Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Griffith Jones, Llanddowror: Origins of the Schools

The circulating school idea did not originate with Griffith Jones, in 1719, Sir Humphrey Mackworth, a subscriber to the SPCK had suggested that, in view of the shortage of schoolmasters in some parts of South Wales, it might be an idea to employ an itinerant schoolmaster. At Laugharne and Llanddowror, Charity schools existed. It was in 1731 that Griffith Jones began to consider the setting up of a Welsh School:

"That it is a very sickly time near his neighbourhood where many die and many more are sick of a nervous kind of feavour. He thinks it a proper time to propose a Welch school at Llanddowror for all comers to learn to read & be supplied with books and taught gratis, desiring of the Society 40 or 50 of the small Welch Bibles upon the usual kind terms that they favour their Members with & other Books, this would be great charity to our poor."

If someone was to be called before the throne of God at short notice, they needed to know the way of salvation, and be taught as fast as possible. God would not care whether they knew English or Welsh. Experiences catechising adults, who desired to know more perfectly the way of salvation, convinced Jones that such lessons were not for children only.

Between 1731 and 1737, Welsh schools were set up in the Llanddowror area. In 1737, however, these moved out of the school-house, in order to reach the albourer and the servant, people who could not take time off to attend a school.

Typically, the schools would carry on in a particular area for three to four months, returning later. These schools were held in the evenings and in the winter months, when labourers were least busy, and servants could get others to fill in for them.



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