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A 'A Victorian Class Conflict?'
A 'A Victorian Class Conflict?'

A 'A Victorian Class Conflict?'

Schoolteaching and the Parson, Priest and Minister, 1837-1902


233 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Cloth

Cloth, $70.00 (US $70.00) (CA $87.95)

Publication Date: January 2009

ISBN 9781845192952

Rights: US & CA

Sussex Academic Press (Jan 2009)

Price: $70.00


Villages and towns in the Victorian era saw a great expansion in educational provision and witnessed the rise of the elementary teaching profession, often provided and supported by local clergymen. This book investigates the social and economic relationships of such clergymen and teachers who worked cooperatively and, at times, in competition with each other - their relative positions typified by the comment of one contemporary clergyman as 'those of master and servant.' The inevitable result was a complex movement in society in the final third of the 19th century that led to increasing clashes in villages, as one group (the clergy) sought to preserve its hold on its status and power while the other group (male and female teachers) attempted to secure their new role in society. The research presented in this book is based on previously unused, original sources - church documents, His Majesty's Inspectorate (of Education) reports, newspapers and journals, and private papers. It is not confined, as is the case with so much recent research, to the Church of England, but breaks new ground in providing a comparative analysis of the social position and educational work of Roman Catholic and Wesleyan clergy, and their collaboration with their elementary school teachers.


“Smith addresses the rise of schoolteachers as professionals in the Victorian era and, as a function of that rise, their often-conflictual relationship with Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Wesleyan clergy. Venturing beyond the traditional treatment of Anglican themes, the book carefully documents how the financial and educational status of teachers improved while that of clergy diminished. Smith identifies the source of conflict as the inherited superiority felt by clergy over teachers with expectations of deference to the pastoral office being complicated by their respective roles as employer and employee. Conflict revolved around issues of catechizing, management (schools as a means of social control), and content (acceptance of the function of secular knowledge within a religious context). While the topic has been addressed in earlier monographs, this one does so in greater detail and in a comparative way with a clear differentiation of trends in the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Wesleyan experiences, while identifying the respective impact of the new school boards after 1870. Utilizing a range of hitherto neglected sources of information, Smith provides a useful case study of the rise of one professional class. Recommended.”  —Choice

“In drawing together Anglican, Nonconformist, and Roman Catholic approaches to teachers, teaching, and the management of schools in 19th-century England, Dr. Smith delineates the essence of contemporary and commonly held beliefs as to the nature and purpose of education. Essentially approaching the theme from a ‘grass roots’ perspective, he shows how relationships among the main protagonists are affected by cultural or political change and, ultimately, by the more perceptive educational preparation of teachers and a developing sense of professionalism. His book contributes not only refreshing comparative insights but also a vivid realization of the Victorian interplay of religious, moral, social, and economic factors in education as well as the tensions they engender. It makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the philosophy of education of the period and to the discernment of commitment.”  —V. A. McClelland, author, Cardinal Manning

“Smith explores the expansion in education that occurred in Victorian England and the rise of the elementary teaching profession, frequently provided in the beginning by local clergymen. The author also examines the economic and social relationships of the clergymen/teachers with each other and the eventual conflicts that arose in villages in the last third of the 19th century as the clergy attempted to protect its claim to status and power, and teachers (both men and women) worked to cement their new place in society. The author based his research on original sources, including church records, newspapers and journals, and private papers.”  —Reference & Research Book News