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BUSS, Frances Mary and family papers

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 2457 FMB and family
Held at: North London Collegiate School
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Full title: BUSS, Frances Mary and family papers
Date(s): 1845-1935
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: approximately 2 boxes, 25 volumes and a number of artworks.
Name of creator(s): BUSS | Frances Mary | 1827-1894 | education reformer
BUSS | Robert William | 1804-1875 | artist and engraver
BUSS | Frances | nee Fleetwood | d.1861
BUSS | Jane | fl.1878-1894
BUSS | Alfred | 1830-1920 | clergyman
BUSS | Septimus | 1836-1914 | clergyman
BUSS | Maria Emma | [1836]-1912
BUSS | Francis (Frank) Fleetwood | clergyman


Administrative/Biographical history:

Frances Mary Buss (FMB) was born in London, 16 August 1827, the daughter of Robert William Buss, an engraver and illustrator, and his wife Frances nee Fleetwood. Educated locally in dame schools. She began her teaching at the age of 14 in the Mrs Wyand's school, Mornington Place, Hampstead Rd.

When she was aged 18, FMB and her mother opened a preparatory school for young children in Clarence Rd, Kentish Town, using a system of education based on Pestalozzi, 'a method which renders the important duty of Instruction interesting to the teacher and attractive to the pupils'. FMB also took evening classes at the newly established Queen's College 1849-50, gaining certificates in French, German and geography. In 1849 the Clarence Rd school moved to larger premises in Holmes Terrace, where FMB's father Robert William Buss and her two brothers - Alfred J Buss and Septimus Buss assisted with the teaching until the school was given up.

The North London Collegiate School for Ladies, opened in the Buss family home in Camden St, on 4 April 1850, with 38 pupils and FMB as head. It aimed to provide education for the daughters of the middle class community in which it was situated, with other members of the family again assisting the staff with the teaching.

In 1869, a public meeting was held to form a trust to take over the ownership and running of the School. Trustees included FMB's brothers Alfred and Septimus, and at the insistence of FMB, a number of women. Fourteen of the trustees, were appointed to the governing body for both the NLCS and a new lower school established at the Camden St site, under Miss Elford, when the NLCS moved to larger premises at 202 Camden Rd. With the increasing academic opportunities that were opening up for women, FMB began to recruit women graduates to teach in her schools. There were nine graduates on the teaching staff by 1885, eight of whom were former pupils of the school.

FMB was instrumental in the formation of the Association of Head Mistresses, in 1874, together with other leading head mistresses, its first meeting being held in her home in Myra Lodge. She was the first president, and Dorothea Beale, head of Cheltenham Ladies College, the first chairman.

FMB was also active in the area of promoting employment for women. She corresponded with the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women in 1870. She attacked the Government for restricting its office clerkships to men, in 1865, and praised the Post Office for enabling girls to sit examinations for vacancies the following year. She believed that teachers should be highly educated and well trained and was also instrumental in setting up the Teachers' Guild in 1883, and inaugurated a location section at the School in Mar 1889. She was also a driving force behind events leading to the creation of the Cambridge Training College in 1885 (later the University Department of Education, Hughes Hall), and she paid the first year's rent on the cottages housing the first eleven students, four of whom were from NLCS.

FMB continued as Headmistress of the School for the rest of her life. She was absent from school for most of 1893-4, suffering from failing health, and died on 24 Dec 1894.

Alfred J Buss, (1830-1920) younger brother of Frances Mary Buss, taught arithmetic and Latin, in 1870 became a Governor of the School and in 1875, Clerk to the Governors. He was ordained as a clergyman. Alfred married Mary Caron, and they had three children, Charles Caron, Mary St Olave and Le'onie.

Septimus Buss (1836-1914) was the seventh child of Robert and Frances Buss, and younger brother of Frances Mary Buss. He left school aged 14 in order to attend lectures at University College, and afterward spent some time at work in the studio of Alfred Clint, eventually rejecting an artistic career for the study of theology. He studied theology at King's College London, receiving BA 1858, LLB 1863. He was ordained Deacon in 1860, and Priest 1861, and appointed Curate at St Peter's Regent's Square until 1862, Curate at Holy Trinity Haverstock Hill until [1863], Chaplain to St Pancras Workhouse, 1864, and evening lecturer at St Andrew's Haverstock Hill, until 1873. His next appointment was as Rector of Wapping, 1874, Shoreditch, 1881, St Anne's and St Agnes', Gresham St, London 1899.

He also taught at NLCS, giving drawing lessons during the 1850s, then teaching divinity to the upper classes, which he continued for 55years. He was an enthusiastic supporter of the temperance movement (having worked with members of his parishes suffering from the ills of excessive drinking). In 1860 he married, Maria Emma Buss (1836-1912) his cousin, and they had three children Francis Fleetwood, Arthur Clement and Ernest Wilfred. Following Maria's death he married in 1913, Kate Dyke. He died on 20 Sep 1914. Maria Emma Buss [1836]-1912, the daughter of Charles Buss (1806-1877) who was the brother of R W Buss, was one of the first pupils of NCLS. She completed her school education aged 16, in 1852 and trained at the Home and Colonial Society, before joining the teaching staff at the school. In 1860, she married her cousin Septimus Buss.

Rev Francis (Frank) Fleetwood Buss, son of Septimus Buss, and nephew of FMB.

Robert William Buss (1804-1875) artist, was born in London, 4 August 1804, son of William Buss, engraver and enameller. He was apprenticed to his father, and studied painting with George Clint. He painted many portraits of actors, later also painting historical and humorous subjects; exhibited at the Royal Academy, British Institution and Suffolk Street (1826-1859), produced book illustrations, lectured on various art subjects, edited the Fine Art Almanac, and produced etchings. He also taught science, elocution and drawing at the NLCS. He married Frances Fleetwood, in 1826, and they had five surviving children, Frances Mary (1827-1894), Alfred J (1830-1920), Septimus (1836-1914), Octavius, and Decimus (1840-1919). He died in Camden Town, 26 February 1875.

Jane Buss, wife of Henry Buss MD (1810-1900) who was a brother of Robert William Buss, and aunt of FMB.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records comprising:

papers of Frances Mary Buss including scrapbook of articles, notes, anecdotes, pamphlets, [1886 1881; Queen's College Teaching Certificate 1848-1849; sketch of family tree; volume containing copies of Girton Songs, [1890]; letters to and from FMB, [1870s], and letters from friends, colleagues and former pupils, including Dorothea Beale, Emily Davies, Jane Storrar, Annie Ridley, Sara Burstall, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Maria Gray, Anne J Clough and David Laing;

letters out copybook of Alfred J Buss, 1882-1889, 1897-1906 (2 vols); letters to AJB, [1870s];

illustrated journals of Septimus Buss, 1860-1875 (3 vols), continued in 1935 by Francis Fleetwood Buss; watercolour;

scrap book of Jane Buss, including photographs, illustrations, printed drawings etc, 1878-1894;

papers and art work of Robert William Buss including scrapbook of prints of engravings of titled 'Illustrations of University Life', 1842; volume of sketches, drawings and etchings by RW Buss (owned by Mary Caron Buss, 1914); sketchbook (undated); 'RWB extemporary compositions and sketches' (1845) - related to a sketching club, containing works by various members of the club; 5 portraits by R W Buss, in pen and ink; pastel portrait of FMB as an infant; and two oil paintings; file of papers, 1859-1909; photos, 1850s; designs and prints;

Buss family papers including volume of press cuttings, relating to the death of Frances Mary Buss, 1894; scrapbook compiled by F F Buss, 1854-1922; Frank Fleetwood Buss chronicle of the Buss family, (undated); List of persons named Fleetwood who have served in the naval and military forces, compiled by Robert Woodward Buss, 1920 (privately printed); The family of Fleetwood of Calwich co. Stafford with a pedigree, by RWB, London, 1908; The ancestry of William Fleetwood..., 1926; papers relating to the Fleetwood family history, 1908-1926 (13 printed booklets); letters photos, family memorabilia, notes on family tree, printed papers, 1860s- 1980; photographs of FMB and family members including Mary Caroline Buss, and Mary Caron Buss; and sketches and watercolours, [1870s-1920s].

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

By appointment. Available to bona fide researchers only. Contact the Mrs Karen Morgan, Archivist, North London Collegiate School, Canons, Edgware, HA8 7RJ. Tel: 020 8952 0912 Email
Access restrictions apply to material containing sensitive personal and institutional data.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies available subject to the physical condition of the materials. Researcher may be asked to contribute to the costs.

Finding aids:

Archive database (incomplete) may be consulted in the School Library

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:


Allied Materials

Related material:

Records of the Association of Head Mistresses 1874-1977 [Ref: GB 0152 Mss 188] held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick.

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Sources: Historical Manuscripts Commission's On-Line National Register of Archives; And their works do follow them, the story of North London Collegiate School, Nigel Watson, James and James, London 2000; The North London Collegiate School 1850-1950, A hundred years of girls' education, Essays in honour of the centenary of the Frances Mary Buss Foundation, Oxford University Press, London 1950; Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 1995); Septimus Buss LLB, an appreciation by his eldest son, (FMB and family Box 1);
Compiled by Alison Field as part of the London Signpost Survey Project

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
September 2003

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