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Post Info TOPIC: Combe school logbook, 1890s

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RE: Combe school logbook, 1890s

Hello again Jane

Thanks for the tip-off about the Metropolitan Police records.  I hadn't noticed that they were on Ancestry.

I agree Mr Hughes the teacher had a lot to put up with but he wasn't the only one in Combe to record his comments about the inhabitants of Combe.  When my Great Grandfather died in 1918 the Vicar made a note in the Parish register against his burial record saying that he had died just two weeks after finishing thatching the Church house which was fortunate because he was the only thatcher in the village.  He had also made comments against several other burial records - worth a look for anyone interested in the history of Combe.

I think perhaps the Combe Logbook may be one of the highlights at the next Oliver Family History day.  (Hope you are paying attention Shane - a clip round the ear if you're not)

Thanks again Jane.



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Linda wrote:

Philip seems to have been 'commended' - not sure what that means - is it a good or bad commend?  . . . 

 Hi Linda

I'm sure the commendations are Good Things: they come after the names of those who had won prizes.

I didn't have time to study the logbook myself, but get the impression from my friend's photos that it was common for children to miss a lot of school, especially at harvest time. Perhaps it's not surprising that the teacher, Mr Hughes, comes across as bad-tempered and frustrated, with so many of his pupils going AWOL. Sometimes he does seem unnecessarily rude about them, though: there's one entry where he complains about two boys (not Olivers, you'll be pleased to hear) for being 'so dull that they cannot recollect anything'. Twenty-first century teachers would have to be a bit more politically correct than that!

What a shame school logbooks are such a rarity - I'd love to see what teachers had to say about my ancestors!


P.S. did you know that Metropolitan Police pension records have recently been added to Ancestry? I just had a quick look and Sidney/Sydney's are there.


-- Edited by jane on Friday 21st of April 2017 07:49:21 PM


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Oh dear.... this is my lot.  Thank you Jane (and friend) for finding this and taking the trouble to post it on the website.  Quite an insight into family life in those times when even quite young children had to help out on a regular basis to bring in an income.  All the Oliver's mentioned are the brothers and sisters of my Grandmother.  Sydney didn't do too bad for not attending regular school as he went on to join the Metropolitan Police.  Girls not exempt from the hard labour either as Elsie was taken out of school to help too along with John(Jack).  Philip seems to have been 'commended' - not sure what that means - is it a good or bad commend? He went on to join the Grenadier Guards and was killed at the beginning of WW1.  I wonder what Tillie (Matilda)had done to upset the Woodward boy.  He wanted to punch her in the head.  My Great Grandparents and all the Oliver children mentioned in this school report can be seen in the group photograph on the photograph page on this website.

Thanks again Jane.  You've provided another gem to go into my archives.



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A friend of mine spotted some Oliver entries in the Combe school logbook at the Oxfordshire History Centre. I've transcribed these entries from her photos: 

6 February 1891

I have examined Standard I several times during the week, & the following are very backward: Percy Rawlins, Gerald Bond, Ethel Penn, Wm [Margetts?], Sidney Oliver, Percy Bishop, Lot Huckins, Emily L..., & Nellie Moore. There is an improvement in the writing...

21 September 1894

I reported Sydney Oliver for the month of July who only made 25 attendances out of a possible 37. The attendance officer promised to look after him where he is working at Woodstock for Mr. Rowles & Mr. Haynes. Although I have written the Attendance Officer several times during the month (July) I have not yet heard anything from Mr. Roberts, except that he has spoken to the above two farmers. The boy has not attended once this week, & he is still engaged at work. A good few children are potato picking.

1 October 1894

The following is a copy of a letter I have sent to Mr Chas. Roberts, Attendance Officer

Combe School - Oct 1, 94

Dear Sir / I reported Sydney Oliver for July [last?] & I also informed you twice through [post?] that he was working with his father, thatching at Woodstock. He has now gone to work with his father potato picking at Mr. Purves' Blenheim Park. What is the use reporting absentees, when no notice is taken of them? It is a waste of time to fill them in, & I wait to hear the result of last report before I send more.

Yours truly,

Thos: Hughes

To Mr: Roberts, School Attendance Officer, Woodstock

5 October 1894

Mr. Roberts called this morning, & told me that Sydney Oliver's father will probably be summoned at the next Magistrates Petty Sessions at Woodstock. 

More children are absent, potato picking at various places in the district.

12 October 1894

Mr Roberts called yesterday to tell me that Sydney Oliver's father was fined 5/- at the Woodstock Petty Sessions on Tuesday last. No one appeared to answer the summons. The boy is still working with his father, either potato picking in the park, or thatching.

26 October 1894

The children are improving in standard III in their Arithmetic & Geography. Some children in Standard II are very dull. The attendance [officer] called about Sydney Oliver, whose attendance is still bad. His parents insist on keeping him at home to assist his father potato digging & picking.

9 November 1894

Mr Roberts, attendance officer, called again yesterday morning when I gave him a copy of the following:-

George Partlett  absent 27 times since harvest holiday

Daisy Partlett (ill) " 48  "

Lydia Gough        "  35  "

Geo: Gough         "  23  "

Ern: Williams       "  23  "

Sydney Oliver      "  36  " & the following times in each week from July 28th to the day we broke up:- 3 + 8 + 2 + 8 + 7 + 3 + 5 making a total of 36. As his father complaints of Harvest holidays being early, I consider his son has had Hay, Wheat, & Potato harvests. He has not made one full week since the last examination.

Nellie Moore 38 times absent since Harvest holiday

Nellie Busby 20 "

Mary Busby 18 "

Lot Huckins 13 "

Jas. Walker 14 "

Elsie Oliver 15 "

Most of the above children are potato picking in several parts of the village, but more especially at Mr. Perves' farm, Blenheim Park.

23 November 1894

Mrs Oliver (mother of Sydney Oliver) came down to ask me why she had received another summons for not sending him to school. And also why the others should not be summoned for non-attendance. I told her that as her son was continually absent, no doubt that was why the summons was issued. I referred her to the Magistrates, when she next appeared before them at Woodstock. The Vicar came in during the time, & heard a great deal she had to say.

15 May 1895

[Sidney Oliver is on a list of 26 absentees who have been reported for irregular attendance]

?? June 1895

... Wm. A. Oliver has asked me for certificates of attendance for Sydney & Elsie; the boy is 12 the girl 11. He said that he was informed by Busby & Walker that he could claim them; but I did not supply him with them.

?? July 1895

[copy of inspection report; Elsie Oliver and Sidney Oliver both on a list of those 'Commended']

22 November 1895

A summons is served on Wm. Oliver for taking his son Sydney to work with him, on different dates during the month of October.

15 October 1897

In families where 3 & 4 children are at school, their parents keep them at home in turns. For instance, May Combes, Lily Coombes, Partletts, Paintings, Woodwards (in the Park), Woodleys (Limbic Farm), Olivers, Woodwards (West Close), Howards, Rawlins.

1 July 1898

[John Oliver on a list of eight children reported to School Attendance Committee for irregular attendance]

30 September 1898

The two bad boys referred to on Sep 16th are very idle & troublesome. P. Slatter refused to do his work in Arithmetic this morning, for which I punished him. This afternoon H[enr]y Woodward would not do his work. I told him about his new Geography being torn, after which he told Tillie Oliver that he would punch her head after the school was over. As he refused to answer my questions about the girl, I gave him a stroke across the shoulders with the cane. At this he shouted, was very insolent, and attempted to run out of the School. I caught him, brought him back & gave him a caning, such that he deserved. At 20 minutes to 9 at night his mother came to my house & was very abusive . . . Woodward is a cheeky, idle, & insolent boy, in School & out.

29 July 1899

[Diocesan Inspector's report: Philip Oliver was one of seven children in the Lower Division to be Commended]

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