Ref NoMS 1622
TitleRecords of the Blue Coat Charity School
Date10 August 1722 - 8 November 1989
FormatCubic metres
AccessStatusPartially closed (Content)
AccessConditionsThe material was reviewed by an access panel in 2006. Access is marked at item level. Some material is restricted.
AdminHistoryThe Blue Coat School (also referred to in the records as the Birmingham Charity School or the Birmingham Blue Coat School) was conceived in 1722 and first had a physical presence in 1724 when a school building was built in St. Philip's Place (adjacent to St. Philip's Cathedral). The purpose of the Blue Coat School, according to the governors in the first minute book (MS 1622/1/1/1/1), was: '… to receive as many of the orphan and destitute children of the poor of the parish of Birmingham as its funds and accommodations will allow; to clothe, maintain, and educate them in reading, writing, and arithmetic; to watch with unceasing vigilance the propensities of their minds; to check and correct them where they are vicious; to encourage and animate them in virtuous and laudable pursuits; and, as the best and most certain manner of giving them on all occasions and in all circumstances a right direction and bias, to implant in their minds a deep and well grounded sense of the truth and doctrines of the Christian religion, as professed and taught in the Church of England.'

The school was based in St. Philip's Place from 1724 until 1930 at which point the school building was sold and ultimately demolished. While the school was in St. Philip's place it was altered and enlarged on numerous occasions, notably in 1794 and 1830. There is a blue plaque on the building that now occupies the the site of the school. In 1930, the school moved to new premises in Somerset Road, Edgbaston where the Blue Coat School still operates today as a public school.

The Birmingham Blue Coat School was not unique in that there have been a number of Blue Coat Schools in England, the earliest being Christ Hospital in London (now located in Horsham, Surrey) which was founded in 1563. Blue Coat Schools were so called because of the blue uniform worn by the children attending the school. The significance of the blue uniform has its basis in the idea that blue was the colour of alms-giving and charity and was a common colour for clothes in Tudor times. It is worth noting that the pupils who were attending the school as a result of a bequest made by George Fentham in his will of 1690 wore green uniforms instead of blue.

As a charity school the Blue Coat School was dependent on donations from subscribers. As an acknowledgment of their donation, each subscriber appears to have been allowed to nominate children for attendance at the school. The later annual reports found at MS 1622/1/5 explain the rules for subscribers and the 'privileges' they gained in regard to nominating pupils.

The records in the collection can give a good description of the day-to-day life at the Blue Coat School. For instance, the diet tables (MS 1622/2/4/3) give details of what the pupils at the school would have been given to eat.

Once students left the school, many were apprenticed to various firms in Birmingham. There is a wealth of material relating to apprenticeship in this collection - particularly notable are the apprenticeship indentures (MS 1622/2/6) which are the agreement between the apprentice and their master, which list the terms of the apprenticeship as well as giving details of the type of work that the student has entered into. After care registers (MS 1622/2/8) record how the ex-pupils are getting on with their apprenticeship and their life after leaving the school.

As the school grew in size, it also grew in wealth and the records indicate that the Blue Coat School was at one time a significant land and property owner. The number of deeds held in the collection (MS 1622/7/4) can attest to this.
ArrangementMS 1622/1 Governors
MS 1622/1/1 General Committee
MS 1622/1/1/1 General Meeting Minute Books
MS 1622/1/1/2 Draft minute books
MS 1622/1/1/3 Attendance registers
MS 1622/1/1/4 Indexes to minute books
MS 1622/1/2 Executive Committee Minute Books
MS 1622/1/3 Trustees Minute Books
MS 1622/1/4 Education Committee
MS 1622/1/4/1 Education Committee Minutes Books
MS 1622/1/4/2 Draft Minutes Books
MS 1622/1/4/3 Indexes to Minutes Books
MS 1622/1/4/4 Education committee reports
MS 1622/1/5 Annual reports of Birmingham Blue Coat School
MS 1622/1/6 Rules for governing the school
MS 1622/1/7 Correspondence
MS 1622/1/8 Miscellaneous

MS 1622/2 School
MS 1622/2/1 Pupil Registers
MS 1622/2/2 Log Books
MS 1622/2/3 School Committee Minutes
MS 1622/2/4 Records relating to the health of pupils
MS 1622/2/5 Examination Certificate counterfoil
MS 1622/2/6 Apprenticeship indentures
MS 1622/2/7 Application register
MS 1622/2/8 After Care reports

MS 1622/3 Subscription and Nomination Records
MS 1622/3/1 Registers and lists of subscribers
MS 1622/3/2 Subscription Cash Books
MS 1622/3/3 Nomination papers
MS 1622/3/4 Fentham's Trust Nomination Papers
MS 1622/3/5 Parents' resignations
MS 1622/3/6 Contracts between parents and schools

MS 1622/4 Records relating to the running of the school
MS 1622/4/1 House Committee
MS 1622/4/1/1 Minute Books
MS 1622/4/1/2 Draft Minute Books
MS 1622/4/1/3 Indexes to minute books
MS 1622/4/2 Catering committee minutes
MS 1622/4/3 Staff and employment records
MS 1622/4/4 Provisions Account Stock Book

MS 1622/5 Accounting and Financial Records
MS 1622/5/1 Finance Committee
MS 1622/5/1/1 Minute Books
MS 1622/5/1/2 Draft Minute Books
MS 1622/5/2 Investment Committee
MS 1622/5/3 Legacies/benefactions
MS 1622/5/4 Cash Books
MS 1622/5/4/1 Cash Books
MS 1622/5/4/2 Received Cash Books
MS 1622/5/4/3 Petty Cash Books
MS 1622/5/4/4 Misc. Cash Books
MS 1622/5/5 Ledger Books
MS 1622/5/5/1 Ledger Books
MS 1622/5/5/2 Cheque Cash Books
MS 1622/5/5/3 Contribution Ledgers
MS 1622/5/5/4 Sundry Cash Payments Books
MS 1622/5/5/5 Principal Ledgers
MS 1622/5/5/6 Investment Ledgers
MS 1622/5/5/7 Salary ledgers
MS 1622/5/5/8 Tradesmen ledgers
MS 1622/5/5/9 Sand and Gravel Ledgers
MS 1622/5/5/10 Misc. Ledgers
MS 1622/5/6 Records relating to stock
MS 1622/5/7 Misc. Papers related to financial matters

MS 1622/6 Secretary's papers

MS 1622/7 Premises and Property
MS 1622/7/1 Estate Committee minute books
MS 1622/7/1/1 Estate Committee minute books
MS 1622/7/1/2 Records relating to building of a new estate - includes minutes of a special meeting of the Estate Committee
MS 1622/7/2 New Institution/Building Committee
MS 1622/7/3 Rental records
MS 1622/7/3/1 Cash books for rent received
MS 1622/7/4 Deeds
MS 1622/7/4/1 Deeds
MS 1622/7/4/2 Lists of contents of Deed boxes
MS 1622/7/4/3 Register of deed releases
MS 1622/7/5 Plans
MS 1622/7/6 Details of property owned by the Blue Coat School
MS 1622/7/7 Material relating to decoration of the school
MS 1622/7/8 War Damage Contributions
MS 1622/7/9 Correspondence
MS 1622/7/10 Misc. material related to property and premises

MS 1622/8 Records relating to Religious Services

MS 1622/9 Recreation and Clubs

MS 1622/10 Printed Material

MS 1622/11 Photographs & glass slides

MS 1622/12 Misc. Items
Related MaterialFor an excellent written history of the school, consult:
B.Col 48.113, 'Blue Coat' - John D. Myhill which is available for reference in the Birmingham Collection.

For a history of the first century of the school, consult the archival document:
MS 1946/1, A short account of the Blue Coat Charity School, 1832.

A number of photographs of the school exist in the Warwickshire Photographic Survey (MS 2724).

A plan of the school can be found at MS 4/15A
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