteen, three of whom were Taranaki refugees. Nelson offered hospitality for over 1200 Taranaki settlers, especially women and children, during the land wars in that area. Hospitality was provided throughout the city, Motueka and Waimea in homes, by the building of cottages and with some institutions vacating their premises (7).
The first foray into the School's roll is social and historical, but before investigating any further, some comments need to be made about the roll itself. Initially, the matter of its consistency needs to be raised. Quite simply, the information contained in it is not consistent. This can be seen in the seven enrolments which have been used as examples so far, and becomes increasingly evident, when an attempt is made to establish just how many boys were present at the school in any particular year. To estimate numbers, a variety of methods have been used, all of which, in combination, are not a totally accurate re-creation.
Basically the school roll contains the names of 560 admittances. Re-admittances occurred for a number of reasons, including families returning from overseas, boys returning from Nelson College and indebtedness. This reduces the actual number of boys involved to 549. First then, the actual numbers of boys enrolling in any one year are shown (Figure 1).page 6
To achieve a more accurate picture of the numbers on the roll, other sources of information have been used to expand this initial total. The number of boys whose continued presence at the school, in subsequent years, is indicated either by a notation of the year and month of leaving, or by a listing of the years and months the boy was at the school, has been added in. If information was available about a boy's presence at Nelson College, either from the printed register, or the Bishop's School roll, this has also been included. If a pupil is listed as having enrolled at Nelson College in a particular year, the end of the previous year has been taken as being his last at Bishop's School. The result is not entirely accurate, because the moving from one school to another was, at this time, not necessarily continuous. It must also be noted that, in the case of some individuals, the Nelson College Register, as printed, does not agree with the information in the Bishop's School roll. Where this is evident, the latter has been taken as confirmation, but obviously further investigation into this matter is necessary.
In the front of the school roll are two lists, which have been used as a third source. One list is headed July 7 and, by carefully working through the names of the boys, it has been possible to establish that it is for 1874. This means that where there is a date for a boy's enrolment, and his presence in 1874 is confirmed by this list, his continued attendance at the school was reflected in the roll numbers. The other list, which seems to be related to the first, provides names and addresses, persumably where accounts were to be sent. It is interesting to note the difference between the children's names and the people to whom the accounts were to be sent. This will be followed up later.
Finally, the prize lists contained in the Nelson Diocesan Gazette have been used. Where a name indicates a prize-winner in a particular year, the boy has been deemed to have been present from the year of enrolment until that time, even when the roll itself contains no ongoing indication of his presence. The combined result is shown in figure 2.
Where there are discrepancies between these figures and those from known sources, this is noted. It is the best that can be done with the material available, given the fact that there were numerous boys whose final leaving date was unknown from any of these sources. To this must be added the complication of evening classes. Bishop's School offered both day and evening classes, and it is unclear whether the roll contains both sets of pupils, or only those who attended one, but not the other.
Parents who enrolled their boys at Bishop's Schol chose a particular kind of education for them, and were also required to pay fees. The Nelson Evening Mail of July 14, 1862, advertised the beginning of the winter quarter on July 24, with evening classes beginning on July 28. T. A. Bowden, the manager, advertised that he would be at the schoolroom on July 23, to examine pupils and to collect fees. These were set at thirty shillings per term, with a one pound entrance fee. The Nelson Examiner advertised the same fees on October 1, 1862, with the additional information that the evening classes, for older pupils, would meet four times weekly and that sixty were expected after the Christmas holidays. A few boarders could be provided for at fifty pounds per year.
The same advertisement indicated that the school offered a sound commercial education, with the elements of a classical education. This theme was echoed by Bishop Suter at the 1880 prize-giving:
"The object of the institution, however, is to secure
a useful commercial education with some
degree of culture combined with it, not omitting
that religious instruction without which education
cannot be said to be complete."(8)
The prospectus for 1887 sets this out in a more formal manner, as well as indicating a twelve shilling per term rise in the fees, over twenty-five years. W. K. Tomlinson expands the evidence on the curriculum for the time at which he was attending. Book-keeping by the double entry method, plus short-hand, drama and the "higher branches of mathematics, algebra, euclid trigonometry and elementary science formed part of the senior class subjects".(9).
It is difficult to find comparative figures for the fees paid. However, in 1872, when the fees were between thirty and forty-two shillings per term, W. Galbraith of Richmond advertised boots and shoes at the following prices: First class water-tights twentyfour shillings, Lace-up boots twenty shillings, Women's fourteen shillings & sixpence, boy's and girl's six shillings to fourteen shillings. Chimney pots in 1887 were between five and thirty shillings each, and a washing machine (Bradford's Vowel A1) was seven pounds seven shillings in England.
The sum for fees was, therefore, not inconsiderable. This was compounded when more than one member of a family was present at the school at the same time. It has been possible to establish that 51.91% of the pupils had brothers present, either before, with, or after them. This may be up to 53.35% if additional, but not well substantiated, clues are taken into account. It was therefore, in large part, a school which was self-perpetuating. At least half the boys had on-going family contact, lasting, in the case of the Gaukrodger family of Foxhill, through six members from 1882–1895, the Levien family of Nile Street East, from 1869–1893, and the Walker family of Cambria Street, from 1864–1890.
The other feature of brothers attending the school is that there is no consistency, within families, about the age at which they enrolled.
To take the Stanton family again: Arthur enrolled at 8 years, Frank at 10 and Albert at 11. Whether they were at other schools, prior to this, has not been established. Note also the age at which they proceeded to Nelson College: Arthur at 11 years and Frank at 12. Albert, according to the lack of evidence at Nelson College at the time of his death, was still attending Bishop's School at age 13. Other families exhibit the same lack of consistency.page 9
Ernest, Frank, John, Joseph and Robert Low enrolled at Bishop's School at 9 years 8 months, 14 years 2 months, 13 years 4 months, 11 years 2 months and 12 years 9 months respectively.
Some families moved all their boys on to Nelson College together. Hugh P. Costabadie and his brother, Vincent, of The Hayes, Stoke, enrolled at Bishop's School in February 1894 aged 13 years 4 months and 11 years 4 months respectively. They both attended Nelson College from 1895–1897.
Newton H. Goulstone enrolled in January 1871, aged 9 years 6 months and William, his brother, in January 1873, aged 9 years 5 months. Both were at Nelson College in 1878.
Bishop's School's relationship with Nelson College is worth exploring in more detail. Andrew Burn Suter, Bishop of Nelson, clearly indicated at the 1880 Prize-giving, that he thought of the school as a preparatory one for Nelson College, for some boys:
"The books used will be those approved by the
authorities of the college so that, in the case of
those who wish to pursue their classical studies,
no time will have been lost".(10).
Another factor was the age of admission. Nelson College would not accept pupils under the age of nine years, unless they were able to:
"read fluently, write with tolerable accuracy
and be familiar with the first four rules of arithmetic".(11)
This presupposes education at a previous source and some of this was certainly obtained at Bishop's School, as Figure 4 shows.
It indicates the number of boys per year beginning at Nelson College, who had spent at least the previous year at Bishop's School.
A comparison of the roll numbers during the time that the two schools co-existed shows the competition in the early years stabilising, in the case of Bishop's School, in the latter ones.page 10
In all, 135 boys went on to Nelson College from the school. Throughout its history, Bishop's School was contributing, and substantially so, to Nelson College. To what degree this comment can also be applied to other elementary schools awaits the investigation of their rolls, in association with that of Nelson College.
Bishop's School must have been affected by the opening of other schools in the area. These would have drawn off boys from the periphery of the Bishop's School's city catchment area, which was approximately one kilometer in circumference. By 1878 the following schools were open: Bridge Street, Bridge Street Boys' Preparatory, Hardy Street Girls', Haven Road, Toi Toi Valley Girls' and Infants'. Brook Street opened in 1892 and Boys' Central School in 1894. The Roman Catholic schools, begun by Father Garin in the 1850s, had always accommodated Protestants and, with the opening of what is now St Joseph's, even more places were available.
Under the Provincial system of education, there was a general educational property rate of one pound, with an additional special rate of five shillings for every child living within three miles of a school, whether attending or not. There was a limit of one pound for large families. This meant that, although there was no compulsion to attend school, parents usually took advantage of the facilities available. With the establishment of the national system, under the 1877 Education Act, education was free for all children from 5–15 years. There was a statutory obligation upon all parents, resident within two miles of a school, to send children aged 7 to 13 years, for at least half of the period in each school year in which the school was open.
Evidence of boys leaving Bishop's School for other local schools is almost non-existent. Bridge Street School is named in three instances. Interestingly enough, in the majority of situations, money is the stated reason for boys leaving. This is examined in more detail later.
The social structure of the school can be gleaned by examining the parental occupations of the boys enrolled.
Table 1: Parents' Occupations
|Architect and Builder||1|
|Armed Constabulary, Major||1|
|Army Captain, Retired||3|
|Army Major, Retired||1|
|Commissioner of Lands||1|
|Governor of Gaol||1|
|Indian Army, Colonel||1|
|Manager, Farmer's Co-op||1|
|Minister of Defence||1|
|Minister of Lands (Ex)||1|
|Minister of Religion||15|
|Registrar, Supreme Court||1|
|Secretary, Farmer's Co-op||1|
|Secretary, Provincial Council||1|
|Speaker, House of Reps||1|
|Speaker, Provincial Council||1|
|Sub-Treasurer, Prov. Council||1|
|Superintendent, Prov. Cncl.||1|
|Not with parents||8|
Further investigation is needed to provide comparative data relating to other local schools, and to the social structure of the city of Nelson at this time (1860–95). It is still very clear, however, that one whole facet of the social order is missing — the unskilled worker. There is only one labourer's son listed in the whole school roll. William Street had managed to obtain a singing scholarship, available to boys who sang in the Anglican Cathedral choir,(12) but he left when it terminated.
At the other end of the stratum there are the political elite, both provincial and national. There is ample evidence of the professions, but again, information about their individual backgrounds would be needed to establish their upper, or middle-class socio-economic standing. The majority of the parents were shopkeepers, clerks, agents, merchants, or skilled tradesmen, who appear to have been working largely on their own account, with or without employees. This is further evidenced in the occupations their sons followed when they left school, as shown later, in Table 4.
The 1887 prospectus claimed that the school was by no means confined to the sons of Church of England parents, indeed:
"among its former and present pupils were to be found
the sons of Church of England, Presbyterian, Wesleyan
and Lutheran clergy".
Table 2: Religion of Boys Enrolled at Bishop's School
|Church of England||176|
|Reformed Church of Germany||1|
|Church of Christ||1|
When the figures in Table 2 are examined, this claim can be substantiated. Religious instruction was a clearly enunciated part of the curriculum, which involved the reading of the Bible and the teaching of doctrines common to all Protestants. This is not a matter which seems to have assumed any importance, indeed there is only one annotation in the school roll which indicates any unease. The name of Arthur Pritchard Lucas, listed as a Dissenter, has along side of it "can learn ch.(13) catechism".
The range of religious denominations probably had more to do with the subjects offered; subjects deemed suitable in the quest for upward social mobility which education was seen to offer, by the parents who chose to enrol their sons there.
Surrounding this is the well-developed emphasis which the Nelson settlement put on education.
Bishop's School had an education "name" outside the city of Nelson. Boys came from as far afield as Lyttelton to attend the school. The West Coast provided boys from Greymouth, Totara Flat, Reefton, Brighton, Westport, Karamea and Inangahua. Marlborough sent boys from Awatere, Wairau, Blenheim, Tuamarina, Picton and Havelock. In the Nelson district boys came from Collingwood, Motueka, Upper Moutere, Motupiko, Foxhill, 88 Valley, Wakefield, Spring Grove, Brightwater, Richmond, Stoke and Wakapuaka.
Boys were boarded informally, with friends and relations, and at the Headmaster's residence. A formal boarding establishment was opened in 1876, in Ngatitama Street. For this to have been a viable proposition, there must have been many more boys enrolled as boarders than the seven shown in the roll from 1876–1895.
The age at which these out-of-town boys enrolled deserves enquiry, especially when it is compared with the age of enrolment of all pupils.
Generally, the most common age of enrolment was between 9 years and 9 years 11 months, gradually tapering off. Yet at the 14 years to 14 years 11 months mark there is another peak, making the graph bi-modal. This correlates, quite markedly, with the peak page 14relating to the age of pupils who enrolled from outside the city. It is only possible to speculate on the reason for this.
There is a possibility that Bishop's School had the aura of a finishing school amongst some of these parents. Boys, at that time, were sent to town when they were considered to be of an age to cope adequately with being away from home. It is unlikely that these boys were able to take advantage of the shorter holidays, to return home. Transport to places like the West Coast, by sea or land, was fraught with difficulties.
Table 3: Reasons for leaving Bishop's School
|Another School (NZ& overseas)||13|
|Named place (occupation)||51|
|Home & work (including farm)||6|
|Death of Father||6|
|End of Singing Scholarship||3|
|Selling School Books||1|
|Non-compliance School discipline||1|
|Moved within NZ||41|
|No reason given||169|
Note: Where more than one reason is given both are included in the table.
Reasons for leaving Bishop's School were many and varied, as Table 3 indicates.
Table 4: Named Place and Occupation of Pupils Leaving School
|To father (unknown)||1|
|Clerk in Sclanders||1|
|Clerk in business||1|
|Lawyer's clerk||2page 15|
|Clerk in Merchant's office||3|
|W.& Field office||1|
|Mr Rout's office||1|
|Mr Scott's timber yard||1|
|Buxton & Co.||2|
32% moved directly into education of some kind. To this must be added those who took up apprenticeships and farming, as this involved more specific ongoing education. The occupations detailed on the roll may, or may not, be characteristic of the kind of work available in Nelson at that time, for school leavers. As has been previously mentioned, the school seems to have attracted parents with occupations indicative of a specific social sphere, so the information may be more relevant to that sphere in particular.
Table 5: Financial Reasons for Leaving Bishop's School
|Reason||Pupils||Families||Occupation of Father|
|Embezzlement||1||1||Sub, Provincial Treasurer|
|Bankruptcy||6 (+ 4)||5||Draper Wine Merchant Merchant Hotelkeeper|
|End of Singing Scholarship||3||2||Labourer Commercial Agent|
|Parents Poor||4 (+ 2)||3||Cabman Chemist Storekeeper|
|Father failing in business||2||1||Shipping Clerk|
|Indebtedness||2 (+ 1)||1||Solicitor|
|Want of means||1||1||Grocer|
Note: Numbers in brackets indicate cases where, although the roll does not state that the child left for financial reasons, it seems probable.
Some boys left for financial reasons. The education of 28 boys was affected in this way. 28 boys is only 5% of the school population, but it still must have been devastating for the people concerned. The important question is — how representative is this of thepage 16
Nelson community at the time? Certainly the country suffered a depression during the 1880s. It may be evidence of the undermining of community development and personal advancement, which occurred at that time.
Bishop's School had parents whose occupations were dependent upon the selling of goods and services to others. If this could not be maintained at a level which enabled a family to survive, education at a fee-paying school had to be terminated. Most of the boys who left for financial reasons moved on to a government school.
Table 6: Health as a Factor in Leaving School
|Ainsworth, W. A.||Too long a walk, ill-health|
|Bowden, B. T.||Died young|
|Leighton, G. R.||Ill-health|
|Mules, P. H.||Ill-health|
|Sealy, A.||Drowned Wai-iti River|
|Stanton, A.||Died appendicitis|
|Talbot, E. E.||Bad health|
|Wix, A. L. H. McK. L.||Ill-health|
|Wix, W. C.||Died diptheria|
|Antill, H. W.||Death of father: to Australia|
|Bailey, F.||Death of father: to work|
|Kiernam, H.||Death of father: to work|
|Moore, F. W. W.||Death of father: removed|
|Moore, G.||Death of father: removed to Awatere|
|Stack, G. R.||Death of father: to Wellington|
Ill-health is not usually a reason for leaving school, yet Table 6 underlines the widespread awareness that children were not necesarily going to survive into adulthood. Cognisance must also be taken of the evidence that six boys left because of the deaths of their fathers, presumably to aid their families ongoing survival. Added to this must be the high incidence of widows, listed under parents' occupations in Table 2. The potential for an intact family, throughout a pupil's childhood, was certainly reduced.
Those pupils who survived these various external onslaughts, most commonly spent betwen 1 year and 1 year 11 months at Bishop's School.page 17
There is a marked correlation between the pupils who enrolled at a younger age, and those who left after 5–8 years. Obviously this would depend on the strengths, weaknesses and educational inclinations of individual pupils. The actual ages of leaving are provided in Figure 8.
It is clearly a bi-modal graph. This is further evidenced in the mean age of leaving, 13 years 6 months, the median age, 13 years 8 months and the mode, or most common age of leaving, 15 years.
Bishop's School roll has been used as a test case. This analysis has provided an indication of the wealth of information about the School's pupils and their parents, contained within and between its lines of figures and names.
Additional investigation into Nelson's social and educational past may change the conclusions drawn here. In concert with this additional probing, the roll could provide even more evidence for the historian.
|1.||The index is held at Nelson Provincial Museum (NPM) and at Bishop's school, Nile street, Nelson.|
|2.||Nelson Diocesan Gazette. 1 Jan. 1929. p.18–19.|
|3.||McKay, J. G. A Study.|
|4.||Nelson Diocesan Gazette. op.cit.|
|5.||Bathgate, J. Bishop's School.|
|6.||Nelson Diocesan Gazette. 1 Feb. 1929. p.17.|
|7.||Broad, L. p. 127.|
|8.||Nelson Diocesan Gazette. 1 Jun. 1929. p.21.|
|9.||The Witness. 1958. p.21.|
|10.||Nelson Diocesan Gazette. 1 Jun. 1929. p.21.|
|11.||N.C.O.B. Register. p.464.|
|12.||Broad, L. p. 159.|
|13.||See note with Table 2.|
Bathgate, J. Bishop's School. Ms. NPM.
Bishop's School Roll 1860–1895.
Broad, L. Jubilee History of Nelson. Bond, Finney, 1892 (Capper, 1976).
McKay, J. G. A Study of Bishop's School , mostly objective. 1959. Ms. NPM.
Nelson College Old Boys' Register. 5th ed. General Printing, 1981.
Nelson Diocesan Gazette. Jan.-Aug. 1929.
Nelson Guide Book and Directory. Lucas, 1887.
Pitt, D. Social Class in New Zealand. Longman Paul, 1977.
Wise's New Zealand Post Office Directory. 1872, 1887.
The Witness. 1958.
My thanks to the staff of the Nelson Provincial Museum for their unfailing good humour during 1981–82, when this research was undertaken and, especially, to Dawn Smith, Librarian, for coping with one small, sleeping boy between the book-stacks.
* The abbreviation ch. has been a source of confusion in the roll. There are two interpretations: ch = Christian, or church, i.e. Church of England. Christian has been adopted where it refers to denomination.