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Muckleston Family History Group

researching all references to the surnames Muckleston, Mucklestone, Muckelston and Mackleston please get in touch via the contact us page with any additional information or to correct any errors.

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The School Mistress

Maria Muckleston.


1864 - 1943


Maria was born on 20th July 1864 the 8th of 11 children born to George Muckleston a bricklayer / builder of Harlington and his wife Mary (nee Millard). She was baptised on 5th February 1865 at Toddington Church in Bedfordshire. She never married but was part of a large family and well loved. She died on 8th November 1943 aged 79 of heart failure; her niece Clara Jane Pelling registered her death (she was present).


A list of Teachers at the National and Primary School shows that in 1875 M Muckleston (Maria) was a monitor. A note shows that she started as a monitor and progressed to become a teacher. She never left the school! She appears on the list of teachers in 1887, 1896, 1900, 1917 (earning a salary of £65), and 1922.


A couple of newspaper articles give an insight into her life as a long serving teacher who dedicated her life to teaching.


Aug 9 1954


Over the entrance to the Church of England school in the small market town of Toddington, Bedfordshire is the inscription "National School, 1854." The school was founded to be conducted on the principles of the National Society for Educating the Poor. Officially it has been since 1947 a "voluntary primary school (controlled)" under the Bedfordshire Education Committee, but it is still "The National School" to everyone in Toddington. The headmaster, Mr. R. Dillingham, has celebrated the centenary by compiling a short history of the school that is also a contribution to social history. It appears from the school's well-kept log books - the first dating from 1863 - that in the early years children were allowed to come to school when three years old. Some parents tried to send them at two. The fees for tuition were lowered in 1865 from 2d. to 1d. per week for labourer’s children. In 1877 all pupils over seven were paying 3d.; and a year later it is noted that a great many fees are in arrears, " but we cannot press the payment of them too much as some of the parents are out of work." An entry in November, 1886, reads: "Some of the fathers will have no regular work from now till March, 1887. These parents earn some weeks 2s. and this has to support the family. These children cannot possibly pay any fee." Some remarkable attendance records are mentioned. In a week in April, 1885, out of 34 children on the standard III registers 339 attendances were made out of a possible 340. In 1915 "Walter Hobbs received a Bible for 11 years perfect attendance." Notable also is the long service of some of the staff. Mr. C. E. Thomas was headmaster for 39 - years to his death in 1914. Mr. B. M. Wootton served the school for 38 years - from 1914 to 1950 as headmaster. Maria Muckleston was an assistant for 41 years and Annie Walker for 47 years.


The Ampthill and District News

May 13th 1893 Toddington:

May Day on Monday week sixteen children of the National Schools, under the leadership of Miss M Muckleston, paraded the town with their may pole and performances were given in the principal parts. A collection was made which amounted to 12s.


The memories of Dick Stanghon (born 1906) who lived in Toddington all his life (more can be found here )  includes the following:


'At the age of five I began my schooling, at the old National School. Conditions were pretty grim compared to today. The toilets were terrible, the heating was sparse - we had an old stove which coal was thrown onto. The teacher which readily comes to mind was Miss Walker. Then Miss Muckleston who we used to call Maria - took I believe, standards 3 and 4. She was a real old battle-axe - in our opinion.' 


Maria’s will.

This is the last will and testament of me Maria Muckleston of Milton Villas Toddington in the county of Bedford Spinster. I hereby revoke all former wills and testamentary dispositions at any time heretofore made by me and declare this to be my last will and testament. I give devise and bequeath unto my friend John Aubrey Ladds of Church Square, Toddington aforesaid Commercial Chief Clerk all my real and personal estate whatsoever and wheresoever of which I may die possessed of or entitled to absolutely and I appoint the said John Aubrey Ladds to be the sole executor of this my will In Witness whereof I have hereto set my hand this 4th day of November one thousand nine hundred and forty three. Signed by the said Maria Muckleston with her mark X as her last will (the same having been previously read over to her by me the undersigned Ralph F M Fawcett when she seemed thoroughly to understand the same).


Her mark on her will is interesting considering she was a teacher but it was made just four days before she died so maybe she was not well enough..