John Passmore Edwards

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John Passmore Edwards
John Passmore Edwards by George Frederic Watts.jpg
Portrait of John Passmore Edwards by George Frederic Watts, 1894
Born (1823-03-24)24 March 1823
Blackwater, Cornwall, England, United Kingdom
Died 22 April 1911(1911-04-22) (aged 88)
Occupation journalist and philanthropist

John Passmore Edwards (24 March 1823 – 22 April 1911)[1][2] was a British journalist, newspaper owner and philanthropist. The son of a carpenter, he was born in Blackwater, a small village between Redruth and Truro in Cornwall, United Kingdom.

Biography[edit]

His mother's maiden name was Passmore and she originated from Newton Abbot, Devon.

He became the Manchester representative of London Sentinel, a weekly newspaper, opposed to the Corn Law.[1] He was a Liberal Member of Parliament for Salisbury.

He became the editor of a leading London newspaper The Echo which he had bought in 1876. His publishing ventures had been failures for a time, but his 1862 purchase of Building News led to profitability; this was followed by Mechanics Magazine and a share in the daily Echo. He eventually sold two thirds of his share in The Echo to Andrew Carnegie to follow a political and social agenda. However, they disagreed and he bought it back and restored his editor in 1886. The paper closed in 1905.[1]

He was a delegate to peace congresses in Brussels, Paris, and Frankfurt (from 1848 to 1850). He stood as an Independent candidate for Truro in the General Election of 1868. He didn't win this seat but in 1880 he gained the parliamentary seat of Salisbury. However, he soon became a bit sceptical about the quality of professional politics and the inability of politicians to effectively represent the interests of their constituents. He twice refused knighthood, and his opposition to the Boer War made him somewhat unpopular.

Philanthropy[edit]

Edwards caricatured by Ape in Vanity Fair, 1885

A lifelong champion of the working classes, Passmore Edwards is remembered as a generous benefactor. Over the space of 14 years, 70 major buildings were established as a direct result of his bequests. These included hospitals, 11 drinking fountains, 32 marble busts, 24 libraries,[1] schools, convalescence homes and art galleries and the Passmore Edwards Settlement in Tavistock Place. He was also a generous donor to the Workers' Educational Association.[1] Many of Passmore Edwards' buildings were designed by the architect Maurice Bingham Adams, who was also the editor of one of Edwards' journals, Building News.[3]

He also gave money to many hospitals including Tilbury Hospital next to Tilbury Dock Essex, where he built a ward which was named after him.

Legacy[edit]

Many of the buildings that he paid for are still in use for their original purpose. A bust of Passmore Edwards by Sir George Frampton was rescued from the basement of Hoxton Library and unveiled in May 2007 at the Passmore Edwards Library in St. Ives, Cornwall.[4]

As well as London libraries such as at East Dulwich, and Edmonton, he gave the public library buildings in Devon at Newton Abbot and in Cornwall at Bodmin, Camborne, Falmouth, Launceston, Liskeard, Penzance, Redruth, St Ives and Truro.[5]

The Passmore Edwards Public Library in Shepherd's Bush, London, is now the home of the Bush Theatre, which moved there in October 2011.[6]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e ODNB article by A. J. A. Morris, ‘Edwards, John Passmore (1823–1911)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2004; online edn, May 2006 [1], accessed 15 Nov 2007.
  2. ^ "EDWARDS, John Passmore". Who's Who, 59: p. 541. 1907. 
  3. ^ Ewing, H. The Passmore Edwards Public Libraries in London: A Study in Patronage and the Development of a Typology (1998).
  4. ^ West Briton, 15 November 2007, Page 43: Letter from the Head of Cornwall County Library service, Chris Ramsey " Library Honours philanthropist".
  5. ^ Cornwall Calling website - List of famous people (accessed 17 November 2007). This site notes many other buildings in Cornwall, due to J.Passmore Edwards' benefaction.
  6. ^ www.officiallondontheatre.co.uk Retrieved November 2011

Bibliography[edit]

  • Baynes, Peter John Passmore Edwards 1823-1911: an account of his life and works, P. A. Baynes (1995) ISBN 0-9526231-0-2
  • Best, R. S. The life and good works of John Passmore Edwards, with pen and ink illustrations by C. M. Pellow and a list of Buildings, sponsored by Edwards, their architects and opening dates, with an appendix on the architect Silvanus Trevail, [(1851–1903), who designed nine of them. Dyllansow Truran (1982) ISBN 0-907566-18-9
  • Burrage, E. H. J Passmore Edwards, philanthropist (1902)
  • Edwards, J. Passmore A few footprints (1906)
  • Evans, Dean, "Funding the Ladder: the Passmore Edwards legacy", 2011 (Francis Boutle Publishers, London) ISBN 978-1-903427-66-8
  • Ewing, Heather, The Passmore Edwards Public Libraries in London: A Study in Patronage and the Development of a Typology, unpublished thesis (Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 1998)
  • MacDonald, J. J. Passmore Edwards Institutions, Strand Newspaper Company (1900)

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Granville Richard Ryder
John Alfred Lush
Member of Parliament for Salisbury
18801885
With: William Grenfell (1880-1882)
Coleridge John Kennard (1882-1885)
Succeeded by
William Grenfell