Saturday, November 17, 2012

Rudby School, Hutton Rudby. John Jackson, William Sanderson

Paul Tweddell, as a former School Inspector and educationalist, was particularly interested in his ancestor - George Markham Tweddell's ideas on education back in the 19thC. GMT's ideas are scattered throughout his work and he placed great hope for mankind and civilisation through the development of  wider education and communications. He may well have been disappointed given the recent investigation into the practice of the modern media and the disarray of the education system but this poem GMT’s views on education wouldn't be out of place in Paulo Freire’s book Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1972) where Freire talks about the ‘Banking Concept of education’ in which the student receives, memorises and repeats ‘deposits of knowledge’ rather than develops a ‘critical consciousness and spirit of enquiry’.

To educate does not mean pumping in
Knowledge, even to cramming in the brain;
But, by judicious efforts, so to train
The virgin mind, that it must surely win
Wisdom from all it reads or hears or sees; 5
So that it may educe by its own powers
True thoughts and actions: for such gifts are ours,
If we but knew their use. Like industrious bees,
We can cull honey from the plants poisonous
To others. God has freely given to all 10
The power of thinking, and erects no wall
To fence this blessing from us, which to us
Should be the highest prized of all things given
To us on earth to wing our souls for heaven.
George Markham Tweddell
[Rhymes in M/S, notional p. 66]

GMT's Own Education - William Sanderson
Paul Tweddell writes in the first draft of his forthcoming genealogical study of the Tweddell family "Poor lives, but full of honour"

" At the time George reached the age of 11 in 1834, an endowed grammar school was set up in Stokesley. Preston school, named after the person who had granted the original bequest in 1805. But rather than enthusiastically offering a place to a child of obvious intellectual ability, the school authorities turned George's application down. The reason can now only be speculation, but could it be that the conservative governors noted the fierce independence he was to shown later life!...

Instead of the academic curriculum of the grammar school, George was given a functional education offered at the local National school. By good fortune he came in contact with an  Inspirational teacher, William Sanderson (c.1796-1864) who held the post of head teacher at the National Board School. Like George's informal education from his mother given in fields around the town, Sanderson expanded the school's teaching by taking the boy on long walks in the countryside during fine evenings or at his fire in winter. During their discussions the boy's knowledge of science, philosophy and history was built up and he was given a life-long love of literature. particularly for poetry. It is likely that his future radical views were also developed at the school.

In the 1820s, Sanderson had left his native Hutton Rudby (three miles west of Stokesley) to set up a private school in Whitby. During the 1832 Reform Parliament election he had voted for the radical, but unsuccessful candidate (Sanderson’s choice inevitably being widely known, there being no secret ballot at this time) and, in revenge, another failed candidate persuaded the parents to withdraw their children thus forcing the closure of the school. Taking up the Stokesley vacancy, Sanderson soon recognised George’s abilities. Sanderson’s account of his treatment in Whitby was an powerful influence on his student’s adoption of radical-leaning politics, although the boy may have already had a predilection in this way as his grandfather, John Tweddell (1770-1850), had supported the Liberal candidate in the 1805 election. A few years later, hearing Peter Bussey, the Chartist missionary who used Stokesley as a base for his work in spring 1839 when George was 17, could have reinforced these opinions, although there is no documentary evidence for this.

In 1836, at the earliest opportunity and much to his disappointment, George was taken away from school and joined his mother as an assistant at his grandfather’s shop and by 1841 William Braithwaite (c.1810-1873)"

In 2009, Paul Tweddell showed me where William sanderson was buried - at All Saints Church on the Rudby side of Hutton Rudby nr Stokesley North Yorkshire.

Thanks to local Hutton Rudby historian Alice Barrigan we now know that Rudby School was situated near  All Saints on the left in this photo from Alice Barrigan's website

Rudby School is the white building on the left of this photo, now a private dwelling next to All Saints Church, called, I think Rose Cottage.

Here is a poem which GMT wrote as a tribute to William Sanderson

A Tribute to the Memory of my good Schoolmaster—
William Sanderson.

I do not know one holier work on earth

Than that of training up the rising race
In health alike of body and of mind.
It is the safest polity for States;
The truest proof of love parents can give, 5
The noblest outcome of philanthropy;
And without it Religion would become
But Superstition to bind all in chains
To every sort of hateful tyranny.
Some six-score years have now pass’d o’er the world 10
Since a true poet sang in noble strains:—
“Delightful task! to rear the tender thought,
To teach the young idea how to shoot,
To pour the fresh instruction o’er the mind,
To breathe the enlivening spirit, and to fix 15
The generous purpose in the glowing breast!”[1]
A noble thought, utter’d in words of fire
Which Ignorance can ne’er extinguish, though
We yet have feeble intellect which fain
For this would ridicule dear Thomson’s name. 20
The car of Progress has run swiftly on
Since so he sang, and his melodious lyre
Silenced on earth, but its sweet echoes still
Stir human hearts, though we are only now
Just rising to the level of his thoughts: 25
For your true Poet is not one who can
Merely bedeck in decent verse what all
His fellows feel or know: but it is his
To lead the van in bravely marching on
From height to height, despite all earthly foes; 30
And those who ridicule the Teacher’s art,
Or look on it as drudgery, have ne’er,
Whate’er their bookcram, gain’d the mental light
Required of all true Teachers: unto them
’T would be indeed as hard a task as that 35
Which Jupiter enjoin’d on Sisyphus.

I had three Schoolmasters: but the former two ne’er gain’d
The least affection from the boys they sought
To teach in their own harsh mistaken way,
And to us all their deaths had been relief, 40
Instead of causing one to shed a tear.
In looking back upon the years I spent
Under their tyranny, which I forgive,
But never can forget, I cannot yield
Those days with that bright halo that endears 45
Our boyhood to us in declining years.[2]
But I shall treasure, to my dying day,
The love I bore to William Sanderson.
He was my last Schoolmaster, and my best,
Yea worth a thousand of the other two,[3]— 50
For he unlike to them, knew how to teach.
He had all learning at his fingers’ ends;
And best of all, was skill’d in teaching too.
A man may be in scholarship most rife,
Yet quite unfit to teach a tithe he knows. 55
Oh! that I longer could have profited
By my good Mentor! More that fifty years
Of varied trials I have waded through,
Since the necessity of earning bread
Forced me to leave him, when my anxious mind 60
Was just beginning to show healthy growth
Under his culture. But I never ceased
To love him whilst he lived, and since his death
None could have treasured more his memory.
“God rest his soul!” I can devoutly say; 65
For he was fitted whilst on earth for heaven:
Not by a bigot’s creed, or cant too oft
Mistaken for true piety; but a life
Of Christian virtue. Too mild to wrestle
In competition for a living here 70
With brutal men, his purse through life was poor;
But he had riches they can ne’er possess

Euclid, Algebra, and the languages,
Hebrew, Greek, Latin, like our mother-tongue,
Were truly his. Had I remain’d with him 75
I too would have been a scholar deeply read
In lore which has been seal’d to me for aye.
How he delighted to encourage all
My boyish studies of antiquity
And of the maxims which should govern States 80
To make the peoples happy! Meekest man
I ever knew childlike simplicity
Wedded to wisdom gave the lie in him
To those who fancy knowledge puffeth up
With vile conceit those who have made it theirs. 85
Oh, much I owe to him, to be repaid
Only with gratitude! My evening hours
Were spent in his congenial company
After the studies of the school were done.
If fine, we wander’d forth in frost or sheen 90
Along the pleasant footpaths; if confined
By weather to his parlour, he to me
Read Greek and Latin Classics, Englishing
Each sentence as he read, as easily
As I could converse in my mother-tongue. 95
This was my baptism to communion
With the wise sages both of Greece and Rome,
Homer and Virgil both have seem’d to me
As friends I knew since then; Demosthenes
And Cicero through him spoke just to me 100
As plainly as to those who had of yore
Listen’d unto their marvellous eloquence,
And this most mild of men was stricken down
When he was rising in prosperity;
Robb’d of his bread, and exiled the town 105
Where he was teaching as few other could,
By Whitby Tories, because he quietly
Voted for Moorsholm when that post became
A parliamentary borough. Not the man
To canvass or make speeches, or i’ the press 110
To rouse the people with a Cobbett’s pen,
Or hate those who might not think like himself,

Yet he felt bound to be to conscience true,
And simply gave his vote. It was enough—
The ballot then affording such no shield, 115
But being call’d un-English, cowardly,
And something that must lead to ruin, by
The cravens who all used it in their clubs.
Methinks I see their shuddering souls when they
First met him in that Spirit Land where all 120
Our sins on earth are plainly seen as though
An open book contain’d the register.
’T is this, and such as this, which forms the Hell
Which blundering bigots would persuade mankind
Is sulphurous fire which ever burns 125
To torture with far greater pains than man
Or woman ever felt on earth—pangs which
When millions of years had o’er them pass’d
Would be no nearer to their end than when
They first began—God’s thoughtless erring ones. 130
And there are simple folks still hold this creed,
Most gloomy and blasphemous as it is,
Making our Heavenly Father more unkind
To his poor children than the basest man
Who ever practised horrid cruelties. 135
One master as to mine, teaching true wisdom
Calmly all his years; living its precepts;
Content with simplest necessities when
He could obtain them; but aspiring not
Even when forced to bear ills none should know 140
In any State call’d civilised; does more
For helping on the progress of our race
Than many brawlers; and I thank my God
That I in early life had such a friend
And teacher as good William Sanderson. 145

His life was one of spotless purity:
He had compassion for all living things,
And anger never raged in his calm mind.
In all my march through life, I never met
A man more Christlike, no forms or creeds 150
Held his as a professor before men,
And he never mix’d in their assemblies.
He made his heart the temple of the Lord,
And there he offer’d up incense more sweet
Than from a priestly censor rose. 155
Though in the flesh we never more can meet,
His spirit often seems to visit me
In a divine communion of soul;
And I look forward with a fervent faith
To meeting him again to part no more, 160
Where all our souls are purified like him
From those deep failings which prevent our earth
From being but a counterpart of heaven.
Blank verse [in M/S], pp. 71-79.
[1] From the Scottish poet, James Thompson (1700-1748), in ‘Spring’ from ‘The
Seasons’ (1726). “Six-score years” this would make the date of GMT’s poem
about 1846. [see:
[2] Alternative to this line:
“Our boyhood to us as death dreweth near”[3] One of these will have been Richard
Baker, mentioned in Pigot’s Yorkshire Directory for 1829.


Before William Sanderson, Rudby school was headed by John Jackson of whom GMT also wrote in his Yorkshire Miscellany and North of England Tractates and yet again in his book The Bards and Authors of Cleveland and south Yorkshire 1872.

Tweddell wrote -

" John Jackson, who for six and twenty years ws master of Rudby School, was so much esteemed as a classical and mathematical teacher that sons of the principal inhabitants of Stokesley used to travel daily to and from his academy to avail themselves of his instruction. Many of the sundials still existing in Cleveland are of his manufacture, that at Rudby church being one. He was born about the year 1743 and died May 27th 1808, in the sixty fifth year of his age, leaving a widow named Ann, who survived him until dec 27th 1815, when she died at the age of 67.

John Jackson wrote the following poem The Cleveland Fox Chase, in 1785 although it wasn't published until 1846 by George Markham Tweddell in his Yorkshire Miscellany series and later the North of England Tractates. The 63 mile fox chase which went past the famed Roseberry Topping near Great Ayton, may not agree with our modern sensibilities towards fox hunting but this historic poem by the master of Rudby school was also set to music by him "and for many years enjoyed considerable popularity in the district, on account of the 'then well known incidents of the remarkable hunt it chronicles" says Tweddell in 1846. The version from the Tractates is in the pdf file here. Further information on the Cleveland foxhunt can be found in Roseberry Topping p66 published by the Great Ayton Community Archeology Project

John Jackson - The Cleveland Fox Chase - published in 1846 in Tweddell's Yorkshire Miscellany and later Tweddell's North of England Tractates (from which this pdf contains). The pdf is on Google drive and can be downloaded.

To download the file - click the arrow which takes you to Google Drive 
When it opens - click the black arrow screen left to download to your computer.or for some - Click File and then click download in the menu and the tick Save.

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