From all I can gather, William Lindsay was the straightest of arrows, a saint. In an attempt to keep his experiences accessible, I'm dedicating a few years of research into William Lindsay and putting it on this blog. Please sign the guestbook. I'd love for this to be a gathering place for discussion on the man and his family.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Early life: Schooling

Childhood and a chance for education was brief for children among the many mine fields in Scotland during the Industrial Revolution were the drive for coal was insatiable. Yet were it not for the Mines Act of 1842, there likely would have been no schooling.

The following accounts tell of the Lindsay boy's schooling experiences. There seems to be agreement between the boys accounts in terms of a certain punishing instructor. Yet the location doesn't align since William liked the instructor in Neephill while James did not. This brief schooling which taught basic literacy, was a benefit for us as well as William, for without this education, much of this history would be non-existent.
There was a schoolhouse here & I went to it with my brother Robert a few times. We then lived at Craighall near the river Ayr. Soon after this we moved to Gatehead about two & a half miles from Kilmarnock & while living here I went a very short time to a school but the teacher was very cruel & whipped the children unmercifully so I learned scarcely anything from him. Then we moved to Thornton row & Robert & I attended school a few months at Neephill John Smith teacher & he was a good teacher & at his school I learned very fast & got practically all the
schooling I ever did get which I think was less than a year.
Source: William Lindsay Autobiography, pg 270
I was nine years old, and was going to the Neep Hill school, which was two or three miles away. The schoolmaster was a very large man, but he was a cripple. This handicap didn't seem to bother him when it came to being stern with his students. When you were unprepared he could dress you down with his cane to sort of brighten your memory. The next time you were prepared. Now I am not an advocate of harsh treatment, but at the same time I am sure there is something wrong today when children go to school until grown and in many cases are not much farther along in eduction than many of us at the ages of ten and twelve.
Source: James Lindsay's Autobiography, pg 1

Apparently those precious months of schooling paid off, one time quite literally.
I will relate an incident that happened about this time. Mr. Finnie the mine owner came down to look over the new mine & Mr. Landels the government inspector accompanied him. It was against the law for any boy under ten years of age to work in a mine unless it could be shown that he could read spell & write. As soon as the inspector saw us he called Mr. Finnie's attention here are two boys under age & you are liable for allowing them in your mine. Mr. Finnie then questioned me I being the youngest. What is your age? I answered nine. Can your read? I said yes. Read from this book. Which I did. Spell Carmel bank. Which I did. I then read some writing in a book he carried with him & he of course was much pleased at my being able to answer correctly as that released him from any trouble.

He looked in his purse but said he had nothing less than half a crown but said I will give you a shilling some day as you are a clever little fellow. But the inspector said Mr. Finnie I have a shilling, I'll give it to the boy & you can pay me later. So I got the shilling the first time I ever had so much money & I think I felt richer than I have ever done since. I took the shilling & gave it to my father who was also very much pleased.

Of course after passing that examination I was free from any more trouble & other boys came to work in the mine usually with their fathers till in time there were forty to fifty boys nearly all of the same age.

Source: William Lindsay Autobiography, pg 270-271

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