Thomas Welbank Fowle

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Thomas Welbank Fowle (29 August 1835 – 14 January 1903) was an English cleric and writer, known as a social reformer. [1]



Born at Northallerton in Yorkshire, on 29 August 1835, Thomas Welbank Fowle was the son of Thomas Fowle, a solicitor, and Mary Welbank his wife, both of Northallerton. After education at Durham School (1848–53) and at Charterhouse, he entered Exeter College, Oxford, in 1854; after a term's stay there he gained an open scholarship at Oriel College, graduating with a B.A. in 1858 (M.A. 1861). As an undergraduate he was President of the Oxford Union in 1858. He associated with Thomas Hill Green and Albert Venn Dicey, and shared their political sympathies. [2]

Northallerton town in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, England

Northallerton is a market town and civil parish in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, England. It lies in the Vale of Mowbray and at the northern end of the Vale of York. It had a population of 15,741 according to the 2001 census, which had risen to 16,832 in 2011. It has served as the county town of the North Riding of Yorkshire and since 1974, of North Yorkshire. Northallerton is made up of four wards, North, Broomfield, Romanby and Central.

Yorkshire Historic county of Northern England

Yorkshire, formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Due to its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.

Durham School school in Durham, UK

Durham School is an English independent boarding school for pupils aged between 3 and 18 years. Founded by the Bishop of Durham, Thomas Langley, in 1414, it received royal foundation by King Henry VIII in 1541 following the Dissolution of the Monasteries during the Protestant Reformation. It is the city's oldest institution of learning.

Fowle took holy orders in 1859, becoming curate of Staines in Middlesex. In 1863 he was appointed vicar of Holy Trinity, Hoxton, a poor parish in East London with a large population. New schools were built, managed by a committee of churchmen and nonconformists, which innovated with a conscience clause. In 1868 he became vicar of St. Luke's, Nutford Place, in Marylebone. [2]

Holy orders sacraments of the Catholic Church

In the Christian churches, holy orders are ordained ministries such as bishop, priest, or deacon, and the sacrament or rite by which candidates are ordained to those orders. Churches recognizing these orders include the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Assyrian, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic and some Lutheran churches. Except for Lutherans and some Anglicans, these churches regard ordination as a sacrament. The Anglo-Catholic tradition within Anglicanism identifies more with the Roman Catholic position about the sacramental nature of ordination.

Middlesex historic county of England

Middlesex is a historic county in southeast England. Its area is now almost entirely within the wider urbanised area of London. Its area is now also mostly within the ceremonial county of Greater London, with small sections in other neighbouring ceremonial counties. It was established in the Anglo-Saxon system from the territory of the Middle Saxons, and existed as an official administrative unit until 1965. The county is bounded to the south by the River Thames, and includes the rivers Colne and Lea and a ridge of hills as the other boundaries. The largely low-lying county, dominated by clay in its north and alluvium on gravel in its south, was the second smallest by area in 1831.

Hoxton Neighbourhood in the East End of London, England

Hoxton is an area in Shoreditch and is in the London Borough of Hackney, England. Together with the rest of Shoreditch, it is often described as part of the East End, the historic core of wider East London. It was historically in the county of Middlesex until 1889. It lies immediately north of the City of London financial district, and was once part of the Ancient Parish and subsequent Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch, prior to its incorporation into the London Borough of Hackney.

In 1875 Fowle was presented to the rectory of Islip, Oxfordshire. He ran there an allotment system for agricultural labourers, and as a poor-law guardian worked to reduce outdoor relief. [2]

Islip, Oxfordshire village and civil parish in Cherwell district, Oxfordshire, England

Islip is a village and civil parish on the River Ray, just above its confluence with the River Cherwell in Oxfordshire, England. It is about 2 miles (3 km) east of Kidlington and about 5 miles (8 km) north of Oxford. The 2011 Census recorded the parish's population as 652.

Allotment (gardening) a plot of land sub-divided into smaller parcels for individual, non-commercial gardening or growing of food plants

An allotment garden, often called simply an allotment, or a community garden, is a plot of land made available for individual, non-commercial gardening or growing food plants. Such plots are formed by subdividing a piece of land into a few or up to several hundred land parcels that are assigned to individuals or families. Such parcels are cultivated individually, contrary to other community garden types where the entire area is tended collectively by a group of people. In countries that do not use the term “allotment (garden)”, a “community garden” may refer to individual small garden plots as well as to a single, large piece of land gardened collectively by a group of people. The term “victory garden” is also still sometimes used, especially when a community garden dates back to the First or Second World War.

After the passing of the Elizabethan Poor Law (1601), outdoor relief was the kind of poor relief where assistance was in the form of money, food, clothing or goods, given to alleviate poverty without the requirement that the recipient enter an institution. In contrast, recipients of indoor relief were required to enter a workhouse or poorhouse. Outdoor relief was also a feature of the Scottish and Irish Poor Law systems.

Fowle's only son, by his second wife, died in 1895, and his health became poor. In 1901 he retired from Islip to Oxford, where he died on 14 January 1903. He was buried at Islip, by the side of his son. [2]

Oxford City and non-metropolitan district in England

Oxford is a university city in Oxfordshire, England, with a population of 155,000. It is 51 miles (82 km) northwest of London, 57 miles (92 km) from Birmingham and 30 miles (48 km) from Reading.


Fowle contributed an essay entitled "The Church and the Working Classes" to Essays on Church Policy (1868), a collection of Broad Church views edited by Walter Lowe Clay, and arguing that the working class was alienated from the Church of England. [3] [4] He tried to reconcile recent scientific discoveries with religious belief in three articles on Evolution in the Nineteenth Century (July 1878, March 1879, September 1881), as well as in the New Analogy, which he published in 1881 under the pseudonym "Cellarius". [2]

Working class Social class composed of members of the society employed in lower tier jobs

The working class comprises those engaged in waged or salaried labour, especially in manual-labour occupations and industrial work. Working-class occupations include blue-collar jobs, some white-collar jobs, and most pink-collar jobs. Members of the working class rely for their income exclusively upon their earnings from wage labour; thus, according to the more inclusive definitions, the category can include almost all of the working population of industrialized economies, as well as those employed in the urban areas of non-industrialized economies or in the rural workforce.

On social issues, Fowle contributed an article in the Fortnightly Review for June 1880 advocating the abolition of outdoor relief and a manual, The Poor Law, in the "English Citizen" series (1881; second edition 1890), which became a standard work. In 1892 he advocated for old age pensions in a pamphlet The Poor Law, the Friendly Societies, and Old Age Destitution — a Proposed Solution (new edition 1895). [2]

Fowle supported the Representation of the People Act 1884 as extending the franchise to the agricultural labourer. He opposed the Government of Ireland Bill 1886, and for the next ten years was prominent as Liberal Unionist. He was an influential advocate of the Local Government Act 1894 which created parish councils and district councils. [2]


Fowle published also religious works: [2]


Fowle was twice married: [2]

  1. in 1861, to Sarah Susannah (d. 1874), daughter of Richard Atkinson, medical practitioner at Richmond, Yorkshire, by whom Fowle had seven daughters;
  2. in 1876, to Mabel Jane, daughter of Jacob Isaacs, a West Indian merchant; she survived Fowle with a daughter.


  1. T. J. Carty (1 December 2015). A Dictionary of Literary Pseudonyms in the English Language. Routledge. pp. 445–. ISBN   978-1-135-95578-6.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). "Fowle, Thomas Welbank"  . Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). 2. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. Walter Lowe Clay, ed. (1868). Essays on Church Policy. Macmillan & Company.
  4. The Christian observer [afterw.] The Christian Observer and Advocate. 1868. pp. 517–18.

Wikisource-logo.svg  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain :  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1912). "Fowle, Thomas Welbank". Dictionary of National Biography (2nd supplement). 2. London: Smith, Elder & Co.

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