Exercise book; 1873; XEC.5236


Exercise book

About this object

This soft covered exercise book belonged to Margaret Edith Lush who used it for her lessons in 1873.

During the 19th century, educating girls was seen by many parents to be fruitless. This was because women were expected to marry, have children and run a household, all of which did not need formal education. (1) However, Margaret Edith’s parents, Vicesimus and Blanche Lush, stressed the importance of education and endeavoured to educate all of their children, including their four daughters. (2) Margaret Edith's father was an Anglican priest who served in the Auckland and Waikato regions. In 1851 he established a school at the All Saints Church in Howick, Auckland. In his journals, Vicesimus notes that the school roll included 15 girls and 12 boys and his wife helped by teaching the girls in the afternoons. Margaret Edith was largely taught by her father, her older sister Blannie, as well as governesses, and also received lessons in German, French and art from other people in the community. Therefore, Margaret Edith and her sisters received a higher education than most other girls of their era.

Tragically, Margaret Edith died from scarlet fever on 22 April 1876 at the age of 16. While the death of a child was not unusual during the Victorian era, this does not mean that the loss was not felt greatly by parents and family members. In the Lush family archives held at Ewelme Cottage, there are a number of mementoes which serve as poignant reminders of the family’s tragic loss, including her schoolbooks, photographs of her gravestone, memorium cards, and inscriptions in books.

(1) Anne Else, ‘Gender inequalities – Education,’ Te Ara – The Encyclopedia of New Zealand, www.teara.govt.nz/en/gender-inequalities/page-5.
(2) Gillian Nelson, ‘”In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength”: Vicesimus Lush and his journals, 1850-1882,’ Master’s thesis Victoria University of Wellington, 2012, p. 28.

For more information about the Lush family and Ewelme Cottage, which is cared for by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, visit our website.

Date Made


Medium and Materials



20.5 x 26cm

Subject and Association Keywords


Credit Line

Collection of Ewelme Cottage, Heritage New Zealand Historic Pouhere Taonga

Object Type

Exercise book

Object number


Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

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