Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 2, Issue 1, 1987

[Bishop's school roll: an analysis]

page 3

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
Father: Bookseller
Residence: Collingwood Street
Religion: Christian
Length of time at school: 5 years
No. 174 Stanton, Arthur. Admitted 68/10 aged 8
Father: Bookseller
Residence: Collingwood Street
Religion: Christian
No. 280 Stanton, Albert. Admitted 75/4 aged 11
Father: Agent Wm Stanton
Religion: Christian

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.

Bishop's School pupils with Headmaster, J. H. Harkness, c. 1885. Akersten Collection NPM.

Bishop's School pupils with Headmaster, J. H. Harkness, c. 1885. Akersten Collection NPM.

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
Religion: Christian
Refugee from Taranaki and returned to Otago
page 5
No. 2 Brown, John admitted 10/60 aged 9
Father: Clergyman Church of England
Residence: Port and Taranaki
Religion: Christian
Refugee from Taranaki, returned to Taranaki
No. 3 Newland, George admitted 10/60 aged 12
Residence: The Wood and Taranaki
Religion: Christian
Taranaki refugee who returned
No. 4 Hale, Sam. John admitted 10/60 aged 9
Father: Nurseryman
Residence: The Wood
Religion: Christian
Length of time at school: 6 years
Occupation: Salesman

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).

Figure 1: Yearly enrolment figures for Bishop's School.

Figure 1: Yearly enrolment figures for Bishop's School.

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.

Figure 2: Calculated school roll: 1 March 1882 33 on roll (McKay). 2. From photograph taken c. 1885. 3. January 1887 51 on roll (McKay) and photo c. 1887.

Figure 2: Calculated school roll: 1 March 1882 33 on roll (McKay).
2. From photograph taken c. 1885.
3. January 1887 51 on roll (McKay) and photo c. 1887.

page 7

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)

page 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.

Figure 3: Age at enrolment.

Figure 3: Age at enrolment.

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.

Figure 4: Years of enrolment at Nelson College by Bishop's School pupils.

Figure 4: Years of enrolment at Nelson College by Bishop's School pupils.

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.

Figure 5: Roll numbers al Bishop's School and Nelson College. — Nelson College — — Bishop's School

Figure 5: Roll numbers al Bishop's School and Nelson College.
— Nelson College
— — Bishop's School

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.

Bishop's School pupils, c. 1887. Tyree Collection NPM.

Bishop's School pupils, c. 1887. Tyree Collection NPM.

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.