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416641812 Re: Reading Level of the Average Soldier/Sailor

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  • biggest_plume
    Feb 2, 2010
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      And that my friends is why the Scots are so well educated.
      "Drums"

      --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, Sarah More <recce40@...> wrote:
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      > During the period of the Scottish Reformation, the Rev. John Knox implemented the idea of education for all Scottish boys and girls, regardless of their financial means, believing that a Bible-reading nation could never be enslaved. This idea was strongly supported by the Scottish nobles, including The Duke of Argyll, who established Covenanter settlements in his lands and provided for their education and occupation. Similarly, The Earl of Devon provided for his crofters and built a school on his Irish estate for 1,000 children which is still standing today.
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      > Dr. David Livingston (1813-1873), of Charles Stanley fame, worked as a piecer in the cotton mills of my ancestor, James Monteith of Glasgow. Livingston wrote “the Messrs. Monteith were good employers who were careful to observe the Education Act.” With his first pay, Livingston purchased “Rudiments of Latin.” Certainly, the Education Act was intended to provide for the educational needs of the mill children. Likely, the nobles would have provided for the education of the rural children.
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      > Sarah More
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      > --- On Tue, 1/26/10, Ray Hobbs <ray.hobbs@...> wrote:
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      > From: Ray Hobbs <ray.hobbs@...>
      > Subject: RE: 1812 Re: Reading Level of the Average Soldier/Sailor
      > To: warof1812@yahoogroups.com
      > Date: Tuesday, January 26, 2010, 1:53 PM
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      > Dave:
      > I agree with Ron on the fluctuating levels of literacy - they do reflect the situation in the later part of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. Strangely, one of the reasons for the decline in literacy was the industrial revolution, and the decline in village schools - many young folk left to go to the industrial centres, and village and town schools closed.
      > However, back to the army of 1812. You should check out the establishment of the Royal Military Asylum, founded in 1803 under the patronage of the Prince of Wales, the Chaplain General and others. It was affiliated with the Chelsea Hospital, and was designed to teach the children of ORs and NCOs basic skills such as reading, writing etc. The method adopted was that of Dr. Bell's mentoring system whereby older pupils taught younger ones - thus giving good education on the cheap.
      > Wellington himself was very impressed with the system, and did remark that 500 "ragamuffins" (i.e. children of soldiers) had been removed off the streets of Lisbon and given a better chance in life.
      > I suspect that literacy was even higher in the mid to late 18th century - several books were written for the soldier, usually religious and moral stuff. In Reading, UK, one bookstore 500 copies of "The Soldier's Monitor" were sold in one day to men of the local barracks.The price was three pence. This document, originally published in 1714 and remained in print until 1775, was republished in 1811, and remained a best-seller among soldiers. I believe it was even republished in the 1860s.
      > There were also regimental schools established among many regiments throughout the empire, including North America. The Lieut. Col. of the 10th RVB stationed in Nova Scotia ordered large numbers of religious tracts for the regimental library during the war.
      > Further, the Chaplain General, The Rev. Dr. John Owen, tried in vain to keep Methodists and Baptists out of the military hospitals where they were proselytising. Their main tool of this was a large number of religious tracts. This presupposes a relatively high level of literacy.
      > Hope this helps
      > Ray H
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      > To: WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com
      > From: ronaldjdale@...
      > Date: Tue, 26 Jan 2010 18:32:25 +0000
      > Subject: 1812 Re: Reading Level of the Average Soldier/Sailor
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      >       Hello David,
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      > While I have never seen any period study of literacy levels in the British Army in the early 19th century, I note that a soldier could not expect to rise to sergeant without being literate.  In looking at attestment papers and and the number of soldiers who could sign their names with a fair hand as opposed to those who made their mark etc. it strikes me as about 50/50.  The literacy rate dropped later in the century.
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      > I have been researching church records from County Derry and have noted a change in literacy rates based on economic circumstances.  For example, it was very high until the 1830's.  Those getting married in the 1830's lived in a period of economic depression from 1815 on and could not afford schooling.  Literacy picked up again in the 1840's and 50's but dropped again in the 60's and 70's (post potatoe famine), etc.
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      > Scots Presbyterians, many of whom influenced what happened in the plantation areas of Ulster, valued learning and the simplest crofters son taught to read and write if the family could afford the schooling.
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      > I would imagine that in the War of 1812 perhaps a third of the soldiers in barracks could read and write and could write and read letters for others if any were inclined to correspond with their homelands.
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      > At that time the sender did not pay for postage but the recipient paid to for their mail and the charges for letters were extremely high.  Who would want to burden their impoverished family with that?  Also, paper was in very short supply and extremely expensive. This is really a pity as the letters of a common soldier would be like gold. 
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      > Ron
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      > --- In WarOf1812@yahoogroups.com, "DAVID BRUNELLE" <davidbrunelle@> wrote:
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      >   I had an inquiry from a librarian looking for information on the reading level of soldiers during the War of 1812.
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