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Home and Away: A Schoolmistress in Lowland Scotland and Colonial Australia in the Second Half of the Nineteenth Century

  • Jane McDermid (a1)
Extract

Writing in this journal in 1993, Marjorie Theobald examined the history of middle-class women's education in late-eighteenth-century Britain and its transference and adaptation to colonial Australia in the nineteenth century. She questioned both the British historical perception that before the middle of the nineteenth century middle-class parents showed little, if any, interest in their daughters' education, and the Australian assumption that the transplantation of the private female academy (or seminary) was simply a reflection of the scramble for respectability by a small middle class scattered among a convict society. Theobald found that, as in Britain by the early 1800s, these schools—all private and run for profit by the wives and daughters of clergy and other professional men—shared a remarkably similar curriculum, generally advertised as “An English education with the usual accomplishments.” This was not, she argued, an elementary education, but rather was rooted in the liberal arts tradition and had been influenced by the search for stability within a rapidly industrializing Britain. The daughters of the British middle classes were to be taught how to deploy their learning discreedy, to ensure that it was at the service of their domestic role and civilizing influence.

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1 Theobald, Marjorie, “Boundaries, Bridges, and the History of Education: An Australian Response to Maxine Schwarz Seller,” History of Education Quarterly 33, no. 4 (1993): 497510. Convict transportation to eastern Australia ended in 1852, by which time the six colonies had received a certain degree of political autonomy; transportation to western Australia ended in 1867. See Catriona Elder, “Immigration History,” in Australia's History: themes and debates, ed. Lyons, Martyn and Russell, Penny, 98–115 (Sydney: University of New South Wales Press, 2005).

2 Theobald, Marjorie R., “The Accomplished Woman and the Propriety of Intellect: A New Look at Women's Education in Britain and Australia, 1800–1850,” History of Education 17, no. 1 (1988): 2135. See also McDermid, Jane, “Conservative Feminism and Female Education in the Eighteenth Century,” History of Education 18, no. 4 (1989): 309–22.

3 Theobald, Marjorie R., Knowing Women: Origins of Women's Education in Nineteenth-Century Australia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996): see especially chap. 2, “The lost ladies’ academies of colonial Australia.”

4 Papers of the Brown family, National Library of Scotland (NLS), Acc. 12100/1–15 (15 boxes), hereafter cited as NLS, Acc. 12100, box number. When last consulted (July 2006), the papers had not been catalogued. The archive contains a typewritten transcript and summary of events which is accurate. All quotations are taken from the original letters, which are in good condition and, for the most part, legible. While the original letters are now held in Edinburgh, they were filmed (consisting of six reels) as part of the Australian Joint Copying Project by the National Library of Australia (NLA) and the State Library of New South Wales, call number NLA, Mfm M858–863.

5 The biographical sketch is based on the typed chronology and summary of the letters, headed “Family History and Notes for the Brown-Hamilton Papers,” NLS, Acc. 12100, box 1.

6 McCarthy, Angela, ed., A Global Clan: Scottish Migrant Networks and Identities since the Eighteenth Century (London: Taurus, 2006), 3.

7 Ibid., 3–4.

8 See Fitzpatrick, David, Oceans of Consolation: Personal Accounts of Irish Migration to Australia (Cork: Cork University Press, 1994).

9 Another interesting aspect of the Brown family correspondence is that it is by a Lowland family. Most Scots who migrated in the nineteenth century were from the Lowlands, but until recently historical attention has been focused on the Highlanders. See McCarthy, , A Global Clan, 9–10. See also Devine, T. M., ed., Scottish Emigration and Scottish Society (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1992); Brock, Jeanette M., The Mobile Scot: A Study of Emigration and Migration, 1861–1911 (Edinburgh: Donald, John, 1999); Marjory Harper, Adventurers and Exiles: The Great Scottish Exodus (London: Profile Books, 2003); Marjory Harper, ed., Emigrant Homecomings: The Return Movement of Emigrants, 1600–2000 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2005).

10 Theobald, , Knowing Women, 41.

11 Theobald, Marjorie R., “Scottish Schoolmistresses in Colonial Australia,” Canadian History of Education Association Bulletin 5, no. 3 (October 1988): 118.

12 See Moore, Lindy, “Young Ladies’ Institutions: The Development of Secondary Schools for Girls in Scotland, 1833–1870,” History of Education 32, no. 3 (May 2003): 249–72.

13 Strawhorn, John, The New History of Cumnock (Cumnock: Cumnock Town Council, 1966), 62. In 1847, the Secession (1733) and Relief (1761) Churches united to form the United Presbyterian Church. See Brown, Callum G., Religion and Society in Scotland since 1707 (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1997), 23–25.

14 See Love, Dane, Ayrshire: Discovering a County (Ayr: Fort, 2003), chap. 10.

15 Wark, Gavin, The Rise and Fall of the Mining Communities in Central Ayrshire in the 19th and 20th Centuries (Ayrshire: Ayrshire Archaeological and Natural History Society, 1999), 4.

16 The New Statistical Account of Scotland, Volume V, Ayr-Bute (Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons, 1845), 483, 489.

17 See Lesley, A. Orr MacDonald, A Unique and Glorious Mission: Women and Presbyterianism in Scotland (Edinburgh: Donald, John, 2000).

18 Rev. Warrick, John, The History of Old Cumnock (Paisley: Gardner, A, 1899), 147–48.

19 Brown, James to Hamilton, Jane, 23 July 1867, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 15.

20 The New Statistical Account of Scotland, Volume V, Ayr-Bute, 489–90. For female education in Ayrshire in this period, see William Boyd, Education in Ayrshire through Seven Centuries (London: University of London Press, 1961), 83155.

21 See Anderson, Robert, Education and the Scottish People 1750–1918 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1995); Northcroft, David, Scots at School (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2003); Holmes, Heather, ed., Scottish Life and Society: Education. Volume 11, A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology (East Linton, East Lothian: Tuckwell Press, 2000).

22 Hamilton, Jane to the Brown family, 14 August 1868, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9, emphasis in the original.

23 See Cruikshank, Marjorie, A History of the Training of Teachers in Scotland (London: University of London Press, 1970). See also Corr, Helen, “An Exploration into Scottish Education,” in People and Society in Scotland, Volume ll, 1830–1914, ed. Fraser, W. Hamish and Morris, R.J. (Edinburgh: Donald, John, 1990), chap. 10.

24 An assumption made for England, at least: see, for example, Davidoff, Leonore and Hall, Catherine, Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class, 1780–1850 (London: Routledge, 1987). See Eleanor Gordon, “Women's Spheres,” in People and Society in Scotland, ed. Fraser and Morris for a more qualified view.

25 Quoted in MacDonald, , A Unique and Glorious Mission, 270.

26 See Anderson, , Education and the Scottish People; Moore, Lindy, “Education and Learning,” in Gender in Scottish History since 1700, ed. Lynn Abrams, Eleanor Gordon, Deborah Simonton and Eileen Janes Yeo (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2006), chap. 5.

27 Jane to Brown, Margaret, 27 October 1857, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 4; James Brown to Jane Brown, 29 July 1858, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 4.

28 Hamilton, Jane to Margaret Brown, 15 April 1858, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 5.

29 See Clark, Sylvia, Paisley: A History (Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1988).

30 James Brown to Jane Brown, 29 July 1858, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 5.

31 Prentis, Malcolm D., The Scots in Australia: A Study of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, 1788–1900 (Sydney: Sydney University Press, 1983), 5478.

32 See Cusack, Frank, Bendigo: A History, rev. ed. (Bendigo: Lerk, & McClure, , 2002). Both Eaglehawk and California Gully are now part of the Greater Bendigo Region.

33 Brown, James to Brown, Jane, 8 April 1859, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 5.

34 Stewart, Jessie to Jane Brown, 9 December 1857, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 5; Maggie Hoey to Jane Brown, 15 February 1859, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 5.

35 See Hammerton, A. James, Emigrant Gentlewomen: Genteel Poverty and Female Emigration, 1830–1914 (London: Croom Helm, 1979); Jan Gothard, Blue China. Single Female Migration to Colonial Australia (Carlton, South Victoria: Melbourne University Press, 2001); Lisa Chilton, “A New Class of Women for the Colonies: The Imperial Colonist and the Construction of Empire,” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 31, no. 2 (May 2003): 3656.

36 For a note of caution against seeing emigration as the solution to the “redundant woman” question, which was first published in Saturday Review 14 (1862): 566–67; also see Johnston, Judith and Anderson, Monica, Australia Imagined: Views from the British Periodical Press 1800–1900 (Crawley, WA: University of Western Australia Press, 2005), 102–4.

37 Harper, , Adventurers and Exiles, 371.

38 Brown, Jane to Stewart, Jessie, 11 January 1860, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 7.

39 Hamilton, Andrew to Jane Brown, 11 March 1860, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 7, emphasis in the original.

40 Hamilton, Jane to Jessie and William Stewart, 25 June 1862, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 2.

41 Hamilton, Jane to the Brown family, 25 June 1863, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 2.

42 Hamilton, Jane to the Brown family, 26 October 1866, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9.

43 Hamilton, Jane to the Brown family, 26 March 1867, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9.

44 School Prospectus for California Gully, 17 April 1867, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9.

45 Hamitlon, Jane to the Brown Family, 26 April 1867, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9, emphasis in the original.

46 Brown, Kate to Jane Hamilton, 25 June 1867, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 15.

47 Frew, Jane to Hamilton, Jane, 17 July 1867, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9.

48 Hamilton, Jane to Margaret Brown, 24 January, 1868, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9, emphasis in the original.

49 Hamilton, Jane to William Stewart, 25 March 1863, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 2.

50 Hamilton, Jane to Margaret Brown, 26 June 1867, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9.

51 Hamilton, Jane to the Brown family, 10 September 1869, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9.

52 Brown, James to Jane Hamilton, 9 September 1868, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 10.

53 Theobald, , “Scottish Schoolmistresses in Colonial Australia,” 14. See also Theobald, Knowing Women, 40–43. The school Jane Hamilton set up in Eaglehawk continued. Once back in Scotland, Jane received a letter from Isabella McNair informing her that it had sixteen pupils. See Isabella McNair to Jane Hamilton, 8 October 1870, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 10.

54 See Harper, , ed., Emigrant Homecomings, both the editor's introduction and chap. 5, Eric Richards, “‘Running home from Australia’: Intercontinental Mobility and Migrant Expectations in the Nineteenth Century.”

55 Hamilton, Jane to the Brown family, 11 January 1860, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 7.

56 Richards, , “Running home from Australia,” 78. See also Eric Richards, “Return Migration and Migrant Strategies in Colonial Australia,” in Home or Away? Immigrants in Colonial Australia: Visible Immigrants, Volume 3, ed. Fitzpatrick, David, 64–104 (Canberra: Australian National University Press, 1992).

57 Harper, , Adventurers and Exiles, 282.

58 Ibid.,371.

59 Moore, “Young Ladies’ Institutions,” 256.

60 Ibid., 257.

61 Testimonial from Begbie, W. M. for Mrs. Hamilton, 1 April 1873, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 11. As a lady superintendent who taught, Jane was not unique. The 1893–1894 Prospectus for the Knox Institute in Haddington (20 miles east of Edinburgh) boasted a lady superintendent who taught pianoforte: see West Register House, Edinburgh, CO7/ 5/2/11 Haddington School Board Minute Book (1895–1902), where a copy of the prospectus is enclosed.

62 Testimonial from Begbie, W. M. for Mrs. Hamilton, 1 April 1873, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 11.

63 Brown, James to Jane Hamilton, 12 January 1875, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 11.

64 Brown, James to Jane Hamilton, 27 August 1885, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 11.

65 The Largs and Millport Weekly News, 18 August 1884.

66 Arthur, Agnes to Hamilton, Jane, 14 December 1872, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 11.

67 See The Dundee Advertiser, 9 July 1872 where the Institution boasted “Efficient Masters and Governesses,” announced the intention to open a kindergarten, and offered private classes in English, French and German for young ladies of seventeen years and over.

68 Quoted in The Largs and Millport Weekly News, 30 May 1877.

69 Hamilton, John to Jane Hamilton, 8 March 1884, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 12.

70 Hamilton, Jane to John Hamilton, 10 December 1886, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 12.

71 Hamilton, Jane to John Hamilton, 17 February 1885, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 12.

72 See Nenadic, Stana, “The Victorian Middle Classes,” in Glasgow: Volume ll, 1830–1912, ed. Fraser, W. Hamish and Maver, Irene (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1996), chap. 8.

73 Quoted in Fraser, and Maver, , Glasgow: Volume ll, 1830–1912, 271. See Keddie, H., Three Generations: The Story of a Middle-Class Scottish Family (London: Murray, John, 1911).

74 Horn, Pamela, “The Recruitment, Role and Status of the Victorian Country Teacher,” History of Education 9, no. 2 (June 1980): 241–52.

75 See Baines, Dudley, Emigration from Europe, 1815–1930 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, , 1991), 441, table 6.1.1; Tom Devine, The Scottish Nation (London: Allen Lane, 1999), chap. 20.

76 Gleadle, Kathryn, British Women in the Nineteenth Century (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2001), 56.

77 Gordon, Eleanor and Nair, Gwyneth, Public Lives: Women, Family and Society in Victorian Britain (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003), 5.

78 McDermid, Jane, The Schooling of Working-Class Girls in Victorian Scotland: Gender, Education and Identity (London: Routledge, 2005), 920.

79 Prentis, , The Scots in Australia, 64, 71.

80 Hamilton, Jane to Brown, Margaret, 16 June 1860, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 2 and Jane Hamilton to Margaret Brown, 27 November 1866, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9. On 25 March 1864, Brown, James wrote to Andrew Hamilton of the proposed union of the United Presbyterian Church and the Free Church of Scotland. However, this did not take place until 1900. See Brown, Religion and Society in Scotland since 1707, 27–28.

81 Prentis, , The Scots in Australia, 246.

82 Richards, Eric, “Scottish Voices and Networks in Colonial Australia,” in A Global Clan ed. McCarthy, , 167.

83 SeeMacDonald, , A Unique and Glorious Mission.

84 Hamilton, John to Hamilton, Jane, 23 January 1884, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 12, emphasis in the original.

85 Hamilton, Jane to Brown, Margaret, 26 March 1867, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9.

86 See, for example, Theobold, Marjorie, “Mere Accomplishments? Melbourne's Ladies School Reconsidered,” History of Education Review 13, no. 2 (1984): 1528.

87 Gordon, and Nair, , Public Lives, 109–14, 187.

88 Hamilton, Jane to Margaret Brown, 26 March 1867, NLS, Acc. 12100, box 9.

She wishes to thank the anonymous referees whose comments and advice on this article have been invaluable.

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