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Beresford Hope, the Church of England, and the Elementary Education Act of 1870

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 November 2019

Abstract

Historians have used a number of political, social, and other factors to explain the controversy surrounding elementary education in Victorian Britain. This article underscores the importance of religious motivations. The Act of 1870 – a significant extension of state responsibility – did not end debates about the purpose of education and the pros and cons of government involvement and religious instruction. Prominent among voluntaryists and anti-secularists was A. J. Beresford Hope, whose position offers useful insights into the educational agencies of the Church and the manner in which churchmen responded to new circumstances. This article explains Hope’s attitude and uses it to explore some of the causes and consequences of the Act of 1870. What type of schooling best suited the British people? Should it have a basis in something other than religion? How could the Church and its supporters meet the challenges posed by education reform?

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© The Journal of Anglican Studies Trust 2019 

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Footnotes

1

Dr Michael J. Turner is Roy Carroll Distinguished Professor of British History at Appalachian State University, North Carolina, USA.

References

2 Sturt, Mary, The Education of the People (London: Routledge, 1967), pp. 3-4, 6, 22-24, 28-30, 66, 250-51, 298-306, 404Google Scholar; Green, Andy, Education and State Formation (London: Macmillan, 1990), pp. 208-38Google Scholar; West, E. G., Education and the Industrial Revolution (London: Batsford, 1975), pp. 183208, 245-56Google Scholar; Silver, Harold, Education as History (London: Methuen, 1983), pp. 8199Google Scholar.

3 Green, Education and State Formation, pp. 231, 235-37, 263, 272, 300, 307; Lawson, John and Silver, Harold, A Social History of Education in England (London: Methuen, 1973), pp. 314-15Google Scholar; Adamson, John, English Education, 1789–1902 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1964), pp. 128, 130, 144, 146, 386Google Scholar; Curtis, S. J., History of Education in Great Britain (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1971), pp. 236-38, 241Google Scholar.

4 Sturt, Education of the People, pp. 297-99; Goldstrom, J. M., Elementary Education, 1780–1900 (New York: Barnes and Noble, 1972), p. 140Google Scholar. For an early effort at nondenominational compromise, see Murphy, James, The Religious Problem in English Education (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1959).Google Scholar Cruikshank, Marjorie, Church and State in English Education (London: Macmillan, 1964Google Scholar), demonstrates the abiding grip of the idea that education should have a religious content. Some Nonconformists qualified their opposition to the Act of 1870 with the recognition that henceforth they would not have to concern themselves with secular instruction. Green, S. J. D., Religion in the Age of Decline (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), pp. 220-21CrossRefGoogle Scholar. But for churchmen the danger was clear: ‘The direct entry of the state into the field of education marked an important stage in the diminution of the national role of the Established Church’. Norman, E. R., Church and Society in England, 1770–1970 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1976), p. 208.Google Scholar

5 Green, Education and State Formation, pp. 303-304; Lawson and Silver, Social History, pp. 320-21.

6 He was MP for Maidstone, 1841–52 and 1857–59, for Stoke-upon-Trent, 1865–68, and for Cambridge University, 1868–87.

7 John Bull, May 24, 26, 1851. The Church dominated the voluntary system by this time, with more than 17,000 schools and about 956,000 pupils. The British and Foreign Schools Society had about 1500 schools and 225,000 pupils. Curtis, History of Education, p. 208.

8 Parliamentary Debates, Commons, 3rd series, vol. 116 (1851), cols. 1242-98 (for Hope’s remarks see 1263-65).

9 Manchester Guardian, August 30, September 3, 1851. On the Manchester and Salford scheme see Maltby, S. E., Manchester and the Movement for National Elementary Education (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1918), pp. 82-94Google Scholar; Curtis, History of Education, pp. 247-48; Lawson and Silver, Social History, p. 276; Adamson, English Education, pp. 150-51; Armytage, W. H. G., Four Hundred Years of English Education (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), p. 119.Google Scholar

10 See Hope, A. J. B., Letters on Church Matters (London, 1852), pp. 3839Google Scholar, and his The New Government Scheme of Academical Education for Ireland (London, 1845), pp. 5-8.

11 Hope to Whewell, February 16, 1847, and March 17, 1850, Whewell Papers, Trinity College, Cambridge, Add. Ms. A57 f.24, C87 f.66.

12 Hope to Freeman, October 21, 1852, John Rylands Library, Manchester, E. A. Freeman Papers, GB133, EAF/1/1/48.

13 The Times, October 13, 14, 1857. On Hope’s speech see also Morning Chronicle, October 14, 1857; Lloyd’s Illustrated Newspaper, October 18, 1857; Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette, October 22, 1857; Newcastle Journal, October 24, 1857; Hereford Journal, October 28, 1857.

14 The Times, November 24, 1857; Bury and Norwich Post, December 1, 1857; Aberdeen Journal, December 2, 1857; Exeter Flying Post, December 3, 1857; Stirling Observer, December 3, 1857.

15 Parl. Deb. 148 (1858), 1184-1248 (for Hope’s speech see 1212-20); Manchester Guardian, February 12, 1858; Leeds Times, February 13, 1858; Sheffield Independent, February 13, 1858; Essex Standard, February 12, 17, 1858; Blackburn Standard, February 17, 1858.

16 Young, G. M. and Handcock, W. D. (eds.), English Historical Documents, XII(1), 1833–1874 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1956), pp. 891-97Google Scholar; Green, Education and State Formation, pp. 281-83; Curtis, History of Education, pp. 249-67; Adamson, English Education, pp. 202-234; Sturt, Education of the People, pp. 241-57; Goldstrom, Elementary Education, pp. 103-104, 122-31; Armytage, Four Hundred Years, pp. 124-26; Lawson and Silver, Social History, pp. 272, 282-83, 288-92, 328; W. B. Stephens, Education in Britain, 1750–1914 (New York: St Martin’s Press, 1998), pp. 7-8, 79; and see also the differing opinions in Marcham, A. J., ‘Recent Interpretation of the Revised Code of Education, 1862’, History of Education 8.2 (1979), pp. 121-33CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Fletcher, Laadan, ‘A Further Comment on Recent Interpretations of the Revised Code, 1862’, History of Education 10.1 (1981), pp. 21-31CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and Marcham, A. J., ‘The Revised Code of Education, 1862: Reinterpretations and Misinterpretations’, History of Education 10.2 (1981), pp. 81-99CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

17 Hope, A. J. B., Two Years of Church Progress (London, 1862), pp. 34.Google Scholar

18 Observer, March 20, 21, 1859; Lloyd’s Illustrated Newspaper, March 20, 1859; Morning Chronicle, March 21, 22, 1859.

19 ‘Mr Beresford Hope’s Address upon the Political Questions of the Day, at Stoke-upon-Trent Town Hall, Tuesday September 9th 1862’, British Library, Gen. Ref. 8139 df.17/ 13/ 12-13.

20 It appears that Hope already knew what the coming challenges for church schooling would be. As Stephen Platten has argued, the main question shifted – from control over education to the very survival of church schools – and the key factor was not so much secularization but the Church’s changing relationship with the state. Platten, S. G., ‘The Conflict over the Control of Elementary Education, 1870–1902, and its Effect upon the Life and Influence of the Church’, British Journal of Educational Studies 23.3 (1975), pp. 276302CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Richards, N. J., ‘Religious Controversy and the School Boards, 1870–1902’, British Journal of Educational Studies 18.2 (1970), pp. 180-96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

21 A. J. B. Hope, Essays (London, 1844), p. 90.

22 Hope, A. J. B., The Condition and Prospects of Architectural Art (London, 1863), pp. 2324.Google Scholar

23 Hope, A. J. B., The World’s Debt to Art (London, 1863), pp. 3233.Google Scholar

24 The Times, June 7, 1861, June 15, 1863.

25 The Times, April 30, May 4, 1863. In one of the pamphlets he published in the early 1860s, Hope was able to commend church schools at greater length. As more children were exposed to church principles, he wrote, there would be educational benefits for the nation and pride in the Church of England would increase, making it safer and more stable. Despite the ‘insolence of militant Dissent’, most people understood that church schools were useful and necessary. Hope, Church Progress, pp. 3, 8, 13, 26.

26 Morning Post, November 19, 1863; Standard, November 19, 1863; John Bull, November 21, 1863; Reading Mercury, November 21, 1863.

27 The Times, October 13, 18, 1864; Manchester Courier, October 20, 1864; Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette, October 20, 1864; Newcastle Courant, October 21, 1864; Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, October 21, 1864.

28 Many church schools had been informally implementing a ‘conscience clause’ and for some it was included in their trust deeds. The Committee of the Privy Council prescribed it in 1839 for schools receiving public money, but it was not properly enforced until the 1850s. It was included in the educational provisions of the Factory Act of 1844. The Revised Code of 1862 instructed that all grant-aided schools must apply the ‘conscience clause’, and it gained clear statutory force with the Act of 1870.

29 Morning Post, May 31, 1865; Leicester Chronicle, June 3, 1865; John Bull, June 3, 1865.

30 The Times, November 14, 1866; John Bull, October 20, November 17, 1866; Morning Post, November 14, 1866; Manchester Courier, November 14, 1866; Daily News, November 14, 1866; Nottinghamshire Guardian, November 16, 1866; Hull Packet, November 16, 1866; York Herald, November 17, 1866; Westmorland Gazette, November 17, 1866; Bucks Herald, November 17, 1866; Essex Standard, November 21, 1866.

31 John Bull, November 17, 1866.

32 John Bull, April 6, August 31, October 5, 26, 1867, February 1, 1868; Daily News, January 29, 1868; Standard, January 29, 1868; Manchester Guardian, January 30, 1868; Leeds Times, February 1, 1868; Preston Chronicle, February 1, 1868.

33 The Times, June 18, 1868; John Bull, June 20, 1868.

34 Stephens, Education in Britain, pp. 78-81; Curtis, History of Education, pp. 272-75, 277, 281; Adamson, English Education, pp. 347-54, 360-62, 386; Sturt, Education of the People, pp. 301-302; Goldstrom, Elementary Education, pp. 140-42; Armytage, Four Hundred Years, pp. 143-48; Green, Education and State Formation, pp. 301-303; Lawson and Silver, Social History, pp. 294, 314-17; Patricia Auspos, ‘Radicalism, Pressure Groups, and Party Politics: From the National Education League to the National Liberal Federation’, Journal of British Studies 20.1 (1980), pp. 184-204.

35 Hope would repeatedly state that the NEL was among the principal enemies against which the Church had to ‘hold its own’. E.g. Hope, A. J. B., The Place and Influence in the Church Movement of Church Congresses (London, 1874), p. 13Google Scholar. The Church had to prove its usefulness and relevance to ward off challenges, and its educational work was vital in this respect. One promising idea for cathedral towns – outlined by Hope in an address to the Church Congress in Stoke-upon-Trent in 1875 – was to set up a school in connection with the cathedral. This would cement links between the Church and local people. Hope, A. J. B., Worship and Order (London, 1883), pp. 2021Google Scholar. See also his The English Cathedral of the Nineteenth Century (London, 1861), pp. 259-60.

36 The Times, August 7, 1869; Parl. Deb. 198 (1869), 1442-50 (for Hope’s remarks see 1444).

37 Economist, June 19, 1869; The Times, February 5, March 14, 1870; Observer, March 13, 1870; John Bull, February 5, March 12, 19, 1870.

38 Parl. Deb. 199 (1870), 1963-2068 (for Hope’s remarks see 2021-26).

39 The Times, April 5, 9, 13, 1870; John Bull, April 9, 16, 1870; Parl. Deb. 200 (1870), 1703-19 (for Hope’s remarks see 1709).

40 E.g. John Bull, April 9, 1870.

41 The Times, May 12, June 21, 1870; John Bull, May 14, 1870; Parl. Deb. 202 (1870), 495-596 (for Hope’s remarks see 546-52).

42 The Times, July 29, 1870.

43 Pall Mall Gazette, October 5, 1870; Standard, October 5, 1870; John Bull, October 8, 1870; Examiner, October 8, 1870. Inspection had long been a sensitive issue. A compromise had been agreed in the 1840s whereby, for church schools, inspectors would not be appointed without the Church’s approval.

44 The Times, October 13, 1870; John Bull, October 15, 1870; Southampton Herald, October 15, 1870; Bristol Mercury, October 15, 1870; Bury and Norwich Post, October 18, 1870; Nottinghamshire Guardian, October 21, 1870.

45 Manchester Guardian, April 24, 1872; The Times, April 24, June 15, 1872; Parl. Deb. 210 (1872), 1714-47 (see especially 1734-38), and 211 (1872), 1744-60 (especially 1746-47, 1752, 1757).

46 The Times, March 4, 1873.

47 Religious disputes – including that over education – were a major reason for this change of administration. J. P. Parry, ‘Religion and the Collapse of Gladstone’s First Government, 1870–1874’, Historical Journal 25.1 (1982), pp. 71-101.

48 Standard, March 20, 1874; John Bull, April 18, 1874; Pall Mall Gazette, April 18, 1874; Birmingham Daily Post, April 18, 1874; Manchester Courier, April 18, 1874.

49 Morning Post, June 11, 1874; John Bull, June 13, 1874.

50 Manchester Guardian, June 24, 1874; The Times, June 24, 1874; John Bull, June 27, 1874.

51 The Times, July 9, 1875; Morning Post, July 9, 1875.

52 Manchester Guardian, February 18, 1876; The Times, February 18, 1876.

53 Standard, June 10, 1875; Morning Post, June 10, 1875; York Herald, June 10, 1875; Liverpool Mercury, June 10, 1875; John Bull, June 12, 1875.

54 Daily News, June 21, 1876; Standard, June 21, 1876; Manchester Guardian, June 22, 1876; Manchester Courier, June 22, 1876; Morning Post, June 22, 1876.

55 The Times, June 20, 1876.

56 John Bull, July 1, 1876. The division mentioned by Hope occurred on June 19 when an amendment to Sandon’s Bill, to enforce attendance at school, was defeated by 309 to 163 votes. Parl. Deb. 230 (1876), 15-101.

57 Observer, July 30, 1876; Manchester Guardian, July 31, 1876. The debate can be followed in Parl. Deb. 230 (1876), 1528-51, 1890-1911, 231 (1876), 60-72.

58 John Bull, August 5, 1876; Parl. Deb. 231 (1876), 469-96 (for Hope’s comments see 478).

59 Friendly Companion and Illustrated Instructor, September 1, 1876.

60 Curtis, History of Education, pp. 281-82; Adamson, English Education, pp. 358-59, 363.

61 John Bull, March 10, 1877.

62 Sheffield Independent, February 7, 1878; Liverpool Mercury, February 7, 1878; Belfast Newsletter, February 7, 1878; John Bull, February 9, 1878, October 25, 1879.

63 Parl. Deb. 248 (1879), 1639-54 (especially 1644-45); The Times, July 31, 1879; John Bull, August 2, 1879; Punch, August 9, 1879.

64 The Times, December 1, 1881; Standard, December 1, 1881; Morning Post, December 1, 1881.

65 Standard, March 14, 1883; Daily News, March 14, 1883; The Times, June 8, July 18, 1883; John Bull, March 17, June 9, 1883; Morning Post, June 8, 1883. The defense of denominational schooling obviously concerned non-Anglicans too. While the Church had many more schools and pupils than the Roman Catholics, the latter had broadly the same educational goals. Eric Tenbus has discussed these goals in ‘“We Fight for the Cause of God”: English Catholics, the Education of the Poor, and the Transformation of Catholic Identity in Victorian Britain’, Journal of British Studies 46.4 (2007), pp. 861-83, and ‘Defending the Faith through Education: The Catholic Case for Parental and Civil Rights in Victorian Britain’, History of Education Quarterly 48.3 (2008), pp. 432-51.

66 Morning Post, November 20, 1874; Standard, November 20, 1874; The Times, November 21, 1874; Hastings and St Leonard’s Observer, November 21, 1874.

67 John Bull, July 29, 1876; Royal Cornwall Gazette, August 19, 1876.

68 The Times, October 13, 1877; Standard, October 13, 1877; Morning Post, October 15, 1877.

69 The Times, November 11, 1882; Englishwoman’s Review, November 15, 1882.

70 The Times, September 2, 24, 1884; Birmingham Daily Post, June 18, September 19, 1884; Standard, September 19, 22, 1884.

71 Dalglish, N. D., ‘Planning the Education Bill of 1896’, History of Education 16.2 (1987), pp. 91104CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Munson, J. E. B., ‘The Unionist Coalition and Education, 1895–1902’, Historical Journal 20.3 (1977), pp. 607-45CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Sturt, Education of the People, pp. 394-98.

72 Observer, June 28, 1896.

73 E.g. Wasson, Ellis, A History of Modern Britain (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), p. 164Google Scholar; Marcham, A. J., ‘Educating our Masters: Political Parties and Elementary Education, 1867 to 1870’, British Journal of Educational Studies 21.2 (1973), pp. 180-91CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Gardner, Philip, ‘Literacy, Learning, and Education’, in Williams, Chris (ed.), Nineteenth-Century Britain (Oxford: Blackwell, 2007), pp. 354-55, 357Google Scholar; Anderson, Robert, ‘Learning: Education, Class, and Culture’, in Hewitt, Martin (ed.), The Victorian World (New York: Routledge, 2014), pp. 495-97.Google Scholar

74 Into the next century, some of the ideas Hope had expressed about church schooling were still being employed: e.g. Parker, David, ‘“Stand Therefore!” Bishop Michael Bolton Furse, the Diocese of St Albans, and the Church Schools Controversy, 1919–1939’, History of Education Quarterly 39.2 (1999), pp. 161-92CrossRefGoogle Scholar; Freathy, R. J. K., ‘Ecclesiastical and Religious Factors which Preserved Christian and Traditional Forms of Education for Citizenship in English Schools, 1934–1944’, Oxford Review of Education 33.3 (2007), pp. 367-77CrossRefGoogle Scholar; and on the unending controversy about the availability of public money for church schools see Chadwick, Priscilla, ‘The Anglican Perspective on Church Schools’, Oxford Review of Education 27.4 (2001), pp. 475-87CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Though there were important rearguard actions, church power was waning. The Education Act of 1902 marked a turning point because, though voluntary schools survived, there would now be clearer secular control over a more unified national system. Local Education Authorities replaced School Boards and covered the whole country, and voluntary schools could get rate aid only if they admitted LEA representatives to their governing bodies. The idea that education should have a religious content no longer featured much in government policy.