Saturday 11 July 2009

Ackworth School - Dr Fothergill's Passion

Here is another representation of the passionflower - this time on a cross in the Peak District. It had been Dr Fothergill's passion for a number of years to bring all the Quaker children under one school roof so that they might obtain a 'guarded' education. Ackworth was not the first Quaker school for children, there were others but on a very small scale by comparison with what John Fothergill had in mind. The usual school size, with just a few exceptions, was around 10-20 children. Imagine then a school with 230 children at a time when there were no school books written in English (as opposed to Latin), no formally trained teachers - and just a handful of those. It was an enormous act of faith that the school would survive long enough to be a success.
Dr Fothergill writes to his friend Dr Joseph Priestley (a friend to Benjamin Franklin) on 24th of 8th month 1780:
I called at Ackworth on my way hither, and find we have made a pretty prosperous beginning. Above 80 girls and 150 boys are got together in less than 10 months' time...The children are already mounled into excellent order, clean and attentive. To establish young minds in Truth and erase the prejudices that may have been sown is a great object with me. Reading writing and arithmetic for the boys, and for the girls the addition of necessary female employments, are there taken care of. It is important to note that the girls had female employment in addition to and not instead of the academic lessons. Tomorrow, we'll look at a schoolbook from this time.


  1. I appreciate all the history you are giving us especially about the Quaker schools. It is interesting to hear the intent Dr Fothergill that he wanted to establish the children, boys and girls, in Truth. Also the idea that the girls were not left out of the educational aspects of the school. Thank you so much for giving us an education in daily bites as we stitch along with you. Marjo in Alaska

  2. Such fascinating history! Thank you so much for sharing. I enjoy reading this blog very much and I'm also enjoying stitching MW!

  3. The phrase that impresses me most is "erase the prejudices that may have been sown."