The entry for Harris is full of information but one area of interest will suffice:
‘Eleven schools – Bernara, Denishader, Finsbay, Kyles Scalpa, Kyles Stocknish, Manish, Obe, Scalpa, Scarp, Scarista and Tarbert – all of them Public, with total accommodation for 913 children, have an average attendance of about 580, and grants amounting to nearly £800.’
Firstly, note the spellings – I have transcribed them from the original page.
Secondly, in my pieces on Education in Harris in 1891 & 1901 I listed the teachers according to where they lived and, as these are those listed 5 years either side of the publication of the Gazetteer, it seems reasonable to attempt to link each teacher to one of these 11 listed schools which I shall endeavour to do later.
For now, what strikes me is that the Gazetteer informs us that there were places for 913 children yet attendance averaged at a mere 580. In 1891 there were 18 teachers listed and some 1200 ‘scholars’ and by 1901 there were 28 teachers educating the same number of children.
So the capacity of the schools was only sufficient to accommodate three-quarters of the children and average attendance was just below 50%? Several factors suggest themselves, not least the fact that even with 11 schools the ‘school run’ was a long walk on unmade tracks in all weathers for many ‘scholars’so the fact that nearly half attended is in itself rather remarkable! The apparent shortage of school places, some 24 years after the passing of the Education Act, may be real or it is possible that those 1200 ‘scholars’ actually includes a large number of infants of pre-school age? I shall investigate further, but hopefully have given a flavour of how useful a single sentence from a source such as the Gazetteer can be!
(With thanks to SC of Islay for finding the Gazetteer!)
As can be seen from this list , a school was erected at by the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge at Scarista on October the 11th 1732.
At the time that the list was compiled in 1748 there were 13 boys and 9 girls attending the school.
The other three schools in the Presbytery of Uist were on the islands of St Kilda and Benbecula and at ‘Borbh’ which I presume to refer to the Borve on North Uist?
The 22 scholars of Scarista are the earliest that I have discovered thus far.
“There is a parochial school at Rowdill, now attended by 30 poor children, the whole emoluments of which to the schoolmaster may be about 20L per annum.
There is a new school soon to be set up in another district, on the establishment of the Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge.
The same benevolent and patriotic society have already erected at Rowdilll a seminary of female industry.”
Rev Mr John Macleod, The Statistical Account of Scotland 1794, p380
Three short sentences that are rich with information. We have the location of the Parish school in ‘Rowdill‘, serving a mere 30 children from a population of over two-and-a-half thousand people, and in which nearly 50 years later we find Donald Murray teaching. The Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge’s intention to start a new school ‘in another district‘ the precise location of which I believe had yet to be decided upon. Finally, half a century before the discovery of the ‘Paisley Sisters’, a ‘seminary of female industry‘ had already been established by the Society at ‘Rowdill‘, – a precursor to the Embroidery School, the development of the Stocking Knitting industry, and the ‘Industrial School’, all found in or around An-t-Ob from the 1850s by virtue of the vision of the Countess of Dunmore & Mrs Frances Thomas.