Hi, Jo here, blogging about Eton College, one of Britains top public schools -- ie private schools. Don't ask! What I asked was, at what age did boys go there?
It's really only a detail for my book. My heroine's brothers are going to go to Eton, and I wondered what the normal age was for boys to start there in the 18th century. I've poked at this detail a few times before, but without great need to know. However, the twins Peter and Tom are eleven and I wanted to know how unusual that would be. My general impression from previous looks is that about 13 was the norm.
So I simply looked for details of some men who'd attended Eton in the 18th century -- and found a pretty confused picture. Isn't that always the way it goes? Most boys went in their early teens, but some for only a short while. A few seemed to go as chidren, and those going into the navy left early.
I didn't specifically pick military men. These are what turned up.
Did heirs go to school?
I tried to find an heir to a title who was educated at Eton but failed, though I wouldn't claim my search was exhaustive. Those I found were younger sons who inherited when one or more older brothers died. So it might be fair to assume that heirs were educated at home, learning estate management as well as other subjects and going on the grand tour rather than into the military or the law.
I think the brief notes below give an insight into the pattern of education for the well-to-do, and also one not-well-to-do. Enjoy.
Admiral Sir George Cranfield Berkeley GCB (10 August 1753 – 25 February 1818), naval officer and politician. He attended Eton College from 1761 to 1766 -- aged 8 to 13 -- and then joined the navy.
Lord George Gordon (26 December 1751 – 12 November 1793) was a British politician whose name was attached to the "Gordon Riots" of 1780. He attended Eton College from 1758 to 1765 -- aged 7 to 13 -- and then joined the navy.
General John Hely-Hutchinson, 2nd Earl of Donoughmore GCB (15 May 1757– 29 June 1832) soldier and politician. "Educated at Eton College (1767–73) and Magdalen College, Oxford (1773). He entered the army in May 1774 as cornet, and was promoted lieutenant in 1775, captain in 1776, major in 1781, and lieutenant-colonel in 1783." (Dictionary of National Biography.) So at Eton from 10 to 16, then briefly to university and entered the army at 17. It would seem university wasn't for him.
Lieutenant Colonel John Enys (17 December 1757 – 30 July 1818) soldier."John was the youngest of six children and spent much of his childhood at Eton." He joined the army in 1775, aged 18. Unfortunately I couldn't find more about him. How young was he when he went to Eton?
Richard Porson (25 December 1759 – 25 September 1808) scholar. He came from a simple family, but his parents educated him to a high standard, and then patrons provided more education. Eventually money was raised to send him to Eton in 1774, aged 15 and stayed there until 18, when he went on to Cambridge University.
Henry Jerome de Salis, FRS, FSA, (20 August 1740 - 2 May 1810) was an English churchman.
In 1753 de Salis was sent with two of his brothers, Charles (1736-1781) and Peter (1738-1807), to Eton (he
left c1757, aged 17. He went at 13, but his brothers were 15 and 17
Sir Joseph Banks, 1st Baronet, GCB, PRS (24 February 1743 – 19 June 1820) naturalist, botanist
and patron of the natural sciences.Joseph was educated at Harrow School from the age of 9, and at Eton College from 1756, aged 13. (Harrow is another major public school. It's also where my Company of Rogues came together.)
John Dyke Acland(1747–1778), army officer and politician. He was educated at Eton College (1763–4) and University College, Oxford, whence he matriculated on 1 April 1765.(Details from Dictionary of National Biography.) So he went to Eton at 16 and left Oxford at 178. His next step was the grand tour. Perhaps not academically inclined?
Richard Gardiner (1723–1781) At Eton College from 1738 to 1739 aged 15 to 16, and was admitted on 15 January 1742 to St Catharine's College, Cambridge. An unexplained gap there.
Anthony Champion (1725–1801), poet and politician, attended Eton College from 1739 to 1742 -- 14 to 17.
Charles Townsend, first Baron Bayning (1728–1810), politician. He was educated at Eton College (1742–5) aged 14 to 17, and Clare College, Cambridge, and graduated MA in 1749
William Wellesley-Pole, 3rd Earl of Mornington 1763 – 1845. Educated at Eton (1774–1776) 11 to 13 before
entering the Royal Navy.
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington1769– 1852),He went to the diocesan school in Trim when at Dangan, Mr. Whyte's Academy when in Dublin, and at Brown's School in Chelsea when in London. Eton, 1781 to 1784 -- 12 to 15.
John Charles Villiers, third earl of Clarendon (1757–1838), politician, was born on 14 November 1757, the second son of the first earl of Clarendon, diplomatist and politician. He was educated at Eton College (1766–74) 9-17 He went on to university and the law and became earl much later.
Has the Christmas insanity hit yet?