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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. W. Lubbock   11 October [1853]

Down Bromley Kent

Oct. 11.

Dear Sir John Lubbock

I am much obliged to you for your note received this morning.— My ideas of the proper management of schools, would I am pretty sure from what I have occasionally heard you say, quite accord with your own; but under the present circumstances I cannot but think, that if the Privy Council deed is altered, the whole thing will fall to the ground, which will be a great loss to the parish of Down.—1

I have heard from Mr. Innes2 that you do not object to the school being a National school,3 in accordance with the Resolutions passed at the time when your Family & others subscribed the large sum, you now hold in trust. And if the School is to be a National school, the Society, as I have heard stated on other occasions, absolutely require one of its trust-deeds to be used; & I presume it admits of no doubt, that the one issued by the Privy Council (though having the obnoxious clause) is the most liberal one.

Moreover it strikes me from the tenor of the Poor Law Commissioners letter to Mr Innes, that there would not be much chance of their allowing the site to be granted to any school except a national one. Further, I presume, we should deprive ourselves of aid at any future time, if not in connection with the National Society. Under these circumstances the best course appears to me to be to accept the Privy Council Trust-deed; but if you object to it, I do not believe there would be even any attempt to carry it through in Vestry, & the whole affair will fail.—

I should have hoped, that the power of appeal to the Government Inspectors4 & our individual power of withdrawing our subscriptions, would in effect have rendered the Managers sufficiently independent of the Minister for the time being, i.e. as far as the whole secular part of the education was concerned. Mr Innes says he is willing to put on written record, his willingness to admit the children of dissenters, & not enforce on them any religious doctrine, obnoxious to their parents.—5 I heartily hope that you may see some way out of the present difficulty.

Pray believe me | Dear Sir John | Your’s very faithfully | Charles Darwin Sir J. W. Lubbock Bart.


The trust-deed of a school which applied for public funds was required, after 1847, to include one of the ‘management clauses’ formulated by the Privy Council Committee on Education. Designed ostensibly to provide a more solid legal basis to the trust-deeds, these management clauses were frequently seen as ‘onerous’ by those who viewed this provision as a secular infringement on the traditional role of the Church in educating the children of the poor. While religious and moral instruction remained, under the provisions of the clauses, the responsibility of the minister, direction of the school was placed in the hands of a committee comprised of the minister, the curate, and a number of local residents who subscribed to the support of the school. Failure to comply with this requirement resulted in the loss of public monies for the school.
John Innes, perpetual curate of Down.
Under the provisions of the 1833 Act allocating public funds for the establishment of schools, communities were required to raise half of their funds through public subscriptions and to accept a trust-deed either from the British and Foreign School Society, associated with the Nonconformists, or from the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church. The management clause of the Privy Council committee was to be incorporated into the trust-deeds of one of these societies.
When in 1839 the Privy Council Committee on Education was established, in order to administer the public funds allotted to education, it was granted the right of inspection. School inspectors reviewed, among other things, the qualifications of teachers and the curriculum.
Children of Nonconformists attending schools of the National Society were generally required, in addition to the usual religious instruction, to learn the catechism of the Church of England and to attend Sunday services.


Gives his opinion on some difficulties that have arisen in connection with the establishment of the school for the poor at Down.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John William Lubbock, 3d baronet
Sent from
Source of text
The Royal Society (LUB: D19)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1536,” accessed on 24 October 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5