The Maybole Ragged School
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Foreword : The following pages have been transcribed from an original collection of hand written journals which I discovered in my attic, a few years ago. The author, at this point in time is unknown, although it is possible from the type of language used in the entries that he was probably a church minister.

The journals concern themselves with the Maybole Ragged school. The school was supported by a group of benefactors and subscriptions from the town's inhabitants. It was run by a committee whose aim it was, to remove as many waifs and strays from the streets of the town as finances would allow and to educate them in the "4 R's". Reading, writing, arithmetic and religion. The original documents consist of the following :- 

1. 30 loose leaf pages of "entries" for individual pupil's. 
2. A hard bound notebook detailing the minutes from the school board meetings. (1850 onward) 
3. A soft bound notebook detailing additional minutes.

Although only section 1 and part of 2 has been transcribed to date, I shall try to add the remainder as soon as possible. If any of my old English teachers happen to read this, don't worry. The grammar, punctuation and spelling belong to the original author. (Transcribed from the original manuscript by David Law)

The achievements of John Pounds (1766-1839), the crippled cobbler and originator of England's Ragged School form of free education for poor children, are celebrated in a new book published by the John Pounds of Portsmouth Heritage Appeal. The 52-page publication brings Portsmouth of the period vividly to life with of over fifty pictures and illustrations highlighting the terrible plight of the hundreds of starving and abused children John Pounds rescued. more

The Maybole Ragged School Pupils Entry Book   ( See also index of all 184 children in meeting minutes )

Photo of 19th century waifs and strays from John Stroud's story of the Church of England Children's Society

1

James Bashford

 11

James Kelly	

21

Elizabeth Ronney
2
John Patterson
 12
Andrew McCulloch
22
William Ronney
3
James Thomson
 13
James Irvine
23
Joseph McCafferty
4
William Murray
 14
Helen McCafferty
24
Jane Houston
5
Alexander Irvine
 15
William Logan
25
Agnes Sloan
6
James Henderson
 16
Jane Davidson
26
Joseph Brown
7
David Bashford
 17
Janet Millhall
27
James Blair	
8
William Martin Coburn	
 18
James Murdoch
28
James Smith
9
Dines Kelly	
 19
James Hanning
29
Robert and John Shaw
10
Samuel Thomson
20
Edward Higgins
30
Thomas Holgon

1. James Bashford

Aged 12 years 6 months could read a little in the childs instructor. Was in the habit of begging and stealing. For the latter of which he was sent to the county prison. Altho I may here remark that poor James was compeled either to beg steal or starve; this much I learned from his mother's door neighbours. The first crime after admission was thieft. The first four months after he came to school he was guilty of thieft two or three different times, he also deserted school ten or twelve times, but during the last eight or nine months that he was at school there appeared to be a decided alteration, both in his sentiments and manners. by this time James had a desire to learn a trade. Accordingly upon 11th april 1850 he was bound as an apprentice for three and a half years; to William Heron, weaver, Kirklands, Maybole.

June 1850 his master says he is the best apprentice he has ever had. he is both quiet honest and obedient; and very attentive to his work; and also agreeable and kind to his shop mates.

Augt 1850 some time after james left school he gave over attending either church or sabbath school: I called on him to learn the reason why he did not attend as formerly; but James having no father and his mother being regardless of her or his everlasting peace; he was allowed to spend the sabbath as he thought proper; his mother said that he was confined all week and she thought he would be better of the fresh air on the sabbath. when James left school he was a good reader in the bible, could write a good hand and was as fare as reduction in arithmetic.

March 3 1854 James Bashford is at present engaged with Phillip Dunlop, coal carter, maybole where he is conducting himself in a respectable manner and meriting the esteem of his employer.

1856 A soldier.

2. John Paterson

10 years of age, mother dead. Was brought to school 29th of January 1849 - he did not know a letter of the alphabet; he stayed at school up to the 26th of May 1849 at which time his father left Maybole; and taken his family with him they went to Glasgow; John at this time could read well in the testament

8th march 1854 John Paterson having removed to Glasgow at the time he left school we have had no further word of him.

3. James Thomson

13 years of age father dead; was brought to school the 29th day of January 1849. this boy was well known to be a notorious thief and a town pest. He was ignorant as a heathen, neither knowing a letter nor a God. Could not tell who made him: did not think it a sin to steal or tell a lie; did not know where the wicked go after death: could not say the lords prayer; never heard of jesus of heaven or of hell except when pronounced with an oath; he deserted school 14 times. I despaired of breaking in this boy. His mother is avery poor woman and was obliged to take him home on purpose that he would assist her his work;

When he left school he was a good reader in the bible and I am very happy to say that James is no longer a thief nor a beggar; I have been frequently inquiring about him and so far as I can learn he is doing well; I may farther state since he left school which was on the 8th of Sept 1850 I find he has attended both church and sabbath school and is very obedient.

Feb 14 - 1851. james has returned to his old idle habits; in consequence of his mother cohabiting with a man that would not suffer james to be in the house with him.

June 14th 1854 James Thomson is now a soldier having enlisted in the 4th regiment of foot and is at this time in England.

4. William Murray

Aged 14 years 6 months was in the habit of running errands and wandering through the town: having no settled employment and altho his parents were both alive he was so notoriously bad that his parents had no control over him. Application having been made by some of the inhabitance to take him off the street accordingly the committee of the ragged school thought they would try: if school discipline would tame this wild arab; and upon 5th of march 1849 William was admitted into school at which time he did not know a letter of the alphabet. Three or four days after he came to school; he told one of the boys that he could not; nor would not put up with so much confinement.

Accordingly the next day william deserted the school. He was brought back; and I then told him the rules of the school; and what punishment was awarded for such conduct. William being a big boy and having great need of instruction, I used all the means in my power but all was in vain William would not submit to be punished for his bad conduct: and he left school the 14th of july 1849 at which time he was a good reader in the new testament. I may here remark that this boys feelings is very easy wrought upon;

I have often thought that if I had him at some distance from his fathers house; that something might be done: but it is impossible so long as he remains at home.

5. Alexander Irvine

Aged 12 years 6 months was brought to school upon the 5th of March 1849; could read none: he was a remarkable quiet well disposed boy: but he was also stupid and dull in learning. he stayed at school up to the 27th of April 1850 at which time he went as an apprentice to William Fulton to learn the weaving when he went to learn his trade; he was a good reader in the bible and could write a good hand.

6. James Henderson

Aged 12 years was a very wild boy was a great fighter and swearer; his play fellows gave him the name of bully: in consequence of his fighting he was brought to school the 29th January 1849 did not know a letter of the alphabet: and I likewise beleive that poor james was often compeled to go to the fields and steal turnips: for his supper as he termed it, but I never heard of him being guilty of thieft after he came to school the only crimes that he was guilty of was swearing and fighting ; he was so accustomed to swearing that for some time after he came to school and even when he was in the school he would pronounce an oath and appear to be unconscious of what he was saying; he was also a very passionate boy and I was backward for some time to punish him. I was affrayed that he would forsake the school altogether as he had no relish for learning one day I called him up and told him the danger of swearing; I like-wise told him a few denunceashums of the bible against such: I also told that the next time he would be found guilty that he might depend upon a good sound flogging. So strong is the power of habit that for some days after that; he was affrayed to speake; and being asked the reason for his dullness; he said he was afraid to speak for fear he would swear the next evil that james was addicted to was fighting. Scarcely a day passed without a complaint; and I saw that moral suasion was of no use; I then applied the rod unsparingly and it had the desired effect. The last twelve months that he was at school there was an entire change both in his customs and manners; he was quiet obed ient and innofensive. By this time James was a rather bigish boy: and was a good reader and writer; and was as far as reduction in arithmetick; and it was thought advisable that he should be put to some trade.

Accordingly upon the 6th of january 1851 James was bound as an apprentice; to Mr John Fergusson tailor Main Street Maybole; where he is at present and is doing well.

16th March 1854 James Henderson is at this time in ayr prosecuting his trade and is a respectable well doing young man as his general appearance and conversation would indicate.

7. David Bashford

Aged 12 years was brought to school 11th march 1850 when he came to the school he could read a little in the childs instructor; this boy so far as I could eather see or learn: was both honest quiet and innoffensive; his father being dead and his mother very poor: she was obliged to take him from school and put him to some trade in hopes of receiveing part of his earning accordingly upon the 10th august 1850 he went to William Heron Kirkland Maybole and is bund as an apprentice to learn the weaving at which time he was a good reader in the bible and could write a little.

6th March 1854 David Bashford is at present residing with Samuel McCulloch weaver Maybole where he is following his trade being a handloom weaver and is doing well.

8. William Martin Coburn

Aged 13 years whose father is dead was in the habit of begging both in town and country could read none was brought to school upon the 12th of feb 1849. At which time he had no where to lay his head his mother at that time being confined in the county prison for thieft. William at the beginning appeared to be a stupid dull boy and to have a very narrow ignorant mind but as he increased in learning the mist of ignorance soon disappeared. He was also a very quiet boy and appeared to be very happy at school for the space of four months. His mother at this time being liberated from prison thought it more profitable to have him at the begging. Accordingly upon the 14th of july she took him from school notwithstanding his unwillingness to go he traveled the country with her for the space of three weeks he then left her and came back to school at which he remained to the 15th april 1850.

He then caught fever and lingered a few weeks and departed this life.

Previous to his death he was a good reader in the bible and he appeared to understand what he did read.

9. Dines Kelly

Aged 12 years was brought to school March 5th 1849 did not know a letter of the alphabet; there was nothing remarkable in his history, he was a very quiet innoffensive boy; the only trouble that I had with him: chiefly arose from his negligence to learn his questions; for which I chastised him often. One day I asked the reason why he did not endeavour to learn his questions; he appeared unwilling to give an answer; at length he said that his mother was a member of the Church of Rome: and that she did not allow him to learn the shorter catechism. After that I did not insist but I endeavoured to impress on his mind the truths of the bible which I thought would answer the same purpose. This mother was also against him going to church; she said her boy was now upwards of 13 years of age and that he was in danger of being taught what she called heresy; and she thought it would be better for him to be without learning; than to have her boy taught error;

Accordingly upon the 12th of Dec 1850 she took him from school; at which time he was a good reader of the bible.

10. Samuel Thomson

14 years of age was brought to school upon the 16th of July 1849. this boy was well known to be a notorious thief and a public beggar, and his father being dead his mother had no control over him; therefore he went on from one evel to another. When he came to school he was ignorant as a heathen. Neither knowing a letter nor a God; I used all the means in my power to tame this savage but all was in vain. I think he deserted school 18 times; the last time he deserted school was upon the 4th of June 1851; and upon the day following he was taken before the magistrates of Maybole for some act of thieft; the sentence they passed on Samuel for this crime was one night in prison and banishment out of Maybole. when Samuel left school he was a good reader and writer.

26th March 1854 I am sorry to say that there has no reformation taken place in respect to either the character or conduct of Samuel Thomson he having been lately convicted of several acts of theft. He was sentenced upon the 23rd instant to incarceration for the space of twelve months in Ayr prison.

11. James Kelly

aged 12 years mother dead: did not know a letter of the alphabet, was brought to school upon the 29th January 1849. He remained at school up to the 4th Feb 1850 at which time, his father removed him from school that he might assist him in supporting his small family. when James left school he was a good reader in the bible.

12. Andrew McCulloch

aged 8 years was sent to school by the Maybole Parochial board upon the 14th of Augt 1849. Did not know a letter of the alphabet. This was a very quiet harmless boy and an apt scholar but he took such an aversation to the learning of questions that he destroyed all the books that he could get his hands upon. I used every means in my power to prevent it but all was in vain. The committee of the Ragged School thought it advisable to remove him. Accordingly upon the 11th of Apr 1851 he was sent to the Maybole poorhouse at which time he was a good reader in the bible.

june 1854 Andrew McCulloch is yet an inmate of the poorhouse

13. James Irvine

11 years of age was brought to school upon the 24th of Dec 1849. Did not know a letter of the alphabet. He remained at school up to the 16th Dec 1850 at which time his mother took him from school that he might keep house and take care of his younger brothers and sisters while she was engaged in her out door labour

James was a well disposed quiet boy and when he left school he was a good reader in the bible and could write a little.

April 1854 James Irvine has been apprenticed to mr Charles Crawford, shoemaker, Maybole where he at present remains.

14. Helen McCafferty

Aged 13 years ( father andmother both dead ) was sent to school by the Maybole Parochial board upon the 13th of Janry 1850. When she came she could read part of the alphabet. She remained at school until the 26th of May 1850 at which time she went as a servant to Gallowhill. When she left she could read the testament.

8th Sept 1850 Helen is now gone to Greenock to serve.

15. William Logan

Aged 14 years was brought to school upon the 14th of July 1850. When he came to school he could read part of the alphabet. Wlliam was a very stupid dull boy and would not submit to be confined to school. He stayed five weeks and then left little or no further advanced than when he came.

16. Janet Milhall

Aged 13 years mother dead was brought to school 8th Oct 1849 did not know a letter of the alphabet. This girl was notorious for telling lies and was very irregular with her attendance. She remained at school up to the 27th Jan 1851 she then left and went to serve in the Black Bull inn Kirkland Maybole. When she left she could read the bible.

17. Jane Davidson

Came to school 17th Sept 1849 when six and a half years of age, and left Jan 9th 1854. At the time she entered school she could not read any but on leaving it read the bible well and wrote a very legible hand.

She is at present with her mother employed at handsewing.

18. James Murdoch

An orphan and a native of Maybole when ten and a half years of age was sent to the Ragged School by the Parochial Board on 15th feb 1853, where he remained until 21 march 1854. When admitted to school he could read part of the alphabet but being of a very unsettled disposition he was unwilling to submit to either school attendance or discipline and so opposed to learning that he made but little progress. The question book was also an object of his utter aversion and when pressed to give attention to his lesson he would desert from school at the first opportunity and frequently did so. On one occasion he absented himself for the space of eight days during which time he disposed of his shoes stockings and napkin and was at last found in Ayr Ragged school from where he was brought back to Maybole and again sent to school where he remained until Mr MacCracken (inspector) took an oportunity to examine the children belonging to the parochial board in regard to their education. When he discovered that there was little hope of James making much improvement in that respect and not wishing to obtain any trade, Mr MacCracken procured a situation for him with a farmer where he remained only a few weeks. He returned to Maybole where he is at present strolling about the streets. On leaving school he was but an imperfect reader of the new testament.

19. James Hanning

At the age of seven and a half years being deserted by both his parents was taken up by the parochial board and by it sent to the Ragged School 14th August 1849. where he remained till 4th March 1854. At which time he was engaged in the service of Mr & Mrs McMillan, paper warehouse-man Glasgow and continuing about a year in his service he afterwards entered a cotton mill where he remains so far as is known to me. When he came to school he had to start with the alphabet, and on leaving could read and write well, and had gone as far as decimal fractions in arithmetic, he was a well behaved boy and had a strict regard to truth while under my care.

20. Edward Higgins

Came to the Ragged School 3rd Oct 1853. He was at that time nine and a half years of age and he continued his attendance untill 11th Feb 1854 when he was apprenticed to Mr Charles Crawford shoe maker, Maybole where he is still, and doing well. when admitted to school he could read part of the childs instructor, and on leaving he could read the bible well, and wrote a legible hand, and was as far as compound division in arithmetic.

21. Elizabeth Ronney

When 11 years of age came to the ragged school 15th Nov 1853 where she attended until 6th of March 1854. When sent to school she could not read any, on leaving she could read the new testament well, and has since lived with her parents.

22. William Ronney

When 8 years of age came to the ragged school Nov 15th 1853 where he attended until June 15th 1857. When he was apprenticed to Mr A Goudie, clothier. On entering school he could not read any, on leaving it he could read the bible, wrote a legible hand and was as far as compound multiplication in arithmetic.

23. Joseph McCafferty

When eight years of age was sent to the Ragged School by the Parochial Board of Maybole 30th of Oct 1849 and remained an inmate thereof until the eleventh of July 1854. When he was apprenticed to Mr John Ferguson tailor, where he has conducted himself in such a manner as to meet the approval of his master. When sent to school he could read part of the new testament, on leaving it he could read and write well, and was as far as decimal fractions in arithmetic.

24. Jane Houston

Came to the Ragged School January 16th 1854 where she remained until March 15th 1854. When she was removed to the poor-house and has since went to service. on leaving school she could read the new testament.

25. Agnes Sloan

Came to the Ragged School Nov 29th 1852 where she attended until Feb 7th 1854. When sent to school she could not read any, on leaving, she could read the bible, wrote legibly and was as far in arithmetic as compound multiplication. she is at present living with her mother.

June 5th 1858 Agnes Sloan is at this time serving with a cottager on the farm of Mochrum, parish of Kirkoswald and is doing well.

26. Joseph Brown

Was sent to Maybole Ragged School by Lady H.Blair May 30th 1855 where he remained until May 17th 1858. At the time he came to school he was seven years of age, but could not read the alphabet. on leaving it he could read the bible, wrote a legible hand and was as far as reduction in arithmetic. He was a well behaved boy and Lady H. Blair has provided for his being employed at Blairquhan.

27. James Blair

Came to the Maybole Ragged School Nov 16th 1853. At that time he could not read the alphabet. He confined at school up to April 16th 1860 with the exception of long intervals such as 5 and perhaps 8 months at once. Notwithstanding, upon leaving he could read fluently, write legibly and was as far as reduction in arithmetic.

Mr Goudie took him as an apprentice taylor and the same qualities which characterised him while under my care, I am happy to say still cling to him. He is doing well I believe.

28. James Smith

Came to Maybole Ragged School 29th May 1855 left April 7th 1860 and upon leaving he could read well, write a very fair hand and was as far as simple proportion in arithmetic. He was strong and well grown in proportion to his years. There were attached to him two of the best qualities that humanity can have ie, truthfulness and honesty. His uncle with whom he resided took him to Glasgow along with him

29. Robert Shaw and John Shaw

Twins, came to Maybole Ragged School August 7th 1854 left April 16th 1860 when they could read the bible well, write beautifully and were as far as reduction in arithmetic. Mr Crawford engaged them as apprentices with the intention to learn them to be shoe and boot makers. The superintendant remarks of Robert that he is a very apt scholar at his trade although otherwise while at school. I believe that they are both doing well.

30. Thomas Holgon

Came to Maybole Ragged School April 24th 1854 could not read the alphabet. Left May 9th 1860. He was very irregular in his attendance at school. Notwithstanding when he left he could read pretty well, write legibly and was as far as compound division. Mr Nimmo engaged him as an apprentice taylor from whom I expect to hear something favourable before long.


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