Glassford 1820

"Milngavie School, Glasgow,Scotland — 1835 "


Eunice Shanahan

This letter is a real window into to the past, showing how a small community looked after its affairs in the mid-19th century, before governments took over responsibilities. It concerns the schools, banking and missionaries.
It was written by Andrew Sym and is sealed with black sealing wax, impressed with a signet ring marking of his initials in decorative script lettering A. S.

It was addressed to Jas Glassford of Dugalstone, Esqre
8 Ainslie Place, Edinburgh.
(Fig.1 showing the postmarks)

The five postmarks tell their own story. The letter was lodged at New Kilpatrick which was one of the Glasgow Penny Post Offices, (which was served by a foot post), there it received the first postmark :-
1) GLASGOW PENNY POST. New Kilpatrick, was five miles from the Glasgow main post office.

This map (Fig.2) which was adapted from Alan Robertson's book shows how close this place was to Milngavie. (This is pronounced "Mill-Guy" or "Mull-Guy", a corruption of the Gaelic name Muilleann Dhaibhidh — David's Mill.)

From here it would have been taken to the main Glasgow post office, where it received :-
2) Glasgow circular date stamp in black ink A 19 DE 1835, which was the day after the letter was written.
3) The Glasgow office also applied the two 'Add ½' postmarks F067 type 2a . There should only be one of these, so possibly because one was too faintly applied, another was struck This type was in use in Glasgow from 24.9.1830 to 4.5.1838.
4) Then it has a manuscript charge mark 8, which would also have been applied in Glasgow. This is the cost of 7d for a distance of between 30-50 miles (Glasgow-Edinburgh is about 42 miles) plus the 1d postage for the Glasgow Penny Post = 8d plus the Additional ½d Scottish mail tax, making a total of 8½d to be paid by the addressee James Glassford. The next stage of the journey was the arrival in Edinburgh, where it received
5) Edinburgh circular date stamp in red, morning duty DEC 20 1835 C on left and M on right of the date.

So now to the letter itself, which is perfectly legible and in clear black ink. (Fig.3)

The first sentence shows that there were postal delays even then.

"New Kilpatrick Decr 18 1835
Dear Sir
I have delayed too long answering your obliging letters of the 3 and 8 the last of which was first received. I had in the meantime written a fourth time to the Treasury, and before making use of the Ld Advocate's letter I waited a few days to see whether there shd be an answer. Almost in course of Post I received Notification from the Ld Provost of Glasgow that he was instructed to communicate with me on the subject, and requesting me to call on him. I did so accordingly and got from him a set of Queries which I am required to answer and return to him for his attestation."
(Note: The Lord Provost is the head of a municipal corporation or borough in certain Scottish cities). He then goes on to explain why he had problems meeting the queries, and the way he is going to get around them.
"I find some difficulty in making out a case that will come under the Treasury Rules, in consequence of there being a Teacher's House & in consequence of the amount of subscription being very nearly equal to the original Estimate; but by deducting from the Estimate, and likewise from the subscriptions a due proportion for the Teacher's residence, and by adding the extra expenses incurred which are very considerable, I think I can make out a statement that will satisfy the Ld Provost, who seems liberally disposed, and whatever statement he certifies I understand will pass the Treasury. When I have got this prepared I intend to inclose the Ld Advocate's letter along with it, requesting the Ld Provost to forward it, as I think I cannot send it by itself, and have at present no pretence for communicating directly with the Treasury."

The next paragraph is all about the schools which they are providing, and I believe the 'swinging pole' mentioned was to be part of the playground equipment.

"We are much obliged by your offer to provide the School apparatus, but it was done before opening from the Glasgow Model School. The only thing that the Mistress says is wanting is the Swinging Pole. I am much pleased with the Teacher as far as I have seen, and every thing is going on much better than my most sanguine expectation. The number attending is about 45, and will not be much increased till Spring. The Ladies' School of Industry is likewise going on well. It is attended by upwards of 30 girls at eight who are at work during the day. The day school is not as prosperous, in consequence I believe of a notion that it is a Charity School, which it is not, or only in part, inasmuch as the children pay 2d a week. It is attended by 9 children. They are taught reading, writing, arithmetic & sewing, with daily religious instruction. The Mistress is to receive £16 a year with half the fees; the other half will probably defray any further expense. The School is held in the upper part of the same building with the Infant School, and I think it right to mention this in my answer to the Treasury Queries, as strengthening our claim."
(Note: The Glasgow Model School was a system of teaching, which was taken up by people responsible for the education in the villages. The following is from the Model School information on the website The British Critic and Quarterly Theological Journal page 373.

"The following account of the Glasgow Model School is introduced as a specimen of the kind of institution, some four or five of which ought to be immediately formed under the direction and control of the Church, out of the existing Central training schools:- "The seminary will consist of Infant, Juvenile, and Commercial Schools; a female school of industry, with one classroom to each Model School, and thirteen for training the Normal students; also Rector's Hall, Museum, Library, and Committee Rooms; each of the Model Schools to have a playground for healthful exercise and moral superintendence. In these buildings there will be accommodation for the daily training of one hundred teachers and above one thousand children, with every arrangement fitted to render the seminary a complete schoolmasters' college for the training of the teachers of youth.
Besides salaries for the Model Schools teachers, a Music-master, and one or two other masters for the Normal students, a respectable salary must be provided the rector, so that a permanent endowment will be required of at least 700L, a year in addition to the small fees that are expected from the Scholars."

This is amazing education for the middle of the 19th century. The required funding is the reason there was such a necessity for sponsors from the surrounding area, and the letter then lists those who are ready to help.)

"Mrs Brown of Kilmardniny and my sister have taken the chief direction of this school, but they have met with a ready concurrence from Lady Campbell, Mrs Colquhoun, Mrs Macnair of Balvie, Mrs Dunlop of Cloler, Mrs & Miss Black, Milngavie, and other ladies both of the parish and of their acquaintance elsewhere."
(Note: the next paragraph shows that not only was the school master there to teach, he also had to be a missionary, and to be responsible for banking.) (Fig.4)

"I had some conversation with Mr Brown two days ago about the Parish Missionary. He thinks it better to delay for some time, and in the first place to act about the establishment of a juvenile School, which meets an idea I mentioned to you, if I am not mistaken some time since, that there should be a Branch Parochial School at Milngavie a Parochial Schoolmaster there might do part of the duty of a Missionary, and we must not undertake too much at once.

There was at one time a Savings Bank at Milngavie, conducted by an individual which succeeded very well, but being thought not secure a Parochial Bank was established under the direction & guarantee of the Heritors and managed by the Parish Schoolmaster. From that time it gradually declined, till it was altogether given up. But I have no doubt that a well regulated Bank at Milngavie would succeed well now. Last year in visiting the Village, I suggested the idea, but the time was unfavourable on account of the Printers having struck work. I think there is nothing to hinder its' success now, and will be happy to do what I can to promote it, and to receive any suggestions you may have to offer as to the method of proceeding.
I am Dear Sir,
Yours respectfully
Andrew Sym."

There are two notes on the outside and it seems that Andrew Sym had managed to elicit some support for James Glassford.

"Recd A Sym 18 Dec 35 Minlgavie school &c &c"
"Answered 24 Sent £1 enclosed for Mr Glassford for School of Infants"

I expect they succeeded with their Model School funding, as the Scots have always had a keen respect for education.

This article was first published in Stamp News the Australian monthly magazine.

Copyright By EARS Leisurewrite
Contact us

backto Old Letters

Return to our Home Page