Lower Merion Academy: A Legend in Learning

The Wills

woodcut: boy examines a book on a stand

Where did the money originate to construct the Lower Merion Academy? Three wills provided funds for the building. John Roberts left 50 pounds in a will proved December 2, 1803 to

build a School House near the Meeting house of the people called Quakers in Lower Merion…within ten years after my decease…

or the money was to revert to Pennsylvania Hospital. In the will of Elizabeth George, proved December 1, 1806, she directed that the residue of her estate be given to the estate of Jacob Jones, her brother for

…establishing a free School or Schools in the Township of Lower Merion.

It is, however, the will of Jacob Jones which was the most generous in funding the Academy. In his will of September 30, 1803, he gave not only 800 pounds to erect the school building, but another 500 pounds in trust on landed security to employ teachers.

The interest from the monies was not only to employ teachers, but to instruct free of expense

as many Poor and Orphan children of both sexes living in the said Township… without regard to their religious Profess ions or Education

He also included

…a Certain messuage or Tenement and piece or parcel of Land at the West End of my Plantation…

The parcel was approximately 10 acres. Although the will was proved on Agril 26, 1810, the trust was not established until after the death of his wife, Mary, on October 28, 1811.

first page
First page of the will of Jacob Jones, dated 1803, in which he established a trust and gave land to build the first free school in this township.
Union Sunday school
The Academy and Union Sunday School (building at right) as seen in a photo from 1886. Israel Irwin on horseback with his wife, Margaret, and their daughters, Laura, Cora and Della.