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First Wesleyan students at the Glasgow Normal Seminary

From subsequent reports and inspections we know something of the first three students. James Ford, the very first teacher trained by the Wesleyan Education Committee, spent six months in Glasgow. Thereafter he was sent to Brunswick Chapel in Sheffield where he operated the ‘Glasgow System’ with 200 children. Shortly afterwards it was reported that the school[footnote] WEC Fourth Annual Report, 1842.[/footnote]was ‘in perfect order and efficiency according to the plans pursued at the Normal Seminary at Glasgow.’  It was also noted that other schools in Sheffield were adopting the same system after witnessing the effects of Mr. Ford’s school which was attended by over 200 children. In a letter dated May, 20, 1840[footnote]Contained in the Report of the Wesleyan Committee of Education 1842-3, p.28.[/footnote]

Mr. Ford stated how with ‘much fear and trembling’ he made the attempt to introduce the Glasgow system into Sheffield for the first time. A public examination was held at the Brunswick Chapel School which gave evidence both of the ‘excellence of the plans and the ability of the master’ and two further Wesleyan schools were established[footnote] Unimaginatively and inaccurately known as Sheffield First and Sheffield Second. To these two can be added Park School and Park School for Girls in East Sheffield, Bridgehouses in Sheffield West, and Red Hill Infant School.[/footnote]

Ford died in Sheffield in 1897, presumably having taught there for many years. The second student, Edmund J. West came from Portsmouth and after training went to Burslem Wesleyan School. The Education Committee minutes note that ‘At Burslem, Mr. West (our second Teacher in order of time) is settled also in a most encouraging field of labour. Mr. West was sent for three months to try if he could raise the School, which had fallen into great decay, into something like efficiency; and he has succeeded so well, that he is now himself comfortably established over a very flourishing School, and receives from its proceeds about £80 a year.’[footnote]Fourth Annual Report, Wesleyan Education Committee Minutes, 1842.[/footnote]As noted later, he spent the bulk of his career, from 1850 to 1880, in the Practising Schools at Westminster College.[footnote]Fourth Annual Report, Wesleyan Education Committee Minutes, 1842.[/footnote]

Mr. Bowker the third student to be trained at Glasgow did equally well in a school at Chesterfield where he introduced a gallery, maps, and other apparatus on the Glasgow model. The Committee Report reads ‘Mr. Bowker, the third young man sent from the Glasgow Seminary for us, is settled under very encouraging auspices at Chesterfield; where his labours among the rising generation appear to be gratefully appreciated’.[footnote]Wesleyan Education Committee, Fourth Report, 1842.[/footnote]At the same time that the Committee sent these three (that is Ford, West and Bowker), three other men who had ‘come under (the Committee’s) care and partial support during the year’[footnote] Ibid.[/footnote]also undertook their training in Glasgow. They may have been Mr Swaine who settled at St Albans; Mr Henry Rogers, who after a stint at Derby (1842) and Selby (1846) became a teacher in the model school at Westminster College when it opened in 1851; and Mr J. Peachy who settled at Ipswich and is known to have trained at Glasgow at the same time.[footnote] The Register of Students is currently mislaid. However, the 1842 Report refers to Mr Swaine and Mr Rogers; and Mr Peachy is known to have trained at Glasgow in 1841.[/footnote]Thus, with the first woman, Mrs Gordon, the widow of a missionary, the Committee was able to report that:

 ‘Of the seven candidate Teachers now at Glasgow, the Committee continue to receive the best accounts from Mr. Stow and the other Officers of the Seminary, as to their character, conduct, abilities, and studies. The Committee are pleased to be able to state their conviction that these Teachers would do credit to any Society.’[footnote]WEC Fourth Report 1842.[/footnote]

Stow’s Correspondence

The drop-down menus to the right contain known correspondence :

  • Stow’s wife;
  • to his eldest, and dying, son, William ;
  • with Rev Dr Thomas Chalmers;
  • between Stow and various members of the Glasgow Education Society and the Committee of the Privy Council;
  • with Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth;
  • with George Combe,  phrenologist;
  • and miscellaneous letters to John Campbell Colquhoun; the Right Honourable Sir J Graham Bart.,MP; Sir Robert Peel; and John Dunmore Lang

‘An intellectual waste’

‘A few years ago, I visited a school in England, taught on the monitorial system, and was introduced to the master by one of the directors, who stated that he was a very superior teacher, and had his boys, to the number of at least 50 in good order. I found the school, as stated, in excellent order, all busy at spelling lessons, or reading the Scriptures. On reaching the highest class, in company with the master and director, I asked the former if he ever questioned the scholars on what they read. He answered, ‘No, sir! I have no time for that, but you may if you please.’ I answered, that except when personally known to the teacher, I never questioned children in any school. ‘By all means, do so now, if you please; but them thick-headed boys cannot under­stand a word, I am sure.’ Being again asked to put a few questions, I proceeded: ‘Boys, show me where you are reading;’ and to do them justice, they read fluently. The subject was the story of Eli and his two sons. I caused the whole of them again to read the first verse -’And Eli had two sons, Hophni and Phineas.’ ‘Now, children, close your books; – (presuming it impossible that any error could be committed in such a plain narrative, I proceeded:) ‘Well – who was Eli?’ No answer. This question appeared too high, requiring an exercise of thought, and a knowledge not to be found in the verse read. I therefore descended in the scale, and proceeded: ‘Tell me how many sons Eli had!’, Ugh?’, Had Eli any sons?’ ‘Sir?’ ‘Open your books, if you please, and read again. Three or four read in succession, ‘And Eli had two soons, Hophni and Phineas.’ ‘Now answer me, boys – How many sons had Eli?’ ‘Soor?’ ‘Who do you think Eli was? Had Eli any sons?’ ‘Ugh?’ ‘Was he a man, do you think, or a bird, or a beast? Who do you think Eli was, children?’ ‘Soor?’ ‘Look at me, children, and answer me this – If Eli had two sons, do you think his two sons had a father?’ ‘Soor?’ ‘Think, if you please -Had Eli ANY sons?’ No answer. ‘Well, since you cannot tell me how many sons Eli had, how many daughters had he, think you?’ ‘Three, Sir.’[footnote]The three names, previously so often repeated, viz., Eli, Hophni, and Phineas, seem to have shed one ray of light upon their intellects, and brought out in answer the term three.[/footnote- ‘Where do you find that, children ? – look at your Bibles. Who told you that Eli had three daughters?’  Ugh ?’ The director turned upon his heels, and the master said, ‘Now, sir, didn’t I tell you them fellows could not understand a word?’ !!! This I term scriptural reading – those who choose, may term it scriptural education. We admit the principle, that no school or system ought to be judged of by a single exhibition, or after a transient inspection; but here there can be no mistake; for if the highest class of a school, consisting of a dozen boys of ten to twelve years of age, who had read the Scriptures daily for years, could make such an appearance, what are we to conclude, but that, in so far as their intellectual or moral culture was concerned, it mattered not whether the Scriptures they read had been printed in Hebrew, or in their mother tongue?

I thought this at the time an extreme case, but afterwards met with one or two similar results in other schools. I still proceeded, however, piercing the tough unpulverised clod of their understanding, till, at the expiration of ten or twelve minutes, they were made to perceive that Eli was a man – that this man had two sons—and that the names of these two sons were Hophni and Phineas.

That the fault was not in the children, but in the system, was rendered apparent from the fact, that on the same day I visited another school in the immediate neighbourhood, having the same sort of children, 140 in number (boys and girls), but taught on the Training system, in which was exhibited a minute acquaintance with Scripture history and doctrine, and an enlarged and minute knowledge of elementary science; moreover, their style of reading and writing, etc., was quite equal to that of the other school I had visited. The whole was conducted by a first and second trained master, practically acquainted with the system, with a slight infu­sion of the monitorial system in points of secondary importance.


Imperfect as mere verbal answering is, when every child knows all the answers in the lessons, and can repeat them, It is still more imperfect when the child only commits his own particular one to memory, which formerly was and still is too common in school. Most ludicrous scenes have taken place occasionally during public examinations, when a child happened to absent himself, and thus, by withdrawing a link of the chain, broke its continuity. An alert examiner, however, in most cases, can heal the breach, by a rapid movement to the next question in the order. A case lately occurred which illus­trates the rotation system. The public examinator, among other written questions which he was to ask, put this one, ‘Who made the world?’ The child answered, ‘Noah, Sir.’ The examinator said, ‘I beg your pardon, children, I am wrong; that child is not here (meaning the child who was to answer the question); I ought to have asked, ‘ Who made the ark?’


A friend of ours was taught to repeat the twenty-third Psalm by rote. The fourth line had been com­mitted thus, ‘The quayt-wait waters by,’ the sound ‘wait’ instead of ‘iet’ filling up the requisite number of syllables, and years elapsed before he understood that ‘quayt-wait’ meant quiet, or could get rid of the sound. We might state twenty ludicrous mistakes; such as ‘Whose son was Moses?’ One boy answered, and none of the others could correct him, The son of his daughter, Sir.’ As a ques­tion by itself, it was not perhaps very easily answered, but as the sound of the answer, the son of his daughter, strongly resembled the one wanted, viz., the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, it was of course given.

Stow, David. (1959) The Training System, 10th Ed. pps 119, 120


GISS First Annual Report 1829

To download a copy of the Glasgow Infant School Society’s First Annual Report of 1829 click here: GISS First Annual Report

The original document may be viewed in the Department of Archives and Special Collections of the University of Strathclyde (see ‘Useful Links’ in the main menu). I am grateful to the Department for permission to copy this transcript.


William Stow (1823-1852): Stow’s eldest son

William was born on 12th September 1823. His baptism and the registration of his birth was witnessed by William Buchanan, who was a member of the Glasgow Educational Society GES); and by James Playfair who, in addition to being a member of GES was also a member of the Glasgow Infant School Society (GISS). [footnote]GROS: Extract of Entries in an Old Parochial Register 162175.[/footnote]He nearly died in infancy through ‘active inflammation of the lungs’, [footnote]Fraser (1868) op cit p. 230.[/footnote]causing his parents great emotional and spiritual distress. ‘We have been visited’, Stow wrote, ‘with a fatherly correction in the near prospect of the loss of our dear and only child, William’ [footnote]Ibid, p. 231.[/footnote]

‘In the family (William) was kind and affectionate – to his parents very strongly attached. As a boy at school, he displayed much energy and activity both of body and of mind. He had great facility in his studies, and variety did not perplex him. In his hours of relaxation, he engaged in games and amusements with all his heart; and on such occasions his ardent and conciliating spirit generally secured for him the place of leader among his companions. His principle of action was to do nothing ‘by halves’. [footnote]Wagner, Rev George. (1852) Short Biographical Sketch attached to the third Farewell Sermon of Rev William Stow, MA, Vicar of Avebury. London: Longman and Co., Paternoster Row, p. 4.[/footnote]

He was a student at Glasgow University from 1837-41 [footnote]Entry in the record of Matriculated Students, 13762, Gulielmus Stow[/footnote] his name, along with those of his two brothers, is recorded in the Matriculation Albums of the University 1728-1858. In the Census of 1841 [footnote]Scottish Census 1841[/footnote] he was living at home in Sauchyhall (sic) Street with his parents: his age is given as 18 with a date of birth in 1823. It is not clear what he studied at Glasgow but on December 14th 1841, he was enrolled as a Pensioner in Peterhouse College, Cambridge, with the intention of studying for the bar, becoming a scholar in 1842. Wagner states that he was at the top of the list in his first examination and might have distinguished himself in law had he felt not felt it right to devote his energy to studies which bore more directly on the work of the ministry. In 1846, at the age of 23, he graduated from Cambridge University with a Bachelor of Arts to which he added, in 1851, a Master of Arts. [footnote]Cambridge University Alumni 1261-1900[/footnote]

He was ordained in December 1846, and in January, aged 47, was appointed to the first of two curateships at Sherborne, Dorset, by the Rev John Parsons, vicar of the parish.

‘His field of labour consisted of 2600 souls, being half of the whole population. He had generally three services on Sunday, there being three churches to serve; and he added two cottage lectures during the week. He also gave religious instruction to the factory young women; and had a class for preparing the Sunday School teachers to conduct Bible lessons, on the natural and efficient principle developed by his father in ‘The Training System;’ thus leaving only one evening in the week disengaged. At the same time, systematic visiting from house to house made him intimately acquainted with all his parishioners. He continued these abundant labours two years and a quarter, and on his leaving Sherborne, was presented with several public and private testimonials; one from the inhabitants of Sherborne and Castleton, another from the factory girls, who had attended his weekly class, a third from the use of the public Grammar School, and a fourth from the Sunday school teachers, who had attended his ‘Bible training’ class; to which may be added, one to his daughter by the children of the National School.

He became Parish Curate of Dilton Marsh, Wiltshire from 1848-50.

‘The Manor of Daleton, or Dylton, was formerly a place of note for the manufacture of Broad and Woollen cloths; but is now reduced to a small village. It is situated in the Hundred and Parish of Westbury. Many who read the History of the Church will be in doubt as to the reason why it was built in such a thinly populated district. But when we find that Dilton was formerly, with so many more houses, as well as the large Cloth or Woollen Mills, and a Grist Mill, in full employ, it seems to have been a much more populous place than it now is; and remembering, too, that Dilton Marsh Church was not built till a comparatively recent date, we shall better understand why this church was built; the villagers of Marsh being in the habit of attending the old Church until the erection of the new one in their own village. ‘In connection with Dilton Church there was a well attended Sunday School for the children of Dilton and the district round. [footnote]Burford, James. (1861) The History of Old Dilton Church, Westbury, Wiltshire. Westbury: W. Michael.[/footnote]

Wagner wrote ‘In March, 1849, (William) entered upon the incumbency of Dilton’s Marsh, Wiltshire, a widely-extended and neglected parish, to which he had been presented by Bishop of Salisbury. In the morning of the day, on which he entered on his public duties, 15 persons only attended Divine worship; at the evening service 40 were present; and, in the course of two or three months, the church, which holds 700, became well filled. Here, also, he added a third service, re-established the Sunday schools on an improved basis, and organised two day schools at great expense and labour, on the ‘Moral Training System,’ which he in general visited daily; and gave two evening lectures during the week, one in the church, and one in a small hamlet, 3 miles distant from his house. His cottage and Sunday evening lectures were generally delivered from notes. The morning sermons were uniformly written and read, except on one occasion, which may be deemed worthy of notice’.[footnote]Wagner, op cit, p. 5[/footnote]

William introduced the Training System into the local school at Dilton’s Marsh which received good evaluations in two Reports. Rev E. d. Tinling writes:

‘Dilton’s marsh, Mixed. A mixed (juvenile) school under a master aided by two pupil teachers. Discipline was very good, the Glasgow Training System being tried. The master was trained at Glasgow. He has not yet been long enough in the school to bring his system into full operation. The Rev. W. Stow has lately reorganised his school and introduced the Glasgow training system. No expense or trouble is spared to give the system a fair trial.’ [footnote]Quoted Houseman, Robert E. (1933) David Stow, His life and work, 1793-1864. Unpublished thesis for the award of Master of Education, University of Manchester, p. 229.[/footnote]

Rev H. Mosely, inspecting the schools in the counties of Wiltshire and Berkshire, refers to a school at Dilton’s Marsh which was taught by a master from Glasgow and where Stow’s son, William, was incumbent of the parish:

‘It is impossible not to be favourably impressed with the moral aspect of schools conducted on this plan. Children placed under influences so calm, and so humanising as these, for six hours a day, of three or four years of the most impressionable period of their lives, cannot become the same men and women as they would have been under other and less favourable circumstances.’ [footnote]Ibid.[/footnote]

Stow’s pride in his son is reflected in a letter to Kay-Shuttleworth, dated Glasgow, December 26th, 1843, where he discusses the idea of ‘my son’s writing or inspecting schools under the Church of England or Government’ (as a way of filling in time until he was old enough to obtain a curacy).

‘As to the idea of my son’s visiting or inspecting Schools under the Church of England or Government, it is chiefly to get employment in a way suited to his task. The fact is he cannot occupy the office of Curate in a parish for two years being only 21 years of age & he wishes to be employed not so much for support for he has some property of his own & I am willing to assist farther, but I think his being actively employed professionally might be of service to himself and to the public. Although young he is very mature in judgment, prudence & management as much so as most young men of 26 or 27 years of age. Even a year ago when at home during his University vacation & I ill at home he took my place as Superintendent in the Normal Seminary & while he pleased & maintained a good feeling with the Masters he kept all in order conducting the Strangers & explaining the System.’[footnote]Dated by Houseman, op cit. p. 297[/footnote]

William eventually succeeded to the vicarage of Avebury with Winterbourne-Monkton in September 1851, through the offices of the Marquis of Lansdowne, a friend of his father.[footnote]Letter from David Stow to Sir James Kay-Shuttleworth, dated December 26th, 1843. Now among the Shuttleworth manuscripts. Quoted Houseman, op. cit. p. 298.[/footnote] A Fire Insurance policy of 1783 shows that there was a Charity School in Avebury at that time.[footnote]Wiltshire and Swindon History and Archives Office, Chippenham[/footnote] A School Inspection Report of April 27th, 1877,[footnote] Ibid[/footnote]states that the National School was built in 1844-49. It was a Church of England School attached to a school house but without internal communications. It was also used as a Sunday School but without any alteration of the desks or other furniture. The teacher was Henrietta Higgins, born January 19th, 1843. She was appointed to the school on September 30th, 1876. She was previously a pupil-teacher at the Girls’ School, Penkridge, Staffordshire. The original teacher at the Wesleyan School at Penkridge was trained at the Glasgow Normal Seminary. The report of the 6th August, 1877 states that ‘The Certificate awarded to Mrs Higgins under Article 59 will shortly be issued.’

The common interest in education shared by father and son must have deepened the sorrow caused by William’s illness and then death on April 23rd, 1852 at the age of twenty-eight. Wagner writes: ‘In February, 1850, he was seized with pleurisy whilst conducting the morning service, and was confined to his bed several weeks. He has weakened frame required a long rest, and he therefore secured the services of a curate the 12 months, and retired to Scotland. In the following winter another illness ensued, which led him to Brighton. In September, 1851, he left Brighton, and entered upon his duties as vicar (of Avebury) early in December last, and was only permitted to preach twice in each church, and to call upon some of his parishioners, when it please God completely and finally to lay him aside by congestion of the lungs. In March, 1851, he resigned his incumbency, and took leave of his parishioners in an earnest and affectionate printed address’.[footnote]Wagner, George. (1852) Farewell sermon by the late Rev William Stow London: Longman. The sermon was delivered in St Stephen’s Church, Brighton, by the then incumbent, on November 23, 1851 with a short biographical sketch, ‘addressed to the parishioners of Avebury and Monkton by the incumbent of St Stephen’s, Brighton’. [/footnote]

Stow wrote to his son from Glasgow on March 11th, 1852, the day of the baptism of ‘dear little Charles George’, referring to Charles’ brother and sister. His final letters to his son, written daily, and recorded verbatim by Fraser, are deeply religious in emotion and Biblical detail. A few hours before his departure, William calmly delivered at Bible to each of his three children, making a pencil mark by way of distinction, and requesting his father to write their names in them, as a ‘gift from a dying father with his blessing’.

William died at 13, Hans Place Chelsea, on 22nd April, 1852 at the age of 28.[footnote]Ibid and England and Wales Death Index 1837-1983, p. 196.[/footnote]He is buried in Avebury Churchyard.[footnote]Confirmed by Houseman (p. 297) from the Parish Church Register and visited by Glenda A. White.[/footnote]

The gravestone is to the left of the church door and reads:

Rev William Stow
Vicar of Avebury
Died 22nd April 1852
In his 29th year.

The remainder of the inscription is indecipherable but appears to mention that he was the husband of Catherine, his children, and that he was the son of David Stow. A text, including the words ‘who believe that’ is at the bottom of the stone.

William married Catherine Bannister[footnote]Scott.(1888) op cit, Family Tree.[/footnote]and had three children. (A ‘Catherine Stow’ was staying with the Bannister family on the night of the 1851 Census.) [footnote]English Census 1851.[/footnote]

William and Catherine had three children:
• Marion Catherine Stow (1846-1876) (Stow’s first wife and William’s mother was ‘Marion’
• David William Stow ((1850 – 1880)
• Charles George Stow (1852-1852)

Marion and David received £4,000 between them from Stow’s will plus £1,000 already paid to William and Catherine, plus the share of the property from Elizabeth MacArthur. The interest from this was payable as required for their education and clothing.

Marion Catherine Stow married James Chancellor (1830-1889), a clergyman, and they had one child, Wilfred George Chancellor who was born in 1876 and died in 1935. He married Jessie Elizabeth (b. 1878) in 1909 and they had a son, Alexander Chancellor in 1909. On 22nd September 1924, Alexander sailed to Southampton from Buenos Aires, Argentina. On 15th May 1951 he arrived at Liverpool from Bombay, India. For further information see ‘Stow’s Family Tree on

William Stow officiated at the weddings of:
• his brother David George Stow and Jessie Smith, 25th June, 1850
• his cousin John Wilson Wilson (sic) and Mary Wilson Boyce on 4th September 1849 in St Peter’s Church, Dublin

As a footnote, after William’s death, Catherine remarried a William Burnley and settled in Edinburgh. He was thirteen years older than Catherine, and a West India Merchant. A ‘Marion Stow’, his stepdaughter, and William D. Stow, his stepson, are with them in the Scottish Census for 1861. Emily and Georgina Bannister are also shown as Sisters-in-Law. Catherine died of peritonitis in Dunoon on 23rd October 1866 aged 42. Since William Burnley lived to 1903 it is tempting to suppose that Stow offered her his Lodge in Dunoon when she became ill.

Dating the opening of the Drygate Infant school

The determination of the date of the institution of the Glasgow Infant School Society and of the opening of the first school in the Drygate has occasioned unexpected difficulty. Stow’s statements are unreliable; various dates are given by him for the same event, and assertions incompatible with each other are offered by him in the same paragraph; his facts are not always corroborated by contemporary records, and others equally favourably placed have made declarations inconsistent with this.

Thus Stow himself has given 1826, 1826-7, and 1827, as the date of founding the Society and opening the first Infant School in Glasgow;

The Fifth Report of the Glasgow Society’s Normal Seminary, 1839, states: “Mr Stow, who having superintended the System and Institution from its commencement in 1826″;

The Preface to ‘Granny and Leezy’, (1860) refers to “the establishment of a Model School in Glasgow in 1826”.

In Moral Training, 2nd edit. (1834); he writes: “Infant Schools, upon Bible principles, were thought of and, in 1826-27, subscriptions were sought far, and obtained, after much exertion, from persons of all Christian professions, sufficient to fit up, but not to build, a school. A suitable person acquainted with the system of Infant training, was brought to town, and a school was opened as a model.”

In National Education (1847) he adds: “Repeated experiments founded upon the imperfect views I then possessed resulted in 1826-7 in the establishment of a model school.”

Granny and Leezy, qualifying the 1826 statement, avers: “This school was established in 1826-7”; and on the very next page we read: “Two years before this, viz., 1827, no fee was charged during the first few weeks after the school was opened.”

In the Third Report of the Glasgow Educational Society’ s Normal Seminary, 1836, it is stated: “The agitation was still kept up till 1826, and believing that the exhibition of the system in actual operation would alone produce conviction, a Model School was determined on, and, after many meetings, and much discussion, in which Dr Welsh, then minister of St David’s, now Professor of Church History in Edinburgh University, took a deep interest and an active part: a committee was formed”; the only comment necessary here is that Dr Welsh was not transferred to Glasgow till early in October, 1827.

In the Preface to Granny and Leezy Stow mentions Mr Caughie, the first teacher of the school, who has laboured in it “since 1826”.

Mr Caughie on the occasion of his jubilee as a teacher referred more particularly to “my labours in connection with the Educational Society founded in 1827, under designation of the Glasgow Infant School Society, when in the spring of 1828, they established their Model Infant School in the Drygate, and appointed me as teacher of it.”

From all of the above we may conclude that since the accounts show that Mr Caughie was paid from April 1828  – that this was the official opening of the Drygate School.

Introduction and Summary

David Stow was a family man – two wives, five children, unnumbered relatives all living under the shadow of continual bereavement. He may be regarded as a pillar of the church community – Sabbath School teacher, deacon, elder, his persistent presence on endless committees rendering them both quorate and even constructive. We can judge him as a man of commerce – successful, wealthy, safely ensconced in a fine house in Sauchiehall Street and developing his business from the Trongate to a spacious, purpose-built factory in Port Eglinton. We can come to know him as a person – witty, kindly, delighted by the company of children, generous, moralistic, pedantic, inflexible. As with any personal story all of these, and more, are important facets of the unfolding character of the man over his three-score years and ten.

For the purpose of this account, however, what makes Stow different is his contribution to the growing demand for a national, universal and eventually compulsory system of education during the course of the nineteenth century. Stow’s tangible contribution survives in his writings, in the institutions he created, in the buildings he left behind. His lasting achievement, as Insh remarked, was ‘a life devoted consistently and strenuously to the furtherance of a clearly conceived idea’.[footnote] Insh, George Pratt. (1938). The life and work of David Stow, commemoration lecture delivered 22nd December 1937 to the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow. Edinburgh: Lindsay and Company, p. 5.[/footnote]

Stow understood childhood as a discrete period in human development, to be acknowledged and respected by adults and enjoyed by children. He emphasised the necessity of considering the child as a whole and of developing her/his intellectual, physical and, particularly, moral character. He came to recognise that educational provision had outgrown the parish and burgh structure and must move beyond its limited, parochial, agricultural and rural context to meet the needs of the densely populated, industrialised large towns and cities. To complement the new demand for educational provision in this urban expansion, he refined the specialised craft of the teacher – that body of knowledge, skill, strategies, conduct and duties which marks the professional. He raised the status, salary and conditions of teachers by improving their selection, training and evaluation and by constantly arguing for increased remuneration commensurate with increased worth. Above all, he contended that the burgeoning middle classes, like himself, who benefitted from the industrial and mercantile improvements of the period, had a duty – philanthropically, politically and nationally – to provide for the working classes who, by contrast, suffered from such economic advance.

The dates of Stow’s birth and death, 1793-1864, provide the simplest summary of his life. What matters, of course, is what he did with the hyphen. This web-site is an evaluation of the contribution of that hyphen to the proud, if troubled, history of education.