School Prize Giving

One always likes to think that one’s ancestors were talented so I was pleased to find a number of accounts in the Welsh Newspapers Online website of various Freers winning school prizes.

I was particularly delighted to find the following record of my great-grandmother, Clara’s, school success. Clara Freer would have been seven at the time of the school inspection. It’s fascinating to think of Clara as a pupil in a school where ‘excellent discipline…’ and ‘high religious and moral tone’ were the order of the day.

Wrexham Guardian, 4 August 1877

Some seven years later Clara’s sisters, Edith and Annie also featured in a prize-giving, this time for various types of sewing. I’m not sure my seaming and hemming would win any prizes so I think that particular gene must have passed me by!

Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser and Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales Register 23 August 1884

Then, not long after Edith won a prize for her back-stitching, she was selected to make an address to the newly married Louise Watkin Williams Wynn on her return from honeymoon.

Wrexham and Denbighshire Advertiser and Cheshire, Shropshire and North Wales Register 6 September 1884

Edith would have been 12 at the time so it was quite a speech to read.

It’s interesting to see that the school is referred to as ‘Mrs Williams Wynn’s School’ and in the earlier article as ‘Wynnstay School’ so one assumes that it was in some way sponsored by the Estate for which William Freer worked. Even more interesting is that it was a girl’s school and, based on Edith’s age at the time of the above article, girls attended until at least the age of 12. According to British law it wasn’t compulsory to attend school over the age of 10 until 1918 so, in many ways, The Williams Wynn family were ahead of their time, and the Freer girls fortunate both in the availability of the schooling and in having parents who encouraged them to attend.

By Hanna Appleyard

Hanna Appleyard (née Nan Morris) is the granddaughter of Gladys Blacknell. Hanna has been very active in researching her family history especially along the Freer line.

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