‘To be able to govern ourselves then to govern others’; this was the guiding principle (paraphrased from the writings of the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury), of the private tutor, Patrick St Clair, in a letter to his patron, Ashe Windham.1 In many ways this statement encapsulates the aims, functions and importance of schooling as a means of inculcating masculine identities in landed gentry men. Education was a crucial marker of elite status across this period. It transmitted masculine qualities deemed appropriate by family and society as a means of justifying the superiority of male elites over other men and women. As Gordon Mingay pointed out ‘the landed classes governed the country and led society not only because of their wealth and political power, but also because they formed an elite, educated and trained from childhood to fulfil their role in society.’2 During their ‘entry into the world’ boys who left home for their schooling had their first taste of a higher level of independence, with the opportunity to experience and interpret society beyond the immediate influence of their families. Schooling had a continuous and fundamental impact on gender norms throughout this period. However, important shifts in stereotypes of masculinity and in education interacted with these continuities.
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