Other formats

    TEI XML file   ePub eBook file  


    mail icontwitter iconBlogspot iconrss icon

Early Wellington

Schools from 1840

Schools from 1840.

“Some Schools and Schoolmasters of Early Wellington” is the title of a very interesting little book by Mr. George MacMorran, published in 1900, and from which a summarised account is given as follows:—

Miss Tilke, who arrived by the “Adelaide,” under the care of Mrs. Dr. Evans, has the honour of being the first to open and conduct a regular school in the Port Nicholson district. The school was held in a long, clay-built house with thatched roof, a little to the west of the corner of Mulgrave and Pipitea Streets.

Mr. Jabez Allen secured the services of Miss Annie Maria Smith as governess to page 404 his children at Pito-one in 1840. Some of the children of the residents there also attended.

Mr. Chas. Grace's establishment was next to Ray's store, Thorndon Beach, and later (in October, 1840) he established an academy at Kumutoto Point (corner of Woodward Street and Lambton Quay).

Mr. Henry Buxton kept a night school in a tumble-down shanty near St. Paul's site in Mulgrave Street, and later Mrs. Buxton (“Mother”) had a school near the present site of the Thorndon school. She removed to Tinakori Road, about opposite Hawkestone Street, and died there aged eighty-six.

Messrs. W. J. and Jabez Clark held a school in Willis Street (site of present school), 1842.

Mr. J. H. Rule conducted a school from the 6th June, 1842, in the building then known as the Mechanics' Institute, Church, etc., at the corner of Charlotte Street and Lambton Quay (Anzac Memorial corner—the triangle opposite the Government Buildings) about the same time that Mr. George Edwards held one in Tod's Store, the site of which was intended for a Rope Walk. It was situated about 30 yards to the north of the present Thorndon Railway Station, Thorndon Quay.

Other schools in 1842 were:—

  • Miss Wakefield, Tinakori Road (near Murphy Street).

  • John Allan, Boulcott and Willis Streets corner; native built.

  • Henry Atkinson, Sydney Street (back of Barrett's Hotel).

  • Wesleyan Sunday School, Wade's Store, bottom of Lombard Street, Te Aro, not far from the beach. Five boys attended, and sat on soap boxes, sugar and rice bags. Messrs Cayley and J. E. Bradshaw were the first superintendents, Miss Smith assistant.

  • 1843.—Mr Davison, for children under five.

  • Mr. Tomlin (Tommy), near Hobson and Murphy Streets; clay building.

  • Charles Hinchcliffe, Sydney Street; High School.

  • 1845.—A list of schools is given in Grimstone's Southern Settlements of N.Z., p. 71. Those at Wellington were:—

  • Partly supported by the Bishop of N.Z.: One public, 25 boys, 20 girls; 1 Sunday, for aboriginals, 74 boys, 53 girls.

  • Partly supported by the Wesleyan Missionary Society: One Native (taught English), 20 boys; 1 Sunday (Europeans), 46 boys, 54 girls; 1 do. Porirua Road (do.), 23 boys, 17 girls; 1 do. Hutt (do.), 35 boys, 25 girls; 1 day and Sunday, Karori, 25 boys, 25 girls; 3 private, 42 boys, 9 girls.

  • Number of pupils, 290 boys, 203 girls; total 493.

  • 1846.—William Finnimore, Willis Street.

  • Mr. Cayley, Manners Street; Wesleyan day school.

  • 1847.—There were, according to Wakefield's Handbook for N.Z., 1848, nine schoolmasters and eight schoolmistresses; 13 day schools, 366 scholars; 6 Sunday schools, 336 scholars; 5 infant schools, 98 scholars; total 800 scholars.

  • 1847.—Mr. James Fryer, Boulcott Street; Roman Catholic.

  • 1848.—Mr. Norgrove (drawing), Lambton

  • Quay, Mechanics' Institute.

  • Mr. Holmes (drawing and singing).—Lambton Quay, Mechanics' Institute.

  • 1849.—Convent School, Hill Street; Roman Catholic.

  • Misses Spinks, Dixon Street.

  • R. Huntley, Hill Street; Roman Catholic.

  • Various schools also conducted in the 'forties were:—

  • Mrs. (Rev.) Green, Ingestre and Sydney Streets.

  • Mrs. Harvey (later Mrs. Waterson), Lambton Quay (near Batkin's).

  • The Highlandman's, Murphy Street.

  • Miss Mudgway, Te Aro. This lady had a very effective way of keeping the younger ones from straying, by pinning them to her apron.

  • Mrs. Fox (organiser), Sydney Street; for Thorndon residents.

  • Mrs. Dr. Young, Upper Ingestre Street.

  • Mrs. George (afterwards Mrs. A. Domett), Terrace (near Captain Holliday's old house).

  • 1843—Mr. Cameron, Molesworth and Murphy Streets corner; technical school.

  • 1850.—Mr. Marshall, Hawkestone Street (near Crescent); grammar school.

  • Rev. Edwin Wheeler, Upper Ingestre Street (Clark's and Mrs. Young's); grammar school.

  • Mr. E. Toomath, Lambton Quay (English at Mechanics' Institute).

  • 1851.—The census returns for December gives:—16 Private Schools, with 580 scholars; 1 Church of England, 50; 1 Roman Catholic, 30.

  • 1852—St. Joseph's School (Bishop Viard); industrial.

  • 1852.—Mr. Wadsworth, Sydney Street. opened by Bishop Selwyn (105 names on the roll).

  • 1853.—Mrs. Green, Sydney Street.

  • Mr. E. Toomath, Thorndon.

  • This year (1853) Reserves were set aside for a Wellington College.

page 405

The Church of England Education Society held a meeting in the Schoolroom, Thorndon Flat, on the 21st Feb., 1853, and opened the proceedings with prayer by the Lord Bishop (Selwyn) and the singing of the hundredth psalm, which was sung with great expression of feeling. Sir George Grey, Colonel McCleverty, Lieutenant-Colonel Gold, Dr. Prendergast (65th Regt.), H. St. Hill Esq. R.M., Archdeacon Hadfield, Revs. Cole, Hutton and Wheeler, Messrs. G. Moore J.P., W. B. Rhodes, S. Carkeek, J. C. Raymond, Jas. Smith, J. H. Wallace, John King, W. Bishop, and others participated in the business of the evening. (Aust. and N.Z. Gaz., 23/7/1853.)

Reports on the Inspection of Schools (22/12/1852), Wesleyan (19/2/'53), Roman Catholic (30/7/1853 and 13/8/'53), may be seen in the Aust. and N.Z. Gaz.

1853.—The first elected Wellington Provincial Council was convened on Friday, October 28, 1853, and on the next sitting day (Monday) Mr. Fitzherbert gave notice of his intention to move for the appointment of a Committee to take evidence with a view to the introduction of an Education Bill. The Committee was duly set up, consisting of Messrs. Bell, Wallace, Brandon, Lyon and Fitzherbert. An Act was passed whereby the Superintendent was empowered to appoint a commission to enquire and report in time for the next session of the Provincial Council. The Commissioners were Messrs. C. Clifford, W. Lyon, W. Fitzherbert, W. Fox, T. Mason, H. S. Harrison and S. Revans. £50 was appropriated towards the expense of procuring the necessary books and papers.

In 1854 Dr. Featherston announced that a Bill embodying the recommendations of the Commissioners would be laid before
Fig. 244.—E. Toomath, Esq. Known as the Father of Secular Education.

Fig. 244.—E. Toomath, Esq. Known as the Father of Secular Education.

the Council. (See Stouts' New Zealand, p. 112.)

On 3rd January, 1855, Mr. Fox moved the adoption of the Education Commissioners' report, and naturally devoted some attention to the outcry which he saw was about to be raised against his proposals regarding religious education. Outside the Council there was considerable excitement, fanned by the leaders of the English Church and the Roman Catholics, and further roused by the fulminations against it of the local “Spectator,” which referred to the “offensive” system of education proposed to be introduced. The English Church authorities convened a meeting to denounce the Bill against religious teaching. This meeting was held in the Athenaeum to discuss the Bill on the evening of Wednesday, 10th January, 1855.

The room was crowded. Some of the speakers were: Rev. Moir, Mr. Toomath, Mr. Fox, Rev. B. Paul, W. Fitzherbert, Archdeacon Hadfield and the Rev. A. Stock.

Mr. E. Toomath, at that time schoolmaster at St. Paul's, generally known as the father of secular education, attended a meeting held at the Thorndon school page 406 room prior to the public meeting, and in a letter to a friend discourses on it thus:—

Wellington, Jan. 13, 1855.

“… The Report of the Commission on Education has been adopted by the Council with only two or three dissentient voices. On Wednesday evening a meeting of members of the Church of England was held in the Thorndon schoolroom. It ended in adjournment till the following Wednesday, Mr. Fox promising to procure the adjournment of the second reading of the Bill founded on the Report.

“I took an opportunity, at the meeting, to address them briefly, to find out their opinions on State aid for the school. I said in substance that I did not think the Church of England as a denomination was justified in taking State assistance, even if the State would give it, and that so strongly did I feel on the point that I for one could not ask for, or take it, because then the same must be done for the Romanists. To my delight it was the all but unanimous feeling of the meeting, especially of the Archdeacon, who was in the chair. On Wednesday evening last a public meeting was held in the Institute, Mr. May in the chair, to consider the Report on Education now before the House. We met again on Thursday and again last night and have a further adjournment till Tuesday night next week. You will be surprised and no doubt pleased to hear that Mr. Paul sought Mr. Woodward to ask him to second this amendment, viz., that if it be right for the Government to interfere in the education of the people, its operations should be restricted to secular instruction only. Mr. Woodward complied, and in a telling speech seconded the amendment. Of course I could not on such a subject be silent. It seems I have hit a little too hard; the Government are trying to bring in the Irish Extracts to the exclusion of the Bible, while I, with others, have determined on the secular plan as the only one all denominations can take without infringing on principle. I much wish you were here to take a part in the discussion. The opposition fired off their two heaviest shots last night—Messrs. Fitzherbert and Hart. Our side has, of course, to reply. I have not escaped without my share of wounds, but on Tuesday I hope, when I have done, to be able to say I have repaid the compliment with interest. I forward you a ‘Spectator’ containing an account of Wednesday evening's combat. I know you will say we have been at it vigorously and at it as earnestly we must go again.

E. Toomath

(From the original by courtesy
Mr. W. Toomath.)

MacMorran, on pages 121 to 139, gives a good account of the Wellington Provincial Council and education, and from pages 140 to 157 matters pertaining to the Education Board to 1878. Space permits but a summarised account.

The Provincial Council proceeded to legislate on education on January 23, 1855, and on February 20 there passed a Bill to promote the establishment of common schools in the Wellington Provincial District.

By 1857 only two schools had been established, one at Whanganui and another at Turakina.

In 1859 Dr. Featherston stated that 10 schools had been established. In 1861, fourteen. In 1862 an Education Res. Bill was passed. In 1862–3, eighteen schools. But to deal with the Wellington schools from 1855, viz:—

  • Mr. E. Toomath, Wellington and Aurora Terrace (Grammar), Messrs. W. H. Holmes, W. Mowbray, J. H. Brann, W. Buller (Sir), and Rev. Kirton were visiting masters.

  • Mr. J. H. Bram also had a school of his own in Boulcott Street.

    page 407
  • J. G. S. Grant, Manners Street. Wesleyan Schoolroom.

  • Rev. Mr. Baker, Sydney Street, St. Paul's.

  • Rev. Mr. Woodward, Sydney Street, St. Paul's.

  • Mr. Finnimore, Sydney Street, St. Paul's.

  • Mr. Jupp, Sydney Street, St. Paul's.

  • 1859.—Wm. Mowbray, Sydney Street, St. Paul's.

  • Mr. Stephens, Dixon Street, Wesleyan.

  • 1874.—Mr. Kenneth Wilson, Town Belt, Wellington College.

  • 1876.—Marist, Boulcott St., Roman Catholic.

  • 1878.—Convent, Dixon St., Roman Catholic.

  • 1879.—Girls' Classes, College Museum, Experimental.

  • 1883.—Girls High School, Upper Abel Smith Street (late Bowden's).

  • 1885.—Dr. F. J. Watters, Cambridge Terrace, St. Patrick's College.

  • 1885.—Graduates' Association, Victoria College.

  • 1887.—Girls' College, Pipitea Street.

  • 1893.—Convent, Newtown, Roman Catholic.

  • 1894.—Sir Robert Stout's Middle District University Act passed.

  • 1897.—Victoria College Act became law.

  • 1898.—The first Victoria College Council advertised for professors.

  • 1899.—Professors Brown (Classics), McKenzie (English Literature), Easterfield (Chemistry), and McLaurin (Mathematics) appointed.