Peel Mathematical School

Peel Mathematical School
Mathematical School, Market Street, Peel (now a Baptist Chapel)
(Building dates from 1848)


Established 1765 thanks to the 1763 will of Rev James Moore, brother of Sir George Moore, in which he left the annual ground rent (£20) of some houses in Dublin for "the erection and endowment of a Mathematical School in the Isle of Man, in order to have ten poor scholars taught gratis forever in the different branches of that science. The site of the schoolhouse not to be further distant from St. John's Chappell than Peel town".

George, and brother Philip Moore, determined the site, arranged the building of the school, nominated the scholars and appointed the masters. The first master was John Barker who was succeeded in 1767 by Richard Wilson, at a salary of 8 guineas a year. Later in 1776 Colonel John Stevenson of Walton-on-Thames gave £100 to be invested for the education of two poor scholars, and in 1777 Governor Smith instituted an annual donation of five guineas for the education of a further two. Under Wilson the school flourished - in 1784 he described the education thus:

" For a Master of a Man of War or a Merchantman it is necessary he should learn the five rules of Arithmetic then Geometry and Plane Trigonometry. Afterwards it is usual to work the Tides then proceed to Plain Sailing, Oblique, Windward and Current Sailing (of these last Oblique Sailing is the most useful)....if requisite in Surveying Coasts and Harbours. Then follows Globular Sailing, including Mercator's Charts. After which it is necessary to learn how to find the variation of the Compass, by Amplitudes and Azimuths, how to correct the ship's course for variation and Seaway; how to find the Latitude and Longtitude . . .After which he will be able (in all cases) to keep a ship's reckoning".

He also gave a list of students educated up to that time and upon whose nomination.

The death of Wilson in 1798 saw the school enter on a long decline, between 1798 and 1801 it was run in conjunction with the Peel Grammar School by Rev Joseph Stowell. In September 1801 Joseph Dodd was appointed as Master - criticism of Dodd surfaced from the start but from 1822 the conduct of the school was a scandal - James McCrone describing Dodd as a drunkard but acknowledging that no funds had been available for maintenance of the school fabric.

No provision has been made for the repairs of this school or the houses and buildings bequeathed by Sir George Moore. The School house is partly unroofed. The books and mathematical instruments are in a very bad condition: and the whole establishment is in a state of rapid decay. There are at present only two scholars, and those not on the foundation.

IoM Charities, 1831

Dodd was dismissed in 1836. In 1844 a new master's house was built adjacent to the school which was described as 'in a dilapidated state' - a grant of £112 from the Council of Education allowed the school to re-open in January 1848 under a Mr Morris from Nautical School, Greenwich. He however left after three months being succeeded by William Lewin. The following master, John Gawne was a gifted teacher, in 1863 the Mathematical and Grammar schools were again united following the sale of the old Grammar School buildings. However Gawne died at the age of 45 in 1864; although J.T.W. Wicksey was appointed in 1876 the newly established elementary schools (under 1872 act) and other schools in Peel provided too much competition and he too left in 1880. Although another attempt was made to re-open the school it was finally closed in 1892.



A. Harrison The Mathematical School, Peel Journal Manx Museum vol VII #88 pp212/6 1978

E. C. Foster The Pioneering Schools of Peel Proc IoMNH&ASoc IX pp 239/

J McHutchin & J.Quirk The Isle of Man Charities Liverpool 1831.

Hinton Bird The Island that led - The History of Manx Education vol 1 1994

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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2001