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Delany, William (1835–1924), Jesuit priest and educationist, was born at Leighlin Bridge, co. Carlow, on 4 June 1835, the son of John Delany, baker, and his wife, Mary, née Brennan. He was the second of ten children, five of whom survived to maturity—two boys and three girls. His formal education was at the local primary school and, from 1845 to 1851, at ...

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Dell, William (d. 1669), ejected minister and educational reformer, was admitted sizar at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in April 1624; there is no reliable information about his early life. He graduated BA in 1628 and MA in 1631, subsequently becoming a fellow. With the support of ...

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Douglas, John (c. 1500–1574), archbishop of St Andrews and educational reformer, was born in Longnewton, Roxburghshire, the son of Robert Douglas. His cousin Hugh Douglas was the son of William Douglas of Bon-Jedburgh, but nothing else is known of John Douglas before he matriculated in ...

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Desiderius Erasmus (c. 1467–1536) by Hans Holbein the younger, 1523 private collection. Photograph: Photographic Survey, Courtauld Institute of Art, London

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Erasmus, Desiderius (c. 1467–1536), humanist scholar and reformer, was born in Rotterdam during the night of 27–28 October in the late 1460s—a year about 1467 seems plausible. He was illegitimate, a circumstance that doubtless contributed to the uncertainty attending all record of his origins, family name, and early life. The source of much information is the ...

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William Fox (1736–1826) by Samuel Freeman, pubd 1827 © reserved

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Fox, William (1736–1826), founder of the Sunday School Society, was born at Clapton, Gloucestershire, on 14 February 1736, the youngest of the eight children of James Fox (d. 1738/9), tenant farmer on Clapton Manor estate. Left fatherless, the eldest son took over the farm, while ...

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Jones, Griffith [known as Griffith Jones Llanddowror] (bap. 1684, d. 1761), Church of England clergyman and educational reformer, was baptized on 1 May 1684 at Cilrhedyn church, Pembrokeshire, the youngest of four sons born to John ap Gruffydd, a farmer, and Elinor John...

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Maule, Henry (1676–1758), Church of Ireland bishop of Meath and educational reformer, was the son of William Maule, comptroller of the customs at Dublin, and Jane, daughter of Roger West. Born perhaps at Arklow, Ireland, and educated at Mr Young's school in Dublin...

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Henry Maule (1676–1758) by Andrew Miller, pubd 1747 (after Anthony Lee, 1747) National Gallery of Ireland

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Mayer, Matthew (1740–1814), Methodist preacher and promoter of the Sunday school movement, was born on 4 November 1740 at Portwood Hall estate, near Stockport, Cheshire, the son of John Mayer, yeoman farmer (d. 1775), and his wife, Hannah. Educated at a good country school, ...

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E. G. Hawke

revised by M. C. Curthoys

Mimpriss, Robert (1797–1875), Sunday school worker, was born at Deptford, Kent, on 14 January 1797, into a devout home of Welsh origin. His father was an official in Deptford Dockyard, and had nine sons, of whom Robert and Thomas, afterwards a surgeon, alone survived infancy. After education at a ...

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Napleton, John (1738/9–1817), Church of England clergyman and educational reformer, was the son of the Revd John Napleton of Pembridge, Herefordshire. He matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford, on 22 March 1755, at the age of sixteen, and graduated BA in 1758, MA in 1761, and BD and DD in 1789. On 13 December 1760 he was elected to a fellowship at his college, and he remained in residence as a tutor until the close of 1777. He became vice-principal in 1769/70 and served as senior bursar in 1771/2, 1773/4, and 1775/6. He proved to be a congenial colleague, appreciated for his fund of anecdotes, but some of his pupils found him 'uncommonly strict'. He contributed a set of Greek verses to the ...

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Porter, Josias Leslie (1823–1889), missionary and promoter of Irish education, born on 4 October 1823, was the youngest son of William Porter of Carrowan, parish of Burt, co. Donegal, and Margaret, daughter of Andrew Leslie of Drumgowan in the same parish. The father farmed several ...

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Raikes, Robert (1736–1811), promoter of Sunday schools, was born at Gloucester on 14 September 1736 and baptized on 24 September. He was the eldest of six sons, followed by one daughter, of Robert Raikes (bap. 1690, d. 1757), printer, and his third wife, ...

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Robert Raikes (1736–1811) by George Romney, 1784–8 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Thomson, James [Diego] (1788–1854), evangelist and school promoter, was born in Creetown, Kirkcudbrightshire, on 1 September 1788, the youngest of three sons of William Thomson, school teacher in Creetown, and Janet Burnet. He studied theology in Glasgow, where he was exposed to the Scottish evangelical revival. He was particularly influenced by the preachers ...

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Webster, John (1611–1682), schoolmaster and polemicist, was born on 3 February 1611 at Thornton on the Hill in the parish of Coxwold, Yorkshire, the son of Edward Webster. Claims that he was a student at Cambridge appear to be without foundation. In the early 1630s he studied chemistry under the Hungarian ...