History – First Schools

Religious persecution and the reformation of churches meant that learned priests had more time on their hand and to supplement their income they established small schools.

  Depiction of schools during the 17th Century
Depiction of schools during the 17th Century

Francis Davies was born in Glamorgan and then educated in Jesus College Oxford. He became Rector of Llangan and Llantrithyd from 1638, but gave up Llantrithyd in 1639 when he became a prebendary of Llandaff Cathedral. 

Because of his opposition to church reforms he also lost his parish between 1646 and 1650, although he continued to receive some tithes paid to him. To supplemented his meagre income he established a small school in Llangan. Later he moved to London to become Chaplain to the Royalist Earl of Peterborough.  Francis Davies later returned to Wales to become Archdeacon of Llandaff Cathedral in 1660 and Bishop of LLandaff in 1667.

These schools didn’t last long, and it was later in 18th Century when an attempt was made to provide schools in every parish. The schools were held in churches, farms or cottages. The clergy were asked to assist and sometimes ran the school themselves.

In 1876 A board school was erected in St Mary Hill for 70 children, although the average attendance was just 44. Mrs Emma Evans was the original Schoolmistress. The Schoolmistress in 1906 was Miss Elizabeth Tamblyn.  

  Welsh Not
Welsh Not

Education would have been in English, and although the community was still mainly Welsh speaking the effect of the Welsh Not would eventually ensure that the community would become predominately English speaking.

The Welsh Not was a piece of wood inscribed with the initials WN to be hung around the neck of pupils who had spoken Welsh, so as to dissuade the use of the Welsh language during the school day .



Young David Thomas was proud of the education he received at St Mary Hill Board School, his daughter Violet (Llewellyn) remembers him talking of it and how his parents paid 2d a week for his education. 

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