Newtown Manor School

views updated


About 1653 Ralph Crouch, a layman, established a school at Newtown, St. Mary's County, Md. Crouch, who had been in the Novitiate of the Society of Jesus at Watten, Belgium, for some time, around 1640 came to assist the Jesuit Fathers in the Maryland Mission. The school, which opened in 1653, was made possible by a provision in the will of Edward Cotten: "I doe give all my female cattle and their increase forever to be disposed of unto charitable uses the stocks to be preserved and the profits to be made use of to the use of a Schooll." He expressed his desire that "if they shall think convenient the Schooll [shall] be kept at Newtown" (Maryland Land Records, Liber 1, 4648). In a letter dated Sept. 4, 1662, Crouch stated, "I affirme boldly alsoe that on my part I did (as appeared to all my neighbors) as much as lay in mee, fulfill the will of the deceased [Cotten], in remoueing my teaching of schoole to the New Towne: and there was ready some years to teach, eyther Protestant or Catholikes" (Archives of Maryland, 49, 2022).

Crouch returned to Europe in 1659 and was readmitted into the Jesuit Novitiate at Watten as a coadjutor brother. He died at Liège Nov. 18, 1679. The school, however, was still in operation in 1662, when it was mentioned in the trial of Francis Fitzherbert, SJ, and perhaps until at least 1667, since an item in the estate of Robert Cole, of Newtown, contains provision for "the Childrens Schooling" (Archives of Maryland, 41, 566567; 57,206).

In 1668 William Bretton and his wife Temperance sold Newtown Manor to the Jesuits, who in 1677 opened a school for humanities at the site. In a 1681 letter of the English Provincial, John Warner, reference is made to a school opened four years earlier under the direction of the Jesuits Francis Pennington and Michael Forster, who were assisted by Brothers Gregory Tuberville and John Berboel. That the school was more than a "Three R's Academy" is indicated by the fact that the pupils were admitted into European colleges. Two boys sent to St. Omers, Belgium, from this school in 1681 were Robert Brooke, the first native-born Marylander to become a Jesuit, and Thomas Gardiner. Thomas Hothersall, a Jesuit scholastic who used the alias Slater in the Maryland Mission, taught grammar and humanities at the school from 1683 until his death in 1698. Although the school at New-town Manor seems never to have fully developed, it kept alive the idea of an education under Catholic auspices and maintained, as it were, the franchise for later and fuller developments.

Bibliography: t. hughes, History of the Society of Jesus in North America: Colonial and Federal, 3 v. (New York 190717) v.2. j. m. daley, Georgetown University: Origin and Early Years (Washington 1957). e. w. beitzell, "William Bretton of Newtown Neck, St. Mary's County," Maryland Historical Magazine 50 (1955) 2433; "Newtown Hundred," ibid. 51 (1956) 125139.

[j. m. daley]