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The Gwent Local History Council was set up in 1954 to encourage public interest in local history, to bring together societies and persons interested in the study of local history, to arrange lectures and publish the results of historical research. Their twice yearly magazine "Gwent Local History" has made a valuable contribution to the store of historical knowledge. Here Caerleon Net, with the full agreement of the Gwent Local History Council, is making available many of the articles from this magazine relating to Caerleon.
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Presenting Monmouthshire No.28, Autumn 1969

Poor Law History In Monmouthshire Since 1834

The Workhouse Schools

by D. B. Hughes, M.A. (Wales)

"Well! You have come here to be educated and taught a useful trade," said the red faced gentleman in the high chair.
"So you'll begin to pick oakum tomorrow morning at six o'clock," added the surly one in the white waistcoat."
Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens.

"No extras, no vacations, and diet unparalleled."
Nicholas Nickleby - Charles Dickens.

Each of the six unions under review possessed a workhouse school. This was either a room within the main workhouse building or, as happened in certain unions in time, a separate school removed from the main building but within its immediate surroundings and directly under the supervision of the workhouse master.

The Abergavenny workhouse opened in December 1839 and its school may be regarded as existing from 1840, when the first teacher was appointed, until 1886 January when the paupers left the school to attend the British and National schools in the town. (1) The Bedwellty union school existed from 1852 to February 1897 when the last teacher left and the children then attended the Georgetown Board school for their daily education. In this union a building removed from the main block and originally intended as a hospital, was used instead as a separate school in 1877, housing boys, girls and teaching staff. (2) The workhouse school in the Chepstow Union lasted from 1840 to 1880, the workhouse having been opened in 1838. A separate schoolroom was built and was ready for occupation by January 1878. When the children left to attend the Chepstow Board School in 1880, this detached building was used for meetings of the Board of Guardians. (3) The Monmouth union also gave instruction to its children, first within an old poor house which was extended in 1839 and then in a new workhouse which was erected in 1871. In February 1887 the pauper children of this union left to attend the local schools. (4) The life span of the Newport union school (as distinct from its industrial school built later at Caerleon) was from 1839 to 1859, the entire workhouse having been occupied by all classes of paupers in February 1839. (5) The Pontypool union workhouse was opened in April 1838 and its school may be regarded as continuing from 1842 (6) (when the first teacher was appointed) to 1901 (September) when the children were sent to the local board schools. (7) In this union, a separate school was occupied in 1881, (8) yet still under the general oversight of the workhouse master, the school master and ancillary staff being responsible to him. (9)

Thus the institution of the workhouse school covers a period of roughly forty years - an exception being that of Newport whose school lasted half of that time. Even though these schools did not exist concurrently and even though each union suffered the problems peculiar to itself, it is nevertheless meaningful to consider this as the earliest and most obvious method by which the Guardians sought to educate their charges. Insofar as these schools were within the main workhouse buildings, it would be impossible to consider the treatment of this class of pauper in complete isolation from other problems which confronted the Boards of Guardians. Indeed it would be meaningless, for the evidence throughout the century suggests that the education of children attracted the interest of the Guardians only after the more immediate and dangerous problems had been solved and the more articulate and vociferous groups placated. Thus an awareness of the workhouse background is germane to the central theme. The intention of the 1834 legislation was that each class of paupers - the sick, the aged, the children - should be kept separate, one of the major criticisms of the pre-1834 system having been that there was no classification in the workhouses. "If the want of classification, and the absence of correct discipline which prevailed in the old workhouses continued in the new, a great number of these children would acquire the habits of hereditary paupers". (10) In practice, the various classes never were kept separate in the newly built "bastilles".

Many factors explain the continued child suffering. The Guardians sought mainly to preserve their own reputations and to keep down the rates. The workhouses which they bad erected were soon to be occupied by troops to quell Chartist riots and this made classification impossible. (11) The rural unions tolerated incompetent staff for far too long (12) and no union was able to deal competently with its public health problem. (13) Because of these conditions the workhouse school appears a hellish boarding establishment, morally degrading and physically dangerous to all classes of pauper, but especially to the children who were the most vulnerable of all.

Their education and upbringing was further vitiated by a generally high turnover of teaching staff, many of whom were ignorant and unqualified, a few worn out by over work and confinement in an unhealthy institution, and all uncertain of their position in the workhouse in relation to other staff. From the start there was a marked reluctance to appoint teachers. The Chepstow Guardians quickly refused to deal with a man, Havard, who applied for a position as schoolmaster in 1839. (14) The Newport Guardians in 1838 thought it "not expedient at present to appoint a schoolmaster or schoolmistress". (15) In the Abergavenny workhouse the children had suffered a short but intense period of appalling neglect before Head, the Assistant Commissioner, stressed the need for a teacher. (16) The Pontypool Guardians in February 1842 thought that the question warranted a sub-committee, its terms of reference being to enquire into the necessity of providing instruction, to report on the number of children in the workhouse and the possibility of their remaining. It was found that the number of children admitted during the year was small and "not at any time amounted to half a dozen". Of these, half remained less than a fortnight, only two stayed for a whole year, and one of those was "incapacitated for receiving instruction from mental imbecility". It was further stated that the majority of the children were not of the Pontypool union and in the light of these facts the Guardians resolved not to appoint a teacher. (17) The attitude of the Monmouth Guardians to appointing teaching staff has already been quoted. (18)

The high turnover of staff and ill-defined position of teachers is seen most clearly in the comparatively short life of the Newport workhouse school 1839-1859. When the first teacher, Mrs. Rees, resigned in 1843, she wrote to the Guardians thanking them for "the comfortable position held by her". Such a letter concealed the real truth, for during her stay, the situation was neither comfortable to herself nor educative for the children. An investigation by the Board of Guardians in September 1839 showed that not only was the matron responsible for the unclean state of the children but guilty of much incivility to the schoolmistress. Such strained relationships produced not only appalling child neglect but also a threatened resignation of the teacher. (19)

In the Pontypool union in 1846 there was, in fact, a wholesale resignation of the master Cottrell, the matron Miss M. Meredith, and the school teacher Miss E. M. Meredith, the reason received by the Poor Law Commission being "disagreements among themselves" (20) The Newport Guardians by 1843 thought fit to comment on the improved situation, inserting a minute recording the efficient way in which the clerk, the relieving officers, the master, matron and school mistress had worked. But during the time of the next teacher, Jane Knowles, such comments stemmed either from sheer hypocrisy or from total ignorance of the workhouse situation. An impartial observer, Gulson, an Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, reported in July 1846 that he had "found the house clean and orderly but that the children appeared ignorant and not sufficiently taught in the ordinary learning of the common schools". Such a comment is not difficult to understand, for during the intervals between the departure of one teacher and the arrival of another, as well as during frequent periods of ill-health, the less objectionable paupers were used to supervise the children. For example, during the illness of Rhoda Irvine (she ultimately resigned from ill-health) "Sophia Linton an inmate of the house was directed to take charge of the school for the present". (21)

The Newport union was not the only offender in this latter respect, the Pontypool Guardians in 1842 having tried to select from the female paupers "someone competent to superintend the children". (22) Such practices were directly contrary to an Instructional Letter sent to the unions in February 1842 "The commissioners strongly disapprove of the practice of having recourse to a pauper as the instructor of either the male or female children. In no department of the workhouse is a careful selection of the person employed of greater importance than in the office of schoolmaster or schoolmistress. Their incompetence (pauper instructors) and those habits which are generally the cause or consequence of pauperism, affect not only the present comfort and conduct of children entrusted to their care but exercise a most pernicious influence on the subsequent welfare of those children and on the likelihood of their permanent charge-ability". (23)

If strained human relationships and bad health caused frequent arrivals and departures of female teachers, their male counterparts could not withstand the rigours of the workhouse school for very long, either. Of the six unions only Bedwellty, Newport and Pontypool indulged in school masters. Bedwellty employed a Mr. and Mrs. Hunt jointly in 1877, (24) and Pontypool, a Mr. and Mrs. Stephens in 1884, (25) their rather longer periods of service in the last quarter of the century being explained by improved buildings in both of these workhouses. And even Stephens suffered much illhealth before he finally resigned. (26)

The Newport schoolmasters formed a very disgruntled procession, the first arriving in June 1849, "appointed at a salary of £20 per annum and his maintenance to take charge of the boys of the school, to teach them reading and writing as well as their duties in field labour". He left after a very short stay, the Poor Law Board having refused to pay a grant towards his salary. His successor, Robbins (1849-1851), was required by the Guardians to resign for having "several times absented himself from the house without leave and returned at improper hours". The Henry Norman Thomas who served from 1853 to 1854 left because of illhealth occasioned "by confinement to his occupation". Hartley Feather (1854-1855), after disagreements with the master of the workhouse for which he was blamed, resigned, it being declared that "Mr. Feather is not likely at present to fill his office with satisfaction to the Guardians", the explanation to the Poor Law Board in May 1855 being that "he had not given satisfaction in his office owing to his bad state of health". (27) (He later served as master of the Pontypool workhouse 1868-1897). (28)

Inefficient teachers and nepotism further explained the obvious limitations of the workhouse schools; efficiency was important to Inspectors but the Guardians sought for the most part, obedience. In the Abergavenny union it is likely that Elizabeth and Tegwedd Bevan were related to the Bevans, master and matron 1843-1863. (29) The minute books give no evidence of disagreements between them as is often the case when there is not a possible family relationship. It is certain that Miss Jeffries, teacher from 1872 to 1880 (at which latter date she was promoted to assistant matron), was related to the Jeffries, master and matron from 1870 to 1897, for on 18th October 1901, a letter of condolence was sent by the Guardians to her on the death of her mother, a former matron. In this union, too, the indulgence of the Guardians extended even to the old nurse Mary Alban, who was obliged to resign at the age of sixty after some twenty years' service of obvious progressive deterioration. (30) In the Bedwellty union the teacher Miss Pike (1853-1865) was allowed to substitute her sister as teacher during her own illness. (31) The indulgent treatment by the Chepstow Guardians to Gwenllian Lewis during her successive illnesses leads one to believe that she was related to the master and matron (Lewis and wife 1838 to 1852 and G. Lewis, teacher, 1840 to 1847). Her treatment indeed contrasts greatly with that afforded to Miss Irwin (1862-1866) who was "admonished for not being more diligent with the children (which she stated to be ten in number) and making them knit more stockings". Her frequent absences from the workhouse had drawn criticism from the Guardians already in 1864. (The master and matron at the time were the Whites, 1861 to 1869). (32) By contrast, Mrs. Reece in the Monmouth union (1857-1866) was one of the privileged ruling set; eating with the master, matron and nurse and "to have Bread and Cheese when she requests it and be allowed to take a slice of Bread and Butter from the breakfast table". She was obliged to resign in 1866 only after Graves, the Poor Law Board Inspector reported that "Mrs. Reece, schoolmistress, had become permanently disqualified by bodily infirmity for the efficient discharge of her duties". (33)

The Inspectors looked at the workhouse itself and the school within it through different eyes. The general Inspectors of the Poor Law Commission and, later, of the Poor Law Board, concerned themselves with the overall administration of the workhouse and the Guardians' treatment of such matters as outdoor relief, vagrancy and accommodation. The Inspectors who examined the specific educational arrangements were responsible to the Committee of the Privy Council on Education until 1863 and were a hybrid creation, the origin of which lies in the first payment of a government grant towards workhouse teachers' salaries in 1846. Until this time the workhouse schools had been unaffected by government grants and were aloof from the religious controversies which bedevilled the efforts of the Committee of Council on Education to effect inspection. The Minute of the Committee of Council of December 1846, as the embodiment of the ideas of Kay Shuttleworth, himself a former Assistant Poor Law Commissioner, brought into being a scheme which contained inter-related features a syllabus of training for pupil teachers with annual examinations, grants towards their stipends, bounties for masters taking apprentices, grants to schools, scholarships for selected student teachers to attend the training colleges, grants to training colleges and a system of grants in aid of the schoolmasters appointed to schools under inspection. This minute was of special importance for the workhouse schools because previously teachers' salaries had been determined and paid by the separate Boards of Guardians from the rates which they levied for poor relief purposes. Guardians would offer minimum salaries and thus fail to obtain qualified teachers. The control over teachers' salaries was a powerful instrument for reform in the hands of the Poor Law Commission because grants in support of salaries would be withheld if improvements were not effected and so the cost of teachers' salaries would be thrown entirely upon the rates. (34) It is also of interest to note the contrast between this rate-aided instruction for pauper children and the refusal by the public of any such aid for a less captive audience, in the period before 1870.

The appointment of Inspectors was in the hands of the Committee of Council and the first Inspectors were Tufnell and Ruddock in January 1847, Bowyer and Browne in the September, and Symons in February 1848. The workhouse schools were visited periodically by these Inspectors on the basis of whose reports the Committee of Council advised the Poor Law Board in its distribution of the treasury grants. The amount of grant earned was regulated by the grade certificate awarded to the teacher by the Inspector. (35) The anomalous situation of one government department inspecting the work of another, continued until 1863 when the Poor Law Board took over responsibility for workhouse schools. (36)

The certificates granted by the Inspectors were of four grades Permission, Probation, Competency and Efficiency; each grade had three divisions, each carrying a different salary grant. For the award of Competency the teacher should explain the organization of the school in writing, do arithmetic to simple interest, parse a prose narrative, answer a few questions on the British Empire, on Scripture and on the History of Palestine and teach a class before the Inspector."

Inspection revealed much variety in the quality of the teachers in Monmouthshire. In 1847 (April 3rd), the teacher Sarah Hawkes was requested for a report on the state of the Chepstow workhouse school by the Poor Law Commission and, after having delayed for a fortnight owing to a bad finger, gave one to the Board of Guardians. "The schoolmistress' report on the progress of the children and their general conduct and behaviour was read - it appeared that the grammar was bad and the spelling - the schoolmistress was called in and was told the Board did not consider her an efficient person". Her successor, Miss Taylor, however, was awarded a certificate of Probation, Division I, in March 1862. (38) The Emily O'Neil who taught in the Bedwellty school (1875-1877) obtained a Certificate of Competency, Division 3, and, when her successor, Hunt, was awarded a Certificate of Efficiency in 1878, the "Board were pleased to notice a great improvement in the appearance of the children and the discipline of the school". (The Hunts left in 1881 when the Guardians refused an increase in salary. (39) In the Monmouth union the ageing Mrs. Reece clung as longingly to her Certificate of Probation, Division 2, throughout her whole service (1857-1860) as she did to her sinecure. But her successor Miss Jones improved from Probation, Division 3, in 1866, to Probation, Division 2, by 1868. It was during this teacher's time that the Guardians complained of a hurried inspection by Browne. "We beg to notify your Board that Mr. Browne never examined the schoolmistress at all. He appeared and said he was in a hurry being desirous to avail himself of the 12.30 train at the station which is one mile from the workhouse". The Guardians were of the opinion that "Inspectors consult only their own convenience". (40)

The neglect experienced by the Monmouth Guardians on this occasion contrasts strongly with the harassment of the Newport Guardians and teachers at the hands of Symons, to whom the workhouse school must have mirrored faithfully the state of all elementary education throughout the rest of South Wales, which he described so scathingly in 1847. (41) The teachers were pitifully nervous, Elizabeth Iles, for example, refusing to be examined by him in 1857 "from a feeling of nervousness". Nor did the Guardians themselves see eye to eye with him. In August 1851 Symons produced a sum worked out on a slate by Ann Walters (1851-1852) to the Guardians, apparently as evidence of her incompetence. The Poor Law Board required her to resign (1852 January), and the Guardians renewed "the expression of their deep regret that the Poor Law Board have thought fit to insist on the removal of this person from the charge of the workhouse children as necessary on grounds so little to be compared in importance with the order, useful teaching and religious instruction, which she has beyond any previous schoolmistress impressed upon their minds". Relations seemed strained from the start. The Guardians refused to order the maps of England and the Holy Land recommended by Symons in 1850 and when the Poor Law Board asked the reason (August 17th) the reply was that the Guardians did "not consider maps necessary for the education of pauper children". A special meeting was thought necessary in September to discuss the purchase of maps, the motion to purchase them being defeated by 18 votes to 13 (5th October). In 1851 (5th April) the Poor Law Board reminded them "As long as the Guardians refused to provide maps for the schools no payment from the Parliamentary Grant can be made for the salaries of the schoolmaster and schoolmistress of the union". The Inspector was the bête noire to the Guardians. They attributed "the difficulties they have experienced in procuring a person to fill permanently the said office (i.e. of schoolmaster) to the unfavourable decision expressed by Mr. Symons, Her Majesty's Inspector, on the appointment heretofore made by them resulting in the resignation of several persons in succession". (42) But Symons was not alone in his criticism of inefficient teachers. Tufnell could write "an hour before I am writing this I requested a workhouse schoolmaster to examine his pupils in the last chapter they had been reading, which happened to be the part of the 4th St. John; when amongst other blunders he mistook the Publicans for the Sadducees, confused St. John the Baptist with John the Evangelist, made Galilee a city of Samaria and put Samaria in Jerusalem. I once found a schoolmaster who could neither read nor write". (43)

Conditions in workhouse schools varied greatly and many anomalous situations existed as can be seen from the evidence of Browne, the Inspector for the Western district which included Wales. The Cardiff union, whose population was 58,285 in 1861, maintained a separate school at Ely, the total child population largely drawn from that union being 248. The Neath union whose population was 58,535 instructed only 35 children in its workhouse school. He further emphasised "the difference between one workhouse school and another is extraordinary; some schools are as good as can be reasonably expected or desired and a few so bad that the instruction can hardly have any practical result". (44) The teachers may have been alarmed by Inspectors' visits and the Guardians disturbed by the reports, but the persons most injured were the children themselves. They received inadequate instruction, were confined in unhealthy schoolrooms and remained, in spite of a certain amelioration towards the end of the century, a tragic variable of inevitable secondary importance to the local administration.

The instruction to be received had been clearly defined "The boys and girls who are inmates of the workhouse shall for three of the working hours at least every day be respectively instructed in reading, writing, arithmetic, and the principles of the Christian religion, and such other instruction shall be imparted to them as shall fit them for service and train them to habits of usefulness, industry and virtue". (45) The Bedford union objected to the inclusion of writing in the curriculum: "The Guardians of the Bedford union have directed me to inform the Poor Law Commissioners they are desirous of obtaining their sanction to have writing omitted as part of the schoolmaster's instruction in the workhouse, and that he teach reading only". The Commissioners sympathised with the view, but after declaring it unlikely that other children would be enticed into workhouses by superior education, refused the Bedford request, stating that "all other children who learned to read learn also to write". (46) No such request was made by the Monmouthshire unions, but in the first half of the century one suspects that the amount of instruction in all three basic subjects was very meagre.

One literary source appears to contradict this view, viz : "It appeared that when Enoc Huws came from the workhouse he had received a fairly good education in reading, writing and counting; and if his cheeks were taken into consideration, that he had also had a healthy diet". The same author further described this workhouse product "His body was thin and slender and his face was puffed and reddish blue, the nearest thing to an onion with its roots sticking up", and asked : "What device have the workhouse authorities to produce cheeks like this?" The answer given is that boys, after feeding, were instructed to stand on their heads in the workhouse yard, the boy most able to tolerate the posture longest being rewarded with extra gruel at Christmas. If this was the formula for physical health, how honest were the methods and how genuine the workhouse achievement in things intellectual?" (47)

Phillips Kay (later Kay Shuttleworth) had, in 1838, emphasised the inclusion of industrial training, arguing that a pauper taught reading, writing and arithmetic only "is generally unfitted for earning his livelihood by labour". Describing the Ealing Grove school he said "there is considerable gaiety and alacrity; the boys learn to sing many cheerful and merry songs; they strike up a tune as they go out in bands to work". (48) In the Monmouth union the Guardians hired a plot of land in "order to train and fit the boys for farming occupations in which they are most likely to be occupied". (49) Books on agriculture and other useful works were to be procured. In the Chepstow union "spade labour" was also taught, but in no cheery fashion for "the master reported that seven boys working at the lease land had been very unattentive to their work and that the training master had corrected them with a stick produced - a hazel twig - of which the board approved". (50) Girls were usually instructed in needlework, laundry work, and were generally prepared for domestic service. Such industrial training, whether conducted out of doors or within the workhouse, inevitably brought the children into contact with the pauper adults.

Their formal instruction was conducted in a schoolroom within the main building, the physical arrangements for teaching only improving when the Newport Guardians erected a detached school at Caerleon (1859), the Monmouth Guardians built a new workhouse containing a schoolroom in 1871, the Bedwellty Guardians used a separate block in 1877, and the Pontypool Guardians, in 1880, erected a new detached accommodation block which also included a schoolroom. The early schoolroom was itself a drab, unhealthy place. In the Pontypool workhouse the furniture consisted of seven benches, one table and one desk, the fixtures a grate, guard, fender, poker, tongs and cupboard, other effects being two maps and one blackboard. (51) In 1866 it was thought necessary to place iron bars on the windows to prevent children from falling out. Little wonder is it that the Visiting Committee in 1865 found "that the children in the schoolroom looked pale and strongly advise that instead of remaining at their work from 9 to 12 a.m. they should have, say, 15 minutes run between 10 and 11 o'clock". (52) This must be the general picture of schoolrooms maintained in every union by the severely economical Guardians. Not surprisingly, Phillips Kay in 1838 wrote that "important lessons cannot be effectually inculcated where all around them is the very atmosphere of pauperism" (53) That statement held good until the children were removed, in various ways, from the main body of the workhouse.

Discipline was always harsh and the example set by the workhouse masters and matrons not a good one. Bright, the Pontypool master (1838-1843), (54) was a bully, an aged pauper having complained to the Board "he kicked me so hard I did not know where I stood and was nearly falling". (55) Bright was dismissed for showing "want of temper and firmness". Mrs. Morgan, matron of the Abergavenny workhouse (1863-1870) was informed that corporal punishment of female children was not approved by the Board of Guardians and was cautioned for exceeding her authority. (56) It may have been often thought necessary to exercise firm control. Four girls in the Bedwellty union in 1853 complained of indecent assault by the porter and after a second examination of the case it was proved that the girls from "a lamentable depravity" had wrongfully accused the porter who had reported them for not rising to time in the morning. (57)

The children - for the most part victims of misfortune rather than evil wrong doers - fluctuated in number. In the Pontypool workhouse in 1847 (January) there were eight boys and three girls. By March of that year there were fourteen boys and six girls. (58) By May 1848, the chaplain of the workhouse reported "fresh children in the house". (59) Their age range was wide. For example, in 1868 (January-December) there were seventeen admissions ranging in age from 2 to 12 years, entering the workhouse at intervals throughout the year. None, with one exception, had previously attended a workhouse school, and five had received periods of education previously, ranging from three months to five years. The length of the stay in the school of children who were not orphans or deserted varied according to the mode of relief of the parents. The shortest stay of boys admitted in 1868 was that of William Houett, aged 12, "a sharp boy discharged with his mother in October 1868", having been admitted in the preceding June. The longest stay was that of Isaac Powell, aged 4, "a sharp boy taken out by his father in March 1874", having been admitted in July 1868. A similar picture holds for girls admitted in the same period. (60) The extent of the education they received at the hands of teachers of varying quality, was therefore meagre. The Pontypool chaplain, Horwood, summed up the matter "but what, after all, can be said about the progress and condition of children in the schoolroom when they are here today and gone tomorrow?" (61) It is possible to regard the school problems which confronted the Pontypool Guardians as representative, bearing in mind, however, that fluctuations in school population would be determined to a certain extent by the economic conditions which obtained throughout the six unions. The nature and rate of change of these conditions would vary according to the rural or industrial character of the union. But it is unlikely that a more precise statistical analysis (even if possible) would invalidate the more descriptive conclusion recorded here.

An overall picture of the pauper school population showing the distribution of children in the unions in Monmouthshire may be derived from Annual Reports of the Poor Law Board and Local Government Board.
For example:

The education received by the children thus distributed received much criticism from the education Inspectors in the first half of the nineteenth century. Phillips Kay, in 1838, had advocated the combination of unions and the erection of district schools in order to remove children from these workhouse schools. (62) Pressure had been brought to bear on the Abergavenny union in September 1848, (63) on the Monmouth union in the October, (64) and Symons regularly disapproved of the Newport Guardians' educational efforts. The Pontypool Guardians received a deputation from Newport in August 1856 in connection with the erection of a district school, but refused to participate. (65) The second half of the century, however, witnesses some improvement, and the Inspectors' reports on the workhouse schools become less critical. Clutterbuck reported on the Abergavenny union school in 1874 "The children are very intelligent and passed a creditable examination. There is very little of the pauper tone about them. They appear to be particularly bright and happy". (66) Of the Bedwellty school he wrote "The school continues to be one of the best in the district". (67) In the Chepstow union school, "with the exception of the reading of the children presented for examination in Standard I, satisfactory progress has been made and the general condition of the school is creditable to the teacher". (68) The Pontypool Guardians also satisfied Clutterbuck; it was reported that the children "had passed a very satisfactory examination and that the discipline at the said schools is excellent". (69) The Inspectors' approach to the work of examining the pupils can be seen in Clutterbuck's report on the Chepstow union school in 1877. In the first class he examined the children collectively in general intelligence, religious knowledge and mental arithmetic, but individually in reading, substance of reading, spelling, meanings of words, penmanship, dictation and original composition. Children below the first class were examined collectively and certain other subjects (object lessons, political and physical geography) were also tested in this manner. (70)

Towards the end of the century, pauper children moved, even if haltingly, to enjoy the amenities of the outer world. "It is now well understood that children in Poor Law Schools receive precisely the same instruction as regards the subjects prescribed by the Education Act of 1876, as do children in a public elementary school. In the matter of proficiency in reading, writing and arithmetic, Poor Law and non pauper schools are alike bound by the regulations of the Revised Code" (71) (Clutterbuck). This is naturally modified according to whether the children received continuous and competent teaching or not. In spite of the fact that Inspectors gave prior notice of inspection (the Guardians reacting accordingly), one may well accept the general conclusion of Inspectors' reports that towards the end of the century, the education and upbringing of pauper children was not only more efficient but more humane than previously.

Inspector Mozley wrote in 1898 "The change which has come over Poor Law schools and over the whole procedure of the administration affecting children under the Poor Law, during the last quarter of a century, has been exceedingly great". (72)


1. Minute Books, Abergavenny Union. 19th December 1839; 23rd January 1840; 22nd September 1885.
2. Minute Books, Bedwellty Union. 10th August 1885; 17th February 1897; 1st March 1877.
3. Minute Books, Chepstow Union. 11th January 1840; 11th September 1880; 26th January 1878.
4. Minute Books, Monmouth Union. 19th April 1839; 14th January 1871; 5th February 1887.
5. Minute Books, Newport Union. 2nd February 1839; 14th May 1859.
6. Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 21st April 1838; 12th May 1842.
7. Miscellaneous Papers, Pontypool Union. 1899-1903. BG/P/Misc. Papers 002. 10th September 1901.
8 Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 15th December 1881.
9. Miscellaneous Papers, Pontypool Union. 1842-1898. BG/P/Misc. Papers 001. 13th April 1896.
10. Fourth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commission 1838.
11. Minute Books, Newport Union. 4th May 1839; 19th September 1840; April 1841, and Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 1st November 1839; 23rd January 1840; January-February 1841; 8th July 1841.
12. Minute Books, Abergavenny Union. 23rd January 1840; 4th May 1843; 8th May 1843.
13. Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 25th November 1841; 2nd July 1857; 20th December 1860; 22nd August 1867; 14th and 28th November 1867; and Minute Books, Bedwellty Union. 10th November 1864.
14. Minute Books, Chepstow Union. 27th April 1839.
15. Minute Books, Newport Union. 1st September 1838.
16. Minute Books, Abergavenny Union. 23rd January 1840.
17. Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 24th February 1842.
18. Chapter I. Note 24.
19. Minute Books, Newport Union. September 1843; 21st September 1839.
20. Ministry of Health Records: Correspondence from unions to the Poor Law Commission Public Record Office. M.H.12. 8153. 23rd February 1846.
21. Minute Books, Newport Union. 1st April 1843; 25th July 1846; 20th February
22. Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 25th April 1842.
23. Instructional Letter of the Poor Law Commission, 5th February 1842. (British Museum).
24. Minute Books, Bedwellty Union. 24th May 1877.
25. Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 7th February 1884.
26. Miscellaneous Papers, Pontypool Union. 1899-1903. BG/P/Misc. Paper. 0002. Report dated 4th November 1901.
27 . Appendix 5 of dissertation.
28. Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 3rd December 1868; 10th June 1897.
29. Minute Books, Abergavenny Union. 8th June 1843; 3rd July 1863.
30. Minute Books, Abergavenny Union. 18th October 1901; 21st November 1872.
31. Minute Books, Bedwellty Union. 14th May 1863.
32. Minute Books, Chepstow Union. July 1852; 27th January 1866; 26th November 1864; 17th February 1861; 9th January 1869.
33. Minute Books, Monmouth Union. 26th September 1863; 26th May 1866.
34. Smith, Frank, 1923. The Life and Work of Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth. London. Chapter VI.
35. Ball, N., 1963. Her Majesty's Inspectorate. Oliver and Boyd. p. 181 et seq.
36. Sixteenth Annual Report of the Poor Law Board 1864, p. 19.
37. Ball, N., 1963. Her Majesty's Inspectorate.
38. Minute Books, Chepstow Union. 3rd, 10th and 17th April 1847; 29th March 1862.
39. Minute Book, Bedwellty Union. 28th February, 14th August 1878; 9th February 1881.
40. Minute Books, Monmouth Union. 11th June 1859; 11th April 1868; 22nd June 1867.
41. Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry into the State of Education in Wales. 1848. London.
42. Minute Books, Newport Union. 21st February 1857; 23rd August 1851; 10th January 1852; 20th April, 17th August, 14th September, 5th October 1850; 5th April 1851; January 1853.
43. Report on the Further Amendment of the Poor Laws. December 1839. p. 118. Appendix 'B'. Report by Tufnell.
44. Twenty First Annual Report of the Poor Law Board 1868-9. Appendix 'B'. No. 20.
45. Poor Law Compendium 1840-1. (Newport Borough Library, M.160. 339) and: 1842-1898. BG/P/Misc. Papers 001.
46. Second Annual Report of the Poor Law Commission. 1836. p. 529.
47. Owen, Daniel. Enoc Huws. Cardiff. Hughes and Son.
48. Fourth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commission 1838. Appendix 'B'. Report 3, p. 228.
49. Minute Books, Monmouth Union. 25th October 1848.
50. Minute Books, Chepstow Union. 27th March 1852.
51. Inventory (Pontypool Union) C.S.W. BG/P/I.136. 1848-62
52. Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 2nd April 1866; 14th September 1865.
53. Fourth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commission 1838, p. 269.
54. Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 7th April 1838; 31st August 1843.
55. Ministry of Health Records. Correspondence from Unions to the Poor Law Commission. Public Record Office. M.H.12. 8153. 9th September 1843. Complaint by a William Lewis.
56. Minute Books, Abergavenny Union. 14th August 1863; 23rd March 1868; 12th September 1870.
57. Minute Books, Bedwellty Union. 29th November 1853.
58. Ministry of Health Records: Correspondence from Unions to the Poor Law Commission. Public Record Office. M.H.12. 8153. 25th January 1847.
59. Chaplains Report Books, Pontypool Union. 14th May 1848.
60. School Admission and Discharge Register, Pontypool Union. 1863 - 1901. C.S.W. BG/P I.295.
61. Chaplains Report Books, Pontypool Union. June 1853.
62. Fourth Annual Report of the Poor Law Commission 1838, p. 238.

63. Minute Books, Abergavenny Union. 21st September 1848.
64. Minute Books, Monmouth Union. 25th October 1848.
65. Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 28th August and 11th September 1856.
66. Minute Books, Abergavenny Union. 3rd December 1874.
67 Minute Books, Bedwellty Union. November 1887.
68. Correspondence. Chepstow Union. 1837-1930. BG/C/Misc. Papers, 001. September 1878.
69. Minute Books, Pontypool Union. 18th September 1884.
70. Correspondence, Chepstow Union. 1837-1930; 11th September 1877.
71. Eleventh Annual Report of the Local Government Board 1881-2, p. 110.
72. Twenty-eighth Annual Report of the Local Government Board 1898-9, p. 183.


Chapter I - The Formation of the Unions
Chapter III - The Caerleon Industrial School

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