Edmund Roberts Larken

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Edmund Roberts Larken (1809–1895) was an English cleric and Christian Socialist, a patron of radical causes and author on social matters. Along with other unconventional views, he was noted as possibly the first parish priest of his time to wear a beard.[1]


Larken's father, Edmund Larken (1766–1831[2]), worked for the East India Company. His sister Eliza married William Monson, 6th Baron Monson; his brother Arthur Staunton Larken (1816–1889), the third son, was known as an officer of arms, becoming Portcullis Pursuivant and then Richmond Herald.[3]

Larken graduated B.A. from Trinity College, Oxford, (M.A. 1836)[4] and was ordained deacon in 1833, and priest in 1834. At Oxford he considered himself a follower of Richard Whateley.[5][6] He became rector of Burton by Lincoln, remaining there from 1843 to 1895; he was presented to the living by his brother-in-law Lord Monson.[5] In an invasion scare in 1859, a Lincolnshire rifle corps was raised and Larken was chaplain in it.[7] An unsuccessful campaign was mounted for him to become Dean of Lincoln in 1860.[8]


Larken was interested in the socialist ideas of Charles Fourier, including an account of them with one of his sermons in 1842.[9] He collaborated with John Minter Morgan on schemes for village settlement.[10] In 1847 he became chairman of a building society, of which George Boole was a director.[11] Larken and Boole also worked together in the 1850s on a plan to reduce the impact of prostitution in Lincoln.[12] Other involvements were with the Leeds Redemption Society and a co-operative flour mill.[5]

Larken worked with Matilda Mary Hays and Elizabeth Ann Ashurst on a project to translate George Sand's works into English. It came to an end in 1847 due to lack of support.[1][13] He joined the Social Reform League in 1850 and the Association for the Repeal of the Taxes on Knowledge in 1851.[14] He associated with the radicals of his time, and backed The Leader financially. At his house Thomas Archer Hirst encountered George Holyoake.[15]


  • Sermons on the Commandments (1837)[16]
  • A sermon preached at Horbling, Lincolnshire, in obedience to the Queen's letter in behalf of the distressed manufacturers, on Sunday, July 24, 1842. With an appendix containing a sketch of the industrial system of Fourier (1842)[17]
  • The necessity of toleration to the exercise of private judgment, a sermon (1847)[18]
  • The Miller of Angibault (1847), translated from George Sand, edited by Matilda Hays.[19]


Larken's eldest son was a medical doctor in the Indian Army, dying at age 26.[20] The third son (born 1844) was Francis Roper,[21] who was father of Hubert Larken the Archdeacon of Lincoln.[22] Other children included daughters Annie and Henrietta Francis.[23]



  1. ^ a b Rosemary Ashton, G. H. Lewes: An unconventional Victorian (2000), pp. 88–9.
  2. ^ National Archives page.
  3. ^ http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=118259
  4. ^ Literary Gazette 4 June 1836; Google Books.
  5. ^ a b c Hill, pp. 149–50; Google Books.
  6. ^ CCED record.
  7. ^ Hill, p. 76; Google Books.
  8. ^ Hill, p. 260; Google Books.
  9. ^ Hock Guan Tjoap, George Henry Lewes: a Victorian mind (1977), p. 22; Google Books.
  10. ^ Francis Barrymore Smith, Radical Artisan: William James Linton, 1812-97 (1973), p. 94; Google Books.
  11. ^ Hill, p. 130 and note; Google Books.
  12. ^ Hill, p. 138 note 4; Google Books.
  13. ^ George Sand Association, Bibliography of Works in Translation.
  14. ^ Edward Royle, Victorian Infidels: the origins of the British secularist movement, 1791-1866 (1974), p. 149 and p. 146; Google Books.
  15. ^ James A. Secord, Victorian Sensation: the extraordinary publication, reception, and secret authorship of Vestiges of the natural history of creation (2000), p. 483; Google Books.
  16. ^ Google Books.
  17. ^ IISH catalogue entry.
  18. ^ Google Books.
  19. ^ Samuel Halkett, John Laing, A Dictionary of the Anonymous and Pseudonymous Literature of Great Britain. Including the Works of Foreigners Written in, or Translated into the English Language vol. 2 (1883, 2006 reprint), cols. 1616–7; Google Books.
  20. ^ roll-of-honour.com, Burton by Lincoln.
  21. ^ Cuthbert Wilfrid Whitaker, A register of S. Nicholas College, Lancing, from its foundation at Shoreham in August, 1848 to the commencement of the month of November, 1900 (c. 1900), p. 58; archive.org.
  22. ^ Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, Armorial Families: a directory of gentlemen of coat-armour vol. 2 (1905), p. 1134; archive.org.
  23. ^ thepeerage.com, Edmund Roberts Larken.

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