Edward Vansittart Neale
Neale was born in Bath, one of the eight children of The Rev. Edward Vansittart Neale (formerly Vansittart), Rector of Taplow in Buckinghamshire, and wife, whom he married in 1809, Anne Spooner (1780 - 1873), herself one of the ten children of Isaac Spooner, a wealthy Birmingham businessman, and his wife, whom he married in 1770, Barbara Gough, later Gough-Calthorpe (c. 1745 – 1826), daughter of Sir Henry Gough, 1st Baronet, by second wife Barbara Calthorpe, and sister of Henry Gough-Calthorpe, 1st Baron Calthorpe. One of his sisters, Charlotte Vansittart Neale (1817 - 1881), married in 1841 Charles Frere, a barrister and parliamentary clerk, by whom she had nine children, one of which, Charlotte Vansittart Frere (1846 - 1916), married in 1882 artist and writer A. G. Folliott-Stokes of St Ives, author of several important books on Cornwall, and had issue.
In 1828, after receiving early education at home, he entered Oriel College Oxford where he was tutored by J. H. Newman. In 1837 he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn. He was a nephew of William Wilberforce's wife, Barbara Spooner Wilberforce.
He became a Christian Socialist in 1850, and joined the council of the Society for Promoting Working Men's Associations.
With a group of like-minded men, such as F.D. Maurice, Thomas Hughes, John Malcolm Forbes Ludlow, Charles Kingsley, and John Llewelyn Davies, he was an early promoter of the Working Men's College, and taught at its predecessor, the Hall of Association, Castle Street, London.
He founded the first co-operative store in London, and advanced capital for two builders' associations, both of which failed. In 1851, though strongly opposed by other members of the promoting Council, he started his own initiative, the Central Co-operative Agency, similar to the later Co-operative Wholesale Society. The failure of this scheme, and the Amalgamated Society of Engineers cause in the engineering lock-out of 1852, in which he invested, is said to have cost him £40,000. He was closely associated with the movement which resulted in the Industrial and Provident Societies Act, 1876, and the passing of the Consolidation Act of 1862.
Besides publishing pamphlets on co-operation, he served on an executive committee which developed into the Co-operative Central Board, and took an active part in the 1863 formation of the North of England Co-operative Wholesale Society. He was one of the founders of the Cobden Mills in 1866, and the Agricultural and Horticultural Association in 1867. A promoter of the annual Co-operative Congress, in 1872 he was President of its second day. He became general secretary of the Co-operative Union in 1873.
For many years he was a director of the Co-operative Insurance Company, and a member of the Co-operative Newspaper Society. He visited America in 1875, with a deputation whose object was to open-up direct trade between farmers of the western states and English co-operative stores. After resigning as secretary to the Co-operative Congress Board in 1891, he became a member of the Oxford University branch of the Christian Social Union.
Neale married Frances Sarah Farrer; they had four children: Henrietta, Henry, Constance and Edith. In later life he inherited his family estate of Bisham Abbey in Berkshire.
He was a matrilineal descendant of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York, and the mitochondrial DNA descent through which the remains of Richard III of England were identified in 2013 passes through his mother and his sister Charlotte, who married Charles Frere.
A memorial to Neale was erected in St Paul's Cathedral, and a scholarship at Oriel College was endowed in his memory.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
- Letters of Edward Vansittart Neale 1874–1891 – biography – Archive Hub GB 1499 EVN
- J. F. C. Harrison ,A History of the Working Men's College (1854–1954), Routledge Kegan Paul, 1954. pp 12, 17, 19, 31, 43.
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