Great Victorians

This list is just my choice of prominent Victorians from all the many possibilities. The Victorian age was such a time of innovation and change, and spanning 64 years, provided a great number of people to select from. I have included those born before the Victorian era, and those who died afterwards: the main selection criteria being that they lived part of their life between 1837 and 1901. The list is far from complete and will be added to as time goes on, but if you have any burning nominations, then drop an email.

Social Innovators
Dr. Barnardo
Thomas John Barnardo (4 July 1845 – 19 September 1905) was best known for the children's home he established. Barnardo was born in Dublin, Ireland of John Barnardo, a furrier, and his second wife, Abigail. He was the fourth of five children. His father was of uncertain descent although but had come to Ireland from Germany. His father's family were Lutherans and his mother was Plymouth Brethren, so it was perhaps not surprising that Barnardo developed an intention to become a medical missionary to China. He studied medicine at The London Hospital, and qualified as a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons.
Whilst studying in London, Barnardo was involved in evangelical work with churches, and became aware of the vast numbers of homeless and destitute children in cities. In London this had been made worse by an outbreak of cholera which had killed 3000 and left many families destitute. Feeling called to do something he gave up his missionary ambition and began working with the problem to hand.
In 1867 Barnardo established The Ragged School, in the East End of London, which sought to provide free education to poor children. One night, a pupil took Barnardo around the area where he saw children sleeping in gutters and on roofs because they had no home.
Moved by this poverty, Barnardo established his first children's home at 18 Stepney Causeway, London in 1870. He was supported by Lord Shaftesbury and Lord Cairns (1st Earl Cairns). The home in Stepney housed 60 boys in five dormitories. This was the first of many such homes, and at the time of his death in 1905, he had established 112 district homes throughout the UK. The homes found waifs and strays, and then fed, clothed and educated them. In 1871, at the first home, an 11-year old boy, John Somers (nicknamed 'Carrots'), was refused admission because the home was full. Two days later Carrots was found dead of malnutrition and exposure. This incident so shook Barnardo that he determined not to turn another boy away. A sign on the door read: "No Destitute Boy Ever Refused Admission"..
In 1872 Barnardo purchased the lease of The Edinburgh Castle, Limehouse, which had been a gin palace and music hall. Barnardo set it up as a coffee house and mission church. This won financial support and notice from local churches.
In June 1873, Barnardo married Sara Louise Elmslie, (called Syrie) the daughter of a Lloyd's underwriter. She shared Barnardo's Christian convictions and social conscience. They had seven children, three dying in childhood. One child had some form of disability. Barnardo and his wife, Syrie, were given a home in Barkingside as a wedding gift, and there Barnardo created a 60-acre which featured houses for children to live in "families" in a "village". It started with 12 cottages, but grew quickly to over 100, and housed 1300 girls. A steam laundry was added and a Children's Church built.
The boys, in other houses, were also provided with work experience in a trade training section, and as the homes expanded various arrangements were made to ensure all children had the best opportunity of development. Some younger children were boarded out in rural areas, while older children were send to industrial training homes to be taught useful domestic occupations. At the appropriate age children were helped to find employment. Barnardo also ran a rescue home for girls in serious danger, a convalescent seaside home and a hospital for the terribly sick.
Barnardo laid great stress on the religious teaching of the children under his care, and children were brought up according to the denomination affiliation of their parents.
Apart from his work with the homes Barnado also found time to serve briefly as a resident doctor at a health spa in Southport and to open a school Birkdale. He also wrote 192 books dealing with the charitable work to which he devoted his life.
Barnardo died of angina pectoris in 1905 at the age of 60. A national memorial was instituted to raise £250,000 to relieve the various institutions of all financial liability and to place the entire work on a permanent basis. A new director was appointed and the work continues to the present day. When Barnardo died he was caring for over 8500 children.
Dr Barnardo
William Booth
William Booth (10 April 1829 – 20 August 1912) is best remembered as the founder of The Salvation Army. He was born in Sneinton, Nottingham, the second son of Samuel Booth and Mary Moss. He had four siblings. Although his father was fairly well off when Booth was born, changing circumstances led him to poverty, and by the time Booth was 13 there was no money to send him to school so he was apprenticed to a pawnbroker. His father died when Booth was 14.
During his apprenticeship Booth became a Methodist and read and studied extensively with the aim of becoming a Lay Preacher. His best friend, Will Sansom, encouraged Booth to become an evangelist and together they preached around Nottingham. Sadly, Sansom contracted tuberculosis and died in 1849. Booth's apprenticeship ended in 1848 and he spent a year unsuccessfully searching for work. Booth determined to try his fortune in London, where he found work with a pawnbroker. He took up lay preaching again but got few opportunities, so he took to open-air evangelism in the streets and on Kennington Common.
In 1851 Booth joined the Methodist Reform Church and on his 23rd birthday he was able to leave pawnbroking to take up a position as a full-time minister at Binfield Chapel, Clapham. Booth had met Catherine Mumford who was as enthusiastic in evangelism as he was, and they became engaged. Booth took an interest, for a while, in the Congregational Church which had a different style of church leadership, but he decided that was not for him. Nevertheless he married Catherine Mumford on 16 June 1855 at Stockwell Green Congregational Church in London. Mr and Mrs Booth went on to have eight children many of whom later followed and served in the Salvation Army.
In 1853 Booth was invited to become the Methodist Reformers' minister at Spalding, Lincolnshire, which he accepted. Although Booth wanted to be an evangelist, to his frustration the Methodist Church kept assigning him to pastoral positions, and finally, after serving a final three years at Gateshead, he resigned in 1861.
Following his resignation Booth was no longer able to preach with the Methodist Church so he established himself as an independent evangelist. In 1865 Booth was preaching outside of The Blind Beggar public house, Whitechapel, London when some missioners heard him speak. They were so impressed they invited him to speak at a series of meetings they were holding in a tent on Mile End Waste, Whitechapel. Booth started preaching there on 2 July 1865, and the poor and destitute flocked in to hear the powerful message of salvation he presented. Many who attended were alcoholics, criminals and prostitutes, and they would not have been welcome in conventional churches. Recognising his vocation Booth, and his wife Catherine, started a work they called 'The Christian Revival Society'. They preached each night to anyone who would listen. The society was later renamed The Christian Mission.
At first the work was hard and Booth often stumbled home fatigued. Sometimes he was struck by stones thrown at him, and urchins would toss fireworks through the windows of the warehouse where they held their meetings. Yet slowly the work progressed and they established outposts as well as starting a soup kitchen.
In May 1878 Booth was dictating a letter to his secretary and said, "We are a volunteer army." His son, Bramwell Booth, heard him and said, "Volunteer, I'm no volunteer, I'm a regular!" Booth instructed the word volunteer to be struck out and the word "salvation" put in place. This new "Salvation Army" was modelled after the military with a flag and a uniform, while members were given ranks according to their status. William Booth became the first General. They wrote their own hymns, often putting words to popular tunes of the day, and they formed bands to accompany the singing. Although there was much opposition, not just from the "lost" people they sought to preach to, but also from the established church, the Army prospered. By the early 1880s they had operations throughout the UK and in the United States, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Jamaica, and many others. In his lifetime, William Booth established Salvation Army work in 58 countries and colonies and travelled extensively to all of them.
Booth also wrote books and hymns. In his book In Darkest England and the Way Out, a bestseller in its day, Booth addressed the issue of poverty and suggested that the quality of life of many people was less than that of people living in so called Darkest Africa. Booth's opposition to drink, which he saw as one of the causes of poverty, led to a great deal of opposition from the alcohol-selling industry. A group calling themselves the Skeleton Army sought to disrupt the work of the Salvation Army and some of the clashes were so violent that it lead to the deaths of several Salvationists, In one year alone almost 700 soldiers were assaulted, many of them violently. There was also opposition from the established churches. Lord Shaftesbury, himself an evangelical Christian, even went so far as to describe Booth as the "Anti-Christ". Although the opposition was great, fuelled by the press, eventually the tide began to turn, and towards the end of his life Booth was well received and welcomed by kings, emperors and presidents, as well as lesser members of established society.
In 1899 Booth went blind in both eyes, but after a rest recovered his sight, and in 1904 went on a motorcade around Great Britain stopping to preach from the open top car in which he travelled. He received honours when he was made a Freeman of the City of London, was granted an honorary degree from the University of Oxford; and in 1902 was invited to attend the coronation of King Edward VII. Although he was aging Booth made another visit to the United States in 1907 and toured the UK again in 1909, but the trip was cut short when it was discovered he was blind in his right eye, while having cataracts in his left eye. A surgeon at Guy's Hospital removed Booth's right eye. Recovering he went on another tour to the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland and Italy in 1910. This was followed by his last tour by motor around the UK.
Booth died at the age of 83, In Salvation Army terms he was "promoted to glory". He lay in state at Clapton Congress Hall for three days where 150,000 paid their last respects. A funeral service at London Olympia was attended by 40,00 including the Queen Mary. The next day a funeral procession started off from the Salvation Army International Headquarters with 10,000 Salvationists and 40 Salvation Army bands taking part. He was buried with his wife, who had died in 1890.
The effect of the work established by Booth cannot be underestimated. Their brand of practical Christianity has spread to 126 countries. The Salvation Army has a worldwide membership of over 1.5 million and it is one of the largest worldwide distributors of humanitarian aid, yet the heart of Booth's mission was in the salvation of souls. Here in his own words is the core of Booth's mission:
“While women weep, as they do now,
I'll fight
While little children go hungry, as they do now,
I'll fight
While men go to prison, in and out, in and out, as they do now,
I'll fight
While there is a drunkard left,
While there is a poor lost girl upon the streets,
While there remains one dark soul without the light of God,
I'll fight-I'll fight to the very end!”
William Booth
Thomas Cook
Thomas Cook (22 November 1808 – 18 July 1892) was born in Melbourne, Derbyshire. At the age of 14 he took up an apprenticeship as a cabinet maker. In his private life he attended the local Strict Baptist Church and on completing his apprenticeship, spent some of his free time touring the area distributing leaflets as an evangelist supporting himself with occasional cabinet making. In 1828 he became a Baptist Minister. At that time, the temperance movement was strong, widely promoting abstinence from alcohol. Cook took the pledge in 1833 and began organising meetings and rallies. He moved to Market Harborough in 1832 and in 1833 married Marianne Mason with whom he had one son.
Thomas Cook had an idea to take a group of Temperance campaigners from Leicester to Loughborough, 11 miles away. 540 people took up the offer of a trip at a price of one shilling (5p) which included the train fare, food in the journey, and even allowed some profit for Cook's work. This first trip was followed by several others, and led Cook to start a business running excursions for pleasure. He began to include accommodation in the package, but in 1845 his lack of commercial skills led him to bankruptcy. He persisted with his idea however, and in 1851 was able to take 165000 people to the Great Exhibition. By the 1860s he had started offering Grand European Tours. He added even more destinations including Egypt and the United States.
In 1872 his son, John A Mason Cook became his business partner, and the business became Thomas Cook and Son. The company diversified and in 1879 Thomas Cook retired. During his declining years he became blind and died in 1892.
Thomas Cook
Grace Darling
Grace Darling (24 November 1815 – 20 October 1842) is known for an act of heroism. She was a lighthousekeeper's daughter.
Grace lived with her father William, and her mother Thomasina, in the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands. The Farne Islands were off the coast of Northumberland and in an area known as a "shipping graveyard" because of the large number of ships that came to grief on the dangerous rocks. During the night of 7 September 1838, when Grace was 23, there was a violent storm and. looking out of a window in the early hours, she spotted a boat wrecked on the nearby island called Big Harcar. Grace and her father could see the wreckage of the Forfarshire, a paddle steamer, which had broken in two on the rocky island. It had been travelling from Hull to Dundee. They discussed what to do. They knew that it would be impossible for the lifeboat to come out from Seahouses, the nearest lifeboat station, as the weather was too bad. They decided to take a 21 foot, four seater rowing boat, known as a coble, across to the island by an indirect route which they thought would be safer as it was more sheltered.
After rowing for a mile, Grace kept the boat steady while her father helped four of the men survivors and just one woman into the boat. The woman, a Mrs Dawson, had lost her two children in the wreck. They rowed the boat back to the lighthouse, where Grace stayed to make them as comfortable as she could. Her father rowed back to the wreck with some of the men, to bring back the remaining survivors.
When the lifeboat eventually made it to Big Harcar, they found all the survivors had been rescued, but they recovered the bodies of Mrs Dawson's children and also a vicar who had also perished. Unfortunately the weather deteriorated again, and the lifeboat crew, one of whom was Grace's brother, decided to take shelter at the lighthouse. It was three days before the weather had improved enough to return to shore.
The Forfarshire had been carrying 63 passengers, and nine had escaped in a lifeboat and had been rescued by a passing ship, which with the nine survivors in the lighthouse made a total of 18. The story of the heroic rescue travelled around the nation and Grace Darling received much acclaim as well as a large financial reward. The story so captured the public imagination that plays, stories and poems were written about the heroine. (Here is a poem by William McGonagall) Grace even had to fight off numerous portrait painters, the paparazzi of the days before press photography. Within five weeks of the event, seven portraits had been painted, and William Darling had to write to the press asking that any future portraits be taken from the ones already completed.
As the story was passed on, it was embellished and a legend was created. Claims were made that Grace had urged her father to make a rescue for which he was showing reluctance. Then it was suggested that the cries of the crew and passengers on the sinking ship had awoken Grace who had then awoken and alerted her father. This would have been a remarkable occurrence if it were true, for the cries would have had to have travelled over the noise of the storm and then penetrated the thick walls of the lighthouse. A newspaper claimed that "One of the old seamen was moved to tears when he saw a young female of slender appearance risking her life for their preservation".
The story had every possible element to make it striking and memorable. The remoteness of the island, the strong might of the sea, and a heroine who fulfilled every aspect of Victorian rectitude: a loyal, devoted daughter who willingly served her father as a housekeeper. William Darling, Grace's father, who had been as much involved in the rescue was cast aside, and in many accounts was just referred to as "her father". Even after William Darling carried out other heroic rescues later in life, the public still wanted Grace.
As soon as the story became known, members of the public wrote to Grace Darling requesting locks of her hair or scraps from the dress she wore for the rescue. She cut so many locks that her friends feared she might have to resort to wearing a wig while her hair grew again. Even Queen Victoria wrote, praising the young girl's courage and enclosing £50, a large amount in those days. By the mid-nineteenth century, in the start of the Industrial Revolution, many products were made depicting a likeness of Grace Darling. Chocolate boxes, tea caddies and children's annuals all helped to spread the story of Grace Darling.
Sadly Grace Darling didn't live long after the rescue and she died of tuberculosis in 1842, just over four years later. Even her death seemed somehow heroic with Grace dying in the arms of her father. Her death froze the story in time. Grace was forever the devoted young maiden, never destined to marry or have children.
The legacy lives on with the RNLI naming lifeboats in her honour, and there is a museum celebrating her achievements. She also is commemorated in musicals and songs up to the present time.
In reality Grace Darling was an unremarkable woman who had been in the right place at the right time. She certainly had not sought fame, and regarded her actions as those anyone would have done in her situation. Her sister, Thomasina, some forty years after the wreck, wrote a book in which she tried to separate fact from fiction and provide a more accurate account, but the truth is that the Victorian people and those of future generations preferred the legend and put Grace Darling forever on the pedestal.
Grace Darling
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels, 28 November 1820 – 5 August 1895. is best known for collaborating with Karl Marx to produce The Communist Manifesto. Engels was born on 28 November 1820 in Barmen, Prussia (now Wuppertal, Germany). He was the eldest son of a wealthy German cotton textile manufacturer. Although his parents had an evangelical faith, Engels developed atheist views and this strained their relationship, throughout their life.
By the age of 17 Engels had already begun to develop revolutionary views and in 1838, his father, perhaps hoping to curb his son's growing extremism, sent him to work as an office clerk at a commercial house in Bremen. Here Engels began to read the works of Hegel. a German philosopher. He began writing critical and radical articles for newspapers and magazines, using the pen name of Friedrich Oswald. In 1841 he joined the Prussian Army and was assigned to Berlin. This gave him opportunity to associate with groups of Young Hegelians, a revolutionary group following the ideas of Hegel, Engels wrote some articles for Rheinische Zeitung newspaper of which Karl Marx was editor, although at that time they did not meet.
In 1842 Engels was sent to England by his parents. On the way there he made a stop to meet Karl Marx at the office of the Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne. Engels then went to work in the offices of Ermen and Engels, based in Salford. They made sewing threads. Engels' father hoped that the change might help his son develop more moderate views, but this was not to be. Instead Engels met a girl, Mary Burns, who had equally radical views. They began a relationship which lasted until her death twenty years later, but they never wed as they both despised the institution of marriage. Burns "helpfully" showed Engels the worst working districts of the area, colouring his views further. Based on his experiences, Engels published a number of articles which were eventually incorporated in a book The Condition of the Working Class in England published in 1845. He criticised the squalor in which working people lived and condemned capitalism and the industrial age which he saw to be disadvantaging and exploiting the poor.
By 1844 Engels decided it was time to return to Germany and he chose to stop off for some time in Paris where he met Karl Marx who had fled Germany. The two men found they shared many of the same ideas, and they collaborated on a book that attacked the Young Hegelians, with whom they both now disagreed. They also joined a secret revolutionary society, the League of the Just, which sought to create an egalitarian society by overthrowing governments. Engels left Paris in 6 September, shortly before Marx had to flee the country to avoid arrest for his revolutionary ideas. After a visit to Barmen, Engels went to Brussels where he joined Marx and his family from 1845-1848. They joined the underground German Communist League, the successor to the League of the Just, where they collaborated with other revolutionaries who were working towards a communist revolution.
Following the "February Revolution" in France in 1848, both Marx and Engels returned to Cologne where they founded a newspaper, the Neue Rheinische Zeitung. The revolutionary activities fomented by the writings of Engels and Marx created unrest in Europe and following a Prussian coup d'état in 1849, which ended their newspaper, Marx had to flee. Engels stayed in Prussia and took part in an armed uprising in South Germany. The uprising was crushed and Engels escaped across the border into Switzerland.
Engels, on the urging of his parents, agreed to go back to England to the Manchester factory. This suited him as it meant he could again collaborate with Marx who was now based in London. He made it back in 1849 and returned to the mill, where he took up his role as a clerk, using the money he earned to help support Marx, and spending his spare time on more revolutionary writing. Mary Burns died of heart disease in 1863 and Engels became interested in her younger sister, Lydia (Lizzie) who had been living with the Engels family as a housekeeper. Lizzie and Engels lived together in a relationship until she died of a brain tumour in 1878. Engels married her just a few hours before her death.
In 1870 Engels had moved to London and after the death of Marx in 1883 he continued to write and to edit some of Marx's works. He died in Kentish Town of throat cancer in 1895. His ideas are still considered contentious and there is disagreement as to how much he modified Marx's ideas, and history has generally consigned to him a lesser role in the Marx-Engels partnership.
Elizabeth Fry
Elizabeth Fry (21 May 1780 – 12 October 1845) is best know for her work in prison reform. Although only the last few years of her life were in Queen Victoria's reign, her work as a reformer had ongoing impact in Victorian society.
Elizabeth Gurney was born in Norwich to an influential Quaker family. She was known to her friends as Betsy. Her father, John Gurney, was a partner in Gurney's bank, while her mother, Catherine, was a member of the Barclay family, who were among the founders of Barclays Bank. She grew up at Earlham Hall, just outside Norwich, and was one of the oldest girls in the family of 11 children. Her mother died when Fry was twelve and so it fell upon her to assist with looking after the younger children.
At the age of 18, Fry was influenced by the preaching of William Savery, an American Quaker, and this moved her to take an interest in the poor, the sick and the prisoners. She began doing charitable works, collecting clothes for the poor, visiting the sick, and starting a Sunday School to teach children to read.
When Elizabeth met Joseph Fry, a banker and also a Quaker. they started courting. Joseph Fry's uncle was the founder of the well-known chocolate firm. Elizabeth and Joseph were married on 19 August 1800 at the Quaker Meeting in Norwich, and then moved to live in the City of London. Elizabeth Fry was appointed as a Minister of the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers) in 1811. The Frys had eleven children, five sons and six daughters, and moved to East Ham and then to Forest Gate.
Fry was encouraged by a family friend to visit Newgate Prison and she was horrified by the conditions she found there, The women's section was crowded not just with women but many children as well. Some of the inmates had never received a trial. They were crammed into small cells to sleep on straw, where they also did their cooking and washing. Over the next few years Fry was able to take clothing and food to the prisoners and she brought her welfare cause to the attention of the nobility. In 1816 she established a school for children in Newgate, and was able to implement activities including sewing and Bible reading. In 1817 she founded the Association for the Reformation of the Female Prisoners in Newgate, which was expanded to become the British Ladies' Society for Promoting the Reformation of Female Prisoners. This is credited as the first national women's organisation in Britain. In 1818 Fry gave a report to a House of Commons committee on the conditions prevalent in British prisons, becoming the first woman to present evidence in Parliament.
Apart from her prison work, Fry was moved to help the homeless and established a night shelter in London, and then another in Brighton. Her society also provided visitors to the homes of the poor who attempted to give help and comfort. The work was successful and spread into many other towns and cities.
Although Joseph Fry unfortunately went bankrupt in 1828, Elizabeth was assisted by his brother, who became her business manager and benefactor. She was also supported by Queen Victoria who contributed to her cause and gave Fry an audience a few times. Robert Peel, the politician, was also a supporter, and tried to introduce legislation to improve prison conditions.
Fry's fame spread, and in 1842, Frederick William IV of Prussia, on an official visit to Britain, made a visit to see Fry at Newgate Prison. There was some criticism though, from people who thought she would better devoting her time to being a wife and a mother, but in general her work was seen to be of great benefit to society.
Elizabeth Fry died from a stroke when she was at Ramsgate, Kent on on 12 October 1845. She was 65. After her death, a number of people, including the Lord Mayor of London, sought to establish a memorial to her and a house was bought in Hackney, London to become the first Elizabeth Fry refuge. Inmates were trained in useful skills including laundry and needlework, and it eventually incorporated another home that helped girls on probation for minor offences. It moved to larger premises in Highbury, and then in 1958 moved to Reading, Berkshire.
Elizabeth Fry
Mary Kingsley
Mary Henrietta Kingsley 13 October 1862 – 3 June 1900 was not as famous as her author uncle, Charles, but she was an explorer and scientific writer at a time when this was unusual for a woman.
She was was born in Islington, London, to her father, George Kingsley, a writer and a doctor, and her mother Mary Bailey. Unusually for the time, she was conceived out of wedlock, her parents marrying just four days before her birth. The family soon moved to Highgate and then to Bexley in Kent. Dr. Kingsley worked for George Herbert, 13th Earl of Pembroke, and other members of the gentry and was regularly away on duty. A brother, Charles George Kingsley was born in 1866.
Mary Kingsley was given very little formal training, as this was considered unnecessary for girls at that time. She did learn German however, which she used to help her father translate scientific texts, and she had access to a large library where she studied voraciously. Her mother, who was often poorly, left her to her own devices much of the time. She was also enthralled by her father's tales of his travels. From the 1891 census it can be learned that the family had moved to Cambridge where Mary was studying medicine. Mary spent some of her time in Cambridge caring for her mother, who had become ill, and then her father, returning from an excursion, with rheumatic fever. Both parents died in 1892 leaving Mary free to travel as she had wanted since a child. She determined to visit Africa to enable her to complete a book started by her father.
Kingsley visited the Canary Islands first and then determined to visit the west coast. She travelled alone on dangerous journeys, causing great surprise amongst the African people as it was so unusual for a white woman to be unaccompanied by her husband. Even missionaries and officials did not travel in such a way, but Kingsley was fearless and took advice from the local people who taught her necessary skills for surviving in the African jungles. Her earlier medical training helped. She went to Sierra Leone in 1893 and then went on to Luanda in Angola.
Returning to England at the end of the year, Kingsley gained support from Dr. Albert Günther, a zoologist at the British Museum, as well as securing a publishing contract. A year later she went back to Africa, hoping to study cannibal tribes and their religious practices which were called "fettish". She met with Scottish missionary, Mary Slessor, another independent lady like Mary, who was working to eliminate "twin killing". This native belief maintained that when a twin was born one was a child of the devil. As it was impossible to tell which was which, both twins were slaughtered together with the mother, who, the natives considered, must have slept with the devil for it to have happened.
Mary Kingsley then went on to Gabon where she canoed up the Ogooué River and met with the Fang people, travelling through uncharted territory. At Mount Cameroon (13,255 ft) she climbed to the top by a route previously never attempted by a European.
Returning to England in late 1895, Kingsley found herself being hailed by the press as a "New Woman", a term being used for the emerging feminist and suffragette movements. Kingsley disassociated herself from these claims to her allegiance. She toured the country for the next three years giving talks about life in Africa. She came into contention with the Church of England by criticising their application of western standards on the culture, in particular with regard to polygamy. The African practice of having multiple wives, Kingsley argued, was essential in their harsh and demanding environment, and the women could not manage alone. She also held controversial views on economic imperialism, the geopolitical practice of using capitalism, business globalization, and cultural imperialism to influence a country, instead of either direct military control (imperialism) or indirect political control (hegemony).
Kingsley wrote two books about her experiences, Travels in West Africa (1897), and West African Studies (1899), which were well received in the scholarly world. They were not so well received in the wider world, possibly because her views were considered to be hostile to the concept of the British Empire, a conclusion which showed a misunderstanding of her writings.
During the Second Boer War (1899-1902) Kingsley served as a nurse in Cape Town, but contracted typhoid and died in 1900. Her work in publicising the native customs of African people helped to develop future thinking that improved conditions for the natives of British colonies.
Mary Kingsley
Karl Marx
Karl Marx, 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883, was best known for his communist views. Born into a wealthy middle-class Jewish family in Trier, Germany, Marx studied law at Bonn University and Berlin. He became interested in the Young Hegelians, a group that espoused the writings of the German philosopher Hegels. In 1836 Marx became engaged to Jenny von Westphalen and they married in 1843. They had seven children together, but only three survived to adulthood.
Although he wanted to become a University lecturer, instead Marx went to work as editor for a radical newspaper the Rheinische Zeitung in Cologne in 1842 and began to develop a philosophy that he termed the "materialist" conception of history. Falling foul of the authorities. and with the paper shut down, he fled to Paris in 1843. There he worked for other radical newspapers and met Friedrich Engels with whom he formed a strong friendship. In 1847, collaborating with Engels, Marx wrote the Communist Manifesto. Marx and Engels were also associated with other radicals eventually forming the Communist League. Through this period Marx used many pseudonyms and the family moved to various rented apartments to avoid persecution.
In 1849 Marx was exiled from France and moved with his wife and children to London where he continued to work on his theories. He became a significant figure in the International Workingmen's Association and campaigned for socialism. Marx posited that capitalistic states were run by, and for advantage of, the ruling classes who claimed this was for the benefit of all. In his alternative system, socialism, the social surplus would accrue to the working class and society as a whole. Marx advocated that to implement this system the working class should carry out organised revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about political change. This divisive view was both praised and criticised.
The Communist League moved its headquarters to London in 1847, but it was split by a divisive disagreement in 1850 and in 1852 it formally disbanded. Marx continued to write for various newspapers around the world, and also wrote books, the most notable being (the previously mentioned) Communist Manifesto (1848) and Das Kapital (1867–1894). He continued his studies and turned out much work devoted to his views on political economy.
Marx's writings did not produce a great deal of financial return and he was helped by financial gifts from Engels, who derived much of his income from his family's business. His poor living conditions may have contributed to the early demise of some of his children.
In the last ten years of his life Marx was not in the best of health so he was not able to write so much. His wife, Jenny, died in 1881 and Marx developed catarrh, that led to bronchitis and pleurisy. He died at the age of 64 and was buried in Highgate Cemetery, London. Less than a dozen mourners attended his funeral.
Karl Marx
Florence Nightingale
Florence Nightingale, 12 May 1820 – 13 August 1910. Nightingale was named after the city of her birth, in Italy. She was born to wealthy parents, William Nightingale and Frances ("Fanny") Nightingale, and had an older sister, Frances Parthenope. The family moved back to England when Florence was only one. They lived in Hampshire but went to Derbyshire, the family estate, for the summer months. Florence was educated at home by her father.
At the age of 17, at home in Hampshire, she felt that God was calling her to become a nurse, and despite family opposition (to her taking a role not in keeping with her social status), she began to study in the art and science of nursing. She travelled widely to further her education and met many influential people, some of whom were to help her later in her career. She also met with a number of potential suitors, but her calling was to strong for her to be distracted.
In 1853, Nightingale took the post of Superintendent of the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Upper Harley Street, London. She received a substantial allowance from her father, and was able to live comfortably. The work for which Florence is most famous began with the outbreak of the Crimean War (1853-1856). In 1854, Nightingale and a team of 38 volunteer nurses, she had trained, plus some Catholic nuns, went to a place, Selimiye Barracks in Scutari (Istanbul), around 300 miles from the main Crimean war camp and started to tend wounded soldiers. Working in squalid conditions, with poor hygiene and inedequate supplies, Nightingale and her team did their best, reducing the death rate, but many patients still died.
Nightingale's reports sent back to the British government resulted in a new hospital being built in a prefabricated style designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It was shipped and carried to Renkioi near the fabled city of Troy in the Dardanelles area of Turkey, but Nightingale did not serve at this hospital. It was during this Crimean campaign that Florence Nightingale became known as the "Lady with the Lamp" as she visited the beds of sick patients carrying her lantern. This image captured the imagination of the public who contributed generously to a fund which was established to enable the training of nurses. By 1859, following her return from the war, the fund was at £45000, a huge amount in those days, and Nightingale set up a Training School at St. Thomas' Hospital. Using her experiences in the Crimean War, and her observations of the improvement of patient conditions by sanitary nursing practices, Nightingale published a book, Notes on Nursing. The book sold, not just to nurses, but also to members of the public, and established health rules and hygiene practices, which changed health practice dramatically. Nurses trained at the Nightingale Training School spread from London throughout the world. Nightingale received recognition and honours.
From the time of her return from the war and for the rest of her life Nightingale suffered from ill-health, probably caused by brucellosis (sometimes called Crimean Fever), which is a bacterial infection from undercooked meat or unpasteurised milk. It causes muscular pain and sweating, and Florence was often bed-ridden, although she continued to write and to work. She also experienced depression, but the illnesses lifted from around the 1880s, and she had a few good years before blindness and declining mental abilities overtook her in her last decade. Nightingale died at the age of 90 at Mayfair, London, having received honours in life, and leaving a legacy to nursing that can scarcely be overestimated.
Titus Salt
Sir Titus Salt, 1st Baronet, 20 September 1803 – 29 December 1876, was best known as a philanthropist. The town of Saltaire, near Leeds, was named after him. His father, Daniel, was a farmer and woolstapler, someone who dealt in wool. His mother was called Grace, and Titus Salt was possibly their only child. It is believed that Salt attended Batley Grammar School and Heath School, Wakefield.
On leaving school Salt went into business with his father and developed an interest in using alpaca wool to make a cloth, something which had not been done before. It was described by Charles Dickens in Household Words. Salt set up as a spinner and wool manufacturer, and in 1833 took over his father's business and set about expanding it. Within twenty years he became the largest employer in Bradford. By 1848 Titus Salt had become mayor of Bradford and for a brief time he was a Liberal MP. He subsequently held many other public offices and did a second term as mayor.
On 21 August 1830 Salt married Caroline, daughter of George Whitlam, of Great Grimsby, and they had a son and three daughters. Each child had a street in Saltaire named after them.
Salt became concerned about the smoke from factory chimneys, and also about the crowded confitions in which his workforce lived. He also wanted to consolidate all his business activities in one place, so he bought land near Shipley, next to the River Aire. The railway and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal were nearby, providing a great location, and work began to build a mill in 1851. The mill opened on 20 September 1853. Salt then set about building facilities for his employees, so they could move from Bradford. He built 850 houses, bathhouses, school, hospital, almshouses and churches in the village of Saltaire. The houses were supplied with fresh water from Salt's mill reservoir, and there was gas for street lighting. He built a Congregational Church at his own expense, and bought land for a Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. He forbade 'beershops' in Saltaire, although he himself was not teetotal. It has been estimated that during his life Salt had given away over £500,000, a huge sum in those days, to good causes including the village of Saltaire.
Being a private man, Salt left no memoirs to explain why he built Saltaire. It may have been to keep the workforce happy, or he may have wanted to show his wealth and power. He was, however, a deeply religious man, and saw what he was doing as God's work, and that might also have provided the motivation.
Towards the end of his life Salt had ill-health, but he was made a baronet in 1869. He died in 1876 at the age of 73 at Lightcliffe, near Halifax. His funeral was at Saltaire Congregational Church and it is estimated more than 100,000 people lined the route of the funeral. He was buried at the church.
Titus Salt
Mary Seacole
Mary Seacole, 1805 – 14 May 1881, was born Mary Ann Grant in Kingston, Jamaica. Her father was a Scottish army officer, while her Jamaican mother was a healer and also ran a amall hotel which had many guests who were sick European solders and sailors, some suffering from Yellow Fever. Mary learned folk medicine and herbal remedies from helping her mother. At the age of 31 Mary, who regarded herself as a Scots Creole, married Edwin Seacole, a British man. They moved away from Kingston and opened a store, but after eight years they moved back to Kingston because Edwin was unwell. He died just a month after their return, and then shortly afterwards, Mary's mother died. Mary Seacole took over running the hotel. In 1843 a devastating fire burnt the property down, but the house was rebuilt and she lived there for a while, helping to nurse a cholera outbreak in 1850. Soon afterwards, she decided to travel to visit her brother who was in Panama, and just after arriving a cholera epidemic occured. Mary Seacole was the only person in the area with medical experience, and she was able to save many lives. After the epidemic, for a while, she ran a restaurant, which was popular with visiting Americans, but she soon became bored and decided to return to Kingston. Seacole soon became restless again, and this time she decided to visit London, arriving in 1854. She was 49.
After hearing of the war in Crimea, Mary Seacole decided to volunteer as a nurse. She applied to various departments but was rejected, probably because of her mixed race. This only made Seacole more determined and she hit on a plan. Forming a business partnership with Thomas Day, a relative of her husband, she decided to go to the Crimea and open a store and hotel in the area near the military camps in Balaclava.
On her way to Balaclava, Seacole visited Scutari, and visited Florence Nightingale. Although she had a letter of introduction, Nightingale did not welcome Seacole as a colleague, and the meeting was not a great success.
Reaching Balaclava. Seacole and Day built the British Hotel, which quickly opened for business. The hotel was not located in a safe environment, and apart from having to contend with thieves there were also giant rats that attacked sleeping people. Mary Seacole made frequent trips to the battlefield and distinguished herself by treating the wounded from both sides, even under fire. When the war ended in early1856, the area was quickly evacuated, and her hotel seized by the Russians. Seacole and Day, their business destroyed, were left stranded and penniless, about to become bankrupt, but friends came to their aid and raised funds for their return.
Seacole settled in London, for the latter part of her life, where she worked as a masseuse and became a confidante to members of the Royal Family. She died in 1881. Although Seacole was honoured in the latter part of her life, she was forgotten for almost 100 years afterwards, perhaps in part because of prejudice against her mixed race.
Mary Seacole
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Charles Haddon Spurgeon 19 June 1834 – 31 January 1892 was a Baptist preacher and minister known at the time as the "Prince of Preachers". Although not as fiery as Wesley or Booth his influence was as enduring.
He was born in Kelvedon, Essex and at the age of 15 he felt led to visit a Primitive Methodist Church where he became a believer. He joined a church at Newmarket and then in 1850 moved to Cambridge where he started teaching in the Sunday School. He soon preached his first sermon, and was immediately recognised as having great ability for his age. By 1851 he had taken up the pastorate of a Baptist church at Waterbeach, where he remained for two years. He received a small amount of remuneration from the church and would have been content to stay there had he not come to the attention of some people in London.
In 1854, at an extraordinarily young age, he was called to become minister of New Park Street Chapel, Southwark. This was the largest Baptist church in London at the time, although the congregations had dwindled. Spurgeon was reluctant to leave the Fens, but felt it was right for him to accept. Spurgeon began a systematic teaching and preaching ministry and each week his sermon was printed in sermons in the "New Park Street Pulpit",. This brought him to the attention of a wider public, some of which were critical. Nevertheless the congregation grew. and the church twice moved to new premises to accommodate the numbers. By the age of 22, Spurgeon was preaching to congregations of over 10,000 and was the most popular preacher of the day.
In 1856 he married Susannah and the couple went on to have twin sons, Charles and Thomas.
Just a month after the birth of his twins, a tragedy occurred. Spurgeon was preaching at Surrey Gardens Music Hall when someone shouted "Fire!" provoking panic and a stampede. Several people were killed in the melee. The event profoundly affected Spurgeon and throughout his life he suffered from depression and was sometimes moved to tears for no obvious reason. Nevertheless he continued to preach, and in 1857 founded a college to train others. Pastors' College was renamed Spurgeon's College after his death.
In 1857 he preached to his largest crowd ever, 23,654 people at the Crystal Palace. One wonders who had the job of counting them.
In 1861 Spurgeon was able to move to the Metropolitan Tabernacle at Elephant and Castle, Southwark, a building that had been specially designed and constructed. It seated 5000 and had standing room for another 1000. He continued to publish his sermons as well as hymns, spiritual teaching, anecdotes and commentaries.
Spurgeon's style was quite plain, and he was described as a Particular Baptists, a group who held strongly Calvanistic religious views, now sometimes called Reformed theology. John Bunyan, John Gill and William Carey were other notable people who held this view. Although they sung hymns at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Spurgeon did not allow any accompaniment and they were sung acapella. Spurgeon occasionally held views which could be considered controversial to those who disagreed with his theology. One disagreement amongst fellow Baptists led to the Metropolitan Tabernacle splitting from the General Baptists in 1887, and it is now the largest independent Reformed Baptist church in the world.
Spurgeon's writing and teaching on the keeping of slaves lost him a great deal of popularity with the American Southern Baptists which resulted in hum receiving threatening and rude letters as well as losing sales of sermons. Spurgeon, like some of his contemporaries felt moved to help poor children and in 1867 he founded the Stockwell Orphanage, first for boys, then for girls as well from 1879. The premises were bombed at the end of World War II, but the work continued as Spurgeon's Child Care, now a registered charity working in several parts of the world.
Spurgeon's wife Susannah did not enjoy good health and was often too ill to leave her home to hear her husband preach. Spurgeon had ill health toward the end of his life suffering from rheumatism, gout and Bright's disease. To recuperate he often went to Menton, near Nice, France and he died there at the age of 57. His son Tom later became pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Much of Spurgeon's writing is still available.