We hold in our collections the 1854 annual report book and a book of songs of the Yorkshire Society’s School [Z.1443]. The School was established in 1812 by Dr James Saner (1779-1860) who was originally from Hanlith, Kirkby Malham and practised as a surgeon in London. The school at Lambeth provided boarding and education for the children of respectable Yorkshire parents, reduced by misfortune or by death, residing within ten miles of the General Post Office, St Martin’s Le Grand, London. Subjects taught included Latin, mathematics, music and chemistry. Dr Saner provided free medical care to the children. He died aged 81 in March 1860 but the school remained in operation until 1917.
The 1854 report book of the Yorkshire Society’s School lists patrons, committee members, attendees of previous anniversary dinners, pupils and the birthplace of their parents, and rules. The admission rules stated that no boy was eligible whose parents or parent had received parochial relief and that ‘no Boy be admitted…who has not had the small-pox, or been vaccinated.’ Admission also depended on proof of Yorkshire parentage and the recommendation of two governors of the charity.
Songs composed and sung by Dr Saner at the annual fundraising dinners of the Society have been collated into a volume covering 1812 to 1859. Saner sang every year except one near the end of his life when he was too unwell. The songs reference current affairs, chairmen and committee members, crazes and new inventions. Most songs ended with an appeal to those attending the dinner to support the school with charitable giving. The book includes a glossary of Yorkshire dialect words used in the songs.
The 1814 song tells of a journey to Yorkshire in a stagecoach with a ‘Cockney’:
When he saw York minster he cries out this here
Beats our Westminster Abbey and that’s rather queer
For I thought in this County I nothing should see
But a Pig, or a Cow, or a Horse, or a tree.
The 1819 song tells of a lad who went to London on his horse to seek his fortune:
So I got on quite safe up to Islington Town
When the old mare was so frightened that she tumbled down
At what folks call’d a Dandy ye know what I mean
Gitten stride of an old razor grinders machine.
The 1828 song refers to a Bill for the legalising anatomy:
As I’m here now I’ll give our great chairman a hint
So that Surgeons with subjects he need never stint
If he’ll get it enacted to cut up all those
Who’d let the hungry want bread or the naked want clothes.
The 1829 song is accompanied by a note stating ‘This year York Minster was set fire to by a Maniac’:
But now I must tell ye as I travell’d through York
I saw with my Een most horrible work
For I saw what flaid me almost out o’ my wits
The pride of all Yorkshiremen burning to bits.