Monday, November 8, 2010

Early Schools to 1754

The first notation of a school in North Parish was in the town report of 1693. The first schools in North Parish were moving or roving schools. As there was no specific building, school was often held in the front room of local citizen. Remember that in 1685 only nine known families were settled in North Parish.

"In 1642, Massachusetts Bay Colony passed the first law in the New World requiring that children be taught to read and write. The English Puritans who founded Massachusetts believed that the well-being of individuals, along with the success of the colony, depended on a people literate enough to read both the Bible and the laws of the land. The English Puritans who settled Boston in 1630 believed that children's welfare, on earth and in the afterlife, depended in large part on their ability to read and understand the Bible." 1

The Massachusetts law of 1647 stated that there should be a school in every community where there were fifty families, and a grammar school in every community of one hundred families. In 1693 this law provided for a ten pound fine annually for the violation of the law. In 1701 the law imposed a fine of twice that amount. It was also stated that the grand jurors were to report all breaches of the law.

When the Parish settled its first minister, Reverend Daniel Putnam, in 1721, the interest in schooling began to grow and school money was raised in the parish rates to assist with children’s education.

It wasn’t until 1754, however, that the Parish voted that some particular persons have liberty to set a school house on land near the meeting house at their own cost. Even then, the majority of inhabitants were not yet behind the notion of established school houses.

LePage, Samuel. A History of North Reading, Tercentenary Edition. 1944.