Thomas Scales

Last updated
Thomas Scales
Thomas Scales at the Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840 by Benjamin Robert Haydon.jpg
Education Leeds Grammar School
Known forAbolitionism
Spouse(s)Christiana Simpson
Children3 survived

Thomas Scales (1786–1860) was a leading British abolitionist. He was the first minister of Queen Street Chapel in Leeds and he founded the Silcoates School.


Scales was born in Leeds in Yorkshire, in December 1786. His father was an innkeeper and later a farmer and his mother was a keen follower of Rev. Edward Parsons of the Salem Independent Chapel. Scales was educated at the Moravian Institution at Fulneck, then with Rev. Dr Fawcett of Ewood Hall, and at Leeds Grammar School. [1]

Scales left school at age 15 and was apprenticed to a draper in Halifax for three years. After a year in Wakefield, he returned to his home in Leeds where he decided to become a dissenting preacher. In 1806 he was admitted as a student to the Hoxton Academy [2] where he became a classical tutor, however he decided to take up a ministry in a newly formed Independent church in Wolverhampton where he was ordained in April 1810. In September 1810, he married Christiana Simpson, a daughter of Reverend Robert Simpson, his principal at Hoxton Academy. [2] Christiana was his first wife; they had eight children, three of whom survived to adulthood. He was married one more time. [1]

His congregation at Wolverhampton grew rapidly from around 30 adults to 400–500 nearly ten years later, necessitating construction of a new chapel and its enlargement during his time there. In 1819 he was invited to the White Chapel in Leeds [1] and again his congregation grew until a new chapel was built in Queen Street in 1825. It was the largest Independent Chapel in the north of England at the time and the first of many large chapels in Yorkshire. On the opening day, the collections exceeded 400 pounds. [3]

1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention. Move your cursor to identify Scales (in the centre) or click the icon to enlarge. The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840 by Benjamin Robert Haydon.jpgIsaac Crewdson (Beaconite) writerSamuel Jackman Prescod - Barbadian JournalistWilliam Morgan from BirminghamWilliam Forster - Quaker leaderGeorge Stacey - Quaker leaderWilliam Forster - Anti-Slavery ambassadorJohn Burnet -Abolitionist SpeakerWilliam Knibb -Missionary to JamaicaJoseph Ketley from GuyanaGeorge Thompson - UK & US abolitionistJ. Harfield Tredgold - British South African (secretary)Josiah Forster - Quaker leaderSamuel Gurney - the Banker's BankerSir John Eardley-WilmotDr Stephen Lushington - MP and JudgeSir Thomas Fowell BuxtonJames Gillespie Birney - AmericanJohn BeaumontGeorge Bradburn - Massachusetts politicianGeorge William Alexander - Banker and TreasurerBenjamin Godwin - Baptist activistVice Admiral MoorsonWilliam TaylorWilliam TaylorJohn MorrisonGK PrinceJosiah ConderJames Dean (abolitionist)John Keep - Ohio fund raiserJoseph EatonJoseph Sturge - Organiser from BirminghamJames WhitehorneGeorge BennettRichard AllenWilliam Leatham, bankerSir Edward Baines - JournalistSamuel Fox, Nottingham grocerJonathan BackhouseWilliam Dawes - Ohio fund raiserRobert Kaye Greville - BotanistJoseph Pease - reformer in India)M.M. Isambert (sic)Mary Clarkson -Thomas Clarkson's daughter in lawWilliam TatumSaxe Bannister - PamphleteerRichard Davis Webb - IrishNathaniel Colver - Americannot knownJohn Cropper - Most generous LiverpudlianWilliam JamesWilliam WilsonThomas SwanEdward Steane from CamberwellWilliam BrockEdward BaldwinJonathon MillerCapt. Charles Stuart from JamaicaSir John Jeremie - JudgeCharles Stovel - BaptistRichard Peek, ex-Sheriff of LondonJohn SturgeRev. Isaac BassHenry SterryPeter Clare -; sec. of Literary & Phil. Soc. ManchesterJ.H. JohnsonThomas PriceJoseph ReynoldsSamuel WheelerWilliam BoultbeeDaniel O'Connell - "The Liberator"William FairbankJohn WoodmarkWilliam Smeal from GlasgowJames Carlile - Irish Minister and educationalistRev. Dr. Thomas BinneyEdward Barrett - Freed slaveJohn Howard Hinton - Baptist ministerJohn Angell James - clergymanJoseph CooperDr. Richard Robert Madden - IrishThomas BulleyIsaac HodgsonEdward SmithSir John Bowring - diplomat and linguistJohn EllisC. Edwards Lester - American writerTapper Cadbury - Businessmannot knownThomas PinchesDavid Turnbull - Cuban linkRichard BarrettJohn SteerHenry TuckettJames Mott - American on honeymoonRobert Forster (brother of William and Josiah)John BirtWendell Phillips - AmericanJean-Baptiste Symphor Linstant de Pradine from HaitiHenry Stanton - AmericanProf William AdamMrs Elizabeth Tredgold - British South AfricanT.M. McDonnellMrs John BeaumontAnne Knight - FeministElizabeth Pease - SuffragistJacob Post - Religious writerAnne Isabella, Lady Byron - mathematician and estranged wifeAmelia Opie - Novelist and poetMrs Rawson - Sheffield campaignerThomas Clarkson's grandson Thomas ClarksonThomas MorganThomas Clarkson - main speakerGeorge Head Head - Banker from CarlisleWilliam AllenHenry Beckford - emancipated slave and abolitionistUse your cursor to explore (or Click "i" to enlarge)
1840 World Anti-Slavery Convention. Move your cursor to identify Scales (in the centre) or click the icon to enlarge.

Thomas Scales was a leader in the community, a founder of Silcoates School [5] for the education of sons of Independent ministers and missionaries, [2] and also a passionate supporter of the anti-slavery movement and liberal politics. [4]

Scales was chosen to be with Lord Brougham, Joseph Sturge and Captain Hansard RN when they presented petitions to Queen Victoria in 1838. [6] These were based on resolutions passed at meetings at Exeter Hall of "friends of the negro" on behalf of the enslaved people in her empire. [6] He returned to Exeter Hall in 1840 where he appears [in spectacles] in Benjamin Robert Haydon's painting of The Anti-Slavery Society Convention 1840 , beside Captain Charles Stuart.

Scales was also involved in the foundation of the Independent Ministerial Provident Society of the West Riding of Yorkshire, administration of Balme's charity which was established by Mary Bacon and the management of Airedale and Rotherham Colleges.

He edited and published numerous pamphlets and sermons, and his book Principles of Dissent ran to three editions. He was editor of Protestant Dissenters' Juvenile Magazine from 1833–36 and left a manuscript on the life of Rev. James Scott (1710–1783), founder of Heckmondwike Academy, and materials for the History of Nonconformity in the West Riding of Yorkshire, [7] which was used as a basis for James Miall's Congregationalism in Yorkshire (London, 1868). His detailed knowledge of nonconformist history made him a valuable witness in the Lady Hewley Case. [8]

With failing eyesight, he resigned around January 1850 after 30 years, and became chaplain and secretary at Silcoates Congregational School, [2] later moving to Gomersal and Cleckheaton. He died suddenly in June 1860 at Low Moor, while travelling to preach a funeral sermon for a fellow minister and friend Reverend John Paul. [1]

Related Research Articles

John Angell James

John Angell James, was an English Nonconformist clergyman and writer.

Christopher Newman Hall

Christopher Newman Hall, born at Maidstone and known in later life as a 'Dissenter's Bishop', was one of the most celebrated nineteenth century English Nonconformist divines. He was active in social causes; supporting Abraham Lincoln and abolition of slavery during the American Civil War, the Chartist cause, and arranging for influential Nonconformists to meet Gladstone. His tract Come to Jesus, first published in 1848 also contributed to his becoming a household name throughout Britain, the US and further afield, supposedly selling four million copies worldwide over his lifetime.

George Hadfield (politician)

George Hadfield was an English lawyer, author and Radical politician who represented Sheffield for 22 years.

Beriah Green

Beriah Green, Jr. was an American reformer, abolitionist, temperance advocate, college professor, minister, and head of the Oneida Institute. He was "consumed totally by his abolitionist views". He has been described as "cantankerous". Former student Alexander Crummell described him as a "bluff, kind-hearted man," a "master-thinker".

Samuel Oughton

The Rev. Samuel Oughton, Baptist missionary to Jamaica 1836–1866, and colleague of William Knibb, was an abolitionist who became an outspoken advocate of black labour rights in Jamaica during the gradual abolition of slavery in the late 1830s and thereafter. He was briefly imprisoned in Jamaica during 1840. Originally associated with James Sherman's Independent Congregational Surrey Chapel, and from time to time invited back by Sherman, he was closely associated with the Baptists in Jamaica, who were largely organised along Congregational lines and among the predominantly African-Caribbean population, following their founding by George Lisle, a former slave from America.

Silcoates School School in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England

Silcoates School is a co-educational independent school in the village of Wrenthorpe near Wakefield, England.

John Morison (pastor)

John Morison (1791–1859) was a Scottish Protestant minister in London. He was a longstanding editor of the Evangelical Magazine & Missionary Chronicle, author of theological and biographical subjects, and a Congregational pastor at Trevor Chapel, Knightsbridge, London. He was known for his bold and fervid utterances on the platform, his enthusiastic advocacy of the work of the London Missionary Society, and support for the abolition of slavery in the USA.

John Campbell (19th-century minister)

John Campbell (1795–1867) was a Scottish Congregationalist minister at the Moorfields Tabernacle in London. He was the second successor there of George Whitefield the Calvinistic Methodist. He founded and edited religious magazines and journals, including the Christian Witness and the British Banner.

John Howard Hinton

John Howard Hinton was an English author and Baptist minister who published, along with many other works, The History and Topography of the United States of North America together with his brother Isaac Taylor Hinton (1799-1847). He is the father of surgeon James Hinton and grandfather of mathematician and science fiction author Charles Howard Hinton.

Josiah Conder (editor and author) British writer

Josiah Conder, correspondent of Robert Southey and well-connected to Romantic authors of his day, was editor of the British literary magazine The Eclectic Review, the Nonconformist and abolitionist newspaper The Patriot, the author of romantic verses, poetry, and many popular hymns that survive to this day. His most ambitious non-fiction work was the thirty-volume worldwide geographical tome The Modern Traveller; and his best-selling compilation book The Congregational Hymn Book. Conder was a prominent London Congregationalist, an abolitionist, and took an active part in seeking to repeal British anti-Jewish laws.

Joseph Ketley

The Rev. Joseph Ketley (1802-1875) was a mid-nineteenth century Congregational missionary and abolitionist in Guyana, the former British colony of British Guiana which was known as Demerara and Essequibo at the time when his mission was established. The Dutch colonies of Berbice‚ Demerara and Essequibo were ceded to the British in 1814‚ and incorporated into a single colony in 1831. Guyana became independent in 1966.

John Harris (college head)

John Harris, English Congregational minister, Christian essayist and author, became the first Principal of New College, St John’s Wood, London.

Edward Baines (1800–1890) British politician and newspaper editor

Sir Edward Baines, also known as Edward Baines Jr, was a nonconformist English newspaper editor and Member of Parliament (MP).

William Brock (pastor)

William Brock (1807–1875), was the first minister of Bloomsbury Chapel in Central London (1848–72), an abolitionist, biographer and supporter of missionary causes.

John Burnet (abolitionist)

John Burnet (1789–1862) was a pastor in Cork in Ireland before taking up the same position at the Mansion House Chapel in Camberwell. He was a well-known "platform speaker" speaking human rights issues, particularly at Exeter Hall. He was a leading member of both Congregational Union of England and the Bible Society.

John Keep

Rev. John Keep was a trustee of Oberlin College from 1834 to 1870. Keep and William Dawes toured England in 1839 and 1840 gathering funds for Oberlin College in Ohio. They both attended the 1840 anti-slavery convention in London.

Jacob Post

Jacob Post (1774–1855) was an English Quaker and a religious author. He wrote accounts of two founding Quakers: George Fox and William Penn.

Cyrus Pitt Grosvenor

Cyrus Pitt Grosvenor was an American Baptist minister known for his anti-slavery views. He founded the abolitionist American Baptist Free Mission Society, which did not allow slaveowners to be missionaries, and refused their contributions, prefiguring the split in the Baptist Church in America into Southern and Northern associations. He helped found and served as the first president of New York Central College, the first college in the United States to admit both women and Blacks on an equal basis from its first day, and the first college to employ Black professors. He was described as "a reforming steam engine". In his retirement he worked on a famous mathematics problem and took out a patent to prevent lamp explosions.

West Park United Reformed Church, Harrogate United Reformed Church in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England

West Park United Reformed Church is located in the West Park area of Harrogate, England, and is a Grade II listed building. It was designed in Nonconformist Gothic style as West Park Congregational Church by Lockwood & Mawson and completed in 1862 for around £5,000. Along with Belvedere Mansion across the road, it was intended as part of the prestigious entrance to the Victoria Park development. For the Congregationalists it was meant to house an increasing congregation of visitors brought to the spa town by the recently-built railways. It became a United Reformed church in 1972.

Richard Slate (1787–1867) was an English Congregational minister, known as a biographical writer.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Taylor, R. V., ed. (1865). "1786-1860: The Rev. Thomas Scales". The biographia Leodiensis; or, Biographical sketches of the worthies of Leeds and neighbourhood. pp.  488–89.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Miall, James C. (1868). "Leeds White Chapel later Queen Street". Appendix to Congregationalism in Yorkshire . Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  3. The Congregational magazine [formerly The London Christian instructor]. 1825. p. 502.
  4. 1 2 The Anti-Slavery Society Convention, 1840, Benjamin Robert Haydon, 1841, National Portrait Gallery, London, NPG599, Given by British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society in 1880
  5. "Annals of Leeds, York, and the Surrounding District". The Annals and History of Leeds, and Other Places in the County of York: From the Earliest Period to the Present Time. Joseph Johnson. 1860. p. 376.
  6. 1 2 "Calcutta Christian Observer Extra". The Calcutta Christian Observer. No. 73. June 1838. pp. 363–66. Retrieved 15 January 2016.
  7. The Congregational magazine [formerly The London Christian instructor] List of New Publications, with Short Notices. 1825. p. 434.
  8. Lady Hewley's Charities. A full Report of the hearing in the House of Lords ... on the Appeal of the Trustees. (From the short-hand notes of Messrs. Gurney and Son.) To which are prefixed, The Judgment of the Vice-Chancellor ... Dec. 23rd, 1833. The Judgment of Lord Lyndhurst ... 5th Feb., 1836. The Case of the Appellants. The Case of the Respondents. 1839. p. 102.