21 Annotations

First Reading

Ruben  •  Link

A link to the chapter of a book about education in the 17 century, and SP as an example. And how SP learnt the multiplication tables...:

..."July 9. Up by 4 a-clock and at my multiplication table, which is all the trouble I meet withal in my arithmetique.

Ruben  •  Link

Correspondence concerning a mathematical problem between Newton and Pepys, explained by someone that understands the question and the answer.

Ruben  •  Link

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907

Ruben  •  Link

about mathematics place in those days curriculum:
"It is doubtful whether Brouncker learned more than arithmetic at Oxford, for Wallis, giving the status of mathematics at this time, wrote:-

... mathematics, at that time with us, were scarce looked on as academical studies, but rather mechanical - as the business of traders, merchants, seamen, carpenters, surveyors of lands and the like."

dirk  •  Link


At least in principle "high school" and university curriculum would have been based on the "7 liberal arts"

"The expression artes liberales [...]does not mean arts as we understand the word at this present day, but those branches of knowledge which were taught in the schools of that time. They are called liberal (Lat. liber, free), because they serve the purpose of training the free man, in contrast with the artes illiberales, which are pursued for economic purposes; their aim is to prepare the student not for gaining a livelihood, but for the pursuit of science in the strict sense of the term [...]. They are seven in number and may be arranged in two groups, the first embracing grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic [...]; the second group comprises arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music [...]. The first group is considered to be the elementary group, whence these branches are also called artes triviales, or trivium [...]. Contrasted with them we find the mathematical disciplines as artes quadriviales, or quadrivium [...]."

"At the universities the Artes, at least in a formal way, held their place up to modern times.[...] In practical teaching, however, the system of the Artes has declined since the sixteenth century. [...] Grammar and rhetoric came to be the chief elements of the preparatory studies, while the sciences of the Quadrivium were embodied in the miscellaneous learning (eruditio) associated with rhetoric. [...] In the erudite studies spoken of above, must be sought the germ of the encyclopedic learning which grew unceasingly during the seventeenth century. [...] In the eighteenth century undergraduate studies take on more and more the encyclopedic character, and in the nineteenth century the class system is replaced by the department system, in which the various subjects are treated simultaneously with little or no reference to their gradation; in this way the principle of the Artes is finally surrendered."

Abridged from:

Pedro  •  Link

Sam’s Education.

Speaking of the period prior to 1760… (British Social and Economic History from 1760…Lane)

“The sons of the landed gentry…the old upper class…had always received their education either at home with a private tutor, or at one of the nine great schools: Charterhouse, Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Shrewsbury, Westminster, Winchester, St. Paul’s and Merchant Taylor’s. Many of them went on to Oxford or Cambridge, looking on a University as a sort of finishing school where they would meet the people whom they would meet later in their political and social lives.”

Sam had a good start thanks to Montagu’s patronage?

Ducky Hedges  •  Link

Samuels Education:

Samuel went to these schools in the early year of his life:

Huddington Grammar School

St Paul’s School

Cambridge University

Second Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Oxford and Cambridge were England's universities. The education was comparable, while Cambridge was in Puritan country, and Oxford was in Royalist country.

I found this description of Rev. John Owen's education at Queen's College Oxford, about 15 years before Pepys was at Cambridge (1650). It was gruelling, which probably accounts for why so many noblemen left without their degrees.


Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Pepys' education was more representative of the education available in England than I expected. This is excepts from a lecture about education at the time:

The 16th century saw the transition from sons being educated in noble households by tutors or chaplains to an ideal where sons first attended local grammar schools, and then moved to the universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
After that, sometimes they went on to the Inns of Court in London, which were much like Oxford or Cambridge colleges, but devoted to the study of the law. Sometimes they were called England's third university although they were a separate set of institutions.

The universities and the Inns of Court got this role in elite education by default. In the 1530s, some humanist advisers on education considered the universities as primarily the place for training clergymen.
They wanted to found a new academy for the elite, ideally located near London. The idea came to nothing, so by the mid-16th century sons of the nobility followed earlier precedents by attending the universities and sometimes going on to the Inns of Court.

By the late 16th century, the trickle of gentlemen and noblemen into the universities and the Inns had become a stream, and soon it was a flood. Many Oxford and Cambridge college buildings which survive today were erected at this time to accommodate the larger numbers of students, and several new colleges were founded for the same reason.
By the early 17th century the numbers of students in these institutions was at its highest -- not to be equalled before the 19th century.

This meant a significant change in the social composition of Oxford and Cambridge colleges.
Undergraduates by the early 17th century at Emmanuel College, Cambridge was 63% of gentry birth. King's College had 58% of gentry birth, and Jesus and St. John's just less than 50%. It was the same at Oxford.

The universities had to adapt to educating new types of students with different needs, and a new pattern emerged.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Many of the young (often around 13 years old) gentry students lived in their colleges as what were called "fellow commoners." They ate with the master and fellows of the college at the high table, not down in the body of the hall with more 'plebian' students.
They rarely took a degree. Most of them pursued studies privately with tutors who were chosen and paid by their parents within particular colleges to oversee their education and to look after their moral welfare.
Many students slept in their tutors' rooms. There were "truckle beds" that could be pushed to the wall and pulled out at night, where the students would sleep, with their their tutor in his room next door.
Instead of the usual formal course of the university (Latin, rhetoric, logic and philosophy leading to the bachelor's degree) tutors devised more modern courses including history, literature, geography, modern divinity, and modern philosophy. Some prepared reading lists for their students. Some prepared for their students 'digests' of key quotations, sort of 16th-century handouts: quotes from the classics they could drop into conversation, which would help the students memorize them.
This is the origin of the Oxford and Cambridge tutorial system.

We have a diary account of a Cambridge education in the early 17th century from a student named Simonds d'Ewes.
Between 1617 and 1619, d'Ewes attended St. John's College, Cambridge and studied logic, ethics, moral philosophy and history with his tutor, Richard Holdsworth, who was a well-known Puritan divine. He also went to a few of the university lectures -- although not many. He practiced his letter style in English and in Latin (it was important to write a good letter). He went to sermons in the churches of the city, discussed modern theology with his tutor, and he kept a theological commonplace book. He was being trained in Calvinist theology, and he rounded the whole thing off with what he described as "my often conversing with learned men of other colleges and the prime young students of mine own."
All of this was in accordance with the desires of gentry parents to have an education which was suitable for a learned and polished gentleman of the renaissance ideal.
Richard Holdsworth, d'Ewes tutor, describing it well in a letter about one of his students. He was recruiting someone to tutor the boy and described the boy's father's desires as follows: "His father means not to have him a scholar by profession but only to be seasoned with the varnish of learning and piety."
That sums up what they wanted:
"His father means him not to have him a scholar by profession" -- God forbid -- "but only to be seasoned with the varnish of learning and piety."


San Diego Sarah  •  Link


The Inns of Court in London adapted less to the needs of these new students. Students got no special instruction. There was no tutorial system. They were told to read law books, to attend the courts to see how it was done, and to attend formal exercises in the Inns where they would plead cases, sort of mock hearings.

English common law at this time was considered appallingly difficult. It hadn't been systematized. It's been described by one legal historian as "a formless, confused jumble of undigested particulars successfully resisting all efforts at simplification or systematic statement." You just had to learn it all. Students who tried found it seriously awful.

Simonds d'Ewes, who spent 2 years at the Inns of Court after he finished at Cambridge, described his time there as "amongst the unhappiest days of my life."

Wilfrid Prest, a historian of the Inns of Court, thinks the average gentleman attending the Inns probably didn't learn much about the law. Nevertheless, they were considered important as a sort of finishing school, a center for all kinds of informal learning. They were located in London, between the City of London and the royal capital of Westminster where the courts were held, and they exposed students to all the things which were available in the metropolis.
They attended plays.
They went to sermons at the churches of the city.
They hung out in the taverns, and so forth.

One student who came from Dorset, named William Freke, attended the Inns of Court in the 1620s, and left us a list of the books he bought during his time at the Inns.
He bought religious works, many devotional books, books on physiognomy, on arithmetic, and on travel.
He bought history books, and popular romances, and he was interested in drama.
He owned an early copy of Shakespeare's Othello.
But amongst all the books, he only bought one law book. Significantly it was a classic, "Littleton on Tenures", the outline of land tenure law, which was exactly what a gentleman like William Freke would need to know when he returned to his family's estates.

Not all of the gentry went to the Inns, but many only did some of it, but it led to a significant transformation of the educational experience of the social elite.
Some statistics: in 1563, of the members of Parliament only 26% had attended university, by 1642 50% had attended university.
Of the Justices of the Peace serving in 6 counties, in 1562 only 5% of them had attended university. By 1636, in the same 6 counties, it was 62%.
A real transformation in the educational experience of these vital members of the political nation had taken place.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


A second result of the educational change was a transformation in the educational of English clergy: the universities remained the major centers for training clergymen

Around 50% of university students were not members of the gentry; most of them came from either clerical families or 'plebian' families, i.e., non-gentlemen, and frequently they were intend for clerical careers

They took the traditional university course leading to a bachelor's degree and perhaps to a master's degree. Their numbers also rose, and these recruits produced a transformation in the educational level of parish clergy

By the 1630s, after 2 generations, a largely graduate clergy was established in England.
In the diocese of Worcester in 1580, only 23% of the clergy were graduates, by 1640 it was 84%, similar to other dioceses

So, a second effect was the transformation of the education of the clergy

The third effect was the general proliferation of schooling for common people

The 16th and early 17th centuries were the great age of school foundation, especially of endowed grammar schools.
Many principal schools in English cities carry a name linking them to this period of major educational expansion and the founding of grammar schools.
They were often founded with money donated by merchants, leading members of the clergy, or local members of the gentry, and the motivation was a mixture of religious zeal and regional patriotism

For example, in Lancashire in 1480 there were 3 endowed grammar schools; by 1540 there were 12; by 1600 there were 28; by 1640 there were 50.
By 1640, every major Lancashire town and some relatively minor ones had a grammar school
Two thirds of the money donated for school foundation in Lancashire came from London merchants, lawyers and others of Lancashire origin who left part of their fortune to found a school in their home county, to help boys like themselves to get a start

The endowed grammar schools offered a variety of types of schooling. The education was in part classical, as the name implies, preparing boys for the universities, but they also catered to the needs of others.
They had what was described as the 'vernacular side' where the teaching was mostly in English, and they often also had a 'petty section'

The petty section would focus on the '3 R's' – actually it was the 4 R's: reading, writing, 'rithmetic and religion.
'Petty schools' were sprang up and died away according to whether or not there was a schoolmaster who wanted to open one and run it for a while.
They became increasingly common all over England.
Petty schools taught basic literacy often accompanied by a little bit of commercial arithmetic

By the early 17th century, most country towns in England had a grammar school and several petty schools.
Many villages had a petty school, kept by local clergymen, with the teaching taking place in the church porch, weather permitting

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


So England had a transformation of elite education, a transformation of clerical education, and a vast increase in education available to the common people.

This was a considerable achievement.

At the same time, there were limits to it, most clear seen when one looks at the differences of social rank and gender.

If the period saw a real expansion of educational opportunity, access to it was almost inevitably socially circumscribed.

The Inns of Court were an elite institutions. 90% of the students were of gentry origin.

The universities were dominated by the gentry and the 50% or so of students who were of plebeian birth were not drawn from the poor. (Plebeian just meant non-gentry.) They were the sons of clergymen, of merchants, the urban elite, professional people, and smart kids like Samuel Pepys.

The reasons for this are obvious: That kind of education was costly. Children from relatively humble families could sometimes make it to the university if they had a patron who would help them, pay some of the fees for them. Sometimes talented children were spotted by a local clergyman or a gentleman who would help them on their way, find them a scholarship.

It was also possible to work your way through by acting as a servant for the gentry students. Students who did that were known as servitors or sizars. Interestingly, a study done of them shows that servitors and sizars working their way through University almost invariably graduated, whereas the gentlemen they served rarely did.

Nevertheless, it's obviously the case that university education and education at the Inns of Court was heavily monopolized by the upper reaches of society.

The same was true to a lesser extent in the grammar schools. The sons of the gentry might attend, most of the other students were the children of the clergy and the professional and craftspeople of the towns, with a few sons of yeoman farmers from the countryside attending.

The problems inhibiting the attendance of children at these schools was first of all the costs: the fees, the boarding in the town where the school was, but also, perhaps even more importantly, perceived need.
This kind of grammar school education was regarded as appropriate only for people who would be going on to enter the professions or trade at a fairly high level. It wasn't deemed appropriate for farmers' sons to get that level of education.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Petty schools were more open and suggests a wider intake in local society. Nevertheless, there were still barriers. Fees were charged, even if they were small. Parents had to supply books, paper and pens, and many families couldn't afford that.

Time was also a problem: Children were often sent to school at 5 or 6 but taken away at 7 when they could make a productive role in the family economy. Their working lives began before they'd had an opportunity to learn much.

One 17th-century autobiographer described how his brothers attended school in the winter months, but were busy on the farm for the rest of the year; what they had learned, they soon forgot. He was constantly kept at school by his father who intended to put him into trade, so he gained an education.

The failure of the masses to participate beyond the level of the petty school is strikingly when studying available figures of people putting their names to documents, and distinguishing between those who could sign their names, and those who made a mark.

To be unable to sign your name was not a great social embarrassment. The schooling practice of the time was to learn to write after you were a proficient reader.
If you had mastered writing with a quill pen well enough to sign your name, you were a proficient reader.
This omits people who could read reasonably, but had not learned to write.

In 1642 adults were required to put their name to the Protestation Oath at the beginning of the English civil wars. Studying the surviving returns, about 30% signed, and 70% made their mark. Some towns were 90% literate, some villages were less than 50% literate.
That gives us the broad picture of what had emerged by the mid-17th century.

There is also a hierarchy in both countryside and town going down the social scale; of yeomen in the countryside, only 33% can't sign, if one moves down to laborers in the countryside 100% can't sign.
Tradesmen and craftsmen in the rural sample, 42% can't sign (more than half can); but in city only 28% can't sign -- a much higher levels of ability to sign.
Even laborers in the city were only 78% illiterate, so some laboring men in the city could sign their names.

This shows that in the course of the later 16th and 17th centuries, illiteracy amongst the social elite was eradicated.
Amongst the middling kind of people, yeoman farmers, tradesmen and craftsmen, illiteracy was drastically reduced. Many of these people can read and write by the early 17th century.
Down the social scale, there's less change. Nonetheless, some of these people also were beginning to be able to read and write.

It's not surprising that there's a hierarchy of illiteracy in a society structured as this one was. The hierarchy of illiteracy faithfully mirrors the social order.
Nonetheless, significant inroads have been made low in the social scale.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Now to a big form of differentiation: between gender.

The education of girls was also influenced by their social rank, but at all levels there was the perceived lack of need to educate women.

Amongst the gentry, by the late 16th century it was accepted that gentlewomen should be taught to read and write, to sing, to play instruments, to dance, to sew, perhaps even acquire a little knowledge of French.
This education was conducted privately. School was considered too risky to their virtue. They were educated at home by their mothers, by governesses, by the lady of the household if they were in honorable service in a great household, perhaps by the domestic chaplain.

In the early 17th century, there was a little change with the founding of some girls' boarding schools, usually in the London area, but they were few and extremely expensive.
So the kind of education gentlewomen received was restrictive, although there are quite a number of examples of individual noble women who were given a full education including classical learning (as Queen Elizabeth received).

One example is Lucy Apsley Hutchinson who tells us that her father believed there was no reason why a daughter should not receive the same education as his sons. This was a rare point of view.

Girls of lower social rank got most of their education either from their mothers or as servants in the tasks of housewifery. A few of them attended a petty school, but there was no question of them going to a grammar school or acquiring a classical education.

The general lack of perceived need for girls' schooling is shown in the high illiteracy figures for women:
In the rural area, women were 95% unable to sign, and in the city it was 76%.

These figures may exaggerate female illiteracy, because women were often taught to read for religious reasons, but it was considered unnecessary for them to write, so illiteracy figures for women may be exaggerated.

Overall, girls of the 'middling sort' had a chance of learning to read and occasionally to write, but below that level there was almost total exclusion.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


To draw some conclusions:

The transformation of the education of the elite was a significant step towards the growth of a homogeneous national culture amongst the ruling class, created by a highly standardized pattern of education in which many of them, if not most of them, participated.

They frequently spoke with strong regional accents -- Sir Walter Raleigh and Gen. George Monck was said to have particularly strong West Country accents, noted at the court -- but these men also experienced the assimilation and the capacity to manipulate a generalized system of cultural standards and values conveyed to them through the classical learning they acquired.

Their letters are remarkably homogeneous. There's a common range of reference alluded to -- in a study of a pamphlet written by a country magistrate about witchcraft casually includes classical allusions and biblical references. The author assumes his fellow magistrates will know what he's talking about. They belonged to a common cultural world based on the classics, the Bible, certain forms of Protestant theology and law.

Again the transformation of the education at the level of the clergy is significant. Most parishes by 1640 had what you can reasonably call a resident intellectual. It's a development full of potential implications for the penetration of the countryside by the cultural values of the university, through the contacts between these clergymen and those served in their parishes.

Lower on the social scale, the achievement is more limited, but positive.

A threshold had been crossed. In every parish there were some common people, certainly those of middle rank, who could read, and who could write. Literacy was something people encountered frequently in many contexts of life, something they could use for many purposes.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


In a village near Newcastle-on-Tyne, where, in the late 16th century, every will surviving for that village was written by the local clergyman: he was the only one who could write.

The records of the village reveal that on one occasion a man was dying, who hadn't made his will, and who sent urgently for the clergyman, but they couldn't find him because he'd gone fishing.
A little girl was sent running to the river to find the minister and bring him back. He returned too late; the man had died -- with his dying breath he had told his relatives how he wanted his goods to be distributed.
We know this because those who heard his dying wishes had to go to court and declare on oath what his wishes were because there was no one to write them down.

In the same village, by the early 17th century there are so many people capable of writing a will that one loses track of the numbers of people who are acting as scribes for their neighbors; 15, 20 people in different decades, were capable of writing a will. That's the change which took place in obscure country parishes.

The crossing of the literacy threshold opened up new possibilities which had not existed in the past.
Late 15th-century society was one of heavily restricted literacy -- restricted to certain social and occupational groups. By the early 17th century we have fairly widespread literacy -- a partially literate society well on the way to mass literacy.

EXCERPTED FROM Early Modern England: Politics, Religion, and Society under the Tudors and Stuarts: Lecture 17 by Professor Keith Wrightson

The Civil Wars ended this educational thrust -- by the end of the 17th century the Universities had trouble finding a single Latin scholar who could write a dissertation without help from his tutors.
The two mass ejections of trusted and educated ministers from their parishes meant there were not enough qualified clergy to go around.
Consequently people read their own Bibles, and decided what they wanted to believe. The Church of England had lost control.
People like Samuel Pepys founded Mathematical Schools and demanded educational standards in the Navy.
The British East India Company had lots of openings for literate young men with good handwriting who could speak other languages.
The Inns of Court began to standardize the law, and require experience and accountability.
Medicine accepted new ideas and equipment.
The Royal Society spurred new industrial models.

Educational needs had changed again.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

I was wrong -- Edward Montagu skipped his 2 years at University and went straight to the Middle Temple for some "finishing school". Then he went to war. I haven't read a bio of him yet, so am unfamiliar with the details of how and why this happened.

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