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TITLE
The Journal of James Banks, School teacher in Caithness, 1839-1860 - map 1
EXTERNAL ID
GB1741_P451_P002_MAP
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
CAITHNESS
DATE OF IMAGE
1860
PERIOD
1840s; 1850s; 1860s
CREATOR
James Banks
SOURCE
Caithness Archive Centre
ASSET ID
9317
KEYWORDS
religion
evangelical
evangelicals
education
schooling

This diary was written by James Banks, a school teacher in Caithness, between 1839 and 1860.

Banks' diary begins in 1839, when he was living in Edinburgh. In one of the diary's early entries, dated 25 October 1839, Banks refers to his spending time with "another of the Normal Lads". From this comment it seems likely that Banks was training to be a teacher at the Normal and Sessional School of Edinburgh, located on Market Street. In April 1840, he moved to Freswick, Caithness in order to take up a teaching post there, and in December 1841 married Ellen Miller of Pulteneytown.

In August 1843, however, Banks was dismissed from his post at Freswick for, as he puts it, "adhering to the Free Protesting Church of Scotland". In May 1843 over one third of the Church of Scotland clergy, and nearly half of those who worshipped at the Church of Scotland, left that church to form the Free Church of Scotland. This event, known as the Disruption, was a very significant moment in the history of modern Scotland, and Banks' diary gives us an interesting insight into how the Disruption affected the lives of ordinary people.

Prior to the Disruption of 1843, the Church of Scotland had much control over Scottish schools. James Banks had trained at the Normal and Sessional School of Edinburgh, which was run by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and in Freswick had taught at a "General Assembly school". So, when Banks joined the new Free Church of Scotland, he inevitably lost his job and with it his salary and the school house he and his family lived in. In a diary entry dated 23 March 1844, he writes "Ever since my ejection have lived at my father's house teaching for the last few weeks a few children who came in. My prospects of attaining another situation have been frequently blasted and the future is still very dark and sometimes I feel somewhat discouraged. But blessed be the name, I do not repent".

After a period of unemployment, Banks was invited in October 1845 to take up a teaching post at a Free Church school in Ham, Caithness. This school was one of hundreds that the Free Church of Scotland built after its formation in 1843. Indeed, by 1847 the Free Church claimed that over 44,000 children were being taught in their schools throughout Scotland.

Banks appears to have had something of an unhappy time in Ham. In October 1847 he recounts in his diary that he had been accused of attacking a boy at his school. The boy's mother claimed that her son "was cut and his trousers torn" after Banks had taken a toy from him during class. Banks wrote that "every influence has been used to stir the Minister, the people and even the very children against me". He applied to be transferred to another school, but had to wait until August 1849 before he was moved to a new post in Tain, Caithness.

In Tain however, Banks' troubles continued. The new school and school house there were only half-built when Banks and his family arrived, and he writes that they initially had "only an old barn for both school and dwelling house". After moving into their new house, two of James and Ellen's children died. Banks writes in his diary that the local doctor blamed the deaths on the family's "cold and damp" house.

In November 1850, the family moved on to Keiss, where Banks had been invited to take up a new teaching post. James Banks taught at Keiss school until his retirement in November 1873. He and his family then moved to Edinburgh.

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The Journal of James Banks, School teacher in Caithness, 1839-1860 - map 1

CAITHNESS

1840s; 1850s; 1860s

religion; evangelical; evangelicals; education; schooling

Caithness Archive Centre

This diary was written by James Banks, a school teacher in Caithness, between 1839 and 1860.<br /> <br /> Banks' diary begins in 1839, when he was living in Edinburgh. In one of the diary's early entries, dated 25 October 1839, Banks refers to his spending time with "another of the Normal Lads". From this comment it seems likely that Banks was training to be a teacher at the Normal and Sessional School of Edinburgh, located on Market Street. In April 1840, he moved to Freswick, Caithness in order to take up a teaching post there, and in December 1841 married Ellen Miller of Pulteneytown.<br /> <br /> In August 1843, however, Banks was dismissed from his post at Freswick for, as he puts it, "adhering to the Free Protesting Church of Scotland". In May 1843 over one third of the Church of Scotland clergy, and nearly half of those who worshipped at the Church of Scotland, left that church to form the Free Church of Scotland. This event, known as the Disruption, was a very significant moment in the history of modern Scotland, and Banks' diary gives us an interesting insight into how the Disruption affected the lives of ordinary people. <br /> <br /> Prior to the Disruption of 1843, the Church of Scotland had much control over Scottish schools. James Banks had trained at the Normal and Sessional School of Edinburgh, which was run by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and in Freswick had taught at a "General Assembly school". So, when Banks joined the new Free Church of Scotland, he inevitably lost his job and with it his salary and the school house he and his family lived in. In a diary entry dated 23 March 1844, he writes "Ever since my ejection have lived at my father's house teaching for the last few weeks a few children who came in. My prospects of attaining another situation have been frequently blasted and the future is still very dark and sometimes I feel somewhat discouraged. But blessed be the name, I do not repent".<br /> <br /> After a period of unemployment, Banks was invited in October 1845 to take up a teaching post at a Free Church school in Ham, Caithness. This school was one of hundreds that the Free Church of Scotland built after its formation in 1843. Indeed, by 1847 the Free Church claimed that over 44,000 children were being taught in their schools throughout Scotland. <br /> <br /> Banks appears to have had something of an unhappy time in Ham. In October 1847 he recounts in his diary that he had been accused of attacking a boy at his school. The boy's mother claimed that her son "was cut and his trousers torn" after Banks had taken a toy from him during class. Banks wrote that "every influence has been used to stir the Minister, the people and even the very children against me". He applied to be transferred to another school, but had to wait until August 1849 before he was moved to a new post in Tain, Caithness.<br /> <br /> In Tain however, Banks' troubles continued. The new school and school house there were only half-built when Banks and his family arrived, and he writes that they initially had "only an old barn for both school and dwelling house". After moving into their new house, two of James and Ellen's children died. Banks writes in his diary that the local doctor blamed the deaths on the family's "cold and damp" house.<br /> <br /> In November 1850, the family moved on to Keiss, where Banks had been invited to take up a new teaching post. James Banks taught at Keiss school until his retirement in November 1873. He and his family then moved to Edinburgh.