Sunday School

Robert Raikes 1780

Creator Robert Raikes
Robert Raikes
Born14 September 1736
Died5 April 1811 | Age 74

Robert Raikes ("the Younger") (14 September 1736 – 5 April 1811) was a philanthropist born in Gloucester England who promoted the concept of Sunday school free education. In 1757 he inherited his fathers publishing business, becoming proprietor of the Gloucester Journal.


Before the Sunday School movement children would work 12 hours a day or longer in the mills and sweatshops 5 or 6 days a week. Raikes knew that the future was grim for these children who had to work all the time with no hope of an education. And with no one to teach them the good news of the Lord.

Several individuals had started the principal of educating on a Sunday. Raikes was aware of William King, who had set up a Sunday school in nearby Dursley. Raikes saw an oppurtunity to change the outcome for these children which he shared with his friend, Reverend Thomas Stock who had a Sunday school at Ashbury, Berkshire.

Sunday Schools Reduces Crime
Robert Raikes statue Gloucester. Another stands in London and Toronto
Robert Raikes statue Gloucester. Another stands in London and Toronto

The movement began in July 1780 in the home of a Mrs Meredith. Within a short time several more schools opened in Gloucestershire.
Soon Robert Raikes and Reverend Thomas Stock had 100 children ages 6 to 14 attending their Sunday schools. Even though the children were taught only one day a week, their behavior began to improve.

Robert waited a few years to see if Sunday schools were a success. He then printed a story about the new Sunday schools. Before too long, around 4,000 new Sunday schools were started in towns all over England. Robert even used his printing press to publish reading books, spelling books, Bible study books, and copies of the Scriptures for the Sunday schools.

By 1831, Sunday schools in Great Britain were teaching 1.25 million children every week, approximately 25 percent of the population. They were the forerunners of the current English state school system.

Robert Raikes house Gloucester, now a Public House
Robert Raikes house Gloucester, now a Public House

World wide
Within a decade children were attending schools on a Sunday all over England. Soon the idea spread abroad to Ireland and the Commonwealth, into Europe, Canada and the U.S.
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