ID: 24198
450.00
Plan of a society established in London, anno domini 1785,

SUNDAY SCHOOL SOCIETY,, Plan of a society established in London, anno domini 1785, for the support and encouragement of Sunday-Schools in the different counties of England; with a list of the subscribers, and extracts of letters received from various parts, containing accounts of the great utility of the institution. London: printed in the year MDCCLXXXIX [1789].

8vo. (in 4s), 80pp., in early, perhaps original, wrappers, the spine paper somewhat worn. A fine copy.

"The initiative that led to its foundation came chiefly from a well-to-do Baptist merchant and philanthropist, William Fox, who had already founded a free day school at Clapton, where he was lord of the manor. He had been canvassing the possibility of a national system of education, and he discovered in Raikes's plan the basis for such a system. The Society, which eventually emerged out of a meeting called by Fox in August 1785, was formed to promote Sunday Schools and thus to rescue the children of the poor 'from low habits of vice and idleness, and to initiate them into a moral and religious course of life.' The primary medium of reformation was assumed to be the Bible. Hence the overpowering emphasis on reading instruction, with the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Catechism as the chief vehicles, and acceptance by the Society of responsibility for providing these and other text books. The founders were determined to submerge sectarian differences. Evangelicals had no prejudice against working with Nonconformists, and the Sunday School Society offers an admirable instance of that cooperation." [David Owen, English philanthropy, p.114]. In 1789, the management committee of 24 men included William Fox, Thomas Raikes, Samuel Hoare, and Samuel Thornton. The treasurer was the M.P. and philanthropist, Henry Thornton. With whatever measure of cynicism modern historians may now view this Sunday School movement, its rapid achievements are undeniable. By 1789 it had established 610 schools, educated 41,295 scholars, given away 46,639 spelling books, 13,144 testaments, and 3,261 bibles. Rare, as are all early editions. (ESTC finds 3 copies of a single-sheet plan probably of 1785, a single copy of a 32 page pamphlet dated 1786, a single copy of a 44 page pamphlet of 1787, 3 copies of another in 1788, and 3 copies of our 1789 printing - at BL + Lambeth Palace + Un. of Kansas).