Peel Cloth-workers' School

Philip Christian, born in Peel in 1593, moved to London whilst still young (c. 1607) and became a successful weaver, admitted as freeman of the Clothworks' Company in 1616, and in 1639 he was admitted to their Livery and by 1653, the year before his death he had become Renter Warden. His will left money for the futherance of education in Peel.

I give and devise my two houses situate, lying and being under Lovell's Lane in Pater Noster Rowe in the Parish of St.Faith under Paul's Church, London, to the Clothworkers, that they and their successors shall pay out of the rents and profits thereof yearly to two poor youthes .... to put them to be apprenticed. If it shall happen that there be not a Free School maintained for the teaching of children in the Towne of Peele,then my will is that the twenty pounds a year by me formerly given for the putting of two boys out as apprentices shall cease, and the said sum be paid by the said Company of Clothworkers towards the maintenance of the said schools.

His widow lived on to 1670 - the houses having burnt down in the Great Fire but the land sharply increasing in value and no apprentices being found, the money accumulated with the Company. Judging from the words of Philip Christian's will of 1655 there already existed at Peel a school for poor children. This is confirmed by an earlier document dated 1641 recently discovered amongst the Episcopal wills

Whereas it hath pleased god to raise up a good benefactor
unto ys place, our worthy cuntrye man Mr Phillip Christian
of ye Citty of London, who out of zeale to gods glory, and
out of his naturall and pious affection to his cuntry
hath erected a free school for ye bringinge up of younge
children in good litterature, education in good manners,
and instruction in ye principle of Christian religione
in ye towne of holme or Peele Castle; and for as much as
Mr Receaver and some others, whome ye founder of ye
schoole hath most intrusted for ye mannaginge of ye business
for ye present; hath made choyce of Sir John Huddlestone,
whom they conceive to bee idonius tam moribus quam doctrina [suitable by character as by learning]
for yt servise; and hath commended ye saide Sir John Huddlestone
unto us, for our approbatione and allowance of him;
Wee doe therefore by vertue hereof, authorize and liberate
ye said Sir John Huddlestone (of whose learninge and moral=
litie we have had good experience) to exercise his faculty
of teachinge in keepinge the free school aforesaide, in that
Method and forme as shall be contiived most profitable for
ye educatione of children: requiringe him further to begine
his schoolinge with all convenient speede accordinge to ye
founders pleasure; and to give warninge thereof in
holme chapple one Sunday next being ye 4th of ye prsent october
Ri Sod Man [Bishop Richard Parr]
dated October 2 1641

To ye ministers of holme towne
chapple to be published in time
of Divine Service; and further to
signifife unto ye people ye keepinge
of ye free school beginis god willinge
one[on] Tuesday next

ys licence be kept upon record

No money from the will came to Peel until 1684 when following a visit of the Bishop [Levinz] to London he suggested that the Company apply the money to the support of the Free-school - the Company demurred at this as it did not agree with the will. However by formally closing the existing free school and obtaining a Chancery Court Judgement (from Judge Jeffreys of Bloody Assizes fame) in 1686 a charity was established for the building of a new school of which the Company would pay 2/3rds of the Rent. A School-house and dwelling house for the master were provided in 1687 (in 1688 the Episcopal Registry refers to land and buildings of 6d rent being conveyed in 1688 by William Gilland and his wife "for the use and benefit of the Free School now erected and settled and endowed with a yearly salary out of the benefaction of our dear countryman Philip Christian". The school and master's house were presumeably those shown on Corris's 1784 plan as the English School on Market Street. Though Philip Christian's will had not specified any connection the Established Church the new school effectively became a Church of England school.

William Tear was master in 1741 for in that year he was accused of drunkeness and was suspended by Bishop Wilson for six months - by 1747 Dr Thomas Wilson (Bishop Wilson's son) who had already collected some money towards repairs asked the Clothworkers for further money quoting the 'ruinous condition of the building' - the Company increased its remit to £16 per year (increased to £20 in 1806). A town cess was levied in 1798 for the purpose of repairing the schoolhouse and the Master's house (a cost of £29-16-9¾).

In the late 1830's the Clothworkers offered to raise its endowment to £40 pa (the Paternoster Rents having increased) and then offered to fund the construction of a new school - in 1842 the foundation stone for this was laid by Bishop Short at a site presented by E.M. Gawne on Christian Street. The new school was opened in 1843 with the Bishop, the vicar and churchwardens of German, the High Bailiff of Peel, and E. M.Gawne as its Trustees. The old buildings were disposed of in 1847 and the proceeds applied to the new one. The new deed cemented its status as a Church of England school which began to rankle with the strong Methodist population of Peel. An extension to the school was opened in 1861.

By 1872 the London property was considerably more valuable and the Clothworkers raised their endowment to £280pa - they also suggested that a new Boy's school be established leaving the original school for Girls and infants - however money to buy the new site was slow in coming and not until 1877 was the foundation stone laid on a site on the Poortown Road. The School being opened in 1879. This building, apart from the master's house, was demolished when the new Clothworkers school was opened on a nearby site - the site is now under a supermarket carpark.



Boys (after 1879)

Girls (after 1879)



E. C. Foster The Pioneering Schools of Peel Proc IoMNH&ASoc IX pp 239/

J McHutchin & J.Quirk The Isle of Man Charities Liverpool 1831.

Hinton Bird The Island that led - The History of Manx Education vol 1 1994

School's Index



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2004