Reported On This Day 280 Years Ago (August 18 1739): Success of schools for poor popish children

The Belfast News Letter of August 7 1739 (which is August 18 in the modern calendar)
The Belfast News Letter of August 7 1739 (which is August 18 in the modern calendar)
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From the Belfast News Letter of August 7 1739 (which is equivalent to August in the modern calendar):

A letter from a gentleman in London to his friend in the country. July 16, 1739.


AS I know your publick spirit to be such, that you look upon yourself to be deeply interested in every thing that may contribute to the good of your country, I am persuaded it will give you a sensible pleasure to hear of the success of his majesty’s charter for erecting English protestant working schools in Ireland, for the maintenance of the children of the poor popish natives of that kingdom, to instruct them in our language, to ground them in the principles of the protestant religion, and to ensure them to labour and industry.

This design in itself so noble and extensively useful, has you know, hitherto been carried on solely by the voluntary contributions of well disposed persons, and the subscriptions of the members of a society formed to promote the designs of a charter, and acting under it.

The success of this was considerable, eleven schools being already opened, wherein are 250 children, and three other schools since erected in the counties of Galway Limerick, and Mayo, besides several others erecting.

But the demands for more schools being greater than the charitable contributions and voluntary subscriptions could answer, a stop must have been put for a while to the erecting of schools, had not his majesty, in his gracious goodness, been pleased to grant to the Society his royal bounty of one thousand pounds, and one thousand pounds per annum ----.

And I have now the satisfaction to inform you, that this has given fresh spirit and vigour to the work; and in consequence thereof, five other new working schools are ordered to be forthwith erected in the counties of Dublin, Derry, Wexford, Waterford, and Donnegal.

I am, yours, &c.

[Often the News Letter published letters such as the one above which did not identify the author, the recipient or explain how the paper got hold of the letter. In 1733 a charter had been set up for schools where Catholic children would be taught under the Protestant religion. This report was 130 years after the plantation of Ulster. As we know from history, any large scale attempt to attract Catholics to Protestantism failed and the 26 counties of Ireland that went independent in 1921 were 85%+ Catholic at the time of partition]

Since my last arrived the Hopewell of Belfast, Joseph Carswell, from Cadiz, with wine and salt; the Nathaniel of Belfast, Robert Moor, from Liverpoole, with tobacco and rock salt; the Satisfaction of Pilafoutre, Richard Roper, thence with oak bark; the Fenix of Whitehaven, Edward Pow, thence with tobacco and coals; the Meliora of Topsom, John Mugrige, from Limerick, with oat meal; the Christian of Irvin, James Orr, thence with coals.