James Edwin Thorold Rogers - Encyclopedia

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JAMES EDWIN THOROLD ROGERS (1823-1890), English economist, was born at West Meon, Hampshire, in 1823. He was educated at King's College, London, and Magdalen Hall, Oxford. After taking a first-class degree in 1846, he was ordained, and was for a few years a curate in Oxford. Subsequently, however, he resigned his orders. For some time the classics were the chief field of his activity. He devoted himself a good deal to classical and philosophical tuition in Oxford with success, and his publications included an edition of Aristotle's Ethics (in 1865). Simultaneously with these occupations he had been diligently studying economics, with the result that in 1859 he was appointed professor of statistics and economic science at King's College, London, a post which he filled till his death. From 1862 to 1867 he also held the position of Drummond professor of political economy at Oxford. During that period he published (in 1866) the first two volumes of his History of Agriculture and Prices in England, dealing with the period 1259-1400, a minute and masterly record of the subject, and the work upon which his reputation mainly rests. Two more volumes (1401-1582) were published in 1882, a fifth and sixth (1583-1702) in 1887, and he left behind him at his death copious materials for a seventh and eighth. In 1868 he published a Manual of Political Economy, and in 1869 an edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. In 1875 he collected and edited the Protests of the Lords. An intimate acquaintance with Cobden and John Bright led Rogers to take an active part in politics: he represented Southwark in parliament from 1880 to 1885, and Bermondsey from 1885-86, as an advanced Liberal. In 1888, on the death of Professor Bonamy Price, who had succeeded him at Oxford as professor of political economy, he was re-elected to the post, and held it till his death. Previously (in 1883) he had been appointed lecturer in political economy at Worcester College, Oxford. His latter years were mainly spent at Oxford, where he died on the 12th of October 1890. He was celebrated as a caustic wit and humorist. Of his miscellaneous economic and historical writings, which were numerous, the most noteworthy is his Six Centuries of Work and Wages, published in 1884. As an economist, Thorold Rogers did much to promote the historical study of his subject. He was, however, apt to be guided too frequently by political prejudice, and the value of his work suffered from his aggressively contentious spirit.

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