The closing of the Collegiate School, 1902 











Daily Gleaner, June 20, 1902

Daily Gleaner

THE old Collegiate School, so full of pleasant memories and intimate associations to
generations of Jamaicans, was closed yesterday. It has reached the end appointed for
all things, after a career of honour and great public usefulness extending over fifty years. That it could long survive the death of MR. WILLIAM MORRISON was hardly to be expected. His personality and prestige kept the School together under most adverse circumstances, and there was little inducement for another person to take it over and fight against the competition of the various endowed and State-aided secondary schools. Therefore it shares the fate of York Castle and Barbican. The fine old institution founded
by MR. RADCLIFFE in the "forties," which has led the van of secondary education in Jamaica, no longer exists - unless one may regard it as being in some measure
perpetuated by the preparatory School which Miss MORRISON will shortly open. Profound
regret is felt throughout Jamaica at the closing of the school, especially by the numerous "old boys" who now occupy leading positions in this community.

The Collegiate School was founded about 1848 [1853 in fact] by the Rev. JOHN RADCLIFFE,
who came out to Jamaica a few years after the great "disruption" in Scotland, and
immediately recognized the crying need for secondary education in Jamaica, particularly
in the capital. At that time, there were no schools in the city at which boys could receive an education fitting them for a University course or for the liberal professions. The Kingston
Collegiate School first filled the gap, and filled it nobly. It was always run upon purely
voluntary lines, and it is a sad reflection that at last it should be extinguished by
competing institutions enjoying adventitious aids. Mr. RADCLIFFE was assisted by Dr. MILNE and later by Mr, WILLIAM MORRISON, who joined the staff of the school in 1862,
ARCHDEACON DOWNER was at one time an assistant master at the school also. All these
gentlemen rendered excellent service to the cause of secondary education, but for us
to-day the Collegiate School is bound up with the name of Mr. MORRISON. He was
connected with the school, as assistant and principal, for forty years, and the work he
accomplished in that period is known to all of us. We see traces of it on every hand. Leading men in every department of life in the colony, are proud to say, “I am one of MORRISON'S
boys." DR. GILLIES, one of the best of judges, has given the public the following good estimate of the value of the work done by the Collegiate School under Mr. MORRISON:-

His pupils have entered upon every available form of employment open
to them. They have left him to become clerks in stores and have risen, many
of them, to be successful merchants. Others have become what would be called by the fine old name of “farmers" in the county of Banff; we call them
planters. Others have joined the Civil Service, and have got well up on that
ladder. Others have become solicitors, others surveyors. We believe that
Mr. Morrison has prepared nearly one hundred lads for University careers,
and that for many years there have usually been from ten to fifteen of his
pupils in attendance at various universities.. A list of the "old boys" who are
doing well, and have done well for themselves would be a long one.

This is a brief epitome of one side of the work of the good old Collegiate School but, as
Dr. GILLIES has also pointed out, the boys educated there were taught a good deal more
than how to make a living and prosper in this world. The tone of the school was always
high. No scandal dimmed the lustre of its long career, and Mr. MORRISON was always
careful to teach his lads to be upright and honourable. The ancient Parthians were satisfied
if their boys were taught to draw the bow and speak the truth. We have advanced
educationally since then, but we have never discovered anything more important to impress
upon the youthful mind than the second part of the Parthian curriculum. The Collegiate
School was a moral as well as an intellectual force in the community because its Principal
taught boys, first and foremost, to speak the truth.

Ave atque vale! Sorrowfully we pay a tribute to the worth of the old School as  soldiers fire
a volley over the grave of a dead comrade. In a sense, this journal and the school have always
been comrades, for both have consistently fought the battle of literary education in Jamaica
- a battle in which there are plenty of hard knocks but no glory, and little reward save the
knowledge of duty done. Could it have survived, the Collegiate School would have been
a splendid memorial of the late Mr, MORRISON. His name and work are to be perpetuated by
a memorial raised by the subscriptions of the public. That is well. But the best memorial will
be the practice by his latest pupils of the precepts he taught them. If they will do that, as
others have done before them, the ideals of the Collegiate School will take root in the heart
and brain of the country, and "not marble nor the gilded monuments of princes" will outlive
the work of the Scottish Schoolmaster,

 After the closing of the Collegiate School, on the death of William Morrison, its tradition was inherited, and even remembered there for some time, in Wolmer's Boys' School.  Many boys from the Collegiate were moved by their parents to Wolmer's, and shortly after the closing of the Collegiate School, the Church of England Grammar School, which had briefly amalgamated with the Collegiate in the 1880s, was itself officially amalgamated with Wolmer's to form the foundation of that school for the 20th century.
Daily Gleaner 



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Daily Gleaner, November 3, 1902