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Scotland and the Scots, 1707-2007

Christian Auer

III. Religion

17. A Scottish School in 1798

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1The Statistical Account, a massive 29-volume parish-by-parish description of Scotland published between 1791 and 1799, describes contemporary society in the 1790s. The different accounts, known as the Old Statistical Account, were organized and compiled by Sir John Sinclair (1754-1835), who asked church ministers throughout Scotland to send in detailed descriptions of their parishes. The ministers’ returns enabled Sir John Sinclair to give a comprehensive list of the problems which characterized Scottish agriculture in the eighteenth century and provided invaluable data and descriptions of the social and economic life in a period of profound change in agriculture and industry.

2John Sinclair, The Statistical Account of Scotland, Drawn up from the Communications of the Ministers of the Different Parishes, vol. 20, Edinburgh: 1798, p. 426-427.

City of Dunkeld and Parish of Dowally

2. Sunday School.—It was instituted in July 1789, under the patronage of the late Jane, Duchess of Atholl. The Regulations, approved of by her Grace, for conducting it, are subjoined*. The fees of the master she determined as follows: L. 1, 1s. to be paid yearly by herself, as patroness, and 6 d. per quarter besides for 30 scholars. The same rate of payment was to be made by the session for 10; and by the parents of each for the rest. The Duke of Atholl’s family have always, when in the country, honoured the public examination with their presence; and so liberal has the collection proved, that it has been abundantly adequate to the object in view. At the first of these examinations, which took place about three months after the commencement of the school, there were almost incredible proofs given of application and memory. Several of the scholars could repeat the whole book of Psalms, and the whole Paraphrases and Translations, besides many chapters from the Old and New Testament. Hitherto, indeed, it has continued to flourish, with a success which has never been exceeded by any similar establishment, and which reflects credit on the teacher, the scholars, the parents, and the memory of Her whose benevolence and piety gave rise to it. The benefit of such institutions is incalculable.

3. Female School.—This school, also, was instituted by the late Jane, Duchess of Atholl. Her Grace gave an annual salary to a person properly qualified, to teach the different branches of female education, such as sewing, tambouring, & c. and paid the usual rates for a certain number of scholars, whom she nominated. The mistress, at the same time, was allowed to receive and teach other scholars, additional to these. All of them continue the practice of reading a lesson in English daily.

* I. That the school meet every Sunday during the year.

II. That every meeting of the school begin and close with a prayer, by the master.

III. That before the last prayer, some verses be sung from the Psalms, or from the Paraphrases and Translations of Sacred Scripture.

IV. That the scholars be catechised on the first principles of religion.

V. That a portion of the Bible, or a printed sermon, be read at every meeting, and that the master, in the course of proceeding, make such remarks as may explain and enforce what is read.

VI. That on Sunday the scholars walk in regular order, with the master, to hear sermon, and take their seat in that part of the church which is allotted to them.

VII. That once, at least, every year, a public examination of the school be held, on a week day; and that some books be then distributed to such of the scholars as have been most remarkable for improvement or good behaviour.

VIII. That a journal of the proceedings of the school be kept by the master, in which he is to mention the sermon or the portion of the Bible which is read at the meeting; and in order that justice may be done to every scholar, in the distribution of the rewards, he is to mention the names of those who are absent on any occasion, with the excuses for their absence which they afterwards bring; and the names of those who particularly excel, whether in answering questions, in reading, or in repeating what they have been desired to commit to memory.

IX. That a sermon be preached by the minister of Dunkeld at the said public examination, and the money collected be applied for the purposes of the school.

© Presses universitaires de Strasbourg, 2013

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