William Shaw (1797-1853)

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The Farmer's almanac and calendar by Cuthbert W. Johnson and William Shaw, 1841. The Farmer's almanac and calendar, 1841.jpg
The Farmer's almanac and calendar by Cuthbert W. Johnson and William Shaw, 1841.

William Shaw"of the strand" (1797–1853) was a British agricultural writer, editor and translator, first editor of the agricultural journal Mark Lane Express, and of The Farmer's almanac and calendar, and co-founder of the Farmers Club in 1842. [1] He is known for advocating agricultural reforms and improvements. [2]

Farmers Club London gentlemens club based at Whitehall Court

The Farmers Club is a London private members' club based at Whitehall Court, founded in 1842. Members are required to have an association with farming, agriculture or food.


Life and work

William Shaw was born in Bath, Somerset in 1797, as eldest son of John Shaw of Bath. He spent two years from June 1813 to June 1815 at Wadham College, Oxford, [3] and was admitted to the Inner Temple on 20 June 1828, being called to the bar on 22 November 1833.

Bath, Somerset City in Somerset, England

Bath is the largest city in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England, known for its Roman-built baths. In 2011, the population was 88,859. Bath is in the valley of the River Avon, 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 11 miles (18 km) south-east of Bristol. The city became a World Heritage site in 1987.

Wadham College, Oxford college of the University of Oxford

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In 1832 Shaw co-founded the weekly agricultural journal Mark Lane Express, of which he became its first editor. The other co-founders were Cuthbert William Johnson (1799–1878), John Rogerson and Joseph Rogerson, farmers from Lincolnshire, Doctor J. Blackstone, [4] and George Parker Tuxford. In his position as editor Shaw played a leading role in advocating innovative farming techniques [5] and the formation of agricultural societies and farmer's clubs in Britain. [6]

Cuthbert William Johnson was an English barrister and agricultural writer.

George Parker Tuxford of Barnes, London, was a British magazine publisher.

Shaw further came into public prominence in connection with his efforts towards the establishment of the Royal Agricultural Society. [7] He took a leading part in the preliminary work of forming this society, and at the inaugural meeting held on 9 May 1838. He was chosen the first secretary, a position which he resigned in the following year, when he was elected 7 August 1839 a member of the council. Shaw was also elected honorary member of the French Académie d'Agriculture.

Royal Agricultural Society of England society; promotes the scientific development of agriculture

The Royal Agricultural Society of England (RASE) promotes the scientific development of English agriculture. It was established in 1838 with the motto "Practice with Science" and received its Royal Charter from Queen Victoria in 1840. The RASE today is based in Kenilworth, Warwickshire.

The Académie d'agriculture de France is a voluntary association aiming to contribute to the evolution of agriculture and rural life in the scientific, technical, economic, judicial, legal, social and cultural fields. It is the successor to the société d'agriculture de la Généralité de Paris, founded in 1761 by Louis XV, and has functioned in its present form since a decree of 1878 which recognised it as a public utility.

In 1838 he had started with his lifelong friend, Cuthbert William Johnson. In 1841 they started as the first editors of The Farmer's almanac and calendar. This publication had an annual sale of about 15,000 between 1841 and 1865, and was according to Goddard (1983), "probably among the most widely read of all agricultural publications of the nineteenth century." [8] The Farmers' Almanack and Calendar continued to be issued annually in their joint names, notwithstanding Shaw's death in 1853, until 1872. Shaw was a great supporter of farmers' clubs, and a frequent speaker and reader of papers at them. The establishment of the London Farmers Club in 1842 was greatly owing to his efforts, and he was honorary secretary from 1840 to 1843. Other founders of the Farmers Club were James Allen Ransome, Robert Baker, and one or two others. [9] In 1844 Shaw and Johnson translated and brought out an English edition of Von Thaer's Principles of Agriculture.

James Allen Ransome British agricultural-implement maker and agricultural writer

James Allen Ransome, known as Allen Ransome, was an English agricultural-implement maker and agricultural writer, known from his 1843 publication of "The Implements of Agriculture." He was considered as "one of the leaders in a movement which, by bringing the science of the engineer to bear on the manufacture of implements for tilling the ground, has wrought, during the present century, an almost complete revolution in the practice of agriculture."

Albrecht Thaer German agronomist and an avid supporter of the humus theory for plant nutrition

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Between 1846 and 1849, Shaw edited the Steeplechase Calendar and collaborated with Henry Corbet, editor of the Mark Lane Express since its foundation in 1832, and Philip Pusey in an investigation into tenant rights. He read before this body six papers on tenant right and two on agricultural statistics. He took up enthusiastically the then novel but soon burning question of tenant right. In 1848 with Corbet he published an extensive Digest of Evidence on the Agricultural Customs of England and Wales. This was a digest of the evidence on tenant right given in the previous year before the famous committee of the House of Commons presided over by Philip Pusey. This digest was very popular, and is still useful for reference; a second edition appeared in 1854.

Henry Corbet British agricultural writer

Henry Corbet was an English agricultural writer, and editor of the weekly The Mark Lane Express Agricultural Journal for twenty years. Together with John Morton he is considered one of "the leading agricultural editors during the most prosperous period of Victorian 'high farming' of the 1850s and 1860s."

Philip Pusey was a reforming agriculturalist, a Tory Member of Parliament (MP) and a friend and follower of Sir Robert Peel.

Wales Country in northwest Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.

In 1849 he participated in the North Hampshire by-election as tenant farmer. On 1 April 1850 Shaw was presented with a service of silver plate by the tenant farmers for his advocacy of their cause, when he was described by the chairman who made the presentation as "the Cobden of Agriculture." [10] He was one of the chief founders of the Farmers' Insurance Company established in 1840, and amalgamated in 1888 with the Alliance Insurance Company, of which he was managing director. He was managing director also of a less successful venture, the Farmers' and Graziers' Mutual Cattle Insurance Association, established 1844, which fell into difficulties in 1849.

Other ventures of Shaw's proved unsuccessful, and during the time of the railway mania he had money troubles. In November 1852 he fled to Australia to escape bankruptcy, [4] where, some time in 1853, he died very miserably in the gold diggings far up the country, with only a few pence in his pocket. He was married, but lived apart from his wife. Shaw was of commanding presence and had fine features. There is a small portrait of him by Richard Ansdell (1842) in the rooms of the Royal Agricultural Society at 13 Hanover Square. This was reproduced in the engraving of the society subsequently published in 1843. Back in London Henry Corbet succeeded Shaw, both as editor of The Farmer's almanac and calendar, and as secretary of the Farmers Club. [6]

Selected publications

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  1. Nicholas Goddard, "William Shaw "of the Strand" and the foundation of the Royal Agricultural Society of England", JRASE, 143, 1982, pp 98–104
  2. Wikisource-logo.svg  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Shaw, William (1797-1853)". Dictionary of National Biography . 51. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
  3. Gardiner, Reg. ii. 261
  4. 1 2 Carrie de Silva A short history of agricultural education and research. Harper Adams University, Newport, Shropshire. 2013.
  5. Adam Hope, Adam Crerar, Champlain Society (2007) Letters of Adam Hope, 1834–1845. p. 73
  6. 1 2 Joan Thirsk, Edward John T. Collins (1967) The Agrarian History of England and Wales. p. 676
  7. Martineau, Thirty Years' Peace, iv. 448, ed. 1878
  8. Goddard, Nicholas. "The Development and Influence of Agricultural Periodicals and Newspapers, 1780–1880." The Agricultural History Review (1983): 116–131.
  9. "James Allen Ransome" in: The Farmer's Magazine, Rogerson and Tuxford, Vol. 11th, 3rd Series, January to July 1857. p. 1-2.
  10. Farmer's Mag. 1850, xxi. 407

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from: Wikisource-logo.svg  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Shaw, William (1797-1853)". Dictionary of National Biography . 51. London: Smith, Elder & Co.