Henry Sanderson Furniss, 1st Baron Sanderson

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Henry Sanderson Furniss, 1st Baron Sanderson (1868–1939) was an English educationalist and socialist politician. He was the third Principal of Ruskin College, an educational institution in Oxford, England, for adults lacking in prior formal education.

Early life[edit]

Furniss was born in London on 1 October 1868, the elder son of Thomas Sanderson Furniss (1833–1912) and Thomas' wife and second cousin Mary Sanderson (d. 1899). Like his eldest sister, May, Furniss was discovered to be blind from a very young age, possibly as a result of ophthalmia neonatorum at the time of his birth.[1] Two younger siblings had normal eyesight. Furniss's eyesight allowed him to distinguish large objects but he was never able to read. Fortunately, private tutoring (made possible by his family's wealth) allowed him to gain an education that led ultimately to a distinguished academic career in economics.


Furniss graduated from Hertford College, University of Oxford with a Master of Arts degree. From 1907 to 1916 he was a lecturer at Ruskin College; from 1916 to 1925 he served as the Principal of the College.[2]

While working in Oxford, Furniss was an active participant in the Socialist Fabian Society. In 1919 he ran unsuccessfully in the General Election as the candidate for the Labour Party in Oxford.

Furniss was created Baron Sanderson, of Hunmanby, in the County of York, on 18 June 1930[3] in recognition of his distinguished career in education. In the late 1930s he was a member of the Parliamentary Pacifist Group.

Private life[edit]

Furniss married Averil Dorothy Nicholl on 23 January 1902. He died in London, on 25 March 1939. There were no children from his marriage.


  1. ^ Furniss, Henry Sanderson (1931). Memories of Sixty Years. Methuen Publishing. 
  2. ^ Harold Pollins, ‘Furniss, Henry Sanderson, Baron Sanderson (1868–1939)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33617. p. 3874. 20 June 1930.

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