Thorold Rogers

Last updated

Thorold Rogers
Thorold Rogers.jpg
Born23 March 1823
West Meon, Hampshire, England
Died14 October 1890(1890-10-14) (aged 67)
Oxford, England
Field Political Economy
School or
English historical school
Alma mater King's College London
University of Oxford

James Edwin Thorold Rogers (23 March 1823 – 14 October 1890), known as Thorold Rogers, was an English economist, historian and Liberal politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1880 to 1886. He deployed historical and statistical methods to analyse some of the key economic and social questions in Victorian England. As an advocate of free trade and social justice he distinguished himself from some others within the English Historical School. [1] [2]


Background and formative years

Rogers was born at West Meon, Hampshire [3] the son of George Vining Rogers and his wife Mary Ann Blyth, daughter of John Blyth. He was educated at King's College London and Magdalen Hall, Oxford. [4] After taking a first-class degree in 1846, he received his MA in 1849 from Magdalen and was ordained. A High Church man, he was curate of St. Paul's in Oxford, and acted voluntarily as assistant curate at Headington from 1854 to 1858, until his views changed and he turned to politics. Rogers was instrumental in obtaining the Clerical Disabilities Relief Act, of which he was the first beneficiary, becoming the first man legally to withdraw from his clerical vows in 1870.

For some time the classics were the chief field of his activity. He devoted himself to classical and philosophical tuition in Oxford with success, and his publications included an edition of Aristotle's Ethics (in 1865).


Rogers caricature by Leslie Ward from Vanity Fair James Edwin Thorold Rogers - Caricature.jpg
Rogers caricature by Leslie Ward from Vanity Fair

The Victorian journalist George W. E. Russell (1953–1919) relates an exchange between Rogers and Benjamin Jowett (Fifteen Chapters of Autobiography, 1914, 111–2) :

'Another of our Professors – J. E. Thorold Rogers – though perhaps scarcely a celebrity, was well known outside Oxford, partly because he was the first person to relinquish the clerical character under the Act of 1870, partly because of his really learned labours in history and economics, and partly because of his Rabelaisian humour. He was fond of writing sarcastic epigrams, and of reciting them to his friends, and this habit produced a characteristic retort from Jowett. Rogers had only an imperfect sympathy with the historians of the new school, and thus derided the mutual admiration of Green and Freeman —

"Where, ladling butter from a large tureen, See blustering Freeman butter blundering Green."

To which Jowett replied, in his quavering treble, "That's a false antithesis, Rogers. It's quite possible to bluster and blunder, too!"'

Political economy

Simultaneously with these occupations he had been studying economics. He became the first Tooke Professor of Statistics and Economic Science at King's College London, from 1859 until his death. During this time he also held the Drummond professorship of political economy at All Souls College, Oxford between 1862 and 1867, when Bonamy Price was elected in his stead. [5] [6] In this he became a friend and follower of Richard Cobden, an advocate for free trade, non-intervention in Europe and an end to imperial expansion, whom he met during his first tenure as Drummond professor. Rogers said of Cobden, "he knew that ... political economy ... was, or ought to be, eminently inductive, and that an economist without facts is like an engineer without materials or tools." [7] Rogers had a wealth of facts at his disposal: his most influential works were the 6-volume History of Agriculture and Prices in England from 1259 to 1795 and Six Centuries of Work and Wages; he spent 20 years collecting facts for the latter work. [8]

He served as President of the first day of the 1875 Co-operative Congress. [9] He was elected Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for Southwark in 1880 and held the seat until it was divided under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885. At the 1885 general election he was elected MP for Bermondsey and held the seat until 1886. Rogers also lectured in political economy at Worcester College, Oxford in 1883 and was re-elected Drummond professor in 1888.



Rogers married Ann Susannah Charlotte Reynolds, daughter of Henry Revell Reynolds, Treasury Solicitor, in December 1854. [4] They had a daughter, Annie Mary Anne Henley Rogers, who was an active supporter of the Liberal party, higher education for women and women's suffrage. [3] Between December 1850 and January 1853 (her death), he had been married to Anna, only daughter of William Peskett, surgeon, of Petersfield, Hampshire. [3]


  1. Archived 17 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. Thorold Rogers, The Economic Interpretation of History: Lectures Delivered at Worcester College Hall, Oxford, 1887-8 (1891).
  3. 1 2 3 "Rogers, James Edwin Thorold"  . Dictionary of National Biography . London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900.
  4. 1 2 "Debrett's House of Commons". Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  5. N. B. DeMarchi. "On the Early Dangers of Being Too Political an Economist". Oxford Economic Papers. 28: 364–380. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.oep.a041349 . Retrieved 13 January 2016.
  6. Salim Rashid (July 1978). "The Price-Rogers Election; Politics or Religion?". Oxford Economic Papers. 30 (2): 310–312. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.oep.a041416. JSTOR   2662895.
  7. "Cobden, Speeches on Questions of Public Policy by Richard Cobden, Front Matter".Missing or empty |url= (help)
  8. "Literary Gossip". The Week : A Canadian Journal of Politics, Literature, Science and Arts. 1 (15): 238. 13 March 1884. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
  9. "Congress Presidents 1869–2002" (PDF). February 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on 28 May 2008. Retrieved 10 May 2008.

Related Research Articles

Corn Laws 19th-century trade restrictions on import food and grain in Great Britain

The Corn Laws were tariffs and other trade restrictions on imported food and corn enforced in the United Kingdom between 1815 and 1846. The word corn in British English denotes all cereal grains, including wheat, oats and barley. They were designed to keep corn prices high to favour domestic producers, and represented British mercantilism. The Corn Laws blocked the import of cheap corn, initially by simply forbidding importation below a set price, and later by imposing steep import duties, making it too expensive to import it from abroad, even when food supplies were short.

Walter Bagehot

Walter Bagehot was a British journalist, businessman, and essayist, who wrote extensively about government, economics, literature and race. He is known for co-founding the National Review in 1855, and for his works The English Constitution and Lombard Street: A Description of the Money Market (1873).

William Stanley Jevons English economist and logician

William Stanley Jevons was an English economist and logician.

The historical school of economics was an approach to academic economics and to public administration that emerged in the 19th century in Germany, and held sway there until well into the 20th century. The professors involved compiled massive economic histories of Germany and Europe. Numerous Americans were their students. The school was opposed by theoretical economists. Prominent leaders included Gustav von Schmoller (1838–1917), and Max Weber (1864–1920) in Germany, and Joseph Schumpeter (1883–1950) in Austria and the United States.

Henry James Sumner Maine British jurist and historian (1822–1888)

Sir Henry James Sumner Maine,, was a British Whig comparative jurist and historian. He is famous for the thesis outlined in his book Ancient Law that law and society developed "from status to contract." According to the thesis, in the ancient world individuals were tightly bound by status to traditional groups, while in the modern one, in which individuals are viewed as autonomous agents, they are free to make contracts and form associations with whomever they choose. Because of this thesis, Maine can be seen as one of the forefathers of modern legal anthropology, legal history and sociology of law.

Anti-Corn Law League

The Anti-Corn Law League was a successful political movement in Great Britain aimed at the abolition of the unpopular Corn Laws, which protected landowners’ interests by levying taxes on imported wheat, thus raising the price of bread at a time when factory-owners were trying to cut wages. The League was a middle-class nationwide organisation that held many well-attended rallies on the premise that a crusade was needed to convince parliament to repeal the corn laws. Its long-term goals included the removal of feudal privileges, which it denounced as impeding progress, lowering economic well-being, and restricting freedom. The League played little role in the final act in 1846 when Sir Robert Peel led the successful battle for repeal. However, its experience provided a model that was widely adopted in Britain and other democratic nations to demonstrate the organisation of a political pressure group with the popular base.

Émile Louis Victor de Laveleye Belgian economist, professor, historian

Émile Louis Victor de Laveleye was a Belgian economist. He was one of the co-founders of the Institut de Droit International in 1873.

<i>The Wealth of Nations</i> 1776 work on economics by Adam Smith

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, the book offers one of the world's first collected descriptions of what builds nations' wealth, and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the book touches upon such broad topics as the division of labour, productivity, and free markets.

Claude Montefiore British Jewish religious leader and scholar (1858–1938)

Claude Joseph Goldsmid Montefiore, also Goldsmid–Montefiore or just Goldsmid Montefiore (1858–1938) was the intellectual founder of Anglo-Liberal Judaism and the founding president of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, a scholar of the Hebrew Bible, rabbinic literature and New Testament. He was a significant figure in the contexts of modern Jewish religious thought, Jewish-Christian relations, and Anglo-Jewish socio-politics, and educator. Montefiore was President of the Anglo-Jewish Association and an influential anti-Zionist leader, who co-founded the anti-Zionist League of British Jews in 1917.

Louis Mallet British civil servant (born 1823)

Sir Louis Mallet CB PC was a British civil servant who was an advocate of free trade and served on the Council of India.

Thomas Fisher Unwin was an English publisher who founded the publishing house of T. Fisher Unwin.

Achille Loria

Achille Loria was an Italian political economist.

The Political Economy Club is the world's oldest economics association founded by James Mill and a circle of friends in 1821 in London, for the purpose of coming to an agreement on the fundamental principles of political economy. David Ricardo, James Mill, Thomas Malthus, and Robert Torrens were among the original luminaries.

Francis Hirst

Francis Wrigley Hirst was a British journalist, writer and editor of The Economist magazine. He was a Liberal in party terms and a classical liberal in ideology.

The English historical school of economics, although not nearly as famous as its German counterpart, sought a return of inductive methods in economics, following the triumph of the deductive approach of David Ricardo in the early 19th century. The school considered itself the intellectual heirs of past figures who had emphasized empiricism and induction, such as Francis Bacon and Adam Smith. Included in this school are William Whewell, Richard Jones, Thomas Edward Cliffe Leslie, Walter Bagehot, Thorold Rogers, Arnold Toynbee, William Cunningham, and William Ashley.

Herbert Foxwell

Herbert Somerton Foxwell, FBA was an English economist.

Neil De Marchi, is an Australian economist and historian of economic thought and is a professor at Duke University. De Marchi specializes in both teaching and research that pertains to the history of economic ideas and the history of markets, and also the functioning of markets with a specific focus on art markets. His works have appeared in such journals as the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, the Journal of Econometrics, the European Journal for the History of Economic Thought, and the Art Bulletin. He has also contributed to pieces within various books, having written introductions to such works as “Idealization in Economics, Poznan Studies 38,” and a biographical entry of John Stuart Mill for The Handbook of Economic Methodology. De Marchi received his Ph.D. from Australian National University in 1970, after completing his B.Phil. in economics at the University of Oxford. He also obtained his B.Ec. with first-class honors in 1960 from the University of Western Australia. He is a Distinguished Fellow of the History of Economics Society.

Jane Cobden English suffragist

Emma Jane Catherine Cobden, known as Jane Cobden, was a British Liberal politician who was active in many radical causes. A daughter of the Victorian reformer and statesman Richard Cobden, she was an early proponent of women's rights, and in 1889 was one of two women elected to the inaugural London County Council. Her election was controversial; legal challenges to her eligibility hampered and eventually prevented her from serving as a councillor.

James Mellor was a Liverpool merchant, local politician, and friend of Richard Cobden.


Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Clarke
Marcus Beresford
Member of Parliament for Southwark
With: Arthur Cohen
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Bermondsey
Succeeded by
Alfred Lafone