Colonial Families of Philadelphia; Oberholtzer, Philadelphia City and
Its People; W. Thompson, History of Philadelphia.
81 Vaux, Memoirs, p. 7; also Keyser, Old Germantown, I, 79.
Masters and Mistresses
French. 82 He appears to have given very satisfactory service
and to have remained in the same position until 1754 when
he was placed in charge of the Girls School, under the Board's
direction. 83 Some students have been under the impression
that the Girls School was entirely independent and a private
venture; 84 but this could not have been true, for the Board
named the subjects he should teach and specified that he
receive at the school "no more than thirty scholars." 85 The
school was, however, the result of Benezet's proposal.
Not only was he kindly to the pupils as a teacher, 86 but he was
a father to the poor lads whenever he could help them in any
way. In 1754 Samuel Boulds was bound to him, so that he
might look after his schooling, and he further requested the
Board to care for the same, if he should die or leave the
school before the lad was grown up. 87 His health not being
good, he requested leave from his school during the summer
of i754- 88 Apparently his health did not improve sufficiently
and he did not return to the school till 1757, taking the place
of Ann Thornton. 89 Another instance of his philanthropy
came to light in his request (1762) that certain of the children
of the poor French neutrals be allowed to go to the Public
School which was granted only upon his certification of those
he felt sure would attend regularly. 90 Shortly thereafter on
account of ill health, he was again forced to leave the Girls
School, which he did until 1767, when he returned to resume
his work again. 91 It was no difficulty for him to start a
school. The suggestion was made to the Board in one month,
and in the following he was teaching the school, and made his
regular report at their meeting.
From the information the writer has assembled, it appears
that he continued with the White school, after his return in
1767, until 1782, when at his request he was accepted by the
"P. C. S. M., I, 33.
"Oberholtzer, I, 233.
*?. C. S. M., I, 117.
M Vaux, Memoirs, p. 8
W P. C. S. M., I, 114.
90 Ibid., 244.
n lbid., 311.
Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania
of few who
committee to take charge of the Negro School. 92 He had
throughout his life written eloquently in defense of freedom's
cause, 93 and the origin of the Negro School, in 1770, was per-
haps due to him more than to any other man in the Friends'
Jonathan Binns was to have taken charge of the Public
School in 1734, if his health improved, but no report being
made by him it is inferred he did not perform such service. 94
Alexander Buller was employed in 1738 to teach writing,
mathematics, and the Latin tongue. Three years later he
ran an advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette, as follows :
Writing, Arithmetic, Merchants' Accounts, Navigation, Algebra, and
other parts of the mathematics are taught by Alexander Buller, at the
Public School in Strawberry Alley. He proposes to keep a night school
for the winter and begins on the 23d instant when constant attendance
shall be given. November 5, 1741.*
William Brown was teaching girls reading, writing, arith-
metic and language in i784. 95 Daniel Britt interested him-
self in the instruction of Negroes in whose school he was
employed from about i7po 96 to 1796 or 1797. w He was
succeeded by Elisha Pickering who probably taught till 1799,
being followed by Benjamin Mears. 98
John Cadwalader came to Philadelphia in 1699" an d the
year following was recommended by Griffith Owen as a man
"fit for an assistant in the school." 100 He was accordingly
^Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., 5311782, 28.
93 For list of his works, see Hildeburn or Smith.
94 P. C. S. M., I, 21.
*Pa. Gaz., No. 673, 1741.
(Advertising for pupils in newspapers was not the usual rule among
Quaker masters in early Pennsylvania, though some cases occurred.
345 advertisements from 1730 to 1790 have been noted in various
newspapers of the period. Of a list of seventy Quakers who are known
to have taught school, only 15 were found in the list of advertisers. The
papers examined were the Weekly Mercury, Pennsylvania Gazette,
Freeman's Journal, Evening Post, Pennsylvania Journal and Weekly
Advertiser, Pa. Packet, and the Pa. Chronicle; also the Courrier Francais
(which is not mentioned in the bibliography).
9B Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., i 30 1784, 123.
w lbid., i 25 1793, 184.
97 Ibid., 2 23 1798, 149.
a *Ibid., ii 28 1800, 300.
"Oberholtzer, I, 181.
100 Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., I 291700, 254.
Masters and Mistresses
employed, it being decided that he and Thomas Makin, who
had entered the school as usher to Keith, should compete with
each other to show the best results. From the records one
cannot determine just when he left the school, though he
stated, in I702, 101 that he intended to do so. It seems likely,
from a minute of 1703, that he must have taught longer than
he intended when making the above statements. 102 Thomas
Makin, with whom he was associated, was employed at
various times until his death in I733- 103 He is credited with
being "a good Latinist," 104 and was the author of a Latin
poem in which he celebrated Pennsylvania. George Keith,
Scotchman, kindly recommended him for the mastership in
1691, when he (Keith) decided to leave. 105 Keith had come
to the school as first master when the school was set up in
1689. He is stated, by writers of history, to have been of
disputatious disposition, and this probably accounted for the
dissatisfaction which arose in the school. Soon after leaving
the school he published in connection with Talbot a critical
article, "Means of Quaker Stability," 106 in which is evident the
rancor toward the society, which he had previously concealed.
Concerning Benjamin Clift, schoolmaster at Darby, no
additional information has been found, beyond that given in
the minutes of the monthly meeting. Joseph Clarke was a
teacher of a girls' school in i784, 107 which was attended by
about thirty girls. William Dickinson was first employed
(1764) to take the place of Moses Patterson,* as usher to
John Todd in the Latin School. 108 The Board seems to have
taken exception to him, though nothing has been intimated
elsewhere as to his character, for they reserved the right to
discharge him on three months' notice, if they desired.
Such reservations were not general.
101 Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., 2 24 1702, 329.
l *Ibid., 6 27 1703, 376.
lo3 Am. Wk. Mercury, Nov. 29, 1733.
104 Watson I, 287.
106 Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., 3 29 1691, 146.
^Collections of the Protestant Episcopal Historical Soc., 1851, Vol. I,
XIX to XX.
107 Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., 1301784, 123 ff.
*Moses Patterson was the first teacher in the Negro School. Phila.
Mo. Mtg. Min., 6 29 1799, 398.
108 P. C. S. M., I, 274.
22O Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania
Moses Patterson, had begun his teaching career in 1760
when he undertook to teach a school at Fairhill Meeting. 109
He then was made usher to Alexander Seaton in which posi-
tion he remained till I764. 110 He desired then to quit as
usher, and apparently did; he is next heard of in 1765 as
teacher of "poor children." 111
Robert Willian was employed in 1748, having been brought
from England, to teach Latin, Greek and other learning. 112
His first term of employment was for one year, as was the
Board's general custom in hiring teachers, but it seems that
his contract was renewed until 1753, at which time his place
was taken by John Wilson. 113 Wilson had entered the school's
employ as usher in 1750, but was, in addition to that, granted
permission to teach an evening school. 114 It is not known
how long he remained as master, but in 1754 there was a
proposition to allow J. King to go into the Latin School, 116
and it is likely he took Wilson's place. King, however, as
stated -elsewhere, did not remain there more than a year,
because of ill health and inclination. 113 Wi'son is later
mentioned in connection with the Latin school (1769); how
much of the time, between 1754 and 1769 he had spent in the
Latin School it is impossible to say.
When King (1755) announced his intention to resign at the
end of six months, the Board attempted to procure Paul
Jackson, who at the time was instructor at the Academy. 117
Jackson was well qualified for the place and, besides his work
at the Academy, had prepared lectures in "experimental
philosophy" which he proposed to give for the " entertainment
of the curious." 118 He did not find himself free at this time
to remove from the employ of the trustees of that institution,
but Charles Thompson, who had been employed there as
usher was engaged for the Friends' School. 119 It seems that
the logical man for the place would have been William
i 9 P. C. S. M., I, 208.
Ul lbid., 288.
112 Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., 6-26-1748, 64.
118 Pa. Gaz., No. 1403, 1755.
" 9 P.C.S.M.,I, 133.
113 P. C. S. M., 1, 101.
Masters and Mistresses
Johnson, who first taught a school at Fairhill 120 (1753) and
attended Latin School, free of charge, to prepare him to be an
usher (i754). 121 The headship was not offered him, however,
but a year later his salary for the assistantship was raised 20
to keep him from going to Burlington. 123 We find that
Charles Thompson (from the Academy) remained in the
Friends' School until 1760, when he decided to leave the
business of school keeping for another. 124 His first training
in Latin, Greek, and mathematics was gained in Alison's
Seminary. After leaving the Friends' School he was inter-
ested in political life and became secretary of the Revolution-
ary Congress in I775- 125
When Thompson indicated his desire to leave the Latin
School, the Board took steps to secure a master from England.
A letter was sent to J. Fothergill and John Hunt who recom-
mended Robert Proud as a very likely candidate. 126 This
recommendation was favorably considered and Proud accord-
ingly came to Philadelphia. He immediately chose W. W.
Fentham as his usher, whom, he stated, the Board might
remove if they did not find him satisfactory. 127 It appears
that Proud remained master from this time until 1770, when
he announced his resignation. 128 He was again in the employ
of the Latin School in 1784, having an usher to assist him in
instructing the thirty boys who are stated to have been in
attendance on that date. 129 How long this period of service
continued the writer has not determined. The reader has
already been introduced to Proud's school by means of the
rules he constructed for it, which were presented on a previous
page. His reverence for learning and his attempt to inculcate
that respect for it in the minds of his pupils is perhaps best
indicated by these lines:
"To learning ever be inclined;
With good instruction store thy mind,
For without learning, living here
Like Death and Darkness doth appear."
120 P.C.S.M.,I, 106. m lbid., 122. l ^Ibid., 131.
lK Ibid., 141. 1I4 /Wd., 188.
1K Simpson, 912-13. 12 P. C. S. M., I, 175-
wibid., 234. u*Ibid., 334.
129 Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., I 30 1784, 123.
130 Robert Proud Ms. Col., No. 20, 27.
Time of his
Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania
When Proud left the Latin school in 1770, Friends again
had recourse to the English supply house, receiving from
thence John Thompson, eldest son of Jonah Thompson, who
had previously taught in Philadelphia. 131 John Thompson
entered the school on twelfth month, fifth, 1770 and remained
in that position at least until 1779. At that date he had
twenty-four boys in charge, to whom he taught Latin and
Greek, with occasionally some writing and arithmetic. 132
An interesting student's commentary on the "Hon. John
Thompson" is furnished by the following extract from the
publications of the Public School Gazeteer, 1777.
On Thursday last in the afternoon the Hon. John Thompson, Esq.,
dismissed the school long before the usual time. This (we hope) is a
prelude to the restoration of our rights.*
One of the most worthy masters to be noted in the English
School, near the middle of the century, was Alexander Seaton.
In 1751 he desired to start a school in the upper part of the
city, which was to be under the care of the Board. In this
school, which was accordingly set up, were taught writing,
arithmetic, and mathematics. 133 He was thus employed
until 1754 when, as above stated, Benezet desiring to set up a
girls' school, he was requested to take Benezet's place in the
English School. 134 At various dates he was assisted by Moses
Patterson, Phineas Jenkins, 135 and George Smith. 136 In 1763,
when he died, his place was filled by John Todd. 137
Todd remained many years in Friends' School. In 1779
he is reported by the overseers as having 60 boys of various
religious denominations, to whom was taught reading, English
writing, arithmetic and some branches of mathematics. 138
A like condition prevailed in his school five years later, with
the exception that the number of boys had increased to 88.
The committee report states that the "master is careful to
preserve good order in his school." 139 This agrees, but is a
131 Watson, I, 282.
132 Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., 7 30 1779, 151.
*The Public School Gazeteer, 1777, in Norris Ms. Collections, H. S. P.
133 P. C. S. M., I, 90.
., 266. 138 Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., 7 30 1779, 151.
., 1301784, 123 f.
Masters and Mistresses
mueh less picturesque statement of the case than is por-
trayed by Watson. 140 He is pictured as immoderately strict
and as taking diabolic satisfaction in every opportunity to
use the strap. Watson closes his description with the state-
ment that "it was not that his love of learning was at fault,
so much as the old British system of introducing learning and
discipline into the brains of boys and soldiers by dint of
A number of other almost unknown masters who taught in
and around Philadelphia may be briefly mentioned. William
Waring is stated by Watson to have taught astronomy and
mathematics in the Friends' School at the same time with
Jeremiah Paul. 142 Associated with the school, at the same
time with Paul, Todd, and Waring, was Jimmy McCue, who
performed the services of usher. 143 Yerkes, mentioned as
having been in a single school, is mentioned by the monthly
meeting reports as though it were under the direction of
Friends. When so reported (1779) he was teaching not more
than 50 scholars (all Friends). The subjects of instruction
were reading, writing, English, arithmetic, and some branches
of mathematics. 144 No further information of Isaac Weaver
has been obtained than is given on page 260.
Leonard Snowdon was reported to have arrived from
London about 1737 to take charge of a school, but no further
particulars are found concerning him. 145 In 1757 William
Thorne was reported as teaching poor children. 146 He is one
of the very few masters who taught in the Friends' Schools,
who advertised in the newspapers for pupils ; such advertise-
ment was possibly after he discontinued his services for the
Board. 147 The advertisement does, however, serve to give
us more information as to his qualifications, than we could
otherwise obtain. He was engaged at the time (1766) in con-
ducting a writing, arithmetic, mathematics and merchants'
accounts school in Vidal's Alley. 148 At another time he
140 Watson, I, 290 f .
Ibid., 292. 146 P.C.S. M.,1,24.
Ibid., 290. i/Wd., 165.
143 Ibid., 291. ia Pa. Gaz., No. 1951, 1766-
144 Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., 7 30 1779, 151.
Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania
advertised to teach writing, arithmetic, geometry, trigonome-
try, navigation, mensuration, surveying, guaging, and
accounts. 149 John Sitch (1758) is mentioned as receiving
some of the scholars from William Johnson's school. 180
Joseph Pemberton was encouraged by the Board to start a
school in 1758. Its location, as everything else concerning
it, is very indefinite, being "in the upper part of town." 151
Other masters mentioned by various authors, and to
whom reference has been made before, but whose history is
almost unknown, are Rowland Richards, John Every, Marma-
duke Pardo, John Walby, William Coggins, Benjamin
Albertson, Hugh Foulke, John Chamberlain, Christian Dull,
Daniel Price, Samuel Jones, and Samuel Evans. 152
Of Richard Brockden, who taught at Byberry about
1710 or 1711, 183 and later (about I722) 154 for a short
time in Philadelphia, very little is known. The minute just
referred to, however, leaves the impression that Friends were
very willing for him to leave the school, but, on his request,
allowed him to remain. Walter Moor, a schoolmaster at
Byberry (about 1753) leaves no record as a master, but we are
certain his character was not satisfactory to Friends. In 1753
they complained of his drinking to excess and removing from
place to place without giving notice of it. 155 An instance of
this sort, though not entirely out of keeping with custom
in those days, was severely criticised at all times in the
meetings. This is the only explicit case of drunkenness, on
the part of teachers who were employed by Friends, which has
come to the writer's attention. The frequent mention of
reproof of members for that offense, in the early years of the
century, however, would lead one to believe that such great
success in eliminating it from those in the teaching profession
was scarcely possible. However that may be, no case has
been found (in newspaper reports, where the names were
149 Po. Gaz., No. 1865, 1764.
150 P. C. S. M., I, 164.
161 Ibid., 173.
1B2 The last eight mentioned are named as teachers in Gwynedd neigh-
borhood school, by Joseph Foulke. (Jenkins, 396-7.)
183 Min. Abington Mo. Mtg., 4 25 1711, 73.
1M Min. Phila. Mo. Mtg., 2 27 1722, 83.
166 Min. Abington Mo. Mtg., 10 29 1753, in.
Masters and Mistresses
mentioned) in which any Quaker master engaged in dis-
reputable brawling was lodged in jail, which was noted on the
part of several other private masters of Philadelphia. 166
This latter source of information is perhaps more reliable
than the meeting records.
Among Quaker schoolmasters, who have been mentioned
frequently, is Christopher Taylor. He was educated in
Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and, in i6p5, 187 published a com-
pendium of the three languages. He was a teacher at
Waltham Abbey School, 188 and, coming to Philadelphia in
1682, established a school on Tinicum Island, of which very
little authentic information is to be had. William Under-
wood was a teacher at Warington about i74o. 189 Elihu
Underwood has already been mentioned on several occasions
as the most extraordinary master of Warington, having exe-
cuted an attractive copy of arithmetic exercises from an old
English arithmetic. 160 Others, only to be mentioned, were:
D. B. Ayres, Richland Meeting, i7Q3; 161 Christopher Smith,
Byberry, I784; 162 Bryan Fitzpatrick, Horsham, I784; 163
Joseph Kirk, I793, 164 and Isaac Carver, at or near Horsham,
I784; 165 Thomas Pearson at Maiden Creek (Exeter Monthly
Meeting), I784; 166 Benjamin Parks and wife, at Reading,
I784; 167 and Caleb Johnson at Reading, I787. 168 An
unknown master of Bucks County is mentioned by General
John Lacey in his memoirs, as he comments on his early
educational opportunities. He, himself, was a member of a
family of Friends.
m Pa. Gaz., No. 2371, 1774. Ibid., No. 2147, 1770. Ibid., No. 2118,
1769. Ibid., No. 1821, 1763.
ls7 Wickersham, 26.
159 Prowell, I, 539.
161 Name found in the account book for the Jonathan Walton Fund
used for that meeting, p. I. (Deposited at Friends Meeting House in
162 Min. Horsham Mo. Mtg., 4 28 1784.
164 Min. Horsham Sch. Com., i n 1793.
165 Min. Horsham Mo. Mtg., 4 28 1784.
186 Min. Exeter Mo. Mtg., 4 28 1784, siof.
., 10 31 1787, 60 f.
cases of law-
226 Early Quaker Education in Pennsylvania
I was early sent to school, such as it was. The master himself could
neither read or write correctly, as he knew nothing of Grammar, it was
not to be expected he could teach it to others. Grammar was never
taught in any school I went to no book of this kind, or the remote
rudiments of it was that I remember talked of at any of the country
schools I was acquainted with. None but Quaker families resided in the
neighborhood where I was brought up, among whom the Bible and
Testament and Dilworth's spelling-book "were the only books suffered to
be used in the Quaker schools from which circumstances no one will
hesitate to acknowledge the extreme limited education and acquirements
of literal knowledge by youth so circumscribed. 169
Such were the country schools, if judged by his writing as a
The primary requirements for masters and mistresses, as
determined by the yearly meeting, were (i) high morality,
(2) membership with Friends, and (3) competency to teach
the subjects for which employed. These standards were
consciously striven for, as indicated by their reports on the
As a rule, the teachers selected for the lower schools were
native to the place, though there were exceptions. A large
number of the Latin masters, however, were secured through
Friends in England. To supply the lack of teachers, in
Philadelphia at any rate, recourse was occasionally had to
the apprenticeship system, as instanced by the cases of
Eldridge, and James Dickinson.
The yearly assembly recommended better accommodations
for teachers, that they might be more easily retained in the
same position. The cases mentioned indicate a very good
length of tenure; Clift, two years; Taylor, perhaps five;
Keith, about two; Makin, intermittently for about forty;
and many others, similarly. These figures are undoubtedly
not representative, the majority being taken from the city.
Personal recommendation and certificates of removal served
some of the purposes of the teacher license system. The con-
tract was verbal only, so far as evidence appears and the term
of it usually for one year.
189 Pa. Mag. Hist., XXV, 3.
Masters and Mistresses
Attention is called to the seeming great increase in salaries
during the century, and great variation in the amounts paid
at any one time, especially between those of country and cicy
masters. The salaries of women appear to have been very
meager as compared with those of the men. No appreciable
difference is found between the salaries or rates of Quaker
masters and those of private masters in the city at the same
time. Rates charged for poor children, schooled by the
Board, were less than those fixed for others.
A few mistresses in the schools are mentioned. For the
most part, the length of their service is not known. A large
proportion of them were engaged in teaching poor children,
though not limited to that. A large proportion, over half of
the poor children taught by them, were members of various
denominations. Their service was not limited to the schools
for Whites, some being employed in the Negro School, near
the end of the century.
Brief attention is given individual masters. As rated by
the frequency of their mention in five standard authorities,