Schools are a primary source for genealogists. Almost all of the school registers will have records of the children who attended; these records will include important information such as date of birth, the address, the name and occupation of the parent/guardian, the name of the previous school attended and sometimes the reason for leaving (if applicable).
After a lot of encouragement given by King Edward VI, Mary Tudor and Elizabeth I towards charitable acts, the education sector benefited resulting in a fashion for founding schools. These schools intended to provide a free education or charging a very small fee resulting in education for the masses.
By the end of the 19th century, over 6 million children received some sort of education through the use of the Sunday schools and voluntary schools. This meant that the children were learning to read and write from early ages. Unfortunately, a lot of these records didn’t survive.
Within the 1830’s a few charity schools were set up in some towns, specifically for outcast and destitute children. These were the forerunners to what became the Ragged School Union which by the turn of 1856 had over 100 day, evening and Sunday schools whose workers were mainly unpaid volunteers. These ragged schools were eventually replaced with board schools.
The Education Act of 1870, allowed school boards to be elected and granted them the powers to build and operate schools in areas that weren’t covered by the British and National Society schools. As a result of this, many new schools were built whilst the existing National Schools were improved by local landowners hoping to avoid state intervention (for schools that accepted grants were usually inspected).
With the development of these schools, there were more and more children in education so it is important to keep an eye out for your ancestors in the school records.
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