"An Act to provide for the education of the poor gratis" was passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly in 1809. The act required the commissioners of each county to direct the assessors of each township to receive from the parents the names of all children between the ages of 5 and 12, who reside in the township, and whose parents were unable to pay for their schooling.
This information was recorded at the end of the tax assessments for each township. The names of the children would then go through an appeals process to determine their eligibility and once confirmed they were entitled to free schooling provided at the county's expense.
In 1834 the Public Education Law was passed. This law provided for the establishment of free public schools rendering the 1809 law obsolete. However, Chester County still continued to pay for the schooling of poor children until 1837. Most townships stopped returning the names of poor children after 1837, though several still submitted names until 1842.
This index is created from the Commissioners and Treasurers Account Books which record the final list of children qualified to receive free schooling as well as the tax lists. The account books are arranged by year and then by township. The list of poor school children are typically found on the last pages of each township's tax list, usually following the list of freemen. It is recommended that researchers see both the tax lists and the account books for each entry unless otherwise noted.
Poor School Children Teachers' Bills
Bills submitted to the Commissioner's Office by teachers seeking reimbursement for teaching and providing supplies to poor school children designated by the township assessors. The bills may contain the following information: