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THE COLLEGIATE SCHOOL (Kingston), Established 1853 by the Rev. John Radcliffe.

excerpt: Clinton Black on John Radcliffe in a Jamaica Historical Society broadcast on ZQI in 1947

Led by his own scholastic proclivities he opened the Collegiate School in July, 1853 - five years after his arrival in the island. His Academy and Divinity School training, coupled with his private, classical and literary studies fitted him for making the school one of the most important institutions of its day which it soon became under his able management. During his twenty eight years as Principal, the school provided an education which was nowhere else to be had in the island at that time.

In nothing did Mr. Radcliffe render better service to Jamaica than in the establishment and management of the Collegiate School. It is no longer in operation, but during its existence it turned out scholars who made names for themselves in all professions and in all forms of business. The careers of many of the "Old Collegiate Boys" have demonstrated effectively what one good school can do in a comparatively short time to furnish a country with men of the right stamp to undertake its most important and difficult work.

          Daily Gleaner, March 9, 1947
Bust of John Radcliffe at the
St Andrew's Scots Kirk,
Duke Street, Kingston

    The Collegiate School was established in 1853 by 
the Rev John Radcliffe:

For many years before Government gave any assistance to education, long before High Schools were established, the Rev. John Radcliffe had established his fame as a most successful teacher of youth in our midst. He established the Collegiate School, which is still remembered with affection as the cradle of learning, by many of the most prominent members of this community. 

To his fostering care, his skillful tuition and his erudition in all the branches of a liberal education, many of our clergymen, barristers, lawyers, doctors and prominent merchants, owe the means which brought them into social and professional prominence . . . .

Daily Gleaner, May 1, 1889


in  Kingston  Harbour,  mid-19th  century

The Rev John Radcliffe arrived in Kingston in 1848, to be

minister of the Scots Kirk.

Daily Gleaner, August 22, 1889
(from an account of a lecture by the Rev John Radcliffe)

There is the disappointment that every body landing in Jamaica feels to the present day, in finding himself in the squalid, malodorous streets of Kingston, after coasting along the magnificent panorama of towering, cloud capped verdure-clad mountains and smiling sunlit plains which feast the eyes of any one approaching Kingston from eastward and by sea.

But Kingston must be palatial and princely now compared with what it was when the Rev. John Radcliffe landed. The streets of 1848 were mere water courses or gullies, with deep holes in them occasionally filled with stable manure and were dangerous to the life or limb of any pedestrian. Mr. Radcliffe says that his general impressions of the Kingston of those days may be summed up in the refrain "bogs, dogs, and beer bottles." No one willingly walked abroad and one lady of Mr. Radcliffe's congregation, had never been to the Race Course in her life. In travelling into the interior the roads were so bad that travellers were necessitated to take coils of rope with them in case a spring should break. But the roads, were not so bad as Kingston Streets.

Mr. Radcliffe's remembrances of the Stores of those days, is that each was a complete ominum gatherum and that the expression that they sold everything from a needle to an anchor conveys but a faint idea of the multifarious one may say "infinite variety" of these stocks of merchandize. There was a corresponding multiplicity of negotiation and a vast amount of drinking.

Nethersole's store, Kingston, c1847 

The owner of the store was supposed to supply a drink to every respectable person who came on business - and what was more to share in it with his customer. I know no way by which I can better illustrate and at the same time corroborate what
I say than relate what was told me by a gentleman who it still living, and who himself took part in the scene which he himself
relates. It had been Saturday - the great day of business - the day of the influxion of bushas into Kingston - and I must add
the great day for the combination of business and drink. The time was somewhat after midday - the scene Harbour Street,
in a store near where Mr.Pawsey's establishment now stands. The characters were the proprietor, very active - a busha,
very rubicund - and a number of clerks in a back office, very busy. In the midst of the business the proprietor comes into
the office, and hurriedly singling out one of the clerks - the one who afterwards told me the story - says to him, "for God's sake go out and take a drink with Mr. Busha Black. I have taken thirteen already today and I am not good for any more."
. . . .
The Reverend lecturer then describes the more prominent citizens of Kingston of those days who have now joined the
ocupants of the Jamaica Valhalla. Among these he has words of great admiration and respect for Richard Hill the
accomplished naturalist, for Alexander Heslop, Alexander Barclay, once Receiver General, Edward Jordan, Louis Quier Bowerbank one of "the most resolute men I ever knew," S. Hendrick "great, bluff, kindly Englishman," who could add up the
three columns of his cash book at one operation, Emanuel Lyons with his widespread charity, and many others.

[It is of interest that three of those Radcliffe remembered were Coloured Jamaicans - Richard Hill, Alexander Heslop and Edward Jordan.]

 Radcliffe started the Collegiate School five years after he came to Jamaica.       

                     In November 1853 Radcliffe wrote a letter about setting up the school:

          Radcliffe started the Collegiate School five years after he came to Jamaica.

There were advertisements for the new school and its opening in the newspapers in
April, May
and June 1853.
[I thought I had copies of the adverts, but I have not located them - only the notes which
refer to them. I hope to make an expedition to the relevant library shortly to search out
these adverts, as well as quite a list of other references, books and pamphlets on various
topics. Then I can make this section a little more convincing!]

Among early pupils  at the Collegiate School were the sons of a prominent solicitor,
William Andrews, snr, as indicated in this extract from an obituary for one of them:

'A very interesting personality has gone from our midst in Mr. Andrews. Born in
Kingston [in 1843] he came of a very respected family. William Andrews, his father to
whom he was devotedly and affectionately attached, was one of the most successful
lawyers of the day . . .
. His son was placed under the charge of the Rev. Jno. Radcliffe and thus became one of very many others who owed much to the teaching of the poet and scholar. By his fellow students Mr. Andrews is remembered as an industrious
and studious lad yet always ready for a bit of fun.'

Daily Gleaner, February 5,1898

Other Andrews sons, Edward, Raines and Ernest, also attended Collegiate.

This is the school they attended:

from the Jamaica Almanac 1857

Principal.-The Rev. J. Radcliffe.
Head-Master. -The Rev. A. J. Milne, M.A.

The primary object of the Collegiate School is to furnish
an education similar to that of the respectable schools
at home. In addition to this, however, it aims at supplying
one of a more collegiate character.
Particular attention is therefore paid to modern languages, to classics and mathematics, and to the rules and practice of reading and composition. It thus affords
means of preparation for young men entering the mercantile profession, the university, and the army.
In the boarding department, the object is to treat the
young gentlemen as a family, and prepare them, by
social and religious intercourse and [or ? for the] duties of life.
The arrangements are as follows:-
The studies of each day are commenced with reading a
portions of the Scriptures and with prayer. No pupil,
however is asked to be present, if intimation to that effect be given either by his parent or guardian.
There is no interference with the creed of any pupil.
II. The hours of attendance are from nine till three
III. There are two Vacations in the year; one at Christmas,
the other at Midsummer.
IV. The terms are, for boarders, £45 including washing;
and for day scholars, £12 per annum, to be be paid
quarterly, and for boarders in advance.
P.S. - In connexion with, and forming part of, the
Collegiate School, there is a Juvenile Preparatory Class,
the object of which is to meet the wants of those who are
too young to be benefitted by the ordinary classes. As
the education is of the most elementary sort, no one can remain in the class after the age of nine. The terms are
£8 per annum.

Kidd's map of Kingston in the 1850s shows the location of the school on Church Street. [The Collegiate School has the number 13 on the key to the map.]
 At present I have nothing further of any consequence on the Collegiate
School between 1853
and 1864; if I find anything I will get it in here as
quickly as possible. Until such time we have to
move straight on to the
1860s >>>

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