Monthly Archives: January 2016

An Excellent Education


Untitled (2) Mrs Dunnan, the headmistress of The Clergy Daughter’s School received visitors and inspectors reguluarly, Keeping very high standards. The school was always impeccable and the reports glimmering. The above newspaper clipping tells of dignitaries such as the Lord Lieutenant, and the Duchess of Marlborough.

The below gives insight into the standard of  Emily received, the subjects offered and how it prepared young ladies for their future.

Report of the visiting ladies
Checked the below categories:

School Business

Order and regularity
Religious Instruction
Needle work
English education, geography, arithmetic, and reading
Music and drawing

General appearance of pupils and school
cleanliness and tidiness
Manners and deportment
Attention of superintendents
State of apartments
Suggestions for benefits of the institution

Professors and teachers
Principal Lady Mrs Dunner

Holy scripture, English, French, German, Italian, Latin, pianoforte, vocal music, drawing.

The principles adopted by the school along with the subjects studied more than set Emily for her nursing career. Emily finished her education around 1887, when she turned 20 at that was the upper age limit for the Clergy Daughter’s Schools.

She came out trained in a broad range of subjects and skills. She seemed to excel in languages, speaking Russian, German, French and her native Irish. All her skills would have more than prepared for her career as a nurse and the ability to travel with her job.

Dublin Daily Express 13 May 1879
Clergy Daughter’s School Reports 1868 – 1886. Courtesy of RCB, Church of Ireland Library, Dublin
Ní Dheirg, Íosold. Emily M. Weddall: Bunaitheoir Scoil Acla. Beann Éadair, Baile Átha Cliath: Coiscéim, 2010.

A School for Young Ladies


Rules of Entrance

The lady principle of Irish Clergy Daughter’s School at the time Emily was a pupil was Mrs Dunnan. Mrs Dunnan ran an excellent institution and had the highest of standards for the school and the pupils. It appeared that she was rule abiding and enforced strict instructions as seen below. Also included is a list of the items of clothing and personal effects the girls were required to have on entrance.

It is required that applications for admission be accompanied by references to two or more clergymen acquainted with the circumstances of the applicant.

Reference must be given to some respectable person, who will garnet the regularity of the quarterly payments, which will fall due on 1st January, 1st April, 1st July and 1st October, in each year and in advance.

Each pupil will bring with her, at entrance the following articles; and the whole supply should be kept by her parents or friends as long as she remains at the school, viz –

Nightwear from the time Emily attended school

Nightwear from the time Emily attended school

A Bible and prayer book
1 Best summer dress
2 Calico do
1 Best winter do
1 Everyday do
3 Day chemises
3 Night do
3 Night nets
12 Pocket handkerchiefs
2 Bodices or stays
3 Flannell petticoats
2 White or colour do
1 Dark warm do
3 Calico bodices
2 Aprons (Black alpaca)
2 Pairs of house shoes
2 Pairs of strong boots
6 Linen collars or frills
3 Pairs of woollen stockings
4 Paris of cotton stockings
2 Brush-bags
1 Warm lined Dressing Gown
1 Calico Dressing Gown for summer (Every article to be marked with indelible ink – the name in full)
Winter and summer gloves of each (2 paris)
Comb and brushes
Work box and writing case, thimbles and scissors
1 Umbrella, 1 clothes brush and 1 sponge
Boots bought when needed and repaired will be charged in the quarterly accounts

Clergy Daughter’s School Reports 1868 – 1886. Courtesy of RCB, Church of Ireland Library, Dublin
Thanks to my good friend Maureen Rose Rendell for sharing her photos and research into costume with me

Educating Emily 2

The Clergy Daughter’s schools were charitably funded making it possible for Miriam and Emily to attend. There they would have received a top education for the time, in some ways on a par with today’s standards. In a letter to the newspaper in 1860’s the committee of the school made an appeal to the public to support the school. They bandied around the terms Christian sympathy and public benevolence to appeal to peoples better nature encouraging donations. They put forward the fact that some of the girls attending had lost at least one if not both parents, such was the case of Emily and her sister.

Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, where Emily attended school in the 1870's and 80's.

Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin, where Emily attended school in the 1870’s and 80’s.

Both the Rev Burke and his wife died in 1883, leaving their four children without a guardian or much financial means. The charitable organisation of the Clergy Daughter’s School would have offered the girls an education now that they were alone in the world and had to provide for themselves in those times. The boys would have attended the male equivalent.

The annual report of 1883 of the Clergy Daughter’s School, the time Emily and her sister Miriam where pupils there stated:

10 pupils were admitted, three of which were orphans. In the course of the past year eight pupils left the school, and eight were elected to fill their places. One of those at present on the books thirty one in number or has neither father nor mother; three have lost their mothers, and four have experienced the heavier affliction of being deprived of their fathers, having lost withe them their chief means of support. In no case except two at present in the school, does the proportion of income to each member of the family reach £30 per annum.

It might be interesting to mention, as evidence of the utility of the Irish Clergy Daughters’ School, that many of those who have received their education within its walls have subsequently supported themselves by teaching others. From a tabular statement, recently drawn up, it appears that, within the last fourteen or fifteen years, eleven obtained appointments as governesses in various families, and five others performed the important duties of the same office towards their younger brothers and sisters, on their return home.

The Burke children received a great education at these schools, enabling them all to lay down the foundations for a self-sufficient life. Richard trained as a bank clerk, and secured a position The Bank of Ireland in Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. Her other brother John Jasper emigrated to Australia as did her sister Miriam. Emily’s education at the Clergy Daughters’ School would certainly have laid down the foundation for her nursing career.

Dublin Evening Mail 30 March 1863

Educating Emily

Emily attended the Clergy Daughter’s School on Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin. She may have began her education there when she was ten years old, the entrance age.

Untitled (1)

Clergy Daughter’s School

Established in 1843 and incorporated by scheme of the Education Endowments Commissioners, 1894 the school was situated on Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin and shared premises with Alexandra College. Its object was to assist the clergymen and families of clergymen with limited means in the education of their children. The School catered for girls aged ten to eighteen whose fathers were Church of Ireland clergymen. The school closed in 1969. The site in Earlsfort Terrace was sold and the funds used to support boarding at Alexandra College and elsewhere.

Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent14 July 1853
Clergy Daughter’s School Reports 1868 – 1886, courtesy of Church of Ireland RCB Library, Dublin


Emily Alone

Over the course of five years Emily had lost both of her full brothers in quick succession and her only sister, Miriam had emigrated to Australia, married and had her own family.

To make matters worse around the time of Richard’s sickness and subsequent death there was another family tragedy unfolding across the water in Yorkshire, England. Her half brother, William Henry’s life had spiraled into chaos, too horrific to imagine. He had lived a somewhat privileged life as a a doctor, but he had difficulties too and drank heavily, loosing his family as a result. He got lost in his own sadness and died in 1889 at the age of only 43.

Emily's brother, William Henry

Emily’s brother, William Henry

This final blow must have hit Emily hard, but somehow she overcame this horrible period in her young life. It is possible that she got help and guidance from the Revell/Joly family, who were known for their generosity.

In 1893, at the age of 25 she began her training in Sir Patrick Dunn’s Hospital in Dublin as a nurse.

The York Herald Tuesday November 26, 1889
The Sheffield Evening Telegraph, Monday, February 6 1888
Thanks to Mary Revell Dinnin, for sharing her family history with me.