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Robert Owen

A picture of Robert Owen

About Robert Owen

Social reformer

He was the son of saddler, born 14th May 1771 at Newtown, Montgomeryshire. At the age of 10 he was put into a draper's shop at Stamford, and by the age of 19 had risen to be the manager of a cotton mill. In 1799 he married the daughter of David Dale, the philanthropic owner of the New Lanark cotton mills, where in 1800 he settled as manager and part-owner. He laboured to teach his workpeople the advantages of thrift, cleanliness, and good order, and established infant education. He began social propaganda in A new View of Society, (1813), and finally adopted socialism. He lost much of his influence by his utterances on religion. His socialistic theories were put to the test in experimental communities at Orbiston near Bothwell, and later at New Harmony in Indiana, - in County Clare, and in Hampshire, but all were unsuccessful.

In 1828 his connection with New Lanark ceased His means having been exhausted, he spent the remainder of his days in secularist, socialistic,and spiritualistic propagandism. He died on the 17th November 1858.

His son Robert Dale Owen was born in Glasgow in 1801 and went to America in 1825 to help in the New Harmony colony. He settled in America in 1827, and edited the Free Inquirer in New York, and was a member of the Indiana Legislature, entering Congress in 1843. he was later charge d'affaires and later minister for the U.S. at Naples 1853-58, and was an abolitionist and spiritualist. He died in June 1877.
Two other sons - David Dale Owen (1807-1860) and Richard Owen (1810-1890) were notable geologists.

Information submitted by Alan Longbottom

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