Robert Raikes

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Robert Raikes (1725-1811) was an English philanthropist. Born in Gloucester, he inherited a publishing business from his father, becoming proprietor of the Gloucester Journal in 1757. He used the proceeds, among other things, to set up the first Sunday school in England.

This was the beginning of the Sunday School Movement. It started with a school for boys in the slums. Raikes saw that vice would be better prevented than cured. He saw schooling as the best intervention. The best available time was Sunday, the available teachers, were lay people. The curriculum was the Bible. Raikes bore most of the cost in the early years.

The movement began in July 1780 in the home of a Mrs. Meredith. Only boys attended, and she heard the lessons of the older boys who coached the younger. Later, girls also attended. Within two years, several schools opened in and around Gloucester.

He published an account on 3 November 1783 of Sunday School in his paper, and later word of the work spread through the Gentlemen's Magazine, and in 1784, a letter to the Arminian Magazine.

By 1831, Sunday School in Great Britain was ministering weekly to 1,250,000 children, approximately 25 percent of the population.

Source

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