A History of Preston in Hertfordshire
School mistresses and monitors
MISTRESSES HYDER Mary Jane 31 Mar 1873 - Dec 1877 POLLARD Lucy 7 Jan 1878 - 5 Nov 1880 SHEAR Jane 8 Nov 1880 - 11 Aug 1882 CHAMBERS Amelia Caroline 25 Sept 1882 - 12 Aug 1887 FLOOD Alice Sophia 19 Sept 1887 - 20 Aug 1890 BALDWIN Emma 29 Sept 1890 - July 1893 KNIGHT/ESTWICK Jemima S 28 Sept 1893 - 2 Aug 1895 ELMER/MIDDLETON Edith Kate 5 Sept 1895 -31 Jan 1896 HUNT Elizabeth S 24 Feb 1896 - 1901onwards ASSISTANTS DOLLIMORE Lilian Frances 22 Feb 1884 - Dec 1888 NOBLE Elizabeth 7 Jan 1889 - 15 Feb 1889 PARKER Emma 22 Feb 1889 - 10 May 1889 CAIN Fanny 13 May 1889 - 29 April 1897 WALKER Mary 10 May 1897 - 6 Aug 1897 COLERIDGE Beatrice 22 Sept 1897 - 24 June 1898 COLE Selina 14 Sept 1898 - 1901 onwards
MONITORS MARRIOTT Annie 6 May 1873 - 27 June 1873 SWAIN Matilda 12 May 1873 - May 1875 SMITH Annie 2 Feb 1874 - 31 July 1874 FROST Hannah 7 Sept 1874 - 1876 FROST Clara 28 May 1875 - 27 6 1878 FROST Florence 30 June 1878 SMITH Ellen 1878 - 27 June 1878 ADAMS Elizabeth 25 July 1881 - 7 June 1882 JENKINS Louisa 3 Dec 1886 DAVIES Louisa 4 Dec 1886 - 19 Dec 1889 JEEVES Rosa 1 July 1891 PETERS Bertha 1 July 1891 - 1901 onwards
Preston schoolmistresses and monitors 1873-1901
After 1880, the school attendance hovered between 70 and 89 as pupils left school or moved into or from the village. As the attendance grew, there was clearly a need for help. The report following the annual inspection in 1882 said, ‘A considerable increase in numbers has increased the difficulty in teaching this school...an assistant teacher should be engaged at once’. The assistant teachers were a mixed satchel. Fanny Cain had an ignominious beginning in 1889 - six weeks after she started it was logged that,’Miss Cain took the order of the room this week - not very satisfactorily’. Five years later, in 1894 it was reported that she was ‘careful and painstaking but necessarily inexperienced. Hence the method of teaching especially in elementary subjects is defective’. However, Fanny taught at the school for eight years and when she resigned, Rev. B. Switzer (one of the school managers) presented her with ‘a bag subscribed for by the children’. Another manager, Canon Hensley, gave her ‘a Prayer Book, himself’. Fanny taught longer than Edith Noble. A few days after Edith started it was noted, ‘the assistant cannot keep order and cannot teach first and second standards satisfactorily, she therefore wishes to resign her post’.
Elizabeth Hunt - schoolmistress from 1896
Mary Walker lasted three months - ‘Miss Walker has had to go home today through ill health. She has not been fit for work since she came’. Another assistant, Emma Parker, left immediately after three village women made complaints about her treatment of their children
The headmistress, Miss Hunt (who had a somewhat confrontational style), took another assistant to task in April 1898: ‘I have asked Miss Coleridge not to put her pointer so heavily on the new pictures as it spoils them. She reacted in an angry temper and said I had told her that before. I intended no offence but she seems to think I have no right to speak of anything and treats me quite rudely if I do so.’ Not surprisingly Miss Coleridge left two months later. The upheaval resulting from many changes in the teaching staff affected the quality of education. These comments were made in 1896: There were ‘grave difficulties’ with the school; and ‘the fifth standard boys are very bad writers. I attribute this to the frequent changes of teachers’.
Fanny Cain - Assistant 1889-97
The Monitors.
To assist the teacher, older female pupils were appointed as paid monitors (they were described as ‘engaged’). In Preston, the first five monitors appointed were children of a farmer, blacksmith and a butler - not from labouring families. They were aged 11-13. Their duties included passing on the teacher’s instruction, keeping order and chasing the absentees. Later, monitors were older girls like Ellen Smith who was still working in the role in 1881 aged 22. Some flourished as monitors - Bertha Peters was still at her post in 1901, aged 23, having been a monitor for 10 years. In 1897, it was written of her, ‘Bertha Peters has had to take the infants entirely. She is a good help’ and she ‘has kept the infants very fairly up with their work’.
Bertha Peters - monitor 1891-1901
Other monitors were not so effective. The first monitor, Annie Marriott, resigned six weeks after her appointment. Matilda Swain was reproved ‘for allowing her class to talk during a writing lesson’. Clara Frost was similarly reproved and resigned two days later
Altercations with parents
Occasionally the schoolmistress would receive a visit from an aggrieved parent:          7 May 1896 - ‘Mrs Sharp came to complain because I sent her boys’ names to the Attendance Officer. I told her I would see her after school hours.’          1 Nov 1897 - ‘Mrs Thrussell came to school just after the children had left at 4.25 and abused me with great vehemence, the cause being that I had kept Violet Thrussell in for ten minutes only for talking. She had no justification as the girl had had no harsh punishment.’