Lurgan Free School Records.
1786 – 1795.
The Lurgan Free School was established by Lord Lurgan (the Right Honourable William Brownlow) in 1786, which provided education for the children of tenants on the Brownlow Estate, regardless of religion. A number of meetings were held during August 1786, to lay the ‘Plans of a School for the Education of poor Children in the Town and Neighbourhood of Lurgan’. The school was to be paid for by an annual subscription from the Brownlow family, an annual¬†charity sermon at Lurgan Parish Church and liberal subscriptions from¬†the wealthy citizens of Lurgan. The children would be taught free, so that they might be able to read and be ‘instructed in the Principles of the Christian Religion’.
The school was accommodated in two houses near the Episcopalian (Church of Ireland) church in Lurgan, acquired from the Right Honourable William Brownlow, for an annual rent of ¬£3 8s. 3d. Two teachers were employed at the new school, Mathew Waring, who was to be paid sixteen guineas a year and John Mullholm, who was to be paid twelve guineas a year. Between 1 April and 1 October of each year, pupils were to attend school between 8 am -6 pm and the rest of the year between 9 am – 3 pm daily. The first subscriptions for the new school raised ¬£68 10s. 5d.
A Board of Trustees, comprising “four of the principal inhabitants of Shankill Parish, the Rector, Curate and dissenting Ministers”, were appointed to manage the fund. The Trustees were also responsible for the admission of pupils, payment of the teachers, purchase of books, and were authorized to superintend the management of the school. The subscribers agreed that after payment of teachers’ salaries, rent of the school room, and purchase of books, any surplus money would be used to buy clothes for the poorest pupils most in need.
The Lurgan Free School opened in September 1786. The Register contains the names and ages of some 500 pupils who attended between 1786 and 1795. The Register also lists their parents names, residence, religion and date of registration.