The Reformation in Scotland placed great emphasis on education. In 1560, the First Book of Discipline established the ideal of universal education, of a school in every parish. Although the ideal was never actually realised in practice, it remained a worthy objective.
As a consequence, many wealthy individuals left legacies for educational purposes. Some, such as George Heriot in Edinburgh, left money to establish educational institutions for poor children, often referred to slightly confusingly as Hospitals. Others endowed funds to pay school fees for children in a district. One such fund was the Milne Bequest in the parish of Ellon, Aberdeenshire. The Parliamentary Educational Endowments (Scotland) Commission described it thus:
The Milne Bequest, which is said to be dated in 1797, but did not come into operation till 1808, its precise date not being ascertainable, but a record of it appearing in the kirk session minutes under date July 21, 1808, was left by the Rev James Milne, minister of Ellon, ‘for the purpose of educating poor children’. Its amount is nearly £20 of capital, and it is paid to the School Board for the education of poor children.
The benefactor being a minister, it is perhaps not surprising that operation of the Milne Bequest was placed in the hands of the Kirk Session of Ellon. Fortunately, the elders kept excellent records of payments made under the bequest. The entries for 1862/63 are as follows:
The Kirk Session records of Ellon parish include payments made from the Milne Bequest from 1852 to 1880. Apart from the details of ill health as shown above, and the details of guardians of children - presumably orphans - some of the earlier records also include comments on the individual pupils ("giddy, thoughtless", "less fair from want of parental oversight") that offer a unique insight into their characters. You can request a lookup in these and other Ellon parish records here.
Genealogy and Family History - A mix of our news, curious and intriguing discoveries. Research hints and resources to grow your family tree in Scotland from our team.