Wilderspin additional

Scope and Content

76 files containing photocopies of articles, manuscripts, notes and a thesis concerning the career and life of infant educationalist Samuel Wilderspin (1792-1866), arranged by subject.

Administrative / Biographical History

Samuel Wilderspin was the controversial self-styled founder of the Infant School System. He was born in Hornsey, North London in 1792 and was an apprentice clerk in the City before being introduced to infant education by Buchanan. He trained with Buchanan at a school in Vincent Square, London and then became master of his own school in Quaker Street, Spitalfields. From 1824 he worked for the Infant School Society and as a freelance, teaching others about his system of schooling. He ran an infant school supply depot in Cheltenham for supplying apparatus and in 1839 set up the Central Model School in Dublin which was subsequently run by Sarah Anne and Thomas Young (his daughter and son-in-law). After returning from Dublin he was heavily involved with the Mechanics' Institute movement. In 1848, having founded several hundred schools, he retired to Wakefield on a civil list pension.

Wilderspin's theories on education were mainly a product of his Swedenborgian beliefs. He saw education as a life long training of the child's soul and as such approached education from social, moral and religious aspects.


Samuel Wilderspin’s publications include:

'Early discipline illustrated; or, the infant system progressing and successful' (1832)

'The importance of educating the infant poor from the age of eighteen months to seven years' (1824)

'The infant system, for developing the intellectual and moral powers of all children, from one to seven years of age' (1834)

'Manual for the religious and moral instruction of young children' (1845) co-author with Thomas John Terrington

'On the Importance of educating the Infant Children of the Poor ... Containing also an account of the Spitalfields Infant School' (1823)

'A system for the education of the young: applied to all the faculties' (1840)


The file titles created by Young and McCann have been retained for the purpose of this catalogue, and have not been created by the cataloguer:

  • Education in general
  • Wilderspin's works and career
  • Records from schools with which Wilderspin was involved.

Young and McCann grouped the files by subject, and this arrangement has been retained in its entirety.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Access to individual items may be restricted by the Freedom of Information Act. See Archivist for details. 24 hours notice is necessary for research visits.

Acquisition Information

Material collected by Professor Phillip McCann and Dr. Francis Young concerning the educationalist Samuel Wilderspin in preparation for their book 'Samuel Wilderspin and the infant school movement (1982).

Custodial History

MS975 derives from the same source as MS917, which was donated by Samuel Wilderspin's great-great-grandson John A. Young. While MS917 was transferred to the University of London by Young's brother Dr. Francis A. Young between 1987 to 1989, MS975 arrived at a later date and was therefore accessioned separately.