There is a stone in the perimeter wall of Old Parish Church, directly opposite the door of the boiler house which is inscribed “John Dunlop School Mr 1704”. As pictured by myself last year.
This stone was obviously once part of an early Blantyre school, even earlier than the 1731 Adventure School built at the corner of the nearby Kirkyard. (this site is now in the garden of Rev Sarah Ross – if you’re reading this I’d love a chance to properly dig and explore!)
After the Reformation, John Knox, and later Andrew Melville pushed very strongly to get a school in every parish. There is a page in the Atlas of Scottish History to 1707, edited by Peter G. B. McNeil and Hector L. McQueen from Edinburgh University, (Scottish Medievalists and Geography departments. It was published in 1996, and the page attached is in the section called “Distribution of Lowland Schools before 1633” it is page 439.
The page indicates that a school in Blantyre existed even earlier tan 1731, indeed as far back as a hundred years before that! This also brings up another question, how old was that school, was it in fact pre-reformation or was it opened in deference to the reformer’s ‘Book of Disciple’ of 1560 which advocated schools in every parish?
This is indeed the earliest mention of any school in Blantyre that can be found. Education for children in Blantyre before 1633? Who would have thought it!