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Royal Philanthropic Society

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  • John Butcher (c.1822 - 1893)
    John Butcher was a schoolmaster at Red Hill prior to 1851 and remained there as head of Garston's House until after 1881. In 1891, he was living on his own means at Lavender Lodge, Earlswood. (A new he...
  • John Lawrence (c.1810 - 1879)
    A widower, John Lawrence was a house master at the Farm School in 1861 when he married the school's housekeeper, the widow Hannah Heyler
  • John Cowen (1835 - 1923)
    In 1851, aged 16, John Cowen was a teacher at Central School Westminster. When he married in 1859, he was already a master at the Red Hill Farm School. He was still a master there in 1901, but had reti...
  • Jabez Howe (1828 - 1909)
    Jabez Howe was a student at Terrace House Training Establishment for Schoolmasters, Battersea, in 1851, but when he married Jane Buttery in 1853; he was described as a schoolmaster of Fakenham, Suffolk...
  • Henry Mallinder (c.1843 - 1907)
    Henry Mallinder had enlisted in the army as a 10-year-old drummer boy in the Grenadier Guards in about 1853. He then served in London and Dublin and by 1881 had been promoted to drum major with a subst...

Royal Philanthropic Society

A small group of British men who were concerned about the number of homeless children who earned a living on London streets by begging or stealing met in St Paul's Coffee House in 1788. The Duke of Leeds backed the men after the meeting and they set up The Philanthropic Society, (TPS) their aim being to aid the reformation of boys who had been engaged in criminal activities.

The object of this project is to connect boys and the administrators to Geni profiles and trees through examining census returns from 1841 onwards and various sources available online.

For a very thorough history of the Society visit the following web pages:

The Philanthropic Society was the second children’s charity to be set up, following the Thomas Coram Foundation, but it was the first with the aim of preventing children from committing crimes. At that time, children could be sent to the gallows and many were sent to prison for minor crimes. The Society opened homes to feed and care for the children and also to train them in cottage industries such as printing, shoemaking and twine-spinning often going on to be apprenticed to local craftsmen.

The records of the Royal Philanthropic Society are held at Surrey History Centre. The collection comprises the surviving records of the Society and its school since their foundation in 1788, to the Society’s merger with the Rainer Foundation in 1997.

Particularly noteworthy series include the

  • Annual Reports (1848-1976, with some gaps),
  • General Court and General Committee Minutes (1793-1937),
  • Finance Committee Reports (1856-1914), Journals (1793-1848, 1896-1933, 1946-1963), photographs (c.1891-c.1970) and
  • Registers of Admissions (1788-1967)

See list of records available

Royal Philanthropic Farm School, Redhill - Admissions 1788-1906

Royal Philanthropic School Records

The admission registers for the Royal Philanthropic School are bound items and as such the Surrey History Centre are unable to photocopy them and can only offer digital images of them. The price structure for their digital service is as follows:

  • A4 digital copy on basic paper £7.90
  • A4 digital copy on photo quality paper £11.30
  • A3 digital copy on basic paper £12.40
  • A3 digital copy on photo quality paper £22.60
  • Images on CD £11.30 for the first image and then £6.80 for subsequent images
  • £2.80 handling fee

It is possible to visit the Record Office and photograph the required pages yourself. Camera permits cost £7.90 for one day or £23.75 for five days. Permits apply to both cameras and mobile phones with camera facilities.


1788 The Philanthropic Society started.

1832 The Philanthropic School at Redhill opened. The Society opened this residential school believing that their work would be more successful away from the streets of London, out in the clean country air,

1839 A school was established in Mettray near Tours in France and a European movement was begun.

1854 Reformation was added to the Society’s aims along with prevention and the Society goes into partnership with the Government who gave money for the boys placed at the school. An Act of Parliament allowed the court to refer young offenders to the Philanthropic Society Reformatory as an alternative to prison.

1876 Frederic Rainer a journeyman printer and a volunteer with the Church of England Temperance Society, wrote to the Society of his concerns about the lack of help and hope for those who came before the courts. He gave five shillings and started the London Police Court Mission (LPCM).

1907 The LPCM staff became ‘officers of the court’, becoming the national Probation Service in 1938.

1960 The LPCM was renamed the Rainer Foundation

1986 The Royal Philanthropic Society closed the Redhill school.

1988 Crime Concern was set up by the Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, to help the Home Office, the police and local authorities to reduce crime and make communities safer.

1997 The Royal Philanthropic Society and the Rainer Foundation merged to form RPS Rainer, changing its name in 2003 to Rainer.

1998 A training provider that had been run by the Portsmouth City Council joined the charity

2002–2006 Other charities become part of Rainer :

  • The DIVERT Trust - a mentoring charity for young people leaving care
  • NLCAS – support for research and good practice and Communities that Care – an evidenced based community programme promoting the social development and prevention of behavioural problems of young people.

2008 Rainer and Crime Concern merged to become Catch22.

The Staff

The “head” of the school was referred to as resident chaplain, chaplain superintendent or, later, as warden. During the 19th century, the chaplains at the Redhill Farm School were:

  • Rev Sydney Turner, who was instrumental in taking the school out of Southwark and to Redhill in 1849, served as chaplain between 1841 and 1857. When he left the school, he was appointed Inspector of Prisons and Reformatories.
  • Rev Edwin Gyles, chaplain for six months in 1857.
  • Rev Charles Walters, who was very influential in the emigration scheme, was chaplain for 25 years – 1857 to 1882. He died at the school.
  • Rev Arthur Gregory Jackson, who also died while chaplain at the school, in 1887.
  • Rev Marshall George Vine was the last chaplain and warden of the school in the 19th century and served from 1887 until 1918.

During the middle part of the 19th century, there were at least 250 boys at the Farm School at any one time. They lived in five houses called Gladstone, Garston, Waterlands, Queen’s and Gurney (some of them named after benefactors). Each House had a house master, most of whom stayed at the school for several years, with their wives acting as matrons to each house. Among the house masters who were at the school during the second half of the century were:

Other senior members of staff included:

Emigration as a Mode of Disposal

Emigration as a Mode of Disposal of Reformatory School Boys, and its results in ten years;

A paper read to the Treasurer and Committee of The Philanthropic Society's Farm School, Redhill, Surrey, by the Rev. Charles Walters, M.A., Resident Chaplain,


IN compliance with your request that I would furnish you with some statistics and remarks upon the subject of Emigration as a mode of disposal of Reformatory School boys, and its results, in order to the circulation of the same among the friends of your school, I have much pleasure in submitting to you the following : —

Experience has taught us the necessity of carefully adhering to certain main principles in the working of this mode of disposal. That we must not send out the sweepings of our school : that we must not shovel out even our well-selected lads, but send them in small detachments as quietly and unobtrusively as we can : that emigrants must be selected with special reference to their good conduct in the school, their physical powers, their aptness for colonial work, and their social connections : that on arrival in the colony they should find a friend to welcome them, place them out, advise them, encourage them to come to him in any difficulty, give a home character to the strange country and lessen the hardships of their first acquaintance with it : that correspondence should be kept up with them by the School, of a familiar and gossiping character rather than highly moral and sermonizing ; reminding them, however, that their regard for the School is best shewn by their daily life illustrating the lessons they learnt there, and their gratitude to the School by exerting themselves to find situations for succeeding emigrants, or, at least, by creating a demand for them on the part of their employers, by their own steadiness, willingness to learn and length of good service in one situation.

All these are points bearing closely on the continuance and success of emigration, and the strictness of our observance of them will be the measure of our success.

To shew the results of emigration thus conducted I will give, in a tabular form, our own published returns of eight successive years, beginning with 1863 and ending with 1870, observing that the returns of 1863 comprise the emigrants of 1859, '60 and '61, and so on, thus allowing a probation of one, two and three years in each period : and I will give the returns of the Home Disposals also, for the same triennial periods, reckoned in the same manner; the table shewing the numbers reported on in each year, together with the percentage of the unconvicted, the re-convicted, and the unknown, in both the departments of Emigration and Home Disposal.

Thus eight successive periods of three years each, comprising 783 annual returns of 347 emigrants, to Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, yield an annual average of 86 ½ per cent unconvicted, 8 per cent re-convicted, and not quite 4 per cent unknown; whereas 1189 annual returns of 479 home disposals, in the same periods, yield an annual average of 74 ½ per cent unconvicted, 22 ¼ per cent reconvicted, and 2 per cent unknown : the emigrants thus yielding 12 per cent more of good cases, and 14 1/4 per cent less of reconvictions, than the home disposals.

To estimate fairly these results and the striking difference between them, I must tell you that, of the 347 emigrants, 189 were London boys, 122 were from other large towns, and only 38 (the remainder) were from country districts : that these 311 town boys were not mere “gutter-children” at admission, but realities of juvenile crime, advanced in their “teens,” and decided in their criminal character. The number of convictions recorded against them is shewn in the following table : —

Convictions 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Boys 102 88 58 27 13 8 7 1 1 1 1 2 1 1

Thus 811 convictions were recorded against these 311 town boys at their admission, and the actual number of their convictions is known to have been far beyond that.

And although these results of emigration and home disposal are so different from each other, yet the materials of both were drawn from much the same localities, and were submitted to the same training in the School. The home disposals, indeed, as a whole, were of less decided criminal character than the others, emigration having been resorted to, in very many cases, chiefly because of the more intensely criminal character of the boy before admission, and being regarded as the only means of completely separating him from his former vicious connections.

But we shall get a still better view of the good results of emigration, by looking at one colony only — Canada East — where, since May 1861, we have enjoyed the patronage of a most valuable friend, who spares no time, labour, or expense to himself, in receiving, providing for, superintending and reporting on our boys, and who, through our introduction, has similarly befriended other Reformatory Schools. And I refer to Canada East more especially because (i.) our shipments thither have been large and regular; (2.) our friend's reports are not romantic, but authentic and official; (3.) these reports refer to boys sent to us under the Reformatory School Acts, and therefore not merely vagrant and destitute, but criminal lads; and (4.) they enable me to answer an important question sometimes discussed, namely, whether, considering the facilities for returning to England, emigration to Canada ought to be encouraged, or the more distant Colonies preferred ?

Now, from May 1861 to December 1868 our friend in Canada East received from us 157 boys, and from his annual official reports I am able to state that of all that number only 4 have been reconvicted in Canada down to the present time (one in 1866, and three in 1869) : that all others who have remained in the colony have kept honest and nearly all done well, many are respected for their integrity and marked for their skill in manual labour, (one obtained the first prize at the Durham ploughing match in 1868), several possess considerable savings, some have purchased land or are farming or brick-making on their own account, and some have married wives there; one letter of my correspondent's in 1869 informed me of no less than three recent marriages by emigrants of 1861 and 1864; some have occurred since, and others, he tells me, are contemplated. His letters abound in details, most interesting and encouraging, of the high standing which Red Hill emigrants have everywhere gained in the estimation of their employers ; of the tone and bearing and appearance of the lads, who constantly visit his house, sometimes travelling many miles for that purpose ; of their good influence upon one another ; their savings and investments : and the boys' own letters to me, though enthusiastic and even romantic enough sometimes, yet give ample proof, to us at least who knew the writers in old times, and watched over and trained them, of the unmixed and ever-increasing good which emigration can work ; while our home disposals present, on nearly all these points, a very instructive contrast, even among the honest and industrious of them.

I will give but two extracts from these Canadian letters. In August 1869 my friend wrote as follows : " I should have much liked to send you a good long account of our boys from Red Hill. I can only say they are going on first rate, and they are a credit to you for the pains that have been taken with them, as I know what they were in the rough. It must have dulled some of your tools to put the polish on, so many of our early boys have succeeded so well. Some own mills, some farms, and many others having considerable sums out at interest is a great inducement to others to follow in their footsteps. Just think for a moment, boys being proprietors of farms after being in the province some 6 or 7 years — boys from the streets of London and the provincial towns in England — well may they bless the day they were put on the Red Hill farm, to be taught to work and earn an honest living." Again, in August 1870, he writes hus : " I have had a number of our boys (or young men) to see me of late. Your old friend Tipton is married and doing well, he owns a saw mill, which is good property here, and 150 acres of good land, and only 300 dollars to pay ; Little Radford is hired out to him at 150 dollars a year. Waterhouse is in the bark mills and gets his 5s. a day; but our boys must not expect such luck on first coming to Canada, they must recollect these young men have kept themselves steady and gained for themselves a good standing in society : look at Happy Jack (Wm. Smith), Punch, Voght, Jones, Bishop, Shepherd, Perry, Terry, and scores of others ; there is just the same chance for all that come here. William Johnson has several hundred dollars out at interest, Radford, Voght, and others the same, Kitchingman is doing equally well, so is Tupper."

But to this bright picture there is a shady side, furnished by the history of those emigrants who have returned to England. Still confining our view to the 157 Canadian emigrants of the last 8 years, I find that 32 of them have returned home again; but these 32 disappointing cases present some extenuating features worthy of notice : for whereas 12 of them were soon reconvicted after return, the other 20 have continued honest and many of them have done well in England.

And hence it appears that, in 153 out of 157 cases, emigration was an effectual barrier against a relapse into crime, so long as the emigration lasted, and that in two-thirds even of these 32 renegades, it proved an effectual severance of the lad from old haunts and connections : the unfaithful emigrant returned with new ideas, larger experience, and a stimulus to honest exertion which made him dissatisfied with the old state of things at home when he had reached there. In proof of this I may add, that 9 out of these 20 unconvicted, enlisted very soon after their return home and have been soldiers ever since ; 2 became sailors, one of whom is now dead, the other is still the chief support of his widowed mother ; another married and has done well : and in all the cases I have proof that emigration, short and ineffectual as it seemed, yet did something for them which could not have been done without it.

So that, on the very worst view of the case, out of 157 emigrants we have only 16 reconvicted (4 in the colony and 12 in England) in the period of 9 years, whereas the same number of discharges, according to the average of reconvictions for the Refor- matory Schools in Great Britain as published in the Inspector's last blue book, would have shewed no less than 29 reconvictions, and in the shorter period of 4 years only.

And, another extenuating feature in these returned cases is, that whereas, in most instances the return home is effected by the scheming of the parents, and their delusive promises of steady work and home comforts, — untruthful yet very attractive to the still struggling emigrant — we have been able latterly to frustrate their efforts and greatly to diminish the number. I now endeavour that all letters from England should go through the correspondent's hands, and one great point in my own large correspondence with him and the lads is, to keep both well informed of every case of reconviction at home, especially of returned emigrants, and of the poverty and sore temptations that surround so many in England of even the honest and deserving, contrasting them with the emigrants, who not only are exempt from these trials, but can send remittances to their poor relatives at home, and occasional small donations to our School chapel fund, and even afford to pay the whole cost of their emigration to the colony, as one of our boys did for his brother last year. We supply them liberally with papers and small books, to relieve the monotony of winter life, and with garden seeds for summer recreation; and latterly, as a further inducement to settle, we have reduced the emigrant's outfit at starting, and have authorized the correspondent to meet his first earnings with a small sum of money for the purchase of strong Canadian boots or other necessary articles.

And the result of these efforts is that, whereas out of 59 emigrants sent in the three first years since 1861, no less than 21 returned to England, only 11, out of 100 emigrants (nearly) in the last 4 years have returned down to the present time.

My last returns to the inspector's office of emigrants in the years 1866, '67 and '68 made up to December 31, 1869, and comprising no boys (all except 4 sent to Canada East or West) gave the result of nearly 94 per cent living honestly, and 6 per cent reconvicted : out of these no only 6 had returned to England, and one half of that umber had been since reconvicted.

Within the 10 years (1859-68) comprised in the table on p. 5 we reduced the cost of emigration from £23. 15s. to £12. 8s. per boy. The present cost of emigration to Canada is about 10 guineas per boy, of home disposals it is about £2. l0s. ; my last returns shew that our loss of emigrants by relapse into crime is about 6 per cent, and our loss of home disposals about 24 per cent : so that, financially, emigration is now about four times as costly as home disposal, but morally, home disposal is four times as costly as emigration.

I will only add that our Australian emigration clearly proves that boys can easily return home even from the most distant colonies, that boys remaining in the colony and convicted there, are a great nuisance and discouragement to the correspondent, a great hindrance to the well-conducted emigrants (by preventing their quiet absorption into the general population, as well as in other ways) and an injury to the deserving lads in the School, by imperilling the continuance of an opening there for expectant emigrants.

My conviction is that Canada supplies an opening as good as we ought to give, and as effective for our purposes as deserving lads require ; and that the facilities for return (discouraging though these returns always are) are rather a recommendation to sending boys thither, than a dissuasive from it, inasmuch as they are a safety-valve for the escape of superfluous and dangerous energy, the explosion of which in the colony might prove very disastrous to us.

Work so costly as emigration, even after all our economy, so necessary, as the very key-stone of our operations, and attended by such marked, continuous and growing success, demands and deserves every effort to maintain it in vigour and efficiency. I am glad to say that the counties and boroughs, from which we receive boys, generally appreciate our desire to send abroad as many as, in our judgment, need this mode of disposal, and so the expenses of the majority of our emigrants are provided for. But in the 10 years, to which this paper refers, the Philanthropic Society has spent nearly £2500 of its own funds in this way alone, chiefly on boys sent to us from the London Police Courts; and although these demands upon us have very greatly diminished in the last 5 years, yet similar cases are continually occurring from time to time, which our own diminished resources are inadequate to meet, and these cases are now on the increase again.

I record, with much gratitude, some of the liberal donations which have enabled us to keep up this branch of our operations, e,g. Mr. Henry Edwards' gift of passages to Natal, Mr. Frederick J. Dickinson's reduced passage-rates to the same colony ; donations of £50 from Mr. W. S. Brown, Mrs. Adam Steuart Gladstone and Mr. H. P. Sharpe, as well as grants at different times from the Reformatory and Refuge Union, amounting to about 200 guineas. In this year, the Union has increased that amount by £20. The Misses Gurney, Mr. Leveson-Gower, and the Treasurer, have also given us timely and most welcome help by defraying the whole emigration charges to Canada of three boys, otherwise unprovided for.

I much wish that other friends of the School would allow me to submit to them, from time to time, such needy cases as may thus arise, with a view to their making themselves chargeable with the necessary expenses of emigration, on our present reduced scale. The Treasurer generously made me such an offer in 1865, and in this year he has again fulfilled his promise on my second application to him. We should not be very burdensome to our friends.

I need hardly say that such a mark of confidence would lay me under special obligation to select, with the utmost care, the lads intended to be the recipients of these benefactions ; and that it would furnish a constant stimulant to my fellow-labourers in training and recommending them ; and I feel sure that the benefactors themselves would reap their most satisfactory reward in the good conduct and prosperity of the emigrants in their adopted homes.

Charles Walters,

Resident Chaplain. Christmas 1870,


Since the above was written I have obtained the annual returns to December 31, 1870, of the results of our work, as arising from boys discharged in the years 1867, 1868 and 1869. These results from 231 boys are as follows : —

Unconvicted . 83 ½ per cent. Re-convicted . 15 ½ per cent. Unknown . 1 per cent (nearly).

There is the same striking difference as ever between the results of Emigration and Home Disposal, for whereas, of the above 231 boys.

134 Emigrants yield 91 per cent of good cases and only 7 ½ per cent of bad ones. 97 Home Disposals yield only 72 per cent of good cases and 26 per cent of bad ones. CHARLES WALTERS, Resident Chaplain. Red Hill Reformatory. Feb. 18, 1871.