The King’s Orphan Schools

In 1828 Lieutenant Governor George Arthur decided to set up schools for disadvantaged children after receiving a report that there were 235 children in the colony, including orphans, who were in distress or living with bad characters.

The Boys’ School was to be accommodated in a disused distillery on the edge of the New Town Rivulet in New Town and the Girls’ School in the property known as “Bellevue” in Davey Street, Hobart Town. As a result a notice appeared in the Hobart Town Courier on Saturday 29 March 1828, inviting the admission of students who fulfilled certain requirements. A management committee was also appointed which then had the responsibility for appointing the staff. The first Master and Matron of the Male Orphan School were Mr Robert Wilkins Giblin and his wife Jessy.

At the beginning of 1831 Mr Giblin was forced to resign after it was alleged that he had mistreated a number of the boys. This necessitated the immediate appointment of a new Master and the Committee asked Thomas Stone to fill the position — the Committee Minutes tell the story.

“…placed Mr. Stone, the Master of the National School in the temporary charge of the Establishment. The keys of the Store were delivered over to Mr. Stone in the presence of the Committee — the Servants and children were directed to obey him as their Master for the present and it was notified to Mr. Giblin that his Rations would be stopped from the following day, Wednesday 19th January (1831).

“ln selecting Mr. Stone for this duty, the Committee acted upon the recommendation of the Rev’d Mr. Bedford who depended a good deal upon that person’s honesty and ability which he had shown in the management of the National School — but he was informed at the time that his appointment was merely temporary and that his confirmation would not be recommended to the favorable consideration of His Excellency unless his conduct gave full assurance to the Committee that the Rev’d Mr. Bedford’s good opinion of him was not ill-founded.”

At first the Lieutenant Governor had some doubts about Thomas’s suitability for the position but he finally “approved of the appointment of Mr. and Mrs. Stone as Master and Matron of the Male Orphan School” on the 27 May 1831 after the committee had given a good report on the state of the school since Thomas had been acting as Master.

A full account of the Stones time at the Male Orphan School is given in a paper which may be downloaded here.