Book History and Provenance in the Green Coat School Collection
- Elaine Harrington
- April 7, 2020
The Green Coat School Collection is now held in UCC Library but was originally formed in Cork City during the 18th century under the aegis of the Green Coat School trustees. The Green Coat School, also known as ‘Shandon Charity School’ and ‘St Mary Shandon Corke’ opened in 1717 and first admitted twenty boys and twenty girls.
History of the Green Coat School
The school started as a private foundation for the children of poor Protestant families on the north-side of Cork City in Ireland. The School was so called because the uniform was green and keeping the uniform was dependent on good behaviour and knowing one’s catechism. The school was vocationally oriented and in UCC Library’s Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) trustees’ descriptions noted which students were bound out as apprentices to a variety of trades such as bookbinders, button-makers and seamstresses (23 June 1719).
Henry Maule (1676?–1758), as rector of Shandon (1706–26), was closely associated with the founding of the Green Coat School and served as a trustee. From its founding to midway through the 18th century the school was a prototype and model to follow in the Irish coat and charter school movement and “the movement’s equation of Protestantism with civilisation and industry gave the schools additional meaning in the Irish context” (DiIB). Maule was instrumental in its success: “Maule toured Europe, [particularly English and Scottish models] to investigate similar schemes” (DiIB). However by the end of the 18th century the School had declined (McCann 108) and as evidenced from a circular within UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book soliciting funds for the School’s Trustees. This circular is signed by Richard Lee, treasurer and grandfather to Dr Philip G Lee, and is dated 28 January 1822.
Furthermore Maule wrote about his intentions for forming the Green Coat School in Pietas Corcagiensis: or, A view of the Green-coat Hospital and other charitable foundations in the parish of St. Mary Shandon, Corke. In UCC Library’s copies the plates are present whereas they’re frequently removed. Jos. Harris was a noted Cork engraver and he provided the plates.
The collection was deposited in UCC in the late 1990s. UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) was donated by Brian Smyth, Dublin in the late 1990s. There is a note inside the front end paper of the Green Coat School Minute Book: “Given into the care of the Rector Rev. R. Hearn by Dr. Philip G. Lee 25 May 1930.” Philip G Lee was a doctor and local Cork historian. Underneath the note Dr Lee has written: “Given to me as ‘waste paper which I have bound. It comprises the minutes of the trustees since the foundation of the Hospital and from these minutes was extracted the rare valuable report of the School Manor as ‘Pietas Corc.’ They are very valuable and important.” It is probable for this reason that it was seen as waste paper and that the first page is page 13. The Representative Church Body Library in Dublin has a different minute book of the Green Coat School (Manuscript 986).
The Green Coat School Collection
The collection in UCC Library has 280 books. The collection has: 10 items from the 16th century, 195 from the 17th century and the remainder are from the 18th century. The items in the collection are predominantly in English (209 items), with 20 items in Latin. However there are also 20 items in French, 1 item in Spanish and 1 item in Irish Gaelic. As this is an early modern collection the imprints of each item show the spread of printing throughout Europe and the map and list below illustrate this spread.
- Lyon (3 items ranging from 1562 – 1653)
- Lausanne (1 item from 1577)
- London (201 items ranging from 1579 – 1729)
- Hamburg (1 item from 1592)
- Leiden (5 items ranging from 1597 – 1648)
- Cologne (2 items from 1602 and 1682)
- Geneva (7 items ranging from 1606 – 1679)
- Hanover (1 item from 1610)
- Frankfort (2 items from 1610 and 1665)
- Oxford (10 items ranging from 1610 – 1717)
- Amsterdam (11 items from 1628 – 1718)
- Cambridge (3 items ranging from 1649 – 1654)
- Paris (7 items ranging from 1653 – 1713)
- Utrecht (1 item from 1660)
- Dublin (12 items ranging from 1670 – 1786)
- Rotterdam (2 items from 1680 and 1690)
- La Haye (2 items from 1695 and 1710)
- Liege (3 items ranging from 1699 – 1717)
- St Malo (1 item from 1704)
- Brussels (1 item from 1711)
- Cork (2 items from 1721 and 1725).
The composition of the subject matter of the collection is largely related to the Bible and Christianity with a number of items relating to language, literature (14) and history (40 items). Like many early modern collections there are a large number of works relating to classical writers. Dr Edel Semple in UCC’s School of English discusses The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes in this blog post.
However, there are no books with clasps and ties in the collection. In UCC Library’s copy of the Green Coat School Minute Book it states: “Orderd that no books be lent out of the town nor any Book in the town unless the person who borrows it enters his name in the Register Book and leaves double the value till he returns it” (15 December 1718) therefore none of the books were chained.
In addition, UCC Library holds an ecclesiastical collection, St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Library which was started in 1720 by Bishop Peter Browne and contains similar subject matter to that of the Green Coat School Collection. UCC Library’s general Older Printed Books Collection was established by withdrawing items published before 1851 from the Library’s general holdings. Of the 270 items held in the Green Coat School Collection 246 items are not held in any other collection in UCC Library. St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Collection and the Green Coat School Collection have 35 items in common; whereas Older Printed Books and the Green Coat School Collection overlap on 5 items. Three titles are present in three different collections including: Leabhar na nornaightheadh ccomhchoitchionn or The Book of Common Prayer in English and Irish.
Description of Ownership Marks
Maule wrote Pietas Corcagiensis anonymously and within this book is a catalogue of the books that were donated to the Green Coat School Library (pages 37 – 48). Most of the donors to the Green Coat School Library were a who’s who of early 18th century Cork life: clergy, brigadier general, sheriffs, a lord mayor and gentry. Examples of provenance include signatures in the hand of the donor, stamps and former classification scheme markings. There are no bookplates, mottoes, armorial stamps or ciphers as evidence of provenance in the collection.
Donors As Listed In Pietas Corcagiensis
- Honourable Brigadier General Stearne: 37 titles.
- The Reverend the incumbent of the parish (presumably Maule): 132 items.
- John Morley, Esq., Mayor of Cork in the year 1718: 4 items.
- Henry Arkwright, Esq.: 2 items
- The Right Honourable Early of Inchiquin: 3 items
- Mr Daniel Thresher: 6 items
- Capt. Charles Maule: 25 items
- Mr Richard Pomeroy: 3 items
- Mr Henry Sheares: 7 items
- Mr Sheriff Austin: 3 items
- Mr Sherrif Croker: 10 items
- Unknown provenance: 38 items.
Many of the items Maule donated are ecclesiastical in nature. According to ESTC Of the Sacraments in General is held in Great Britain in Cambridge colleges, Oxford colleges and cathedral libraries. It not that unusual that a 17th century Anglo-Irish bishop has acquired a copy. Knowing one’s catechism played a fundamental role in the Green Coat School.
Samuel Croker was Sheriff in Cork, a court officer elected by the freemen of the borough. Laud’s A Relation of the Conference is a good example of the interest in publishing material to doctrine and religious controversy in the late 17th century. This item is significant as it contains fragments of an old almanac used as strengtheners in the binding and has a variety of annotations.
In the Green Coat School Minute Book (U.335) is a list of subscribers to the School including Mr Bowyer (p.13). He donated money and A Rational Account of the Grounds of Protestant by Edward Stillingfleet for unknown reasons. Stillingfleet was a remarkable scholar and preacher and much of his library is now in Marsh’s Library in Dublin. This title is in two collections in UCC Library and is one of 29 works by Stillingfleet held between the Green Coat School Collection and St Fin Barre’s Cathedral Library. The aforementioned conference is between Laud and Fisher which further shows how important Laud was at this time. The manuscript note reads ‘Mr Bowyer, bookseller in London, to the Green-Coat Hospitall of St Mary Shandon, Corke.’
Henry Arkwright was a customs’ port officer in Cork at this time. Arkwright donated two different editions of Burnet’s History. This copy is a ‘4th edition’ but no 3rd edition was published by Burnet. This title is a good example of how popular titles were.
Gold tooling of letters stamped on front board. Name: Henry Arkwright, Esq.
Gold tooling of letters stamped horizontally on back board. Name: Shandon Charity School Library.
The Pomeroys were a prominent Cork family. This is one of the many Books of Common Prayer in the GCSC. In total 21 items were stamped with ‘Shandon Charity School.’ From the Green Coat School Minute Book it is “Ordered that the books given to the library be lettered by Combra (?) Daniel.” (2 February 1720). It is unknown how many tradesmen were engaged in gold lettering but it is likely that Combra (?) Daniel also did other gold lettering for Arkwright and Pomeroy.
Gold tooling of letters stamped on back board The Book of Common Prayer. Name: Rich Pomeroy.
Further Research Possibilities
Little recent research has been conducted on the Green Coat School Library either as a stand-alone institution, as a library within the coat school system or on the survival rating of coat school libraries. To date most scholarship was conducted between the 1940s and the 1970s (see the articles in the Journal of Cork Historical and Archaeological Society listed in the bibliography). Further work could be carried out on the bindings, older classification schemes and fragments in the binding throughout the collection.
Gold-tooling on binding and former classification scheme marking on William Oldisworth A Dialogue between Timothy and Philatheus. London: Printed by W.B.for Bernard Lintott, 1709-11.
Burnet, Gilbert. The History of the Reformation of the Church of England: in two parts. London: Printed for J. Walthoe and B. Tooke [etc.], 1715.
Conlon, Michael V. “Some Old Cork Charities.” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1943): 86-94.
Green Coat School Collection. Special Collections, UCC Library.
Green Coat School Minute Book. U335. Special Collections, UCC Library.
Laud, William. A Relation of the Conference betweene William Lawd: then Lrd Bishop of St. Davids, now Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbvry, and Mr Fisher the Jesuite, by the command of King James of ever blessed memorie. With an answer to such exceptions as A.C. takes against it. / by the said Most Reverend Father in God, William, Lord Arch-Bishop of Canterbury. London: Printed by Richard Badger, MDCXXXIX, .
Leabhar na nornaightheadh ccomhchoitchionn: agas mhiniostralachda na Sacraimeinteadh: agas reachdadh agas dheasghnáth oile na Heaglaise, / do rēir usáide Eaglaise na Sacsan; maille ris an tSaltair no Psalmuibh Dhaibhidh. Ar na bpunneadl. mur cantar no raidhtior iad a tteampollaibh. Lunnduin: ar na chur a gcló ré E. Ebheriongham, ag na Seas Realt a Sráid Abhé Máiria, .
Manuscript #986 held at The Representative Church Body Library (RCBL), Dublin.
McCann, Peadar. “Cork City’s Eighteenth-Century Charity Schools: Origins and Early History.” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1979): 102-11.
Ó Coindealbháin, Seán. “Schools and Schooling in Cork City’” Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society (1943): 44-57.
Oldisworth, William. A Dialogue between Timothy and Philatheus: In which the principles and projects of a late whimsical book: entituled, The rights of the Christian church &c., are fairly stated and answer’d in their kind, and some attempts made towards the discovery of a new way of reasoning, intirely unknown both to the ancients and moderns. London: Printed by W.B.for Bernard Lintott, 1709-11.
Pietas Corcagiensis: or, A view of the Green-coat Hospital and other charitable foundations in the parish of St. Mary Shandon, Corke: shewing the several steps that have been taken in erecting and supporting those charities. Cork: Publish’d by order of the trustees (and sold for the use) of that hospital: Printed by Samuel Terry, 1721.
Plutarch. The Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romanes / compared together by that graue learned philosopher and historiographer, Plutarke of Chaeronea; translated out of Greeke into French by Iames Amyot … and out of French into Englishe by Thomas North. London: Imprinted by Thomas Vautroullier and Iohn VVight, 1579.
Stillingfleet, Edward. A Rational Account of the Grounds of Protestant Religion: being a vindication of the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury’s relation of a conference, &c., from the pretended answer by T.C.; wherein the true grounds of faith are cleared and the false discovered, the Church of England vindicated from the imputation of schism, and the most important particular controversies between us and those of the Church of Rome throughly examined. London: Printed by Rob. White for Henry Mortlock… , 1665.
Towerson, Gabriel. Of the Sacraments in General: in pursuance of an explication of the catechism of the Church of England. London: printed for Richard Chiswell, at the Rose and Crown in S. Paul’s Church-Yard, 1686.