Account Books of the Oyster Bay Academy
Reverend Marmaduke Earle (1769-1856)
On permanent loan from the Town of Oyster Bay
In the spring of 1801, the Town of Oyster Bay granted a petition to build a “seminary of learning” at Church Hill on East Main Street. The following year, the Oyster Bay Academy opened under the direction of the Reverend Marmaduke Earle. His account books hold a wealth of information on levels of tuition, educational materials, custodial supplies, and general school policy. William Townsend’s tuition for one quarter in 1802 cost $1.25. By 1843, a five-month term for Edwin and Butler Coles ran to $9.50, with 75 cents additional for wood. Students received tuition credit for absence due to illness. Particular charges applied for boarding students, including muslin purchased for making and mending shirts. Payment was often in cash but commonly in labor or, in the case of Isaac Underhill, in oysters (550, to be exact).
One school-book order that Rev Earle records by title is the Schoolmaster’s Assistant by Nathan Daboll (1750-1818), of Groton, Connecticut, whose system of arithmetic saw wide service in pre- Civil War America and rated a brief mention in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. Other orders are often recorded without title, leading to some educated guessing today. The magazine subscription Earle records as “Missionary Mag.” is very likely The American Baptist Magazine and Missionary Intelligencer, issued in a new series between 1817 and 1826.
Reverend Earle, when not running his school, managed to perform hundreds marriage ceremonies as minister of Oyster Bay’s Baptist Church. He is buried next to his wife Mary in Oyster Bay’s Orchard Street Cemetery. His house on South Street, below Fort Hill, was moved in the 1960s to Summit Street, where it became the headquarters of the Oyster Bay Historical Society.
At right. The Oyster Bay Academy stood on East Main Street's Church Hill on the site of the former "Town House" (at left of map). The Academy's building is now Christ Church Rectory.