By Frank Prochaska
An elegantly written research that charts the connection among Christianity and social provider in Britain because the eighteenth century and offers a hard new interpretation of the hyperlinks among Christian decline and democratic traditions.
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Additional info for Christianity and Social Service in Modern Britain: The Disinherited Spirit
Few now deny that ‘New Testament ethics’ helped shape ‘radical thought’ and associational life in Britain. Anti-Catholicism itself might be seen as a great radical cause, which permeated other causes, for it runs like a thread through the Puritan-evangelical tradition and progressive Whig history. ¹³ That the Protestant parties also turned on each other only stimulated the emergence of further schools. ¹⁴ Sectarian rivalry and factional politico-religious struggle beset the charity school movement from its beginnings, but gave it life.
First in the ﬁeld was the British and Foreign School Society (1808), formerly the Lancasterian Schools Association. It reﬂected a wide spectrum of opinion, and included evangelical Anglicans, Nonconformists, and utilitarians. A rival charity, the National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in the Principles of the Established Church (1811), soon emerged. It was a linear descendant of the SPCK, and many of its schools started life in association with that institution. Both the BFSS and the National Society used the associational model and raised funds from subscribers in their respective congregations, but they required modest payments from parents to help cover costs.
By the early eighteenth century traditional forms of educating the poor, such as endowed parish schools overseen by trustees or the vestry, were thought to be inadequate. Many such schools persisted, but in a society growing more urban and industrial the hallmark of elementary education was increasingly the result of collective effort rather than individual benefaction. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries benevolent citizens, parishes, churches and chapels, and national societies founded tens of thousands of voluntary schools, often representing competing denominations.