Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Amelia Prince was the daughter of a London stonemason and probably about 23 years old at the time of Sir Francis Bond Head's visit in 1849 visit. She may already have been at Wolverton for a few years. She was born in London, the daughter of a stonemason and while at Wolverton lodged with Joshua Harris, the grocer on Bury Street. For her work as teacher of the Infant School was paid only £30 a year - not a very large sum, even in those days.
She prevailed, and a few years later was promoted to School Mistress with a salary increase to £40 a year. In the mid 1850s the schoolmaster was replaced by a 25 year- old George Russell and somewhere around all these snippets of fact lies a human interest story.
Mr.. Russell and Miss Prince fell in love, which of course is perfectly fine but for the conventional morality of the day. The L&NWR Board Committee which had oversight of these matters took a view which did not regard a liaison between two unmarried teachers as proper. Mr.. Russell was dismissed from his post in October 1857 and Miss Prince resigned her position two months later. Through this decision the school lost not only the amorous Mr.. Russell but also the very experienced Miss Prince who had worked there for at least ten years.
George Russell quickly found a job in Poplar so there is no suggestion that he left under a cloud and probably received good references. The future Mrs. Russell, six years his senior in age, joined him in January. They married almost immediately, later had one son, and subsequently worked in village schools in Essex and Hampshire.
We can also see the large disparity between men’s and women’s wages in those times. The schoolmaster’s annual salary of £100 put him on a par with clerks and engine drivers but the Infant School Mistress, in this case Amelia Prince, was paid little more than a boy apprentice could earn - typically between £25 and £30 a year. The boy apprentice, on achieving his manhood, could then earn £1 a week or better, whereas Amelia Prince had seen little improvement in her income after ten years of experience. Even so, when the Potterspury Poor Law Union decided to hire a teacher for the workhouse at Yardley Gobion in 1842 they were able to secure the services of a female teacher for only £15 a year.