Philadelphia Quakers Set Up a Public School, Part 2

Dateline: 12 Feb 1698: They actually enacted laws to set up the public school of Philadelphia, with money. Girls could attend, and poor children could go for gratis.They had this idea back in 1684.

Part One happened in 1684:

Philadelphia Quakers Set Up Public School, Part 1

“Meeting” is this context means the church parish or diocese (district).

William Markham was the Governor. This is a petition that Samuel Carpenter, Edward Shippen, Anthony Morris, James Fox, and David Lloyd, William Southby, and John Jones wrote up.

Modernized transcription begins:

To the Governor and Council of the Province of Pennsylvania and territories thereof, sitting at Philadelphia the tenth day of the 12th month, anno domini [A.D.] 1697-98 [10 Feb 1698]. The humble petition of Samuel Carpenter, Edward Shippen, Anthony Morris, James Fox, David Lloyd, William Southby, and John Jones, in behalf of themselves and the rest of the people called Quakers, who are members of the monthly meeting, held and kept at the new meeting house, lately [recently] built upon a piece of ground fronting High Street in Philadelphia aforesaid, obtained of the present Governor by the said people, sheweth [shows]:

That it has been and is much desired by MANY that a school be set up and upheld [maintained or sustained] in this town of Philadelphia, where poor children may be freely maintained, taught and educated in good literature, until they are apt and to be put [made] apprentices or capable to be masters [teachers] or ushers in the said school.

Transcription ends.

Here is the actual wording in this significant historical event in the New World.  It almost functions as a charter or at least an elaborate license to set it up.

Modernized transcription begins:

And forasmuch as by the laws and Constitution of this government, it is provided and enacted that the Governor and Council shall erect and order all public schools and encourage and reward the authors of the useful sciences and laudable inventions, in the said province and territories,


May it please the Governor and Council to ordain and establish that at the said town of Philadelphia a public school may be founded, where all children and servants, male and female, whose parents, guardians, and masters be willing to subject them to the rules and orders of the said school, shall from time to time, with the approbation of the overseers [executive board] thereof for the time being, be received or admitted, taught and instructed, the rich at reasonable rates, and the poor to be maintained [room and board] and schooled for nothing.

And to that end [purpose] a meet [suitable] and convenient house or houses, buildings and room, may be erected for the keeping of the said school and for the entertainment [housing or hospitality] and abode of such and so masters, ushers, mistresses and poor children, as by the order and direction of the said monthly meeting shall be limited and appointed from time to time.

And also, that the members of the aforesaid meeting for the time being may at their respective monthly meetings, from time to time, make choice of and admit such and so many persons as they shall think fit, to be overseers, masters [teachers], ushers, mistresses and poor children of the said school, and the same persons of any of them to remove and displace as often as the said meeting shall see occasion.

And that the overseers and school aforesaid may forever stand and be established and founded in name and in deed, a body politic and corporate, to have continuance forever, by the name of the overseers of the public school founded in Philadelphia at the request, costs and charges of the people of God called the Quakers.

And that they, the said overseers, may have perpetual succession and by that name they and their successors may forever have, hold, and enjoy all the lands tenements and chattels, and receive and take all gifts and legacies as shall be given, granted or devised for the use and maintenance of the said school and poor scholars [students] without any further or other license or authority from this government in that behalf, saving unto the chief proprietor his quitrents out of the said lands.

And that the said overseers by the same name shall and may, with the consent of the said meeting, have power and capacity to devise and grant, by writing, under their hands and common seal any of the said lands and tenements and to take and purchase any other lands, tenements, or hereditaments for the best use and advantage of the said school.

And to prescribe such rules and ordinances for the good order and government of the same schools and of the masters, ushers, mistresses and poor children successively and for their and every of their stipends and allowances, as to the members of the said monthly meeting for the time being or the major part of them shall seem moot, with the power to sue and be sued and to do, perform, and execute all and every lawful act and thing, good and profitable for the said school, in as full and ample manner as any other body politic or corporate, more perfectly founded and incorporated may do.

The Governor and Council do grant this petition as is desired.

Transcription ends.

The Quakers meeting together in Philadelphia petitioned or asked permission of the Governor and Council to set up the public school. They granted the Quakers’ request.


Philadelphia Sets Up First ‘Public’ School

Gateway Ancestors of Middle Colonies

Minutes of the Provincial Council, vol. 1, 1683-1700 (Jo. Severns and Co. 1852) pp. 532-93.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s