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Rev Grantham Munton Yorke


Master Barmy
The Rev Grantham Munton Yorke (1809-1879)

The Rev Grantham was mentioned in the Thread "From Birmingham Papers (usually Birmingham Post) 150 Years Ago 1867-" in connection with the Blue Coat School...


DavidGrain pointed out that Grantham Yorke was a major benefactor to education in Birmingham. His organisation and fund raising efforts for the destitute poor should allow him a mention in the Thread "Some great men and women of Birmingham." A good short biography can be found here...


"Grantham Munton Yorke was born in 1803. The son of an admiral, he entered service in 1826 choosing the army over the navy and retired in 1833 after a relatively short military career, holding the rank of lieutenant.

After taking holy orders he worked in Limerick and Lincoln before arriving in Birmingham, as Rector of St. Philip’s, in 1844. He soon became concerned with the number of poor children in the parish and in 1846, after ascertaining that none of the existing schools in the area would take them, opened a ‘ragged school’ in a disused workshop in Lichfield Street."

The workshop was actually at 19 Lichfield Street, and in 1847 he made an appeal to the sympathies of the Benevolent on behalf of, and for, the gratuitous education of the children of the destitute poor. He wanted to raise the sum of £1000 for the purchase of a site and erection of building so as to make it not merely a ragged school, but a School of Industry, after the model of the schools in Aberdeen.

Lichfield Street had been hired and was becoming inadequate for the requirements, being small, close, and ill-ventilated; "a dilapidated shopping in effect." In 1848 the Governers of the Free Grammar School gave a grant of land in Gem Street for the erection of a suitable building. The school it was hoped would "be set up and conducted on the most wide and liberal plan, uncontaminated by narrow sectarian prejudices, and repugnant to the contentious convictions of no man, the surest guarantee of which is to be found in the fact that the gentlemen of all religious denominations shall, as a committee, have care over its management."

(More info on the School... https://www.childrenshomes.org.uk/BirminghamFreeIS/ )

In 1850 the Rev Yorke became Chairman of the Blue Coat School, and he was also on the Board of Governers of the Free Grammar School. These institutions were not set up to the same criteria as the Industrial School and in 1867 one of the rules of the Blue Coat School was...

"That those children only should be admitted whose parents are of the Established Church, of which fact a certificate from officiating clergymen of the town will be deemed sufficient evidence, also that a certificate shall be required of the marriage of their parents, and they must be parishioners of Birmingham."

The Endowed Schools Act of 1869 meant that a change had to be made, and it was proposed to change to...."the surviving parent being an inhabitant of the Borough, and that no child should be disqualified on grounds of religion." However the members of the Committee would still be members of the C of E.

It seems strange that the Rev Yorke could be part of his Industrial School, and to be Chairman of the Blue Coat School with its strict Church of England rules. Perhaps the answer maybe in a letter from Downing Street, the office of Disraeli, when recommending Yorke to Queen Victoria for the post of Dean of Worcester, describing Yorke as "having very temperate opinions. I believe his appointment would not offend the High Church and satisfy the Low." He was in fact appointed to the post of Dean in 1874.