Glossop Heritage Trust

The Joseph Hague Trust (Founded 1779)

Joseph Hague was born in Chunal in 1695 and, although little is recorded of his early life, tradition has it that his parents were very poor and the produce of their farm was insufficient to meet the needs of their family. Hard economic necessity drove young Joseph into the pedlar's trade and he tramped round the villages of the Peak District selling laces and ribbons and small parcels of woollen and linen yarn to the domestic hand loom weavers of the area. From these small beginnings came the foundation of a considerable fortune. Joseph extended the range and scope of his activities by buying a donkey and by the time he was twenty one years old he had accumulated sufficient capital and business acumen to move to London and set up as a merchant. In the years that followed, he grew more and more successful by selling to the weavers the yarn they required and by buying back from them the finished cloth, some of which he sold on the Manchester and London markets and the rest he exported.

Such activity naturally aroused jealousy amongst his customers and, along with his partner, Samuel Touchet, he was summoned before a Parliamentary Committee which was examining complaints of northern weavers. The latter accused the partners of monopolising the import of cotton yarn. Nothing came of the investigations even though the partners were said to be showing a profit of almost 30,000 from cotton, an immense fortune in those days. Touchet went bankrupt for the sum of 309,000 in 1763 but the more sensible Hague survived the ordeal and retired to his native hills in the 1770s, where he built a house at Park Hall, Hayfield.

Although his commercial life had been highly successful, his private life was shadowed by sorrow. He married, in his early London days, Jane Blagge of Macclesfield who bore him twelve children, ten boys and two girls, but none of them survived childhood.

In retirement, Hague turned his mind to ways in which he might use his fortune and, after providing for his many nephews and nieces, decided to do something for his neighbours in the Parish of Glossop. To this end he built and endowed a school in Whitfield in 1779 which came to be known as "The Whitfield Endowed School".

The trust deed establishing the school, in which Hague laid down detailed instructions for its organisation, makes interesting reading for twentieth century Glossopians. The hours were to be long, eleven a day in summer and nine in winter, and the holidays short, just three weeks per year. The curriculum was to consist of the three Rs with the church catechism on Saturday mornings, making up the fourth R. The endowment provided a salary of 38.00 per annum to the master and a weekly charge of 3d provided a further source of income which amounted to as much as 50 per annum at the height of the school's fortunes in the 1840s.

However, by this time, the Church was beginning to take an interest in education and mist of the Church Schools in Glossop were opened between 1847 and 1860. This, combined with the passing of Arnold-Foster's Education Act in 1870, considerably reduced the scope of the Endowed School. Mr W.P.Evason, who was appointed master in 1881, extended the life of the school into the twentieth century by satisfying a growing demand for more advanced work but, on his retirement in 1925, the school closed, events having overtaken the founder's intentions.

The Trustees converted the school into two flats which, together with the master's house, they let and later sold. The income from this investment, plus that of the original endowment was used to buy places at the Glossop Grammar School, New Mills Grammar School and the Pitman College, Manchester, until 1945 when secondary education became free. Once again events in the educational world had overtaken and outstripped the Trustees' intentions.

The Trustees were equal to the occasion and they immediately applied the Trust's income to assisting young men and women from the ancient parishes who wished to study at Universities and Colleges of Education and the Trust mow makes annual grants to students for books and incidental expenses and helps pupils at local secondary schools in extra curricular activities.

For two hundred years, the Joseph Hague Trust has sought to help the people of Glossopdale in ways which would have met with the approval of the founder. During that time, many people have been helped and the Trustees, whilst rigidly adhering to the spirit of the founder's bequest, have always tried to keep abreast with events in the education field and to identify and meet need wherever it has arisen. Inflation has eroded the value of the aid the trust can now give but the Trustees will continue to give aid and assistance where they can.

1. This precis has been extracted from a booklet entitled "The Joseph Hague Trust 1779-1979" written by J.Scott M.A. and J.A.Smith M.A. and published by the Trustees in January 1979.
2. The Hague School building can still be seen in Hague Street, Whitfield.
3. Joseph Hague was buried in the churchyard of Glossop Church and his tomb can be seen there.
4. There is a fine marble bust of Hague surmounting a mural monument by the sculptor Bacon in Hayfield Parish Church.
5. A noticeboard displaying the conditions and fees of the Whitfield Endowed School is kept in Glossop School.

More information can be found on the Whitfield Endowed School Here.

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Page last updated: 25 September 2017.
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