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of King Henry the eighth, when an act of parliament was passed, intituled, "An act for the English order, habit, and language." The views and object of this statute will be best explained by the following extract from its preamble: "The King's Majestie, our most gracious and redoubted soveraigne lord, prepending and waying by his great wisdom, learning and experience, how much it doth more conferre to the induction of rude and ignorant people and of the good and virtuous obe to the knowledge of Almighty God, dience which by his most holy precepts and commandments they owe to their princes and superiors, then a good instruction in his most blessed and familiarity in language, tongue, laws, with a conformitie, co-incidence in manners, order, and apparel, with them that be civil people, and do profess and knowledge Christ's re

ELEVENTH ROPORT FROM THE COMMIS ligion, and civil and politique orders,

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E the undersigned commission ers, appointed for enquiring in to the several funds and revenues granted by publie or private donations for the purposes of education, and into the state and condition of all schools upon public or charitable foundations in Ireland, proceed to lay before your Grace our report upon the state of the PARISH SCHOOLS. These are the oldest institutions under the denomination of schools in this country; they are co-eval with the introduction of the Reformation, and were established Anno Domini 1537, in the 28th year of the reign

laws, and directions, as his grace's subjects of this part of this his land of Ireland, that is called the English pale, doth most graciously, considering that there is again nothing which doth more conteyne and keep many certain savage and wilde kind and of his subjects of the said land in a manner of living, then the diversitie that is betwixt them in tongue, language, order, and habit." And after an ordonance that the Irish habit and apparel should be abolished, and the peculiar form in which the Irish wore their hair, discontinued, the statute proceeds in the third section to enact, "That every person or persons the King's true subjects inhabiting this land of Ireland, of what estate condition or degree he or they may be or shall be, to the uttermost of their power, cunning, and knowledge, shall use and speak commonly the English tongue and language; and that every such person and persons having

childe or children shall endeavour themself to cause and procure the said childe and children to use and speak the English tongue and language, and according to this or their abilitie, cunning, and power, shall bring up his said childe and children in such places where they shall or may have occasion to learn the English tongue, language, order, and condition." And with a view to the general introduction of the English tongue and language, it further enacts, that spiritual promotions should be only given to such persons as could speake English, unless after four proclamations made in the next market town such could not be had; and further, that every archbishop, bishop, and Suffragan, and every other having authority and power to give order of priesthood, deacon, and subdeacon, shall at the time they gave to any person any of these spiritual orders, administer to each of them a corporal oath, not only that he will endeavour himself to learn the English language, and instruct and teach the English tongue, to all under his rule, order, and governance, and in likewise shall bid the beades in the English tongue, and preach the word of God in English, but also that he shall "keepe or cause to be kept with in the place, terretorie, or paroch where he shall have rule, benefice, or promotion, a schoole for to learne English, if any of the childrene of his paroch come to him to learne the same, taking for the keeping of the same schoole such convenient stipend or salarie as in the said land is accustomably used to be taken." And it is further enacted, that if the bishop or suffragan omit to administer such oath to the person receiving any spiritual promotion, and that shall have the service of any paroch church under him," he shall pay a fine of three pounds six shillings and eight-pence, one moiety

of said fine to be paid to the King, and the other to the informer; and any person promoted to any benefice as aforesaid, and neglecting to fulfil the tenor, purport, and effect of said oath, is for the first offence to forfeit the sum of six shillings and eightpence; for the second offence, twenshillings; and for the third, to be deprived of his benefice. There is a provision in the act, that it should not extend or be prejudicial to any elergyman residing in any metropolitan cathedral, or collegiate church, and studying at any university, or otherwise out of the land by the King's commandment, "but that such paroch priest or priests which shall have the service of any paroch church under him or them, shalt during their absence teache the English tongue and language, and keepe a schoole according to the form of this act, under a penalty of twenty shillings a year for any year that he shall omit the same."

Under this act the parish schools of Ireland were established; and every Clergyman now inducted to a living, takes an oath in the words following:

"I, A. B. do solemly swear, That I will teach or cause to be taught, an English school within the said vicarage or rectory of....


as the law in that case requires.' How far the provisions of this act of parliament, which related to the instruction of the Irish and of their children in the English language, were enforced in the reign of Henry the eighth, and whether auy or what number of English schools were im mediately established in consequence of it; we have no means of ascertaining at this distance of time. The measure certainly met with opposition from some of the leading members of the church*. Though none of the statutes of the next

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reign (Edward sixth) are preserved in the Irish statute book, it appears (if we may rely upon the Historian Leland and his authorities, Sir J. Davis, Ware, and a MS.* in Trinity College, Dublin) that during that reign the Irish language was beCome so predominant within the English Pale, that laws were repeatedly enacted to restrain it, but inefficaciously; and we find the Irish chancellor of that time complaining in a letter to the Duke of Northumberland, president of the council in England," That hard it was that men should know their duties to God and the King, when they shall not hear teaching or preaching through out the year."

Where there was such a general want of clergymen resident on their livings, it may be presumed, that there were very few, if any, parochial English schools then existing; and it appears from the Irish statute book that (in the reign of Elizabeth) the English language had made so little progress in this country, and that so many of the clergy themselves of the reformed, church were at that period unable to officiate in the English language, that in the act for "The uniformity of the common prayer," (2d Elizabeth, chap. 2. anno domini 1560) it was found necessary to enact, That in any church or place where the common minister or priest had not the use or knowledge of the English tongue," he might celebrate the services "in Latin, according to the order and form as they be mentioned and set forth in the said book (the book of common prayer) established by this act, and according to the tenor of said act." It is not therefore very probable, that under such unfavourable circumstances any considerable num

Cusack's letters to the Duke of Northumberland, Anno Domini 1552; Cusack was then Chancellor of Ireland.

ber of English or parish schools could have been established in Ire land at that period. But of this we have no certain information; all that appears, is, that the govern

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ment was not inattentive to the cir crimstances of education at this period, for in the 12th year of the reign Elizabeth, an act was passed, intituled. "An act for the erection of free schools," the act under which the present diocesan schools were established. This act (as we have shown in a former report) not only provided that a free school should be kept in every shire town, but also provided, that a school house should be built in each (the first erection probably of these buildings in Ireland;) and as the preamble to this act attributes the manifold and heinous offences, daily and hourly committed and perpetrated, to a lack of good bringing up the youth of this realm, either in public or private schools, where through good discipline they might be taught to avoid these loathsome and horrible errors" it may be inferred that the establishment of the English or pas rish schools had not then been generally carried into effect; and in fact, however fully sensible our ancestors may have been of the importance, both in a moral and political point of view, of providing for the good instruction of the chil dren of the middle and lower orders of the Irish people, it is almost certain, that the very unsettled state of Ireland during the reign of Elizabeth and the greater part of that of her successor (James the first) and the convulsions of the three following reigns, (Charles first and second, and James the second) afforded little opportunity for carrying into effect the general establishment of English or parish schools under the act of Henry the eighth, or of the free schools of Elizabeth, already men

tioned. These acts, however, prove that the importance of a good edu cation for the children of this country, of the middle and lower orders, engaged the attention of our earliest le gislators; and it is remarkable, that both of these very ancient statutes attribute most of the evils which then afflicted this country, to the want of good and general instruction.

Some attention appears to have been paid in the reign of Charles the second, to the regulation of schools in general, by excluding improper persons from having the charge of them; for in the 17th and 18th year of this reign, an act was passed, which provided "that all schoolmasters should take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, and be licenced by the ordinary." This act was afterwards further enforced in the 7th year of King William the third, when an act was passed (chapter 4th) intituled, "An act to restrain foreign education;" in which it was amongst other things enacted, that the act of the 28th year of Henry the eighth, before-mentioned, "should from thence forth be strictly observed, and put in execution." The next act of parliament in any way relating to the parish schools (or to the schools for the lower orders) which is to be found in the Irish statute book, is one passed ⚫in the 8th year of George the first, chapter 12, and at present in force; it is intituled," An act for the better enabling of the clergy having cure of souls, to reside upon their respective benefices; and for the encouragement of protestant schools within this kingdom of Ireland." In the 9th section of this statute, it is enacted, "that for the better encouragement of English Protestant schools, which are much wanting in this kingdom," it shall and may be lawful for every archbishop and bishop, with the consent of his chapter, and for every dean, archdeacon, dignitary, prebenda.

ry, rector, vicar, and ecclesiastical per son whatsoever, with the consent of the archbishop or bishop of his diocese, to make an absoluté grant to the churchwardens of each parish, and their successors for ever, of any quantity of land to any of them respectively belonging, as glebe or otherwise, not exceeding two acres for an archbishop or bishop, and one acre for any other person before-mentioned, for the use of a resident Protestant master to teach the English tongue; which schoolmaster is to be nominat ed by the person making the grant, and to be licensed by the archbishop or bishop of the diocese. And by an act afterwards passed in the 5th year of George the second, chapter 4th, section 9, tenants in fee tail or for life, in possession with immediate remainder to issue, may by deed grant an acre of thirty shillings yearly value, and not part of demesne, to the churchwardens of any parish for the same use for ever. This is the latest act that we find in the statute book that seems to have any relation to pa rish schools.

Since this report was drawn up, but previous to its signature, an act of parliament received the royal assent last session, intituled, "An act for enabling tenants in tail and for life, and also ecclesiastical persons, to grant land for the purpose of endowing schools in Ireland." By this act all persons whatsoever seised of any lands in fee simple, fee tail or for life, in possession with immediate remainder to his, her, or their issue of any interest in lands, are empowered by his or their deeds respectively, to grant any part of such lands, not exceeding half an acre Irish plantation measure, within the liberties of any city or corporate town in Ireland, nor two acres, Irish plantation measure, in any other part of Ireland, of whatever yearly value the same may be, and being no part of demesne lands, to any

person or persons, body or bodies corporate, whether aggregate or sole (who shall be approved of for that purpose by the bishop of the diocese in which such lands lie) and to his and their heirs or successors, in fee simple, or for any lesser interest, in trust and for the use of a resident : schoolmaster and subject to such condition respecting the mode of appointing such schoolmaster and his successors, and the plan of education and regulation of such school and its concerns, as shall be specified in such deed, oras shall afterwards be agreed upon between the persons making such grant and the person or persons, bodies politic or corporate, who shall advance his or their money to the amount of not less a sum than one hundred pounds, either for the building of a school house on the Jands so granted, or for the endowment of a schoolmaster; and by this act all ecclesiastical persons whatsoever are empowered to grant any quantity of their church or glebe lands, not exceeding one acre, for the same pur, pose, in the same manner, and subject to the same conditions. From the forgoing view of the parish schools, it appears that they were, at their first establishment, intended to be compulsory as well on the people as the clergy, for the purpose of introducing the knowledge and practice of the English language, then unknown to the native Irish, who were required to bring up their children in such places where they could learn that tongue; and the corresponding duty of keeping those schools for teaching the English tongue, or causing them to be kept, was enjoined to the clergy at their institution; but it ought to be remembred, that this statute enjoin ing the clergy to teach or cause to be taught the English language within their respective districts, seems confined in its object of civilization only, and in no degree adverting to protes


tantism, as it expressly requires the clergy to bid their beades in English; but it appears that in the time of Charles the second, of William the third, and of Anne, the advancement of the Protestant religion was more distinctly provided for by the legisla lative regulations respecting schools; and from the acts of George the first and second, above cited, it further appears, that the legislature expected that the bishops and dignitaries and parochial clergy should make grants of small portions of their church lands, for the purpose of erecting school houses thereon; and many such grants have from time to time been made. does not however appear that at any time any grants of money have been made by parliament, or any fund appropriated for defraying the expences of building parish school houses; and we have reason to think, that most of those actually erected were built at the expense of the several parishes, or by the bounty of individuals. Few, if any of these school houses are much older than the reign of Anne, the most ancient we believe to be the school house of St. John's parish in the city of Dublin. Though the act of Henry the eighth, as is already stated, ordains that every incumbent in the kingdom should keep or cause to be kept an English school in his parish, yet there is no regulation made therein of the stipend to be paid by the clergymen to the person whom he shall cause to keep the school for him but we find that a custom has univer sally prevailed (though we cannot trace the period of its commencement) for the incumbents of parishes, in which parish schools are kept, to allow the schoolmaster forty shillings per annum as his salary, and whenever this small stipend (utterly inadequate at present) is paid by the clergymen to a school, master, the school is considered as a parish school.


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