ESSEX-UK-L ArchivesArchiver > ESSEX-UK > 2002-07 > 1026946562
From: "Mary Kernebone" <>
Subject: RE: Meaning of Scholar on the 1851 Census
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 2002 09:02:41 +1000
Hi Deanna, Guy and everyone,
This issue is one that interests me a lot.
Initially I have to make the comment that the census that is under
discussion is the census of 1851, therefore after the civil registration of
marriages came in. It also took place during the vast social changes of the
Industrial revolution. I have seen a sufficient number of examples of
certificates in which one member of the wedding party puts a mark and the
rest sign their names to conclude that obedience to authority is only a
partial answer to a widespread situation. (Have there been any published
studies on the actual education levels of those who could sign and made
their mark instead?)
I have found a number of situations in which the individual in 1851 is aged
9 and described as "scholar" and then ten to fifteen years later they make
their mark whilst others - the bride and witnesses for example - sign their
In addition whilst going through shipping records to Australia in a similar
period of time I have come across a number of people who are reported as
being able to "read a little" but could not write.
I suspect they were taught to read "a little" at Sunday School with the aim
of being able to read their Bibles. For most of the time they had to go to
work for long hours in dreadful conditions to assist in providing food for
the family. The parents may have recorded their child as being a "scholar"
on the census, but in reality there was no schooling taking place and they
probably could not afford the small cost even if they would have wished
their child to have an education.
This issue really has to be seen in the context of the widespread poverty
and the subsequent employment and bad treatment of children in the workplace
during the Industrial revolution in Britain.
I have families on record who for centuries in the past had owned and
subscribed to books, but whose grandchildren at this time could neither read
nor write. If a family who had traditionally educated their sons and their
daughters could not afford to educate their children, how much less
motivated to encourage education would a family be for whom education had
not been important in the past?
This web site gives some of the landmarks of public education in Great
A significant quote from it is:
"1861 Royal Commission (chairman, the Duke of Newcastle, 1811-64) on the
Present State of Popular Education in England reported that many elementary
subjects were badly taught; that attendance in the rural schools was
extremely irregular, many children not attending at all; most boys left
school at the age of ten or eleven; and there were insufficient places for
all children in the country. "
|RE: Meaning of Scholar on the 1851 Census by "Mary Kernebone" <>|