Chatter and Blather about Miss Jessop and Miss Matheson



Photo from Perth Remembered-The oldest house in Perth, now at 65 Craig Street was built of logs in 1816. Constructed by Lieut. John Adamson the house has served at various times as tavern, school, church, public hall, masonic lodge and printing office. Rev. William Bell held his first services in the attic of this house and Rev Michael Harris use the same quarters for his Anglican serves for three years, 1819-1822.

Education in the Early Days–Perth Courier October 15, 1864

In 1826 John Wilson opened a school in Mr. Tett’s building and later in the same year moved to the red building on Craig Street known as the Fraser property.  Still later he moved to a log building on the west side of Drummond Street.

About 1832 Mr. Wilson gave up his school and went in with John Stewart, as assistant of the district school  this is the Wilson who was the hero of the Lyon-Wilson duel.  On leaving Perth he practiced law in London and was subsequently justice of the high court.  During 1830 or before, Dawson Kerr opened a school in a log building just east of the Methodist Church.  This school was still in existence when the public school started.

A Mr. Hudson (his grandson was later to be the foreman for the Code Mill) and a Mr. Tully both taught at this time the former from 1830-32 or 33 in a frame building on the north side of Brock Street, between Beckwith Streets and the river and the latter from 1831 to 1833 in a log building which stood on the south side of the stream.

Robert Lees a brother of the ex-M.P.P. for S. Lanark conducted a school in a stone building on D’Arcy Street, starting some time in 1839. In 1847 Mr. Lees went to Ottawa, then Bytown, to practice law.  He later became a prominent Queen’s Council of that place.  Another of these schools was one directed by a Mr. Crookshanks in a building near the Methodist parsonage in 1845-50.  In 1840 a Mr. Somervilletaught in the building on the site of the present public school  A Mr. McLaren had taught there before his coming.

Besides these schools mentioned, which are the most prominent, there were several conducted by ladies from the earliest days.  The first of these seems to have been one managed by Mrs. Thompson, mother of Mrs. Arthur Meighen in her dwelling situated on the corner of Drummond and Brockville Streets.  This was as early as 1830.

Probably the best known and best remembered teachers in the district were the Miss Jessops who conducted their school in their dwelling (frame) on the north side of Brockville Street between Drummond and Beckwith Streets, starting some time before 1830 and continuing for many years.  There were three sisters, Margaret being the head of the school.  These sisters finally left town and their brother who had married the daughter of a wealthy Indian planter and dissipated her fortune, brought his wife to the old home, where she took up the school formerly taught by her sisters-in-law and managed it for some years.  Mr. Jessop was a gentleman of leisure and seems to have spent his time gardening and living on the proceeds of the school taught by his wife.  She was noted for being very cross and as would be expressed in the present day as “cranky” and seems to have vented all her anger against her dissipated husband upon the unfortunate children who were put under her care.

A Miss Matheson remembered attending this school when very small and told that they had “confession” every Friday when all the children had to go to Mrs. Jessop and confess the sins of the week.  TheHon. John Haggart also attended Mrs. Jessop’s school and seems to have been one of the banes of this worth school mistresses’ life.  He was seemingly so very stupid and dull that one day as punishment he was made to stand on the stove which did not support his weight the result being a bad mixture of broken stove and small boy.

In the early days, those ministering to the spiritual needs of the people in Perth did not receive very substantial addition to their income. The number of scholars kept increasing until the rooms of the manse were too small to accommodate them.

A Mr. Rutherford then put up a frame building farther back on the lot facing Brock Street and in this building Mrs. Wilson conducted her school until 1844 when she and Mr. Wilson returned to Scotland. When Mrs. Wilson began to take scholars Mrs. Jessop’s school began to go down and nearly all pupils were ultimately taken from her and sent to Mrs.Wilson.  She finally was compelled to close and then accept a position on the Common School staff.

The sisters Miss Frasers taught in the same building occupied by Mrs. Wilson after the latter left town but on their giving up there was no private school of any kind for girls.  Amongst a great many others who attended Miss Jessop’s, Mrs. Wilson’s and Miss Fraser’s schools were the Miss Mathesons.  On the occasion of Miss Frasers giving up teaching the Hon. Roderick Matheson wishing his daughters to have every advantage arranged with a lady by the name of Leuard to come to Perth.  He furnished throughout a frame dwelling just east of a Mrs. Weatherhead’s home at the back of his own garden and gave it to her free, paying her a certain amount every year.  He also gave her the privilege of taking other scholars to supplement her income.  Mrs. Leuard was only able to stay in Perth for a short time much to the regret of her scholars and their guardian.

Mr. Matheson then brought the Miss Sinclairs to fill the position.

Another school was kept by a Mrs. Auckland and her assistant was a Miss Hughes the heroine of the Wilson-Lyon duel.  Miss Hughes afterwards married Judge Wilson the survivor.  On the site of Mrs. Aukland’s school there was a school later kept by two Miss Hawlins.  In the 50’s the brick house opposite to St. James Church was used as a school house. Mrs. McKenzie was the head of this school.  One of her assistants was a Miss Dunham who later married Mr. McNalran, the grandparents of Mrs.Cyril Inderwick.

Miss Helen Buchanan, the eldest daughter of Rev. George Buchanan, a Presbyterian clergyman who settled in Beckwith township in August, 1822, opened a school in Perth soon after the family arrived in Upper Canada.  She was assisted by one of her sisters and the school was a great success for a year or two.  Miss Helen Buchanan then married John Ferguson, a wealthy merchant and lumberman.  She died on Feb. 19, 1830.  The sister Catherine Buchanan traveled to Montreal where she taught school for some year.  There she died in November of 1836.

Read the Perth Courier at Archives Lanark

About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s