Ref NoBFSS/1/1/3
TitleLadies' Committee
Date1815 - 1842
Extent1 box
AdminHistoryIn 1813 the BFSS Ladies' Committee (LC) came into existence at a meeting of the Royal Lancasterian Institution for the Education of the Poor (renamed BFSS in 1814). A set of Rules and Regulations was adopted.

Rule X: "A Committee of 24 ladies shall be appointed by the General Committee, to superintend the concerns of the Female Department of the [Borough Road] School and Training Establishment . They will be expected to make a written report of their proceedings to the General Committee once every month". Annual Report 1814, VI. It was set up to establish, in every part of the Empire, schools following the British System "in which girls may be taught to reverence the Holy Scripture: and receive such instruction as may be necessary to qualify them for useful life".

The 1814 BFSS Annual Report contains an appeal for subscriptions 'to be placed to the account of the Ladies Committee', list of girls' schools already established and names of the 24 members of the Committee for the ensuing year. The Treasurer to the Ladies Fund was Joseph Fox, the secretary of the BFSS, and the Secretary was Jane de Visme. Jane de Visme's name disappears from the LC reports after 1816, and does not appear elsewhere in the BFSS records.

In 1815 a printed prospectus was produced containing a list of Life Governors and Subscribers. It set out the educational and moral aims of the LC. Girls were to be taught to read the Bible, writing, arithmetic and to make their own garments. They were to be instructed in the habits of order and obedience.

A girls' school run at first by Lancaster's two sisters, had opened at Borough Road as early as 1803. The LC report for 1815 recorded the transfer of the 'Establishment for the Instruction of Young Women" from BR to King's Rd, Chelsea, where the BFSS had had a reading and needlework school since 1812.

The LC had the patronage of Duchess of Kent and many aristocratic life members and annual subscribers, and the active interest of wealthy benefactors such as Mrs Hudson Gurney, Maria Edgeworth (a life member). Most of the LC were the wives, sisters and daughters of prominent male members of the BFSS, such as Miss Corston (probably a sister of William Corston, one of Lancaster's earliest supporters), Mrs Millar, wife of James Millar, acting secretary of the BFSS. Other unfamiliar names were probably connected with local British Schools in London, or local churches and chapels. It was the lesser known Committee members who did much of the work, visiting the model schools and the women's training institution, making the monthly reports to the General Committee and handling the finances.

The LC, just like the BFSS as a whole, faced financial difficulties. As a result, in 1817 the BFSS General Committee instructed the LC to return the Training institution from Chelsea to the new buildings at BR. [Surviving correspondence from this time throws light on relations between the L C and the General Committee]. Most of the students boarded out until the extension of the buildings at BR after 1842.

From the 1820s the LC organised special funds for educational work overseas, providing funds to send BRC trained female teachers all over the world.

In 1830 Henry Dunn was appointed BFSS secretary. 1831 fresh regulations were drawn up stating the responsibilities of the LC. The set up and the duties of the ladies towards the model school and the women's training establishment was redefined. All appointments from ladies wishing to be trained as teachers should be laid before the LC. A limited number of women to be lodged at the house of the BFSS for up to 6 months. The BFSS secretary to attend all LC meetings as minuting secretary. Minutes of the LC have not survived.

From this time status of LC began to decline. LC had produced own report in BFSS Annual Report from 1814, but separate reports from LC ceased to appear after 1830. References to LC's activities restricted to paragraph in general report within ARs. Female appointments for training continued to be interviewed by members of LC, but surviving correspondence shows Dunn played prominent part in selecting candidates for both male and female training institutions.

1841 Govt grant enabled BFSS to obtain additional land at BRC, reconstruct and enlarge the training institutions and model schools. 1842 LC launched appeal for £5000 for new training school for female teachers. By 1843 it had raised £1045.

Role of LC eroded. Functions of carrying out school and training institution visits taken over by BFSS male inspectors and HMIs. Its part in selecting women candidates also modified with introduction after 1846 of Queen's Scholarship system. Role also declining overseas. Plans for seperate college at Stockwell carried out by general committee.

1873 LC renamed Stockwell House Committee. Membership of 15 - 20 ladies playing some role in the routine affairs of the college and practice schools. Consulted by the BFSS secretary, as principal of the college, over matters of staff appointments. 1882 Stockwell House committee resisted attempt by BFSS General committee to make it a mixed body, in line with all the other colleges. 1898, it was agreed that Chair of the General committee should attend Stockwell Committee meetings as a representative of the General committee.

At this time new 'Ladies committee' created, a committee of ladies drawn from all the BFSS women's colleges.

1906 Royal Charter granted to BFSS, renamed the General Committee 'The Council', reduced its members to 36. Laid down that women may be members of the Society and hold any office in the society. In spite of this it was decades before women actually gained admission to the council.
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