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Devon County

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A view of Torquay in 1819

A view of Torquay in 1819

The area where the school was situated is out of sight behind the cliff on the left.

Courtesy Devon County Council


From the History of Torquay by J. T. White

published in 1878

"An account book which once belonged to the village schoolmaster of Torquay, one Benjamin Edwards, affords some interesting information. Edwards, after having served in the Royal Navy as a teacher, settled first at Torre and then at Torquay, during the latter part of the 18th century, and established a school in a large room above the Crown Inn, Swan Street, where the youths of Torquay were educated.

The book commences in 1802 and the entries end in 1815. It is evidently the last of a series, for there occur such occasional notes as "see other books". To the duties of schoolmaster, Edwards, in the latter years of his life, added that of postman, for on the inside of the back of the book is the following record:

"August 22, 1814 - Agreed with Grace Row to carry round the letters at Torquay for five pounds a year."

The names of the boys entered are those of well-known families now (1878) residing in Torquay:

Under the date of 1802 occur the following names, together with the terms on which the boys are entered and fees charges:


Peter Crockwell
Thomas Luscombe
William Field
Sam Prowse
Thomas Gidley
William Prowse
William Hall
Joseph Raby
Samuel Cockings
Charles Raby
John Cockings
George Palk
John Bickford
William Rossiter
John Hannaford
Thomas Rossiter
Robert Coose


Against the name of the of Thomas Rossiter is written "the latter to come in room of William, to fill up the vacancy of his brother, when William is wanted." Then are added more names including those of two girls for the first time:


Mary Row
Richard Wills
Sarah Row
Thomas Couch


The school fees of Thomas Couch appear to have been taken out in half pounds of tobacco, and to judge from the low price charged, the weed was evidently contraband.



Sarah Abbott
Richard Short
Ann Bowden
Samuel Crockwell
Robert Ball
Henry Crockwell
John Crockwell
Jeffery T. Winsborrow

Thomas Field

(To learn navigation)

(Died later in Newfoundland

Samuel Wadland
Ann Field
John Pope
George Harvey



Honour Elliott
Rebecca Cowell
Richard Elliott
Samuel Waymouth
Elizabeth Elliott
Ann Slade
John  Howell



John Slade
Thomas Lear
Samuel Slade
George Allen
Isaac Sparke Prowse


In 1813, Edwards had forty day scholars, and in addition kept a night school which was attended by twenty pupils.

In the following year (1814) appear the names of Dashper, Henley, Stabb, Swallow, Acutt, Jonathan Hearder, William Elliott, Samuel Shapley, Samuel Neck. John Gidley, John Shapley, Thomas Mudge, Samuel Bridgman, "Temperance Street" Langdon, Mark Whiteway and William Whiteway, the latter to learn navigation, T. R. Crockwell, William Hearder and Henry Hearder."


As John White was writing his History of Torquay, he went about the town collecting information from the older inhabitants. William Whiteway, referred to in the 1814 list, was still alive and told White that at the time he attended the school, Edwards was over 60 years of age.


In his book, White continues:

"Mr. Whiteway states that Edward's religious views were very broad and tolerant for that time. Edwards was a Protestant, but he married a servant at Torre Abbey who was a Romanist. Lecturing the boys on religion he would say:


"It is a pity there are so many different religions but it all comes tot he same in the end. If you rub each cake of paint on your slates, you have so many different colours, but mix altogether they come to one and so it is with religion; all we have to do is to fear God, honour the king and do our duty to our neighbour."



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