Thomas Wright (philanthropist)

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Thomas Wright (1789–1875) was a prison philanthropist.

Contents

Biography

He received his education at a Wesleyan Sunday school, and when fifteen years old was apprenticed to an ironfounder, ultimately becoming foreman of the foundry at £3.10s. a week. In 1817, after a few years of indifference to religion, he joined the congregationalists, and was deacon of the chapel in Grosvenor Street, Piccadilly, Manchester, from 1825 to the end of his life. Among the labourers in the same workshop with him was a discharged convict, whom he saved from dismissal by depositing £20 for the man's good behaviour. This circumstance directed his attention to the reclamation of discharged prisoners, and about 1838 he obtained permission to visit the Salford prison. As he was at work at the foundry from five in the morning until six in the evening, he could spend only his evenings and his Sunday afternoons at the prison, where he became the trusted friend of the inmates, for large numbers of whom on their release he obtained honest employment, his personal guarantee being given in many cases. The value of his labours was made public by the reports of the prison inspectors and chaplains, and he was offered the post of government travelling inspector of prisons at a salary of 800l. This he declined, on the ground that if he were an official his influence would be lessened; but in 1852 he accepted a public testimonial of £3,248., including £100 from the Royal Bounty Fund. With this sum an annuity equal to the amount of his wages was purchased, and he was enabled to give up his situation at the foundry and devote all his time to the ministration of criminals. For some years he attended nearly every unfortunate wretch that was executed in England.

Congregational church religious denomination

Congregational churches are Protestant churches in the Reformed tradition practicing congregationalist church governance, in which each congregation independently and autonomously runs its own affairs.

The Royal Bounty Fund was a special UK government fund originally set up in 1782 by Edmund Burke. The operation of the fund was always shrouded in secrecy. Gifts, grants and pensions were paid out from the fund under the patronage of the prime minister and no accounts were ever published. From as early as 1802 Treasury official expressed concerns about the operation of the fund but it was not until 2002 that it was eventually wound down by Tony Blair.

G. F. Watts presented his picture of the 'Good Samaritan' to the Corporation of Manchester in May 1852, 'as a testimony of his high esteem for the exemplary and praiseworthy character' of Wright. Another picture, 'The Condemned Cell,' containing Wright's portrait, was painted by Charles Mercier, and presented by subscribers to the corporation of London in July 1869. Another portrait by Mercier was given to the Salford Museum. A full-length portrait by J. D. Watson, painted in 1853, was presented to Wright, and left by him to the visiting justices of Salford prison. Since the demolition of that building it has been placed in the committee-room of Strangeways prison, Manchester.

Salford Museum and Art Gallery Salford, Greater Manchester, M5

Salford Museum and Art Gallery, in Peel Park, Salford, Greater Manchester, opened to the public in November 1850 as the Royal Museum and Public Library. The gallery and museum are devoted to the history of Salford and Victorian art and architecture.

HM Prison Manchester grade II listed prison in Manchester, United kingdom

HM Prison Manchester is a high-security men's prison in Manchester, England, operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service. It is still commonly referred to as Strangeways, which was its former official name derived from the area in which it is located, until it was rebuilt following a major riot in 1990.

Wright gave evidence before select committees of the House of Commons in 1852 on criminal and destitute juveniles, and in 1854 on public-houses. He was a promoter of the reformatory at Blackley, and worked on behalf of the Boys' Refuge, the Shoeblack Brigade, and the ragged schools of Manchester and Salford. He was strongly in favour of compulsory education.

House of Commons of the United Kingdom Lower house in the Parliament of the United Kingdom

The House of Commons, officially the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House.

Personal

Wright was born at Haddington near Edinbugh, in 1789, [1] his father being a Scotsman and his mother a Manchester woman. Wright died at Manchester on 14 April 1875, and was buried in the churchyard of Birch-in-Rusholme. He was twice married, and had nineteen children.

Haddington, East Lothian town in East Lothian, Scotland

The Royal Burgh of Haddington is a town in East Lothian, Scotland. It is the main administrative, cultural and geographical centre for East Lothian, which as a result of late-nineteenth century Scottish local government reforms took the form of the county of Haddingtonshire for the period from 1889-1921. It lies about 17 miles (27 km) east of Edinburgh. The name Haddington is Anglo-Saxon, dating from the sixth or seventh century AD when the area was incorporated into the kingdom of Bernicia. The town, like the rest of the Lothian region, was ceded by King Edgar of England and became part of Scotland in the tenth century. Haddington received burghal status, one of the earliest to do so, during the reign of David I (1124–1153), giving it trading rights which encouraged its growth into a market town.

Notes

  1. "Thomas Wright, the Prisoners' Friend", The ragged school union magazine, Publisher Partridge & Oakey, 1852, page 173

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