Stuart Moore 1868-1881

Stuart was a pupil at Ardingly College, then known as St Saviours’ School, from 1880 to 1881. He was born in 1868 in Great Abington, Cambs, to Daniel and Mary Ann Moore. He sadly died aged just 12yrs while attending the School and he is buried in the Parish Churchyard in an unmarked grave.

The following extract is from the book, “The Ardingly I Remember” edited by Nigel Argent.

It would not be right to pretend that everyone was happy at Ardingly! Some very precious letters from a young boy of twelve have come to me through Dr H G Wayment. Stuart Moore was born on 12 October 1868 and was homesick… ’I hate this college and wish I was at home again’. His letters are legible, except one written in pencil, and I would like to give some extracts. They are as I can decipher them, except that I have put in a few full stops to help the reader. It is noticeable that his punctuation improves gradually. I was worried by the request for poison for his neighbour — I assume it was some sort of medicament for treating head lice and not for murder. It is sad to relate that Stuart was one of those many boys who died tragically young, usually from some infection that could have been easily cured with today’s antibiotics. The Annals obituary said that his death ‘was a painful shock to us all,‘ such a fatality had not occurred among us for more than three years. A boy of quiet and unassuming character, he was comparatively little known by many of his schoolfellows. His associates testify to the goodness of his disposition and the purity and uprightness of his life and conversation’. The early part of the funeral service was said in Chapel and the latter part at his grave in the cemetery of the Parish Church. These may well be the earliest writings by an Ardinian still in existence?

Letters from a young boy – Stuart Moore 1880/81

…bread two inches thick and lard or the very commonest butter. . .now the boys are all running over the table on a Sunday morning. I have no one hardly to speak or play with..most of the best have got measles…ten out of forty are staying in this morning. Herbert* says he wishes he was back here again at Ardingly because he had more larks here than there [he had gone on to Lancing]‡. I have only about 5 months and a week a long time to look forward to at this dismal place…

Dear Brother, I hope you have enjoyed your holidays. Tell father to write to the Head master to let me come and meet you then we can have a nice talk. Put some things in my box for tuck. . .what you think I shall like. S. Moore mi

Aug 12th 1880

Dear father why have you not written to the Head master to put me in F. I don’t think it is any good now as most of the beds are occupied. I would like to come home now the lessons are to hard and one thing I miss is that I have to put my things right myself. Herbert ought to have staid at Ardingly. I wish I could come and now it seems like a month to me. The jam got spilt in my box over my shirt. Please send me the poison for the boy next to me is full of them and I have to comb my hair out when nobody sees me. . .I wish you had never known of this place…I can’t learn my lessons for crying. . .I have been out with the chaplain twice.

Sep 11th 1880

Dear Parents I want a lot of things but cant think of half of them I want a pr of scissors, a knife to cut my chunks. Buy a rug with my half soverign and send it to me by Herbert. All the farmers about here have finished harvest a week ago harvest festival on sunday here. I would like to be at home every Sunday for I am tired of chunks chunks chunks without anything else. I sometimes get some sugar. I am curled down a bit now I think anyway I should not be so bad to you as I was before I went away…send me a good practical penholder the other was broken all up when I opened the box all the pencils were broken…I remain your affectionate son Stuart Moore

Sep 14th 1880

Dear Parents You say that I am to tell you anything I want in particular I should like a pocket book I thought you had put one in my box when I came a knife some laces some writing paper envelopes and stamps If you have got a game of dominose or cards I should like them to play with up in the dormitory. Thank Mable for her kisses give her one for me

March 1st 1881

Dear Parents I got all three of your letters and wrote back after I got the comb. Today I thought of you when I saw the masters eating pancakes while I was eating rotton cabbage with such a tiny piece of meat. I have you always in my mind at every mealtime and at night especially when I lie in bed I think of all of you and Wish all good night. . .I have got very bad chill-blains on my hands where I never had them before they are near breaking and I can get nothing to put on them…time at school does not seem to make me like it far from it I still wish I was at home but being away at school makes me like being at home more… A fellow yesterday from our dormitory had the meales for the third time. . .I am very sorry I alarmed you by not writing with fondest love to all…

Stuart died on 23rd March 1881 according to the College records, although the Death Certificate says the 24th. His death was registered by A.L. Lewington, who was Chaplain of the School 1872-1908 and who is also buried in the Churchyard. Stuart was buried on 25th March in an unmarked grave (plot 104) in the Churchyard of St Peter’s, Ardingly. It is ominous that Stuart mentions in his last letter that someone in his dormitory has measles, although his cause of death is stated as Scarlet Fever.

Another letter home written by a fellow pupil, Charles Shaw, dated March 27th 1881, mentions the death of Stuart a few days before. He writes,

Measles has for the last 6 or 7 weeks prevailed in the school. During the last week Scarlitina has broke out. One boy named Moore in a School House dormitory died very suddenly last Wednesday the 23rd through Scarlitina and was interred at the village parish church last Friday 25th.

From the letters of Charles Shaw, Ardingly College Archive, ref. ACC/PP/SHA

The letter continues describing the diseases spreading through the school. The 2020 issue of The Ardinian (p52ff) discuses the various epidemics that afflicted the School and has further quotes from Charlie Shaw’s letters home.

The period is mentioned in a volume of the History of the School by R Perry published in 1951:

This extra room in the North School brought a further increase in numbers, and in November, 1880, there were no fewer than four hundred and fifty-eight boys in residence. This included about twenty servitors, but so many boys meant grievous overcrowding. It is not surprising, therefore, that there was another serious outbreak of scarlet fever in the following summer. Two boys died and no public Speech Day could be held. Perhaps as a result of this the numbers declined suddenly to three hundred and seventy, but quickly climbed again until the figure of four hundred and fifty-eight was reached again in April, 1883. This was the high-water mark. Fever once more visited the school, which broke up early for the summer holiday, and it was not thought wise or practicable to maintain this level. By I890 the number of boys in the school had become fairly stable at about three hundred and fifty. Hurstpierpoint at this time had about two hundred boys and Lancing rather fewer, so Ardingly remained much the largest of the three.

“A History of The School, Ardingly 1858-1946”; R Perry, 1951, p96

*Herbert Stanning Moore, his brother, was born in 1866. He became an Inland Revenue Officer travelling all around the UK. He married Caroline Wragg and they had three children, Constance born in Devon, Harold born in Leatherhead, and Agnes born in Argyle, Scotland.
† Mabel Moore, his sister, was born in 1876 and was the sixth of eight children to Daniel Moore and Mary Ann (neé Stanning).
‡ The implication is that Herbert went on to Lancing College, one of the Woodard Group of Colleges. In the 1881 census Herbert is at St John’s, Hurstpierpoint, now Hurst, but records from there state that he was only there from May 1880 until later in 1881. Where he went after this is not recorded. If he went to Lancing it is possible he attended the Grammar School and not the College. The Grammar School closed in 1890 and became a convalescent home, so he might have been one of the last pupils to attend.

May 1880 Intake at St John’s, Hurstpierpoint (extract) [via Lancing College Archives]