Mathewson Lecture

Eileen Brooke-Freeman will deliver a talk next week about how she has discovered more about the life of her ancestor Andrew Dishington Mathewson of East Yell (1799-1887) through studying his letters, plans and other documents deposited in the Shetland Archives.

Mathewson was a remarkable man. He first started teaching other children to read aged only 6 years old and was in sole charge of a school in Fetlar at 14. In 1822 he became the first schoolmaster at East Yell and continued some aspects of teaching until 1878 (aged 78).

As well as teaching children, he taught navigation to young men from all over Shetland and supplemented his meagre income by working as a land surveyor and holding other posts like sessions’ clerk, postmaster and registrar.

He had a family of 12 bairns and faced plenty of personal tragedy in his lifetime, burying his wife and 9 of his children.

He helped the needy, often getting into debt through his preference to teach a youngster or help a neighbour rather than chase up his dues. He wrote letters about the need for legislative change on several issues, including the need to register stillbirths. He also wrote letters on behalf of other folk in the neighbourhood.

We know so much about Mathewson, his family, his teaching and life in Shetland because of his meticulous record keeping. He and his family were highly literate and through their detailed letter writing we learn not just about family life, but about their neighbours and events of the time at home and away. Mathewson recorded details of what should be taught in school in addition to the more usual class registers and log books. As a surveyor he produced field notebooks with calculations and sketches, and superbly drawn plans.

He had a habit of writing in a miniscule hand and often it is easier to study his writing today through photographs or scans of the original letters or by using a magnifying glass.

Eileen’s talk will go into more detail about the life and work of this notable man. The talk will be held at Shetland Museum and Archives on Thursday 30th March. Doors will open at 7.00pm for a 7.30pm start. Tickets are priced £3.50 and available from reception or online at www.thelittleboxoffice.com/smaa

Related Posts

Mathewson Lecture

Memorial Lecture - Viking Genes, Jim Wilson

The Shetland Museum and Archives will be presenting their annual memorial lecture next week entitled ‘Viking Genes’ by visiting ...

Read more
Mathewson Lecture

Last chance to see Grayson Perry exhibition and hear from leading expert in contemporary art

To mark the close of the remarkable ‘Grayson Perry - A Potted Biography’ ceramic exhibition this Saturday 11 January, Director of ...

Read more
Mathewson Lecture

Grayson Perry: Behind the Scenes

We caught up with Curator of the Shetland Museum and Archives, Dr Ian Tait, to find out just what's involved in bringing the work of a ...

Read more
Mathewson Lecture

Looking back at the history of the 'North Star'

An evening of nostalgia is lined up on Thursday 12 December at the Shetland Museum and Archives with a special viewing of the ...

Read more
Mathewson Lecture

Festive Events at Shetland Museum and Archives

The Shetland Museum and Archives team is delighted to be launching a range of winter warming events this December to get visitors in ...

Read more