Home » People » Forgotten Folk » David Manson – Belfast’s Enlightened Schoolmaster
Image of blackboard
Blackboard image

David Manson

In 1755 David Manson set up a school in Clugstons Entry in central Belfast, promising to teach

“by way of Amusement, English Grammar, Reading and Spelling at a moderate Expense”

Belfast News Letter

Manson was to prove a figure of note in terms on education in Northern Ireland but what was his background?

Early days

As a child Manson suffered from rheumatic fever and had received little formal education himself. Taught at home by his mother, Manson went on to teach English in Larne before starting out on his own.

Love is a Boy,
by Poets styl’d,
Then Spare the Rod,
and spill the Child.

Samuel Butler, in Hudibras, first published in 1662:

His progressive teaching ideas were based on encouraging success rather than punishing failure. Unusually for the times, when discipline and punishment often characterised schooling, he provided teaching for both girls and boys and encouraged his pupils to enjoy learning through games and rewards – fostering a zeal for knowledge. Manson also started a free night school for teachers so that he could share and spread his views and innovative practices. He authored a well-regarded dictionary “Manson’s Spelling Book”

Business Success

His venture was so successful that he had to move to larger premises, first to High Street, then to Rosemary lane and finally to Donegall Street. Many of his students came from prominent Belfast families. One of his most noted pupils was Mary Ann McCracken, who apparently excelled at mathematics. Another alumni of the school, the author Katherine Hamilton, wrote of him:

David Manson’s extraordinary talents were exerted in too limited a sphere to attract attention. He consequently escaped the attacks of bigotry and envy; but the obscurity which ensured his peace prevented his plans from obtaining the notice to which they were entitled…

Katherine Hamilton, Author

Recognition

However, Manson’s innovatory educational style was publically recognised in 1779 when he was granted the Freedom of the Borough of Belfast. David Manson died on 2nd March 1792 and his torch-lit funeral was attended by hundreds. This was a testament in itself to the respect and admiration this Belfast schoolmaster earned through his outstanding work and his enlightened values.

David Manson Plaque – Donegall Street, Belfast

Belfast Entries is a husband & wife hobby website featuring articles on our shared history and entertaining stories of our past. We hope you enjoy visiting the website and would particularly like to thank those who have made a donation through the “Buy Us A Coffee” facility.

If you enjoyed this article...

If you like the Belfast Entries stories and want to see ALL new posts, please add us as Facebook friends by clicking the button to receive notifications of new posts. Remember that we can only post to a specific group if the subject is relevant – no group will see all posts as our topics vary every week.

What are others reading now?




Sharing Posts

Please share our posts to help us increase readership for future posts. All posts can be shared directly from this website page or can be shared from our Facebook page.

You can also add feedback to the Comments section below every post. Comments will not appear immediately as we have to vet the comments submitted to remove automated adverts/ SPAM. All genuine comments are welcome.


Belfast Entries posts & photos are our intellectual property and copyrighted to us. Where we use photos that do not belong to us, it is because we believe them to be in the public domain or shared under a Creative Commons licence with appropriate attribution. None of our content or images can be used without our consent. Note that a link to our Copyright & Takedown notice is included in the website footer on all pages.


P&P

We are a Belfast couple adding information on Belfast and the surrounding counties. Over coming months we will add a range of posts covering the people, places, products and stories that interest us and will hopefully be of interest to you. Over time we hope to build up information of use to locals & visitors alike and welcome your feedback on subjects of interest or stories that might be interest to the wider audience. Let us know what you think.

0 Comments

Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published.

Sign In

Register

Reset Password

Please enter your username or email address, you will receive a link to create a new password via email.

Would you like notifications of new Belfast Entries posts?    OK No thanks