Saturday, January 28, 2017

Edward William Johnston: Rules of the Roanoke Female Seminary, 1839 (Part 1)

[Edward William Johnston, RULES OF THE ROANOKE FEMALE SEMINARY (1839). An original copy of this circular can be found at Hollins Digital Commons, Hollins University, here; and in Box 1, John Warfield Johnston Papers, 1778-1890, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. A transcribed version can be found here: "Notes on Hollins College," The William and Mary Quarterly, Volume 9, Number 4 (October 1929), pages 330-332].


1.  There must be prompt and cheerful obedience to the written Rules, and to all injunctions of the Teachers and Governesses.

2.  In school, at study hours, during Religious Duties, and after going to bed, there must be strict Silence.

3.  Noise with the feet, with desks, or with Chairs; disorderly Running, in the House or School; and all Cries or clamorous Laughter, are forbidden.

4.  The Roll will be called at Morning and Evening Prayers. No absence will be allowed. The Dress will be inspected, on both these occasions.

5.  In the interval between Morning Prayers and Breakfast, young ladies must make their beds, and put their Rooms in order for Inspection.

6.  One pupil, in each room, will be selected, as Inspectress. She will be answerable for all Irregularities, of which she does not report the authors; and will give out and receive back clothes from the Wash.  

7.  Each pupil will bring from home an exact list of her clothes. They shall, every week, be compared with it, by the Inspectress of her room.

8.  A Monitress will be appointed in each Class; who will be answerable for all disorders, in study-hours, that she does not report.

9.  Five minutes after the ringing of the bell, will be allowed, for Pupils to be in their places, at Table, or in School.

10. At Table, the quietest Good-Manners must be observed. No Greediness or Daintiness must be discovered. Pupils must learn either to speak French, or be silent.

11. There must be no familiarity with Servants; nor, on the other hand, must they ever be treated uncivilly.

12. Going out without a bonnet, or quitting your Seat, or the School-room without leave, will always incur a mark of Ill-conduct.

13. The careless Destruction of any part of the Property of the Establishment will [be] subject to a Bad Mark, and must, besides, be paid for.

14. Nothing belonging to the House must be used, without leave.

15. Each class will have its Garden-ground, its tools and Seeds and Plants. These must not be entered nor touched, by one of another class, without leave.

16. The same respect for the property of others must be practised in every thing -- books, stationary, clothes, &c. &c.

17. The Public Road, the Gardens of the Proprietor, the Cultivated Fields, the Fruit trees, and the Creek are, without leave, strictly forbidden ground.

18. Pupils must, in general, do nothing which, known abroad, would injure the character of the School, or their own.

19. Tale-bearing, Rudeness of Speech, Quarreling, Nick-names, attempts to frighten or to teaze [tease] each other, all sporting with the Truth, and all refusing to speak to each other, will be punished.

20. There must be no Idleness. Pupils must endeavor to render their Recreations useful. When not taking Exercise, they must read or work. No Plays will be suffered, in the House, unless with the Governess's permission.

21. Pupils will not be allowed to go home, except on Holidays -- (2 days at Christmas, 1 at Easter, and 1 on the 4th of July), or as a reward for unusual Diligence. But Parents, visiting them, will always be entertained with pleasure.

22. Saturday must be occupied in mending Clothes, attending to some house-hold Art, or something improving.

23. Sunday must be dedicated to Moral and Religious Studies and Duties; and must be profaned by no Noise or Play.

24. The Morning Bell will ring at Day-break. Prayers 20 minutes after, Breakfast 1 hour after Prayers. School will open 30 minutes after the Breakfast bell, and continue 3 hours. There will then be a Recess 'till 1 P. M. -- the Dinner hour. School will re-open at 2, and continue 'till 5. Supper at 6 in winter, and 7 in Summer. After Supper, Study resumes 'till 9 -- the hour of Evening Prayers. 30 minutes will then be allowed for going to bed. No light permitted, after that.

25. The ordinary Punishments and Rewards will consist of Marks of Good or Ill Conduct. Of these, a Register will be kept, and the Comparative Result reported, monthly, to the Parents. Idleness, Falsehood, Ill-temper, Disobedience, want of Cleanliness, and Immodesty, and slighter faults habitually committed, will be punished by, 1st. Loss of Recreation; 2nd. Restrictions in the quality of Food; 3rd. Confinement. Pupils committing gross Improprieties, or who show themselves, after sufficient trial, incorrigible, will be expelled. 

[The rules give a pretty good idea, no doubt, of actual student behavior, while brief descriptions of the facilities provide a general idea of the resources available in and around Botetourt Springs, Virginia, formerly owned by Edward's uncle, Charles Johnston.]

[Edward William Johnston (1799-1867)
Charles Johnston (1769-1833)
One of the Governesses would have been Marie Antoinette Estelle Costar (De Cressac Villagrand) Johnston (circa 1802-1848)]

[Many thanks to William Myers, Mary Davy, Sally Young and Susan Davis for their ongoing research collaboration.]

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