Thomas Guthrie and the Ragged Schools – Exclusively for the Impoverished

Continuation of Part One – Upon strolling the crags and valleys of Arthur’s Seat with a friend in Edinburgh one day, they sat on a rock nearby where ragged boys would gather. By way of experiment Rev Thomas Guthrie said, “would you go to school if, besides your learning you were to get breakfast dinner and supper there?”. A flash of joy broke from the eyes of one of them. on hearing this the boy leapt to his feet. He exclaimed, “Aye, will I sir, and bring the hail land (tenement) too!”

On publication of Rev Guthrie’s first ‘Plea for Ragged Schools’, in which he displayed great pathos, a powerful interest was evoked in Edinburgh. The response was so liberal that a Committee was formed, and steps were taken to initiate the movement, which was first launched in June 1847.

Through the kindness of Rev Mr Smith and the Kirk-Session of the Tolbooth parish, a large and commodious school room was provided at Ramsay Garden, Castlehill in Edinburgh. The aim was ‘to reclaim the neglected and destitute children of Edinburgh by affording them the benefits of a good common and Christian education. Also, by training them to habits of regular industry. This would ‘enable them to earn an honest livelihood, and fit them for the duties of life.’

Reverend Thomas Guthrie had succeeded. Ragged schools exlusively for the impoverished had become a reality.

The movement grew and prospered. I could continue apace. The source I used for these articles is inspiring and uplifting. You can read it in the National Library for Scotland on George IV Bridge, Edinburgh. I urge you to indulge in its’ pages, and gain a real understanding of Rev Thomas Guthrie DD. He is certainly on my top list of people I would love to meet, when God comes calling.

Join me on a walking tour of the Old Town. I’ll show you where Thomas Guthrie’s ragged school can be found today.

Thomas Guthrie Statue Princes St Gardens

Statue to Rev Thomas Gurthrie, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

#discoveryouredinburgh #heritagetourism #historytoursedinburgh

Copyright Fraser Paterson

To read about Rev Thomas Guthrie’s courage to make a momentous decision due to a passionate conviction during the Great Disruption, click here

Reference Material Used: The Life of Dr Guthrie, mostly from his own lips, published by John S Marr & Sons of Glasgow 1873. pp.40-44, 30-36, 51-54

Statue of Thomas Guthriue photo source here

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