Josiah Spode II (1754-1827) and The Mount Estate (Penkhull)




  Education in Penkhull village  - 1841


The waste land or green in the middle of Penkhull village was originally occupied by a pond (see map on the introduction page). 

In 1834 largely on the initiative of Arthur Minton of Oakhill Hall a school was built on the south side of the pond. Apart from Arthur Minton the trustees of the new school included the rector of Stoke, John Tomlinson, the patron of Stoke church, and William Taylor Copeland, partner of Josiah Spode III, who took over the firm after Spode's death in 1829. 

In 1836 the school was licensed as a place of religious worship by the Bishop of Lichfield. 

The evidence below of the teachers in Penkhull church school and the primitive Methodist school is taken from the report by Samuel Scriven on the Employment of Children and Young Persons in the Staffordshire Potteries presented to the Royal Commission on Children's Employment in 1841.

PENKULL PRIMITIVE METHODIST (Sunday School). Established 17 years.

No. 124. Jas. Irvine, aged 40:--

I am the superintendent teacher; have attended the school in this capacity two years; We have 64 boys and 56 girls. There are 16 teachers, nine males and seven females. The nature of the instruction is religious, in no instance secular, except writing. The books used are, the Bible, Testament." reading made Easy," a work bearing on religion. They attend the religious worship of the chapel in the afternoon, and are instructed in the morning. Think they improve by their attendance. Most of them are the children of factors; are well conducted and respectful to us as teachers. We do not see much difference between children of pottery and others. I think, however, as compared with other places, not manufacturing, that they are not so good. When boys are taken young to work they associate with men of bad habits, and acquire them. Think that by coming to school they lose evil habits, and we endeavor by all the means in our power to inculcate good ones.


 The room (a chapel) is large, airy, and well ventilated, capable of containing 150 on the girls' side, and so on the boys.-All cleanly.


No. 123. Ann Taylor, aged 24.- 

I am one of the teachers of this establishment; have been teacher six years; have 48 girls on the books and 46 boys. The system of teaching is the National system, or Belt's. The books used are of a religious character, such as the Bible, Testament, Prayer. Mr. Godfrey, the curate, attends on Sunday mornings, and reads to them. The youngest child present is four years the oldest 16. They all go with the teachers to church service; they return to school in the afternoon, and are examined in their catechisms. No secular instruction of any kind is imparted. Think they make progress. I do not think that there is any perceptible difference between those who work in factories and those who do not. They are well conducted, cleanly, and respectable to us as teachers; there are some exceptions. They are regular in their attendance; frequently absent themselves on account of want of shoes and clothing. We have altogether nine teachers, male and female. 


The room is commodious, airy, well ventilated, and capable of containing comfortably 150.


No. 134. E. J. Bentley.-

I am teacher of this school; have had no previous education to fit me for it. The instruction is very simple: as reading, writing, exercises, and singing. We have 30 boys and 50 girls on the books, but owing to the badness of the times have only 60 altogether attending The girls are taught to knit and work; they come as early as four or five, and continue some-times as late as eight or nine. A few present are as young as two; they do not do anything.
The expenses of the school are defrayed by voluntary contributions, and partly by the payments of the children. The amount is 2d. each weekly; if we have three of one family, 4d. will defray the amount for all The rewards for good conduct are small books and occasional holidays; we give them other holidays at Christmas for 14 days. The punishments are trifling, and is left to the discretion of myself as their mistress. There is no other governess or monitor.

Held in the same school-room as the Church National Sunday-school, and well adapted for the purpose.

NOTE: The spelling of "Penkull" is as the original. The comments at the end of the testimony are those of Samuel Scriven.

For more on Scriven's report on child labour see:



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