Acts of Parliament
See the index for the full list of Acts relating to children, schools and education and for notes on the texts.
Parochial Schools (Scotland) Act 1803
This Act sought to improve the provision of education in Scotland and laid down rules concerning the employment and payment of teachers.
chalder: an obsolete dry measure of capacity; in Scotland equal to 16 bolls or 64 firlots of corn
fiar: the owner of the fee-simple of a property, as opposed to the life-renter
heritor: heir or heiress; in Scottish law the proprietor of a heritable subject
merks Scots: the merk was a Scottish silver coin originally valued at two-thirds of a pound Scots, or about one English shilling
preses: the chairman or president at a meeting, or the spokesman or leader of a group
The printed version of this Act does not have a preliminary page setting out the contents, so I have created it here. The page number in this section (i) is therefore arbitrary.
In the printed version section 1 is not numbered and the other sections are numbered using Roman numerals (II, III etc).
The text of the Parochial Schools (Scotland) Act 1803 was prepared by Derek Gillard and uploaded on 24 August 2019.
Parochial Schools (Scotland) Act 1803
© Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen's Printer for Scotland.
1 Salary to schoolmasters
An Act for making better provision for the parochial schoolmasters, and for making further regulations for the better government of the parish schools in Scotland. [June 11, 1803]
1 Salary to schoolmasters
WHEREAS the parish schoolmasters in Scotland are a most useful body of men, and their labour have been of essential importance to the publick welfare: and whereas by an act passed in the parliament of Scotland, in the reign of King William the Third, in the year one thousand six hundred and ninety-six, intituled, Act for settling of Schools (Scotch act, 1696), it is, inter alia, statuted and ordained, that there be a school settled and established, and a schoolmaster appointed, in every parish not already provided, by advice of the heritors and minister of the parish; and for that effect, that the heritors in every parish meet and provide a commodious house for a school, and settle and modify a salary to a schoolmaster, which shall not be under one hundred merks nor above two hundred merks Scots, to be paid yearly, at two terms, Whitsunday and Martinmas, by equal portions; and certain rules and regulations were laid down by the said act, relative to the apportioning and payment of the said salary by the heritors of the parish: and whereas the highest salary by the said act granted, amounting only to eleven pounds two shillings and two-pence two-thirds of a penny sterling, which by difference in the value of money, and change in the circumstances of the country, has become a provision altogether inadequate for a body of men whose labours are of so great publick utility: may it therefore please your Majesty that it may be enacted; and be it enacted by the King's most excellent majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That, from and after the term of Martinmas next, the salary of each parochial schoolmaster in every parish of Scotland shall not be under the sum of three hundred merks Scots per annum, nor above the sum of four hundred merks Scots per annum, except in the cases herein-after mentioned.
2 Heritors and minister of the parish to fix such salaries; Salaries payable in grain or meal to continue to be so paid; and to be estimated at the rate of 200 merks per chalder
And be it further enacted, That within three months after the passing of this act, the heritors possessed of the qualification required by this act, and the minister of every parish, shall hold a meeting, of which intimation shall be given from the pulpit immediately after divine service in the forenoon, and by circular letters, to be written by the minister of the parish, to such heritors having the qualification prescribed by this act,
who are non-resident, and also by leaving a written notice at the mansion-house of every heritor, whether resident or not, at least thirty free days, before such meeting shall take place; and on due consideration of the circumstances of the particular parish in respect of extent, population, and valued rent, and the probable amount of the other emoluments of the schoolmaster's office, such meeting shall judge and determine whether the schoolmaster's salary shall be three hundred merks Scots per annum, or four hundred merks Scots per annum, or such sum between these two sums as to such meeting shall seem most suitable to the circumstances of the parish, and shall fix and determine the amount of the schoolmaster's salary, to be paid to the schoolmaster, by a resolution to be made at such meeting, a copy of which resolution, signed by the preses of the meeting, shall be delivered to the schoolmaster of the parish as his authority for collecting and receiving the salary thereby fixed and determined, which shall be paid by the several heritors at the same terms apportioned among them, in the same manner and with the same relief against their tenants as is provided by the aforesaid act of the parliament of Scotland, passed in the year one thousand six hundred and ninety-six; provided always, that no salary at present payable to any schoolmaster shall be diminished; and in all cases where any such salary or any part thereof is payable in grain or meal, such salary in grain or meal shall continue to be paid and payable in the same manner as heretofore, with such additions thereto in money as to such a meeting shall seem proper; and in fixing and determining the amount of the salary to be paid pursuant to this act, such grain or meal making part of such salary shall be estimated at the rate of two hundred merks per chalder.
3 Salaries so fixed to be payable for 25 years, Mode of fixing the average price of a chalder of oatmeal; Average price so ascertained shall be the rate by which the schoolmasters' salaries shall be fixed
And be it enacted, That the salaries so fixed and determined in manner above directed, shall continue to be the salaries payable to the schoolmaster of every parish for and during the period of twenty-five years from and after the passing of this act; and within three years after the expiration of twenty-five years from the passing of this act, the sheriff or stewart of every county or stewartry shall fix and determine, according to the average amount of the fiars of the county or stewartry for the twenty-five years preceding, what is the value or average price of a chalder of oatmeal, and he shall make a return of such average to the office of the king's remembrancer in exchequer in Scotland; and the lord chief baron and barons of exchequer are hereby empowered and required, from such returns by the sheriffs and stewarts of Scotland, to strike the average price of a chalder of oatmeal for all Scotland; and an order of the said court of exchequer fixing such average shall, within three months from the date of the last return by the sheriffs and stewarts, be published by the King's remembrancer in the Edinburgh Gazette, and such other Scots newspapers as he shall deem sufficient, for three successive weeks, and a copy thereof shall also be transmitted by the said remembrancer to the sheriff or stewart
clerk of every shire or stewartry in Scotland; which average so ascertained shall be the rate according to which the schoolmaster's salary shall be fixed in manner herein-after directed, and the sheriff or stewart clerk shall transmit a certificate thereof, signed by him, to the minister of each parish within the county or stewartry, to be by him submitted to the meeting directed to be called in manner immediately after mentioned.
4 Heritors and minister to meet within three months after the date of certificate of such average price, and fix the amount of schoolmasters' salaries
And be it enacted, That within three months after the date of such certificate, the heritor possessed of the qualification required by this act, and the minister of every parish in Scotland, shall hold a meeting, of which intimation shall be given from the pulpit immediately after divine service in the forenoon, and by circular letters, to be written by the minister of the parish, to such heritors having the qualification prescribed by this act, who are non-resident, and also by leaving a written notice at the mansion-house of every heritor, whether resident or not, at least thirty free days before such meeting shall take place; and on due consideration of the circumstances of the particular parish in respect of extent, population, and valued rent, and the probable amount of the other emoluments of the schoolmaster's office, such meeting shall judge and determine whether the schoolmaster's salary of the same shall be equal to the average price of one chalder and a half, or of two chalders of oatmeal according to the amount thereof, ascertained by the aforesaid certificate, or to such proportion between them as to such meeting shall seem most suitable to the circumstances of the parish, and shall fix and determine the amount of the schoolmaster's salary, to be paid pursuant to such average and their resolution thereupon; a copy of which resolution, signed by the preses of the meeting, shall be delivered to the schoolmaster of the parish, as his authority for collecting and receiving the salary thereby fixed and determined, which shall be paid to him by the several heritors at the same terms apportioned among them, in the same manner, and with the same relief against their tenants, as is provided by the aforesaid act of the parliament of Scotland, in the year one thousand six hundred and ninety-six.
5 In case of neglect, or dissatisfaction with the determination, appeal may be made to the next quarter sessions
Provided always, and be it enacted, That in case the heritors and minister shall neglect or refuse to determine the amount of the salary to be paid to the schoolmaster according to the provisions of this act, or in case any heritor, or the schoolmaster shall be dissatisfied with the determination made, it shall be competent within three months after such meeting ought to have been held, or such determination shall have been made, for the schoolmaster to apply, or for such person so dissatisfied to appeal, to the next quarter sessions held for the shire or stewartry within the bounds of which the parish or parish kirk lies, whose judgement shall be final, and no appeal by advocation, suspension, or otherwise, shall be admitted against the judgement given at such quarter sessions: provided always, that no heritor of the parish from whence such appeal comes shall vote upon such appeal at such quarter sessions.
6 At the end of every 25 years, the average price of the chalder of oatmeal, and the schoolmaster's salary, shall be ascertained and fixed in manner before directed
Provided always, and be it in enacted, That after twenty-five years shall have elapsed from the time the amount of a schoolmaster's salary shall have been so fixed, the sheriff of a shire, stewart of a stewartry, shall within three months again determine the average price of a chalder of oatmeal in the manner directed by this act; and shall, as above directed, return the same to the office of the King's remembrancer in exchequer, and the lord chief baron and barons of exchequer shall again by an order of court fix the average price for all Scotland; and the King's remembrancer shall again transmit a copy of said order of court to the sheriff or stewart clerk of each shire or stewartry, and the said sheriff or stewart clerk shall again publish the same in the Edinburgh Gazette and Scots newspapers, and transmit a certificate of said average and order of court to the minister of each parish within his shire and stewartry, and the heritors and minister shall again fix and determine the schoolmaster's salary according to such average, such salary never being less than the value of one chalder and an half, nor more than two chalders for the next twenty-five years, and so toties quoties at the end of every twenty-five years for ever, unless altered by parliament, and every such determination of salary shall be liable to appeal to the quarter sessions in manner and to the effect above directed.
7 Where there is but one qualified heritor, he shall have two votes
Provided always, and be it in enacted, That in every parish where there is only one heritor qualified as herein-after prescribed, such heritor shall have two votes at every meeting directed to be held pursuant to this act; and in all meetings where no preses has been chosen, the heritor present possessed of the highest valuation shall have the casting vote.
8 A school-house and dwelling-house and garden to be provided, where there are none: If a garden cannot be allotted, and addition to salary shall be allowed
And be it further enacted, That in every parish where a commodious house for a school has not already been provided; pursuant to the directions in the above recited act, and in every parish where a dwelling-house for the residence of the schoolmaster has not already been provided together with a portion of ground for a garden to the extent hereafter mentioned, the heritors of every such parish shall provide a commodious house for a school, and also a house for the residence of the schoolmaster, such house not consisting of more than two apartments including the kitchen, together with a portion of ground for a garden to such dwelling-house, from fields used for the ordinary purposes of agriculture or pasturage, as near and convenient to the schoolmaster's dwelling-house as reasonably may be, which garden shall contain at least one-fourth part of a Scots acre, and shall be inclosed with such fence as is generally used for such purposes in the district of the county where it is situated; and the expence of providing such school-house, dwelling-house, and garden, and supporting the same, shall be defrayed and paid in the same and like manner as is prescribed for providing a house for a school by the aforesaid act of the parliament of Scotland: providing always, that where the heritors shall determine that
such garden cannot be allotted to the schoolmaster without great loss and inconvenience, it shall be optional to them, with the authority of the quarter sessions of the county or stewartry, to assign to the schoolmaster in lieu of such garden an addition to his salary, at the rate of eight bolls of oatmeal per acre, to be computed according to the average ascertained in manner herein-before directed.
9 In case of neglect or dissatisfaction, schoolmasters may apply to quarter sessions
And be it further enacted, That in case the heritors shall neglect or refuse to provide the accommodations of house, school-house, and garden, or additional salary in lieu thereof, to schoolmasters, according to the provisions of this act, or in case the schoolmaster shall not be satisfied with the accommodations afforded him, it shall be competent for him to bring the same by representation or petition before the quarter sessions held for the shire or stewartry to which the parish of which he is schoolmaster belongs, or in which the parish kirk is situated; and in all such cases the judgement of the quarter sessions shall be final, without any further appeal by advocation, suspension, or otherwise: provided always, that no justice of the peace who shall be an heritor in the parish of such schoolmaster shall vote upon such representation or petition.
10 Relief to heritors, whose ground shall be taken for school-house etc. shall be settled by the sheriff
Provided always, and be it enacted, That the heritor or heritors from whose estates any ground shall be taken for the purpose of such school-house, dwelling-house, and garden, shall have his, her, or their relief against the other heritors of the parish, for the value of the ground so to be taken, in proportion to the valued rent of the lands belonging to the whole heritors in the parish; such relief to be settled only by the sheriff or stewart of the county or stewartry, without appeal by advocation, suspension, or otherwise.
11 Regulations to be observed when parishes consist of two or more islands, or of great extent, where one parochial school would be insufficient
And be it enacted, That in case of those parishes which consist of districts detached from each other by the sea or arms of the sea, or otherwise, as where a parish consists of two or more islands, of which there are several instances in the highlands, north isles, and Hebrides, or where it is otherwise of great extent or population, so that one parochial school cannot be of any effectual benefit to the whole inhabitants of such parishes, it shall be competent to the heritors and minister, if they shall see cause, in fixing a salary of six hundred merks, or by the value of three chalders of oatmeal, to be computed according to the provisions of this act, to divide the same among two or more teachers, according to the extent and population of the parish; and these proportions so divided shall be paid to teachers of schools in the same way and manner, and under the same conditions as hereafter specified by this act, for supplying vacant parochial schools with masters; but in respect that the heritors of such parishes are to pay an higher salary, they are hereby exempted from the obligation of providing school-houses, dwelling-houses, and gardens, for the teachers among whom the salary is to be divided in the manner aforesaid; and in case a difference of opinion shall arise among the heritors respecting the
propriety and usefulness of such division of the salary, the same shall be submitted by petition or representation to the quarter sessions of the shire or stewartry, with the bounds of which the parish or parish kirk is situated; and the judgement this obtained shall be final, without appeal by advocation, suspension, or otherwise.
12 Not to extend to royal burghs
Provided always, and be it in enacted, That none of the provisions of this act shall apply to the case of a parish, which consists only of a royal burgh or part of a royal burgh.
13 Where a parish consists of a burgh and a landward heritor, schoolmaster to be appointed and maintained as heretofore etc
And be it further declared, That where a parish consists of a royal burgh, or part of a royal burgh, and a landward heritor or heritors, the schoolmaster shall be appointed and maintained by the burgh, or by the landward heritor or heritors, or by the burgh and landward heritors, in the same way and manner, and according to the same proportions that have hitherto been observed in such parish; the salary and accommodations being always equal in value to those provided by this act, and the same remedy being allowed in case they are otherwise, and to be applied for in the manner already specially pointed out; and provided any additions shall be granted, the same shall be paid in the same proportions by the parties from whom the present salary is received.
14 Schoolmasters to be elected in cases of vacancies
And be it enacted, That, from and after the passing of this act, in case of vacancy in the office of schoolmaster, by death or otherwise, the minister of the parish shall within fifteen days intimate or cause to be intimated from the pulpit, immediately after divine service in the forenoon, the vacancy which has taken place, and communicate the knowledge of the same by letter to such heritor or heritors as may be non-resident; and the heritors possessed of the qualification required by this act, with the minister of the parish, are hereby appointed to hold a meeting, of which intimation shall be given by the minister, by edictal citation and circular letters to such as are non-resident, at least thirty free days before it takes place; and such meeting or adjourned meeting shall elect a person to the vacant office of schoolmaster; and in the event of the parish being vacant, the presbytery shall appoint some one of their number to make the intimations and give the notices which, according to the provisions of this act, the minister is required to do.
15 On failure, the commissioners of supply to appoint
Provided always, and be it enacted, That if the heritors as qualified hereby, and minister, shall fail to elect a schoolmaster within four calendar months from the time the vacancy shall have taken place, then the presbytery within the bounds of which the parish is situated shall apply to the convenor of the commissioners of supply of the county or stewartry, who, by any five of them, at a meeting to be called by the convenor upon thirty days notice, shall have power, jure devoluto, and are hereby directed to elect a person to supply the vacancy.
16 Schoolmasters to be examined and approved by the presbytery
And be it further enacted, That every schoolmaster elected under the provisions of this act shall carry the minutes, or an extract or certified copy of the minutes, of his election to
the presbytery, accompanied with attestations of his having taken the oath to his Majesty before any one of his Majesty's justices of the peace; and the presbytery shall thereupon take trial of his sufficiency for the office, in respect of his morality and religion, and of such branches of literature as by the majority of heritors and minister shall be deemed most necessary and important for the parish, by examination of the presentee, by certificates and recommendations in his favour, by their own personal inquiry or otherwise, and shall see him sign the confessions of faith and formula of the church of Scotland; and their judgement or determination as to the qualifications of such presentee for the office of schoolmaster shall not be reviewed or suspended by any court, civil or ecclesiastical; and provided they are satisfied with the same, he shall be furnished with an extract from their minutes, bearing that he had appeared, produced the attestations required, and had been found on trial duly qualified for discharging the duties of the office to which he had been elected, which extract shall complete his right to the emoluments provided by this act.
17 If found unqualified, time allowed to the heritors and minister
Provided always, and be it enacted, That in case the person elected is not found duly qualified, the heritors and minister shall only be allowed what remained of the four months, at the time of his election, with so many days more as required by this act.
18 Heritors and minister to fix the school fees
And be it further enacted, That the heritors qualified as is hereby required, and minister, in a meeting called on thirty days notification from the pulpit, and by letter to the non-resident heritors, and by notice to be left at the mansion-house of each heritor, whether resident or not, shall have the power of fixing the school fees from time to time as they shall judge expedient; and a table of such fees, signed by the preses of the meeting, shall be hung up in the school-room: provided always, that the schoolmaster shall be obliged to teach such poor children of the parish as shall be recommended by the heritors and ministers at any parochial meeting.
19 Superintendance of schools continued to ministers
And be it enacted, That the superintendance of schools shall continue with the ministers of the established church as heretofore, according to the several acts of parliament respecting the same, except in so far as altered by this present act.
20 Presbyteries to regulate hours of teaching,
And be it enacted, That as often as presbyteries in the course of their visitation shall find any thing wrong with respect to the hours of teaching, or the length of the vacation annually given, or when any complaint shall be made to them upon those subjects by parties concerned, they shall have the power of regulating the same in the manner they may judge most consistent with the particular circumstances and general good of the parish; and the schoolmaster is hereby required to conform to and obey all regulations so made by the presbytery, under pain of censure or suspension from or deprivation of his office, as to the presbytery shall seem proper.
21 and to take cognizance of schoolmaster's conduct
And be it enacted, That when any complaint from the
heritors, minister, or elders, against the schoolmaster, charging him with neglect of duty, either from engaging in other occupations or from any other cause, or with immoral conduct, or cruel and improper treatment of the scholars under his charge, shall be presented to the presbytery, they shall forthwith take cognizance of the same, serve him with a libel if the articles alleged appear to them to be of a nature which requires it; and having taken the necessary proof, they shall acquit or pass sentence of censure, suspension, or deprivation, as shall appear to them proper upon the result of such investigation; which judgement shall be final, without appeal to or review by any court, civil or ecclesiastical; and in case they shall depose the incumbent from the office of schoolmaster, his right to the emoluments and accommodations of the same shall cease from the time of his deposition; and in case he shall fail or refuse to remove from the school, school-house and garden, within the space of three months from the date of such sentence or deposition, the sheriff of the shire, or stewart of the stewartry, upon having an extract or certified copy of the sentence or deposition by the presbytery laid before him, shall forthwith grant letters of ejection against such schoolmaster, of which no bill of suspension or advocation, nor action of reduction shall be competent: and in case of such deposition the school shall immediately be declared vacant, and the election of another schoolmaster shall take place.
22 Qualification of heritors
Provided always, and be it enacted, That it shall not be lawful for any heritor who is not a proprietor of lands within the parish, to the extent at least of one hundred pounds Scots of valued rent appearing in the land-tax books of the county within which such parish is situated, to attend or vote at any meeting held pursuant to this act; but every heritor qualified as above may vote by proxy, or by letter under his hand.
23 Former acts confirmed
Provided also, and be it enacted, That all former acts and statutes with regard to parish schools or schoolmasters are hereby ratified and confirmed. in so far as they are not altered by the express provisions of this act.