Edward Vansittart Neale - Encyclopedia

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EDWARD VANSITTART NEALE (1810-1892), English co-operator and Christian Socialist, was born at Bath on the 2nd of April 1810, the son of a Buckinghamshire clergyman. After receiving his earlier education at home he went to Oriel College, Oxford. In 1837 he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn. He became a member of the Christian Socialists in 1850 and also joined the council of the Society for Promoting Working Men's Associations. His wealth enabled him to carry out experiments in co-operation on a larger scale than had been previously attempted. He founded the first co-operative store in London, and advanced the capital for two builders' associations, both of which failed. In 1851, though strongly opposed by other members of the promoting "Council," he started on his own initiative the Central Co-operative Agency, similar in many respects to the Co-operative Wholesale Society of a later day. The failure of this scheme, together with that of the operatives' cause in the engineering lock-out of 1852 is said to have cost him -C40,000. It is certain that until in later life he inherited the estate of Bisham Abbey in Berkshire he was, comparatively speaking, a poor man. He was closely associated with the movement which resulted in the Industrial and Provident Societies Act of 1876, and the passing of the Consolidation Act of 1862 was almost entirely due to his efforts. Besides publishing pamphlets on co-operation he served on the executive committee which afterwards developed into the Central Co-operative Board, and took an active part in the formation of the North of England Co-operative Wholesale Society in 1863. One of the founders of the Cobden mills in 1866, and the Agricultural and Horticultural Association in 1867, he also promoted the annual co-operative congress, afterwards becoming general secretary of the Central Board. He was also a director of the Co-operative Insurance Company and a member of the Co-operative Newspaper Society for many years. He visited America in 1875 with a deputation whose object was to open up a direct trade between the farmers of the western states and the English co-operative stores. After resigning the post of secretary to the congress board in 1891, he became a member of the Oxford University branch of the Christian Social Union. He died on the 16th of September 1892.

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