Records of Gildersome School of the Society of Friends

Scope and Content

Committee minutes, 1772-1815 (3 vols.) [P 33-35]; Papers, 1772-1935 (1 bundle) [Z 4/1-148]; including advertisement for the opening of the school in 1772, accounts in the hand of John Ellis, 1773-1796, rough committee minutes, the "Fothergill supplement" of The Cupola, and ms. "List of the boys and girls at Gildersome School", 1807, by William Driver

Administrative / Biographical History

The educational needs of poor Friends' children were discussed at Quarterly Meeting in 1770, and Brighouse Monthly Meeting expressed interest in establishing a school. A subscription was raised by Friends in the West Riding, and the appointed cashiers, John Elam and John Jowitt, purchased a farm near Gildersome in 1772 which was adapted for the purpose. Brighouse Monthly Meeting contributed towards the expenses of setting up the school and stocking its farm, but otherwise annual subscriptions were raised from Preparative Meetings. John Ellis (1745-1828), a schoolteacher from High Flatts, was appointed headmaster and the school opened in September 1772. The school took boys and girls of poor Friends, from within the Monthly Meeting and further afield. It accommodated c.60 boarders and a number of day scholars. As well as reading and writing, boys were taught aspects of woollen manufacturing and husbandry, whilst girls were taught spinning, knitting and sewing. In 1796 the management of the school was devolved to John Ellis, who reported to the Gildersome School Fund Committee. This arrangement continued until 1815, when Ellis retired and the school closed. The Fund (renamed the Monthly Meeting School Fund) continues to support the education of poor children, such as by funding places at Ackworth School, to this day. In many ways, the school acted as a small-scale model for Ackworth School.


The records are numbered and arranged according to the system used when they were in Carlton Hill Meeting House

Conditions Governing Access

The conditions of deposit include a clause requiring written prior permission from a Friend Custodian for access to consult current legal documents and any material less than fifty years old

Acquisition Information

The collection of archives of the Society of Friends formerly held at the Friends Meeting House at Carlton Hill, Leeds


In English

Other Finding Aids

Contents listed in Handlist 99, "Inventory of the records of Brighouse, Knaresborough, Leeds, and Settle Monthly Meetings of the Society of Friends formerly preserved at the Friends Meeting House, Carlton Hill, Leeds", 2nd edition, 1997

Conditions Governing Use

As with access, the photocopying of current legal documents and any material less than fifty years old requires the permission of a Friend Custodian

Related Material

Related material in Leeds University Library: Records of Gildersome Preparative Meeting and Brighouse Monthly Meeting


J.E. Mortimer, Quakers in Gildersome : the history of a Yorkshire Meeting (author, 1990), pp. 33-50; The Cupola : the Ackworth School Magazine, vol.6, 1935: "Fothergill supplement", pp. 6-23

Additional Information

The records are deposited and remain the property of the Society of Friends