The SSPCK (Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge) was set up in 1709 to establish schools “where religion and virtue might be taught to young and old” in the Scottish Highlands and other “uncivilised” areas of the country. These schools were in addition to the statutory school which the heritors (main landowners) in each parish were required to provide. The size of some Highland parishes, their geography, sometimes including two or more islands, meant that one school would never be adequate in some areas. The SSPCK played a considerable role in the provision of schools up until the 1872 Education (Scotland) Act (see links below).
Here is a list of SSPCK Schools (pdf) at April 1733. It includes the schoolmaster’s name and the number of boys and girls as well as details for four schools in America. (Source: GD215/1501, National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh). At the end of the list there is information on the inspection system, who attended these schools and an indication of what schoolmasters were expected to do in addition to classroom duties, some of it no doubt written with an eye on fund raising.
More about the SSPCK its schools and schoolmasters
- List of schools 1748 (Am Baile) – in at least two cases the dates of establishment are correct compared to the 1733 list.
- SSPCK website
- Records of the Society in Scotland for the Propagating of Christian Knowledge National Records of Scotland, GD95.
- Cowper, AS (1997) SSPCK schoolmasters 1709-1872. Edinburgh: Scottish Record Society (available from the SRS) Based on research in the papers above.
- Gray, Nathan P (2011) ‘A publick benefite to the nation’: the charitable and religious origins of the SSPCK, 1690 -1715. University of Glasgow: Ph.D thesis
Kelly, Jamie (2016) The Mission at Home:The Origins and Development of the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge, 1709-1767 In eSharp, 24.
- An inspector calls – blog about an 1827 visit by the wonderfully named John Tawse (tawse is another name for the school belt or strap used for administering punishment until fairly recently)
- Alexander Moncrieff – an early SSPCK schoolmaster