contained little of educational interest before that time. The
records of the Quarterly Meeting of Chester (later known as
"Min. Chester Mo. Mtg.
Ibid., 9231785, 177-
88 Min. Chester Q. Meeting, 12 3 1689, 7.
Schools of Delaware County
Concord) are, however, full of suggestions which indicate that
educational interests had their attention much before that
date, though they were not under a perfected organization.
As early as 1732 advances were made for the care and instruc-
tion of poor children which would fit them to earn a living.
We may mention the financial assistance promised by Joseph
Mead in that year.
Our ancient Friend Joseph Mead having by letter communicated to
this meeting his mind, signifying his willingness to do something that
might be conducive towards a public good, and in order thereto offers to
give 50 toward a stock to be kept in this meeting for the putting of poor
Friends' children to trades or for relieving of poor or indigent Friends
which this meeting very kindly accepts of at the hand of said Friend. 37
. . . and this meeting being informed that our Friend Joseph Mead
continues steadfast in his mind respecting his donation towards pious
uses, and desires he may know to whom he may deliver the said gift. After
some consideration thereon this meeting do nominate . . . Jacob
Howell and John Davis to be receivers and are by this meeting empow-
ered to receive the above and all such bequests . . . , in behalf of
and for the use of this meeting, and to put out upon interest as soon as
they conveniently can all such money into good and responsible hands
and to render to this meeting when required thereto or to whom the said
meeting shall appoint a true and just account of what may be delivered
hereafter by any person or persons into their hands for the uses afore-
In 1739 the interest arising from this gift was withdrawn at
his request and paid to the Springfield Friends to help them
build their meeting house. 39
In response to the yearly meeting's urgent request of 1746
and i75o, 40 we have their action recorded in this minute of the
According to a minute of the advice of the Last Yearly Meeting con-
cerning the settling of schools in the country, it is agreed for the encour-
agement thereof that the several and respective clerks of the monthly
meetings belonging to this quarterly meeting do inquire and bring in a
true report of all legacies, donations or estates which have been hereto-
fore given to their respective meetings and of the uses to which the
moneys arising therefrom are applied, and bring the account thereof to
our next meeting. 41
"Min. Chester Q. Mtg., 6 14 1732, 128.
**Ibid., 9 13 1732, 129.
"Ibid., 6 13 1739, 154.
40 Ad vices, 250.
41 Min. Chester Q. Mtg., 5 13 1754, 218.
Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania
The meetings at Darby were at first usually held at the
home of John Blunston, who in 1687 deeded one acre of
ground in Darby aforesaid for the use of building a meeting
house, 42 on which the meeting house was begun in the follow-
ing year, 43 and finished in i68g. 44 Happily, in the case of
Darby Meeting we can point out a definite statement con-
cerning a school established by the meeting, and which,
quite probably, was the first school at that place. In 1692
the minutes note that,
Agreed at this meeting that Benjamin Clift teach school, beginning
the twelfth day of the 7th month, and to continue one whole year
except two weeks. 45
His salary for the first year is not known, but the minutes a
year later give some clue as to the amount paid.
Agreed at this meeting that Benjamin Clift teach school a year, begin-
ning this 20th day of this gth month; and to have i2/oo/po. 46
As has occurred in all other monthly meetings thus far con-
sidered, there was always little done in the way of organization
and supervision of school affairs till after i77o. 47 There were
however various committees appointed from time to time,
especially in the case of legacies and donations which were
quite common even at early dates. 48 The movement towards
better organization, however, began more earnestly in 1778,
with the receipt of a number of letters from the yearly
meeting, in regard to which the following minute was made :
This meeting received a number of the general epistles from the last
Yearly Meeting held in London and also the same number of copies of
an epistle from the same meeting to our last Yearly Meeting, one of each
were read at the close of the meeting for worship, to satisfaction, and the
clerk is directed to read one of each the forepart of a first day meeting.
The remainder were distributed amongst Friends. 49
In the twelfth month Darby Friends received a committee
appointed by the quarterly meeting (Concord) to investigate
'"Smith, Hist, of Del. Co., 166.
^Min. Darby Mo. Mtg., 7 7 1692, 54.
Ibid., 9 20 1693, 56.
47 See Falls p. 87f; Abington, p. losff ; and Buckingham, p. g6f.
48 Min. Darby Mo. Mtg. 7 5 1758, 441; 7 5 1750, 322.
"Ibid., 1231778, 263.
Schools of Delaware County
conditions and promote schools among the monthly meet-
ings. 80 John Howe, Aaron Oakford, Isaac Lloyd, Benjamin
Lobb, and Josiah Bunting were appointed by Darby to join
with the quarterly meeting's committee in its work. 51 The
next year the question of building a schoolhouse occupied
their attention. 52 It was proposed to deal with persons hold-
ing some land adjoining that of the meeting, that it might be
purchased as school property and a suitable building erected
thereon. Finding, however, that those holding the adjacent
property were not at the time disposed to sell, it was decided
to begin a subscription for erecting a schoolhouse on the
meeting's land, which has been mentioned as having been
left to the meeting's use by John Blunston. 53 The work on
this building was evidently begun between 1779 and 1781, as
we may infer from the minute of the latter year.
This meeting resuming the consideration of building a house to
accommodate a school were informed by one of the committee that it
appeared to be necessary the subscriptions should be enlarged before the
work could be completed; therefore Abraham Bonsall, John Hum-
phreys, and Phillip Price are appointed with the former committee in
order to forward the work and to report what progress they have made
therein to next meeting; Benjamin Lobb requesting to be released from
the above service, Morris Truman is appointed in his room. 54
The tenor of a minute of the meeting next following was to
the effect that enough money had been secured for the com-
pletion of the work. 55
In 1784 another visit was received from the committee of
the quarterly meeting, whose. purpose was "the establishing
and keeping up suitable schools," as recommended in the
several years past. 56 The reports of the committee of the
school at this date indicate that the status was nearly what
was expected by the yearly meeting, respecting (i) founda-
tion, (2) masters, (3) supervision by committees, (4) accom-
modations for the master, etc. 57 In 1787, Nathaniel Newlin
*Min. Darby Mo. Mtg.
**Ibid., 2251779, 259.
"See page 154.
"Ibid., 311781, 319.
K Ibid., 3 29 1781, 320.
*Ibid., I I 1784, 10.
"Ibid., 7 29 1784, 22.
156 Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania
one of the meeting's representatives to the quarterly meeting
brought back a request from that body for "a circumstantial
account" of the state of schools, to be transmitted to the
quarterly meeting the next eighth month. 58 The said
Nathaniel was placed on the school committee in the eleventh
month following, 59 and later, John Bull and Benjamin
Bartram were appointed in the places of Aaron Oakford and
Phillip Price who requested to be released. 60 In the first
month of the year following there was produced a report by
A digest tne committee, which in fact became the governing document
of report for the schools established and to be established in Darby. 61
of 1790 There is presented here a digest of the report; a complete
statement of it may be found in Chapter II.
1. Recalling the advices of the yearly meeting, they
a. the advantages arising from established schools, and
b. the losses sustained from a want thereof.
2. Therefore it is agreed that in the future five Friends
should be appointed and called the Overseers of Darby School,
three of them to be sufficient number to transact business.
3. Their duties:
a. Visit the school.
b. Examine the progress of the scholars.
c. Inspect the teacher's conduct.
d. Employ teachers, with the approbation of the
e. Discharge them in similar manner, if cause therefor
/. Discharge unruly pupils, who will not submit to the
rules of the school.
g. Settle all differences arising between the master and
h. Devise some plan for raising permanent funds for
the school ; also to receive interest from the trus-
tees of donations given for education of the poor,
and apply the same as intended.
B8 Min. Darby Mo. Mtg.., 3^29 1787, 68.
&g lbid., ii i 1787, 79.
60 Ibid., 4 2 1789, ggf.
Schools of Delaware County
*. Aid the trustees in getting better securities for the
;'. Minutes of their proceedings are to be kept and
reports made to the monthly meeting once a year,
and at other times if called for. 61
In 1792 the new overseers reported they had continued to
visit the school and inspect the learning of the children, which
they did with satisfaction, implying that all conditions were
as desired. 62 In the eleventh month four new members were
appointed to the school overseers; 63 as it is not stated that
any had been released, we are uncertain as to whether the
number required had been increased or not ; quite likely they
were appointed only for temporary assistance. In 1793 it
was reported from the school overseers that Benjamin Lobb
had agreed to grant a lot of ground on the upper part of his
plantation, to build a schoolhouse upon; the overseers pro-
posed that the expenses be defrayed by subscription. 64 A
subscription was started for the same, and Friends desired to
forward it, that the school might be begun. 65 The cost of
this school was estimated at no. 66 It is not known just
when this school under Friends' care was begun in Upper
Darby but at various stages these things are known about it.
(i) On the 28th of the third month, 1793, it was reported that
Lobb had offered the ground, (2) the cost of the building was
estimated, fifth month, second, 1793, at 110, (3) eighth
month, twelfth, 1793, the Chester Quarterly Meeting received
the report that Darby was going to establish a school for
Friends, (4) in 1796 the committee of overseers reported, "our
school has been kept in good degree accordingly as desired by
the yearly meeting," 67 (5) the committee of overseers still
mention but one school under their care and (6) eighth month,
second, 1798, the school overseers report that the schools are
kept as recommended by the yearly meeting. It would
M Min. Darby Mo. Mtg., i 28 1790, 114. (For entire report see
page 23). **Ibid. t 821792, 157.
^Ibid., II 29 1792, 160.
"Ibid., 3281793, 165.
K Ibid., 5 2 1793, 1 66.
"Ibid., 7 26 1796, 207.
to be built
on Lobb lot
Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania
in 1797 and
appear then that the school did not actually begin until
some time between 1797 and i7Q8, 68 since all prior reports had
recognized but one school.
Mr. Jordan states that in 1779 a deed set aside 24 perches
of ground in upper Darby on the Darby-Haverford Road for
the use of schools. 69 This seems to have no connection with
the schools established by the meeting; it was the first
official deed for ground for schools, but many bequests of
great value had been made previously. 70 The text of the
minutes recording these bequests follows on a later page.
The state of schools as reported by the committee in 1797
was as follows:
Our school has been kept since last accounts .... as recom-
mended by the Yearly Meeting; visited by the overseers and the schol-
ars learning inspected to a good degree of satisfaction. There has been
expended for schooling children of Friends and others the sum of
12/10 and on settlement there appears a balance in the treasurer's
hands of 6/15/5; the stock remains the same as at last year. Signed
. . . . Morris Truman, Isaac Oakford, and John Hunt. 71
As mentioned above, the second school in Upper Darby
seems to have been put into operation by 1798. The com-
mittee's report, summarized, is as the following. 72
1. Schools kept as recommended by the yearly meeting
since last year.
2. Scholars' learning has been inspected.
3. Schools have been visited.
4. Children of the poor and of others have been schooled.
5. Stock remains at 14/00/00 as last year.
Signed Truman Morris, John Hunt and Isaac Oakford.
As has been previously suggested the financial assistance to
Darby schools came in a very considerable measure from
legacies, left from time to time, but it was also neccessary to
use subscription and rate plans for school support. The text
of one of these bequests, as recorded in the Darby records, is
88 Min. Darby Mo. Mtg., 8 2 1798, 243.
69 Jordan, II, 432.
70 Min. Darby Mo. Mtg. 1739, 258; 7 5 '1750, 322.
71 Ibid., 8 3 1797, 226.
n lbid., 821798, 243.
Schools of Delaware County
Likewise I give and bequeath to my friend John Griffith, Thomas
Pearson, and Samuel Bunting, all of Darby aforesaid, the sum of 50,
nevertheless my aforesaid gift and bequest to them is only in trust, that
they the said John Griffith, Thomas Pearson and Samuel Bunting shall
reconvey and receive from the hands of my executors aforesaid the sum
of 50 and when so received, put out the said monies to interest on good
securities with the approbation of the monthly meeting of the people
called Quakers in Darby aforesaid, and at the risk of those benefitted
thereby and so from time to time forever, with the approbation of the
said meeting for the time being. To the intent and purpose that by
and out of the interests and profits thereof, they the said John Griffiths
. . . . pay for the learning to read and write of such and so many
poor Friends children in unity and church fellowship with the said people
and belonging to the said meeting, as the said meeting shall order and
appoint from time to time forever, and when any of my said trustees
shall die, it is my will and mind that the said meeting shall appoint
another to succeed and so from time to time forever. 71
Smith's History of Delaware County states that as early as
1788 there was a school established at Radnor. 74 The first
reference to a school found in the Radnor Monthly Meeting's
records was in i73i.' 5 At that date Richard Harrison and
signified to this meeting in writing that the meeting appointed last 7th
month to be kept at the said Richard's schoolhouse was duly and
religiously kept and further requested to be permitted to keep an after-
noon meeting .... which is allowed of and to be at four o'clock.
The school had doubtless been in existence for at least a short
time before that. Their answers to the fifth query in 1757
state that they are careful of the education of the poor and
find themselves clear of placing children from among
Friends. 76 They also, at that date, report themselves free of
73 Min Darby Mo., Mtg., 1739, 258. (Other bequests were made by
Blunstonand . . . the value of which in 1791, amounted to 97 15/6;
the committee reporting thereon, add: "we are united in opinion it
will be best to lay out the money in a building on the meeting lot and in
order thereto have had an estimate made for a house 16 ft. by 26 ft.
from out to out, two stories high with a cellar under the whole, which
amounts to 160 or thereabouts." (A Committee was appointed to see
whether this would be according to the wish of the donor, Darby Min-
utes 12 29 1791, 145. In 1792 the committee reported it would be
best to build the house for the master's accommodation with the money
of the legacies, and use the rents arising therefrom for the schooling of
poor children, Darby Minutes, 2 2 1792, 147.)
74 Smith, Hist, of Del. County, 347.
75 Min. Radnor Mo. Mtg., I n 1731, 189.
Ibid., i ii 1757, 300.
160 Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania
holding slaves; 77 likewise in 1759, in regard to both/' 8 In
1768, in regard to a case of apprenticing children, this minute
is recorded by the meeting:
The meeting taking the request to reimburse them the expense accru-
ing on account of Jane Atkinson, deceased, into consideration, came to a
result of paying them as soon as we can, and as there is one of her
children not put out yet, it is desired Samuel Humphreys and William
Lawrence would take some care in putting them out. . . , 79
In 1759 we find that Friends are reminded by the monthly
meeting of the "necessary duty" of making their wills in time
of health, and that endeavors are used to apply public gifts
to the uses intended. 80 The only "uses intended" must have
been for some of these purposes: The support of the poor,
their education, for negro support and education, or for purely
religious purposes, all of which, the last one excepted, were, in
a way, if we may judge from other meetings' practices, educa-
tional. The suggestion of leaving bequests for public pur-
poses, taken in connection with the answers to the fifth and
seventh queries, and the known fact that there was a school
in 1731, lead us to believe that the Radnor Meeting was
pretty well awake to educational problems. However true
that may be, it is just as certain that any exact data on her
schools are very rare for the early period before 1778. In that
year the usual declaration of the yearly meeting at Phila-
delphia was received concerning the question of schools. 81
A committee of the quarterly meeting in 1778 produced a
report embodying certain conclusions arrived at, both as to
causes of existing evils and the proposed solutions. Only a
digest of this report can be given here. 82
1. We believe it a subject of much importance.
2. Corruptions have been introduced by mingling in out-
3. It is necessary to have schools under masters and mis-
tresses who take care of religious education.
"Min. Radnor Mo. Mtg., see also page228, chapter on Negro education.
78 Min. Radnor Mo. Mtg., 4 10 1759, 28.
Ibid., 12 8 1768, 220.
m lbid., i 71759, 18.
81 Ad vices, 250.
^Min. Radnor Mo. Mtg., 8 14 1778, 133.
Schools of Delaware County
4. We believe it our duty to spread the work through the
The effect of the yearly and quarterly meetings' suggestions
was the appointment of Samuel Briggs, William Lawrence,
Jacob Jones, John Robeson, Samuel Richards, and Daniel
Maule to attend to the affairs of education, "as may be
opened in the wisdom of truth." 83 This last may, to our
modern way of thinking, suggest rather a blind guidance, but
not so to the old time Friends. The report to the quarterly
meeting in 1779 does not suggest that any progress has been
made, as was desired, save in respect to the masters employed
in the schools.
. . . . to attend the ensuing quarterly meeting at Philadelphia,
and report, that the .... answers are to be transmitted as nearly
our state. That some care has been taken to advise such negroes who
have been restored to freedom. That the proposals respecting schools
have been under consideration and some essays made by employing
masters who are Friends. That small progress has been made as yet in
laboring for the pious education of the youth. 84
The next step, as reported in 1781, was the appointment of
Friends to attend each of the preparative meetings and to do
all possible "to spread the concern" of schools and excite an
attention thereunto. No visits were as yet made to individ-
ual families, and the general feeling of the meeting appeared
to be that not much progress had been made. 85 When read-
ing these reports of the monthly meetings it is well to keep
in mind the chief things which the yearly meeting had
desired, (i) the establishment of permanent school funds, (2)
employment of Friends as teachers, (3) houses and permanent
lands, gardens and so forth to be provided for the accommodation
of the masters, etc. With this in mind it is easy to see that
the report of the meetings might be rather faltering even
though they were in som^ranner supplied with the benefits
of education. In 1781 tnequarterly meeting advised those
still unsuccessful in their attempts to meet the set standards
"should be animated and encouraged to give weighty atten-
w Min. Radnor Mo. Mtg., 10 13-
M Ibid., 7 13 1779, 169.
., 7 10 1781, 233.
of the yearly
Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania
tion to this important matter." 86 The only success achieved
by Radnor, according to their own report, was in the employ-
ment of Friends for school masters. 87 In 1786,
The important subjects .... relative to schools engages in
some degree the minds of Friends here but have little further to mention
at present saving that the teachers employed in several schools appear to
be those in religious profession with Friends. 88
In 1 790 it was reported that one of the preparative meetings
was considering the purchase of a lot of ground for the purpose
of schools, 89 probably that of Haverford. In July 1791 the
committee on school affairs gave a pretty full report, at any
rate the best we can get, on the condition of Radnor's schools
situated in each of the preparative meetings. The statement
issued by the committee was the following:
The committee on schools also produced their report thereon in writing
as follows We .... take the interesting subject of schools into
consideration, and to visit those wherein either our preparatives are con-
cerned, have given unction thereto, and find that although there are
divers schools kept in the compass of the monthly meeting, two only
appear subject to the rule and direction of Friends, the one being at
Haverford, kept in a house erected in a small lot of ground belonging to
that meeting: This school we visited in company with a committee of
that preparative, which to us seems under its present circumstances
tolerably well conducted; but it does not appear there are funds estab-
lished, the salary of the master being made up by the neighborhood sub-
scription. . . . some poor children principally are taught, the
expense whereof is defrayed out of a small annual income arising from a
sum left by a friend for such uses. The other school is at Radnor, the
house being Friends' property also; on a visit made to this school in com-
pany of a committee of that preparative meeting, we found it large at the
time and under rules which appeared pretty well adapted for the govern-
ment thereof, but the salary there, as in the aforementioned school,
depends on the transient subscription, and therefore uncertain. At
Merion and the Valley we have not discovered any progress made in
laying a foundation for schools in the way proposed by the Yearly
Meeting. After considering this weighty subject with attention \ve are
of the mind the several preparatives (notwithstanding difficulties may
occur) should be encouraged to a continuance of care and exertion
herein as strength may be afforded; in order to carry into effect this
. Phila. Q. Mtg., 861781, 235.
. Radnor Mo. Mtg., 9 7 1782, 260.
"Ibid., 7 13 1790, 8.
Schools of Delaware County
desirable object among us. Signed on behalf of the said committee by