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Defending the Faith through Education: The Catholic Case for Parental and Civil Rights in Victorian Britain

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 February 2017

Eric G. Tenbus*
Affiliation:
University of Central Missouri, Warrensburg, MO

Extract

The struggle to provide primary education for the Catholic poor in England and Wales dominated the agenda of English Catholic leaders in the last half of the nineteenth century. This effort occurred within the larger framework of a national educational revolution that slowly pushed the government into providing public education for the first time. Although state education grants at the elementary level began in 1833, lingering problems forced the government to establish a new era of educational provision with the controversial Education Act of 1870. This act created a dual education system consisting of the long-standing denominational schools operated by the different churches and new rate-supported board schools, operated by local school boards, providing no religious instruction or nondenominational religious instruction. In the closing years of the nineteenth century, the dual system grew intolerable for Catholics because local rates (property taxes) only supported the board schools and gave them almost unlimited funding while Catholic schools struggled to make ends meet on school pence and shrinking state grants, which Catholics had only had access to beginning in 1847.

Type
Article
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 by The History of Education Society 

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References

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19 Falling away from the faith involved two levels of severity. Much Catholic literature at the time used this term “leakage” to describe a more common phenomenon, which was the cessation of regular practice of the sacraments and attendance at mass. As grave and troublesome as this was for the hierarchy, the more serious, and less frequent, occurrence was open apostasy, which was a more conscious decision to spurn the faith.

20 Tablet, 16 November 1844, 3.

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26 Howard to Langdale, The Catholic School (March 1855): 111.

27 Emory University, Pitts Theology Library, Manning Collection, MSS 002, Box 11, Folder 8, Galley Proof of a message to the diocese on the “Education of the Poor,” 19 November 1865, 4.

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38 SDA, Vaughan ACTA, A Letter on the Educational Peril to Christianity (Manchester: T. Walker, 1882), 89.

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44 Hansard, vol. 355 (1891), cols. 1385–86.

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58 House of Commons, “First Report of the Royal Commission,” Sessional Papers 1886, 18 May 1886, 335.

59 This education bill led to six months of acrimonious debate in 1902 and eventually to a new Education Act that abolished the several thousand school boards that had been established since 1870 and replaced them with fewer, more centralized local education authorities. The act also allowed local rates to support denominational schools in return for greater public control.

60 Hansard, vol. 113 (1902), col. 1337.

61 Ibid., col. 1343.

62 Hansard, vol. 115 (1902), col. 1231.

63 “The New Education Act, 1902,” Dublin Review, 2 January 1903, 240–41.

64 With the Education Act's Kenyon-Slaney Amendment, local educational authorities would now control all secular education, and the cost of building and repairing schools returned to the religious denomination.