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“In the way to do some good”: The Viscountess, the Scientific Philanthropist and the School of Industry

“In the way to do some good”: The Viscountess, the Scientific Philanthropist and the School of Industry
“In the way to do some good”: The Viscountess, the Scientific Philanthropist and the School of Industry
This presentation will examine the charitable education work undertaken by Mary Mee, 2nd Viscountess Palmerston (1752-1805) at her country seat, Broadlands in Romsey, Hampshire. Mee, the daughter of city merchant and wife of a MP and Irish aristocrat, took an active role in the education of her own children (who included the future prime minister) and was a founding ladies’ subscription book holder for the Royal Institution. Yet she had little interest in the education of girls from the lower ranks until middle-age, when she started to implement many of the ideas of her friend, and prominent exponent of scientific philanthropy, Count Rumford. In 1800 she founded a School of Industry for girls. Pupils followed a very limited curriculum compared to that of her own daughters; her pragmatic aim being to equip girls with skills to earn their living as servants or seamtresses. The school was very much a personal project for Mee: she wrote the rules, handpicked the lady visitors, chose the governess and spent a good proportion of her quarterly allowance on it. We examine her use of charitable education as a tool for both enhancing her social and symbolic capital as benefactor and as an act of symbolic violence, “policing” the behaviour of the lower orders. We will compare Mee’s school with other schools for the poor, notably Gilpin’s School of Industry in the New Forest, and set it in the context of Georgian ‘particular charity’ and the development of scientific philanthropy.
Stark, Isobel
68e010c2-56f2-4897-987b-adef0763c786
Stark, Isobel
68e010c2-56f2-4897-987b-adef0763c786

Stark, Isobel (2016) “In the way to do some good”: The Viscountess, the Scientific Philanthropist and the School of Industry. Women and Education in the Long 18th Century Workshop, Glasgow Women’s Library, United Kingdom. 08 - 07 Sep 2016.

Record type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Abstract

This presentation will examine the charitable education work undertaken by Mary Mee, 2nd Viscountess Palmerston (1752-1805) at her country seat, Broadlands in Romsey, Hampshire. Mee, the daughter of city merchant and wife of a MP and Irish aristocrat, took an active role in the education of her own children (who included the future prime minister) and was a founding ladies’ subscription book holder for the Royal Institution. Yet she had little interest in the education of girls from the lower ranks until middle-age, when she started to implement many of the ideas of her friend, and prominent exponent of scientific philanthropy, Count Rumford. In 1800 she founded a School of Industry for girls. Pupils followed a very limited curriculum compared to that of her own daughters; her pragmatic aim being to equip girls with skills to earn their living as servants or seamtresses. The school was very much a personal project for Mee: she wrote the rules, handpicked the lady visitors, chose the governess and spent a good proportion of her quarterly allowance on it. We examine her use of charitable education as a tool for both enhancing her social and symbolic capital as benefactor and as an act of symbolic violence, “policing” the behaviour of the lower orders. We will compare Mee’s school with other schools for the poor, notably Gilpin’s School of Industry in the New Forest, and set it in the context of Georgian ‘particular charity’ and the development of scientific philanthropy.

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Published date: 8 September 2016
Venue - Dates: Women and Education in the Long 18th Century Workshop, Glasgow Women’s Library, United Kingdom, 2016-09-08 - 2016-09-07

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 419643
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/419643
PURE UUID: 6e66d457-7d9f-490e-87a2-793424f0ea39
ORCID for Isobel Stark: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8026-3315

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Date deposited: 18 Apr 2018 16:30
Last modified: 18 Feb 2021 17:07

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