by Bob Adamthwaite
Originally published in the Newsletter of the Cumbria Family History Society, No. 118, Feb 2006
This story starts with the Reverend Mr. John ADAMTHWAITE, the son of William Adamthwaite and Deborah Allen, born in 1745 at Sedbergh and died aged 74 in 1819. He was educated at Queen’s College, Oxford, and obtained the Degree of Doctor of Divinity in July 1784. For many years he was the Rector of Baxterly, Vicar of Shakerstone and Curate of Baddesley Ensor all close to Tamworth in Staffordshire in the diocese of Lichfield. He was one of His Majesty’s Justices of the Peace at Atherstone, Warwickshire and was, by and large, a pillar of the community. He published some rather heavy sermons; one entitled ‘The Nature of Society’.
His cousin William Adamthwaite born in Sedbergh (1753 – 1826) was son of Thomas Adamthwaite and Ann Moore. He was Curate of Walkinton, near Beverley and of Pulford near Chester at £40 per annum. William married Ann Hoggard 1st March 1791 but they parted and he lived with Jane McEver at Sedburgh where they had a son but there is no record of a marriage between them. Ann was left a half share in her father’s farm in the West Riding of Yorkshire. This made her a rich woman and she was eventually buried in Beverley Minster.
Some years later in Kirkby Stephen four Adamthwaite brothers were born who were nephews of the first Rev. John Adamthwaite, Rector of Baxterly. In order of seniority they were Joseph born 1774, Edmund born 1777, William born 1780 and John born 1783. With the exception of Edmund, of whom we shall hear more later on, all of them became clergymen. William was Vicar of Misterton and East Stockwith in Nottinghamshire for 40 years and appears to have died well respected, although at one time he taught at his brother’s academy at Winton. As the story unfolds we shall see that his two brothers were not so pious as at first appears.
The Rev. Joseph Adamthwaite was the Minister of Bowes, Yorkshire and married Ann Bourn at Cotherstone near Bowes. He was master of The Ancient and Free Grammar School of Bowes at a salary of £300 per annum. He opened his own academy at Cotherston as outlined in the following advertisement in The Times 7th July 1801 :
“Board of Education;- The Rev. JOSEPH ADAMTHWAITE, Minister of Bowes, in the North Riding or Yorkshire, a Clergyman Of the first respectability, who has for the last 6 years taught the Ancient Free Grammar School of Bowes, having prepared the necessary Accommodations, proposes to take a few Boys (the number not to exceed ten) under his Care, to instruct in the Classics, Mathematics and every Branch of useful Literature. The very moderate terms the Advertiser proposes, are 16 Guineas a Year including Education, Board, Lodging, Washing and every other necessity; it is expected that each boy will bring with him 2 suits of clothes, 6 good shirts, 6 good pairs of stockings, 2 night caps, and 2 pair of shoes, 2 hats, etc.”
There were many advertisements placed in the London Times by Joseph in the same vein wherein the number of suits, shoes and other accessories required by the boys varied considerably. Interviews were conducted at several London addresses usually at “Mr Shuter’s, The Toy Shop, 32 Aldgate” After The Rev. Joseph’s death in 1811 at the age of 37 years his wife ran the re-named London Academy with the help of a Mr. G. Chapman and a Mr. Raisbeck. Mr. Chapman eventually ran his own academy as witnessed by advertisements he placed in The Times. Whether or not it was the old Academy started by the Rev. Joseph Adamthwaite is not known.
The youngest brother, the Rev. John Adamthwaite DD, had an honorary degree conferred on him by The University of Aberdeen as “a stimulus to future industry”. He was Curate of Upton and Abington in the Diocese of Peterborough just over the border from his Uncle’s parishes near Tamworth. Before 1809 he was a teacher at the Academy of Robert Brownas, the Vicar of Bramham near Weatherby who gave him a glowing reference. He also worked in a large school in Chester kept by Mr. Stolterforth and another in Lewes in Sussex, kept by a Mr. Raymond. In March 1814 he applied for the position of Master of Clitheroe Royal Grammar School for Boys. His application was unsuccessful, despite the submission of many testimonials, probably not helped by his inability to attend on the day of examination. It also appears that as his degree was not from an English university it went against him when making applications for teaching positions. He was highly recommended by the Bishop of Peterborough and various other clerics and the following is an extract from one of his own references;
“By way of conclusion I shall refer for my clerical conduct to Col. Samwell Upton-Hale near Northampton; he is a man of considerable importance, and was ultimately acquainted with poor Percival: Also to the Rev. W. Harvey, the only surviving Nephew of the great Harvey. He was, until lately, not upon his Living, but in Northampton: He is now at his Rectory, at Colston, near Melton Mowbray Leicestershire, Also to the Rev. Dr. Adamthwaite, Rector of Baxterly, Vicar of Shakerstone, and benefieced Curate of Badderly Ensor and one of His Majesty’s Justice of the Peace, near Atherston Warwickshire. He is no relation and is intimately acquainted with my literary abilities, which alone recommended me to his notice. Finally my name and acquirements have been recommended to Lady Howe and Lord Curzon, and if it will have any additional weight, I will get a testimonial from her Lady-ship.”
Included in this letter of apparent name dropping is a lie, because the Rev. Dr. Adamthwaite was his Uncle and bequeathed his books to the younger Reverend John. Why the apparent lie about his relationship is a mystery, unless a reference from his Uncle would not be treated seriously. One reference was for a position in the Classical department in the school of Revd. Dr. Thompson, Kensington, Nr. London when he was nineteen years of age.
Dr. A. who was for many years an usher in the public schools, and tutor to a nobleman’s family, attends each day between the hours of eleven and one at the Clapham Coffee House, St. Paul’s. Reference to bishops, clergymen, and laymen of equal eminence.”
Subsequent advertisements were on the same lines stating that no Summer or Christmas holidays were allowed but the boys would be treated as his own and would eat the same food as the Master. This ban on holidays would prevent the boys telling their parents how badly they were treated at the school. It was also promised that parlour boarders would be living in with the master and his family. Later adverts stated that they also had to bring their own clothes according to a published list.
The following is taken from “Historical Kirkby Stephen and N. Westmoreland” by R.R. Sowerby.
“In my youth I have often listened to tales told by an old employee on my father’s farm at Winton, relating to this school. The old doctor, like most of his profession in those times was mainly concerned with extracting the last shilling from his ill-clothed, half-starved pupils, who were driven to stealing carrots and turnips from neighbouring farms to eke out their scanty rations.
Small wonder there were no vacations at his school! The boys were little better than prisoners and were not allowed to return home until the end of their tuition, in case they might tell of the miseries they had endured”.
The school at Bowes was used by Charles Dickens as a model for “Dotheboys” Hall in Nicholas Nickleby and his exposure of the evil goings-on forced the closure of these and other schools.
It would appear to us that a lot of the clergy in those days spent their time supplementing their income anywhere else but in their own parishes. Due to their education and learning they were virtually teachers and school masters who travelled far and wide to ply their trade. Another quote from an old Manorial Court Book gives an insight to the activities of the clergy and relates to when The Rev. Scook took up his appointment in 1804 as Rector of Great Musgrave, Westmorland;
“Be it remembered that on the 12th September 1804 Scook came by the 8 o’clock Mail Coach to Brough, and returned by the 1 o’clock Mail the same afternoon, and never was seen at Musgrave neither afore nor after that time, but he had always some person to collect the tithes, but not to preach on Sundays.”