The Old Whiston Boarding School

The Old Whiston Boarding School was situated in the centre of Whiston at the top of School Hill; next door to Whiston Parish Church. As outlined below, the school successfully taught day and full board pupils for around 50 years during the early and middle 19th Century; before its closure as a school. The buidings were converted into a pair of attractive cottages and remain in this configuration today.

In 1813, the master, Davison, proposed that the Whiston school take boarders. A room was built over the schoolhouse to provide accommodation for these although it was necessary for some to lodge out (although a good many more slept in the room above the school room than would be allowed now!) Records show that, in 1839, there were 40-50 boarders from all parts of the country (including Ireland) plus some free children from Whiston. These boarders were mostly the sons of farmers and tradesmen. At this time Mrs Davison was the Headmistress and her son, plus some friends, helped at the school. The old boarding school closed in 1860. It had struggled in the beginning to teach the poor of Whiston; but had finished up teaching the sons of the upper-middle classes! These buildings then became the Reading Rooms.

The General Directory of Sheffield 1849 confirms that there was a Boarding School situated in the village run by Elizabeth Davison. In addition, there was also the National School – where William Dixon was the main teacher – having by then taken over from Margaret and Ann Thackery; who themselves had been named as the schoolmistresses in the 1841 Census.

A search in the Census returns for round this period reveals more information about the "School House":

In 1841 – Mrs Davison is mentioned but her role, if any, in the school is not alluded to. Instead the teachers are named as William Davison (aged 20); and James Savery (aged 40). The census also obligingly lists the pupils at the school – which would presume that they were boarders. The pupils were as follows:

Robert Askin - 11
Leonard Baryliffe - 12
Josh.(ua) Cartledge - 13
John Hague - 13
George Tyas - 14
Henry Neal - 13
Thos.(Thomas?) Roberts - 13
Thos. (Thomas?) Sherland - 14
John Weightman - 11
Issac Attenborough - 15
James Booth - 12
William Cooper - 12
Willm. Hawkins - 11
Timothy Metcalfe - 13
Thos. (Thomas?) Pearson - 8
Samuel Robinson - 11
John Storncastle - 8
Charles Barber - 12
Ab. Briddon - 15
Henry Goodwill - 8
Wm. (William?) Kirk - 14
Joseph Moore - 13
William Roberts - 10
Willm. Smith - 8
Thos. (Thomas?) Styring - 8

The census however does not tell us where the boys came from. On the other hand, it does mention two young ladies who acted as servants – Martha Platty and Ann Cawthorne.

In 1851 the School was still in existence. By now Elizabeth (age 63) is the school mistress and is still being assisted by her son William. He is described as a teacher of English, Mathematics and Arithmetic. Furthermore, James Savory (age 32) is listed as a teacher of English and Latin; plus William Rodgers (age 17) is also given as a teacher of English. Finally, there are also two servant girls to help out - Emma Elam and Fanny Kitson.

Once again the boys are listed; and this time their place of birth (and thus probably their holiday time residence) is given in each case. Interestingly, no one appears to be from Whiston; instead the boys appear to come from a wide variety of places – Rotherham, Attercliffe, Sheffield, Ranby, Belper, Bawtry, Mansfied, Woodhouse, Norton, Ecclesfield and Mattersey among others. Laslty, the age range of the pupils is similar to those surveyed in 1841:

Henry Bown/Brown - 15
Robert Brookes - 11
Samuel Brown - 7
Joseph Fisher - 13
Joseph Jackson - 14
Walter Kerr - 14
Robert Owen - 13
John Schofield - 12
Joseph Staniforth - 8
Frederic Weightman - 13
Thomas Wild - 12
Henry Barber - 13
George Brown - 13
Henry Butterley - 14
Walter Grant - 11
Benjamin Jarvis - 11
John Knowles - 10
William Rodgers - 15
Charles Serablow - 11
Sam Staniforth - 12
Thomas Weightman - 11
Henry Beeley - 14
John Brown - 9
George Dyson - 12
Thomas Hawson - 12
John Jervis - 13
Bosvile Milmood - 13
Henry Sagoack - 12
Thomas Smith - 12
Frank Tibbet - 14
William Weightman - 14

Since the birthplace of the boys is given on this occasion, it is possible to look up some of them later in life to see if their private education was of value; and to also see what had happened to them. The 1871 Census reveals some of their names, but not all of them were located - so perhaps a few of the boys had died in the meantime. Nonetheless here are the results of who has been located so far:

Henry Askew Bown – was born in Aston – but has not been located again.
Henry Barber – born in Eastwood, Notts where his father was a builder. By 1861 he was already in Ulverston and is unmarried. The census gives a long entry about him: "Doctor of medicine of the University of St.Andrews. Licentiate of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and Licentiate of the Society of Apothecaries of London". By 1871 he was married to Frances and had four children. He still lived at Fountain Street, Ulverston and was listed as a physician and G.P.
Henry Beeley – so far have only found a reference to 1841 – when he lived at Pleasley and his father was a gamekeeper.
Robert Brookes – was married to Mary and had a resident Servant. He lived at Catherine Street, near the Wicker in Sheffield and was listed as a Confectioner.
George Brown was born in Rotherham and was the older brother of John and Samuel. His father, also George, was an ironmaster and in 1861 the whole family was in residence in Kimberworth operating an ironworks. George and John were described as iron-master's clerks whilst Samuel was a law student.

John Brown – by 1871 was married to Sarah and had a child and two servants – he lived at Woodland, Rotherham (which could have been or still is on Doncaster Road) – he was listed as an Iron Master.
Samuel Brown (his brother) – by 1871 was married to Elizabeth and lived at 42 Alma Road, Rotherham – he was listed as an Attorney and Solicitor. George cannot be located in 1871.
Henry Butterley – was married to Juliana and had three children. He lived at Backmoor, Norton and was listed as a Sickle maker.
George Dyson – a reference in 1881 suggests that first of all he was the manager of an iron and steel works; and that second he was married to Elizabeth with three children. He initially lived at Vernon Street in Bolton. By 1841, he was living in Masbrough with his mother Isabella and brothers and sisters – no father is mentioned.
Joseph Fisher was born in Ecclesall, Sheffield. A reference in 1871 suggests he might have been living in Charles Street, Sheffield; was married to Charlotte with two children and employed as a steel warehouseman; but on the other hand this might be a different person !?

Walter Grant was born in Masbrough. He appears in the 1841 census when he was living with his mother Isabella at Masbrough; no father is mentioned.
Thomas Hawson was born in Ranby, Nottinghamshire. In 1841 his father was farming Ranby Farm. Thomas still appears to be living at the farm with his widowed mother in 1861; but by 1881 it looks like he has gone down in the world: working as a road mender in Sheffield. That said, he is married to a young lady who came from Weobley in Herefordshire. By 1891 he has moved to Pitsmoor where he is listed as a carter.
Joseph Jackson was born in Norton, then in Derbyshire (now part of Sheffield). In 1841 he is living in Norton where his father is listed as a sickle maker. In 1861 his address is given as Norton Hammer where he is married to Sarah; with two children; and is, predictably, also a sickle maker.
Benjamin Jarvis – was born in Scarcliff where his father John was a farmer and miller. He returned to work with his father in 1861 and by 1871 was married to Selina with whom he had two children. He still lived at Scarcliff Furnace Hamlet and was also a farmer and miller. Benjamin had seven men working for him and in total, they looked after 250 acres of land.
John Jervis was born in Langwith, Derbyshire. To date, no other information has been found about him.

Walter Kerr was born in Tickhill, Yorkshire – where his father was a draper. In 1871 he was living at 15 Westgate, Rotherham; was married to Emily and had two children. He worked as a confectioner and later moved to South Street, Sheffield; where he continued in the business for some years.
John Knowles was born in Bawtry. In 1861 he was apprentice to Jacob Anthony: a chemist and dentist in High Street, Bedford. By 1881 he was in business for himself at Reading, employing five men and two boys. He was married to Sarah and together they had four children.
Bosvile Milmood – research suggests this is just incorrectly written down. Bosvile is an unusual first name and in 1861 there is a farmer living at Conisbrough called Bosvile Millward. He has with 120 acres of land, employing both two men and two boys, and is probably the very same person. He appears again in 1871 when he was living at Clifton, Conisbrough – with 400 acres, employing nine men and two boys. He was married to Emmeline, but at that stage had no children. Finally, two domestic servants lived in.
Robert Owen – in 1841, he still lived with his parents at Millgate. His father, William was a major ironfounder in Rotherham employing 400 men. Robert was born there and by 1871 he is listed as an Engineer – probably in his father's works. The family home is now in Clifton Lane.
William Rodgers was born in Belper, Derbyshire – where his father was a farmer. He returned to the area after school and was still at Far Laund, Belper in 1861, where his mother ran a 150 acre farm assisted by two labourers. William cannot be located after that so it is possible that he has subsequently died.

Henry Sagoack – can be located with greater certainty – Henry J. Laycock was living with his family on High Street, Rotherham in 1841. His father was working as a druggist. In 1861 Henry was still in Rotherham working as a watchmaker. By 1871 he is married with a child and is living in Seaside Road, Eastbourne. At this time, his occupation is listed a watch and clock repairer.
John Schofield – still lived with his parents. His father, John Graves Schofield, was a brewer at Rawcliffe, though he had come originally from Sheffield. The younger John was also listed as a Brewer – presumably in his father's facility. The family home was at 25 Bell Lane, Rawcliffe.
Charles Serablow was born in London – so came to the school from the greatest distance recorded. The surname appears strange and is perhaps a misreading of the original – this name cannot located elsewhere. Almost certainly his real name was Charles Swallow who in 1871 was lodging at 55 Oxford Road, Ecclesall with his uncle William Chapman. He was then a commercial traveller. Prior to that, in 1861, he was a grocer's assistant in Hoyland Nether – working for a grocer there called H.Allen.
Thomas Smith was born in Mattersey, Nottinghamshire. There is no futher information about him.
Sam Staniforth – In 1841 he lived with his mother in Broad Lane, Sheffield – she was a grocer – which suggests why his brother (see below) would then continue in that business. Later, Sam was married to Alice and lived at Bingley Cottage, Bradfield where he was listed as a scale and spring manufacturer.

Joseph Staniforth (Sam's brother) – was unmarried – he lived with his sister, a servant and two shop assistants at 73-75 West Street Sheffield – where he worked as a Grocer.
Frank Tibbit – came from Mansfield Woodhouse where his father was a drainer. By 1871 he was married to Charlotte and had five children. He was living at Whitwell and worked as a Civil Engineer. He had moved around over the years; as two of his children had been born in Canada.
Frederic Weightman was born in Nottinghamshire as were Thomas and William. They were indeed brothers and in 1841 they were all living in Blyth with their mother Margaret – no father is mentioned.
The only other reference I can find to the family is in the 1861 Census: when two of the brothers are listed as visiting their brother and sister (Margaret and William) who lived at School Hill, Attercliffe. Frederick is by then listed as a Wine and Spirit merchant – but where he operated I cannot discover. Whilst Thomas Gaggs Weightman is listed as a draper. Mary was a pianoforte teacher and William was a public compositer at the time.
Thomas Wild was born in Sheffield. In 1841 his father was probably a grinder in the cutlery trade. By 1871 Thomas was married to Mary Anne and lived in Gloucester Road, Ecclesall – where he was a clerk at the waterworks.
Clearly most of these boys had come from families of some substance and most of those located appear to have benefited from the education they received.
In 1861 – Mrs Davison and her son William continued to live in the village – but by then they are listed as having "No Profession". Presumably this means that they were well off enough to retire. Thus the school closed down in 1860, and James Savery does not seem to feature in later Census returns.