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  • Sally Kent

A Look at the Records of Mount St Mary's College and Other Jesuit Schools

September is the start of the new academic year as children all over the country head back to school. The Society of Jesus is recognised throughout the world for its work in establishing and running schools, colleges and universities. This blog post gives a brief overview of some of the collections of school records held here at the Jesuits in Britain Archives and, in particular, the records of Mount St Mary’s College, which is celebrating the 175th anniversary of its establishment this September.

Mount St Mary’s College in Spinkhill, Derbyshire, was established by Fr Randal Lythgoe SJ in 1842 and welcomed its first cohort of pupils on 17th September 1842. The formal establishment of the College represented a continuation of earlier Jesuit activity in and around the Spinkhill area dating back to the very start of the Jesuit Mission in England.

According to a prospectus published around 1843, the school aimed to provide a ‘classical and commercial education’ for young men:

This House of Education, situated in a healthy and picturesque part of Derbyshire, was opened with a view of providing a liberal course of Education, on terms sufficiently economical to meet the wishes of parents having large families or limited resources.
Stained typed document titled Mount St Mary's de Spinkhill: Classical and Commercial Education
Prospectus Ref MQ/9

John Young of Allerton had the distinction of being the first pupil to enrol at the Mount. Young went on to join the Society of Jesus, entering the novitiate in September 1847. It is thought that at one stage the Mount provided the English Province with three-fifths of its priests. After his ordination in 1858 Young spent some years engaged in missionary work in Barbados before returning to England. He was present at the Golden Jubilee celebrations held at the Mount in September 1892.

Fever broke out in the very first term of the Mount’s existence and one of the first cohort of 14 pupils, George Shuttleworth, died. Despite its modest beginnings, the College rapidly grew in size and reputation. Barlborough Hall School was opened as a preparatory school to the Mount in 1939 and in the 1970s the College became coeducational.

Among the material held at the Jesuits in Britain Archives is a volume of eighteenth century documents relating to the Spinkhill estate, various histories and accounts of the early days of the school, and nineteenth century correspondence. The collection also includes photographs of the school buildings, classes and the Jesuit community, and an album of photographs compiled by an Old Mountaineer, Fr Bernard Whiteside SJ. The most useful source for tracing individual students, for school news and for articles of historical interest is the College magazine, The Mountaineer. There is comparatively little contemporary or twentieth century material relating to the Mount in the archives.

A sepia photograph stuck on lined paper with names under the photo which shows 11 young men wearing cricket whites
Mount St Mary's Cricket XI (Ref MU/5)

2017 also marks fifty years since the closure of Beaumont College. The College in Old Windsor, Berkshire, was run by the Society of Jesus from 1861 until its closure in 1967. St John’s Beaumont, the preparatory school to the College, is still in operation and the old boys’ association, the Beaumont Union, remains active. Among the material held at the Jesuits in Britain Archives relating to Beaumont College are property and building records, accounts, ledgers and cash books, log books and journals, and a collection of photographs.

The Beaumont College collection also includes an early register of boys admitted to the College (1852-1866) and lists of pupils up to the 1960s. These lists also appear in printed form in the Beaumont Review, the College magazine, of which a complete run (1894-1967) is held in the archives. As with the Mount St Mary’s College magazine, the Beaumont Review is probably the best source of information for school life at Beaumont College.

Manuscript list of names. Top of page states A.M.D.G. St Stanislaus' College, Beaumont Lodge. Opened 22nd October 1861
List of boys at Beaumont (Ref 5/2/20)

Other notable collections of school records in the archives include Wimbledon College (established in 1892), St Aidan’s College in Grahamstown, South Africa (run by the Society of Jesus from 1876 until its closure in 1973), Stonyhurst College (founded in 1593 in St Omer), St Francis Xavier College in Liverpool (established in 1842) and St Aloysius’ College in Glasgow (established in 1859). Many schools maintain their own records; both Wimbledon College and Stonyhurst College have notable archive collections.

The school records held at Jesuits in Britain Archives vary considerably for each institution, both in their extent and in their level of detail. Please contact us for further information on any of our school records.

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