Thomas Hughes (20 October 182222 March 1896) was an English lawyer, judge, politician and author. He is most famous for his novel '' Tom Brown's School Days
'' (1857), a semi-autobiographical work set at Rugby School
, which Hughes had attended. It had a lesser-known sequel, '' Tom Brown at Oxford
Hughes had numerous other interests, in particular as a Member of Parliament, in the
British co-operative movement
The United Kingdom is home to a widespread and diverse co-operative movement, with over 7000 registered co-operatives owned by 17 million individual members and which contribute £34bn a year to the British economy. Modern co-operation started wit ...
, and in a settlement— Rugby, Tennessee
, USA—reflecting his values.
Hughes was the second son of John Hughes
, editor of the ''Boscobel Tracts'' (1830), and was born in Uffington
, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire). He had six brothers, and one sister, Jane Senior
, who later became Britain's first female civil servant. At the age of eight he was sent to Twyford School
, a preparatory public school near Winchester, where he remained until the age of eleven. In February 1834 he went to Rugby School
, which was then under the celebrated Thomas Arnold
, a contemporary of his father at
Oriel College, Oxford
Oriel College () is a constituent college of the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. Located in Oriel Square, the college has the distinction of being the oldest royal foundation in Oxford (a title formerly claimed by University College, w ...
Hughes excelled at sports rather than in scholarship, and his school career culminated in a
Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a field at the centre of which is a pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two bails balanced on three stumps. The batting side scores runs by stri ...
Lord's Cricket Ground
Lord's Cricket Ground, commonly known as Lord's, is a cricket venue in St John's Wood, London. Named after its founder, Thomas Lord, it is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and is the home of Middlesex County Cricket Club, the England and ...
. In 1842 he went on to Oriel College, and graduated BA in 1845. At Oxford, he played cricket for the university team
in the annual University Match
, mottoeng = Literal: From here, light and sacred draughts.
Non literal: From this place, we gain enlightenment and precious knowledge.
, established =
, other_name = The Chancellor, Masters and Schola ...
, also at Lord's, and a match still regarded as
First-class cricket, along with List A cricket and Twenty20 cricket, is one of the highest-standard forms of cricket. A first-class match is one of three or more days' scheduled duration between two sides of eleven players each and is officiall ...
called to the bar
The call to the bar is a legal term of art in most common law jurisdictions where persons must be qualified to be allowed to argue in court on behalf of another party and are then said to have been "called to the bar" or to have received "call to ...
in 1848, became Queen's Counsel
in 1869 and a bencher in 1870. He was appointed to a county court judgeship in the
Chester is a cathedral city and the county town of Cheshire, England. It is located on the River Dee, close to the English–Welsh border. With a population of 79,645 in 2011,"2011 Census results: People and Population Profile: Chester Local ...
district in July 1882.
A committed social reformer, Hughes became involved in the
Christian socialism is a religious and political philosophy that blends Christianity and socialism, endorsing left-wing politics and socialist economics on the basis of the Bible and the teachings of Jesus. Many Christian socialists believe cap ...
movement led by Frederick Maurice
, which he joined in 1848. In January 1854 he was one of the founders of the Working Men's College
Great Ormond Street
Great Ormond Street Hospital (informally GOSH or Great Ormond Street, formerly the Hospital for Sick Children) is a children's hospital located in the Bloomsbury area of the London Borough of Camden, and a part of Great Ormond Street Hospita ...
, and was the college's principal from 1872 to 1883.
[ J. F. C. Harrison ,''A History of the Working Men's College (1854–1954)'', Routledge Kegan Paul, 1954]
Hughes gave evidence in 1850 to a House of Commons committee on savings.
In so doing he participated in a Christian Socialist initiative, which led shortly to the
Industrial and Provident Societies Partnership Act 1852
The Industrial and Provident Societies Partnership Act 1852, also known (somewhat unjustifiably) as Slaney's Act, was a significant legislative landmark in the establishment of the co-operative movement in the United Kingdom.
Prior to ...
, and the emergence of the industrial and provident society
. The Act was the work of
Robert Aglionby Slaney
Robert Aglionby Slaney (9 June 1791 – 19 May 1862) was a British barrister and Whig politician from Shropshire. He sat in the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament for the borough of Shrewsbury for most of the period from 1826 until his ...
, with whom Hughes worked in alliance.
Hughes was involved also in the formation of some early trade unions, and helped finance the printing of Liberal publications; and acted as the first President
The Co-operative Congress is the national conference of the UK Co-operative Movement. The first of the modern congresses took place in 1869 following a series of meetings called the " Owenite Congress" in the 1830s. Members of Co-operatives UK ( ...
in 1869, serving on the Co-operative Central Board
. He invested with William Romaine Callender
in co-operative mills, in 1866.
Hughes was elected to Parliament as a
Liberal or liberalism may refer to:
* a supporter of liberalism
** Liberalism by country
* an adherent of a Liberal Party
* Liberalism (international relations)
* Sexually liberal feminism
* Social liberalism
Arts, entertainment and ...
Lambeth () is a district in South London, England, in the London Borough of Lambeth, historically in the County of Surrey. It is situated south of Charing Cross. The population of the London Borough of Lambeth was 303,086 in 2011. The area expe ...
(1865–68), and for
Frome ( ) is a town and civil parish in eastern Somerset, England. The town is built on uneven high ground at the eastern end of the Mendip Hills, and centres on the River Frome. The town, about south of Bath, is the largest in the Mendip ...
(1868–74). He stood as candidate in 1874 for in 1874, but dropped out just before the election, despite support from
Octavia Hill (3 December 1838 – 13 August 1912) was an English social reformer, whose main concern was the welfare of the inhabitants of cities, especially London, in the second half of the nineteenth century. Born into a family of radical ...
The context for the end of his political career was the unpopularity with Hughes's Frome constituents of his support for the Elementary Education Act 1870
As an MP Hughes worked on trade union
legislation, but was not in a position to have major changes passed.
He had greater success in improving the legal position of
A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is "an autonomy, autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratical ...
s, which in particular became able to operate as a limited company
The issue of legal obstacles to the operation of labour unions was topical, and in 1867 Hughes was made a member of a Royal Commission set up to consider the matter. Initially he was the only one on the committee sympathetic to the union point of view; after some lobbying he was joined by
Frederic Harrison (18 October 1831 – 14 January 1923) was a British jurist and historian.
Born at 17 Euston Square, London, he was the son of Frederick Harrison (1799–1881), a stockbroker and his wife Jane, daughter of Alexa ...
, and a concession was made to union representatives, allowing them observer places in the proceedings.
Hughes then worked with Harrison and Robert Applegarth
to diminish the effect of some of the testimony from employers.
The outcome of this commission was that Harrison, Hughes and Lord Lichfield
produced a minority report (1869), recommending that all the legal restrictions should be dropped.
Then the matter was raised again in a second Commission, at the end of Hughes's time in Parliament. At that point Alexander Macdonald
used a minority report to refer back to Hughes's earlier view; but Hughes signed the majority report. It advocated amendment of the Master and Servant Act 1867
, but little substantive change to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1871
and the law of
A conspiracy, also known as a plot, is a secret plan or agreement between persons (called conspirers or conspirators) for an unlawful or harmful purpose, such as murder or treason, especially with political motivation, while keeping their agree ...
In 1878–9 Hughes began writing ''The Manual for Co-operators'' (1881), with Vansittart Neale
, for the Co-operative Congress. As a side-product he developed an interest in the model village
. In 1880, he acquired the ownership of Franklin W. Smith
's ''Plateau City'' and founded a settlement in America— Rugby, Tennessee
—which was designed as an experiment in
A utopia ( ) typically describes an imaginary community or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities for its members. It was coined by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book '' Utopia'', describing a fictional island soci ...
n living for the younger sons of the English gentry. It followed closely on the failed colony Buckthorn (existing about 1872 to 1879), established by another Englishman Charles Lempriere
, in western Virginia; this settlement had supposedly been suggested by Hughes. Rugby was also unsuccessful on its own terms, but it still exists and is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places
Hughes was also a prominent figure in the anti-opium movement, and a member of the Society for the Suppression of the Opium Trade
At the end of the 1880s Hughes clashed with
John Thomas Whitehead Mitchell
John Thomas Whitehead Mitchell (18 October 1828 – 16 March 1895) was a British co-operative activist.
Born in Rochdale to a single mother, Mitchell received some education at the Red Cross Street National School, and at a Sunday school. He ...
Co-operative Wholesale Society
A co-operative wholesale society, or CWS, is a form of co-operative federation (that is, a co-operative in which all the members are co-operatives), in this case, the members are usually consumer cooperatives. According to co-operative econom ...
, over the
In microeconomics, management and international political economy, vertical integration is a term that describes the arrangement in which the supply chain of a company is integrated and owned by that company. Usually each member of the supp ...
Mitchell favoured for the Society. Hughes died in 1896 aged 73, at
Brighton () is a seaside resort and one of the two main areas of the City of Brighton and Hove in the county of East Sussex, England. It is located south of London.
Archaeological evidence of settlement in the area dates back to the Bronze A ...
, of heart failure, and was buried there.
While living at Wimbledon
, Hughes wrote his famous story '' Tom Brown's School Days
'', which was published in April 1857. He is associated with the novelists of the "muscular school", a loose classification but centred on the fiction of the
The Crimean War, , was fought from October 1853 to February 1856 between Russia and an ultimately victorious alliance of the Ottoman Empire, France, the United Kingdom and Piedmont-Sardinia.
Geopolitical causes of the war included th ...
period. Although Hughes had never been a member of the
In the education systems of England, Northern Ireland, Wales, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and some other Commonwealth countries, sixth form represents the final two years of secondary education, ages 16 to 18. Pupils typically prepare for A-l ...
at Rugby, his impressions of the headmaster Thomas Arnold were reverent.
Hughes also wrote ''The Scouring of the White Horse'' (1859), ''Tom Brown at Oxford'' (1861), ''Religio Laici'' (1868), ''Life of Alfred the Great
'' (1869) and the ''Memoir of a Brother''. His brother, George Hughes
, was the model for the Tom Brown character.
In 1847, Hughes married Frances Ford, daughter of Rev. James Ford
, and niece of
Richard Ford (born February 16, 1944) is an American novelist and short story writer. His best-known works are the novel '' The Sportswriter'' and its sequels, ''Independence Day'', '' The Lay of the Land'' and ''Let Me Be Frank With You'', and t ...
, and they settled in 1853 at Wimbledon.
Their house there was built by the North London Working Builders' Association, a Christian Socialist co-operative; and was shared with J. M. F. Ludlow
and his family; Ludlow already shared barristers' chambers with Hughes, and the arrangement lasted four years.
There were five sons (Maurice, James, George, John, and Arthur) and four daughters (Lilian, Evie, Caroline and
Mary may refer to:
* Mary (name), a feminine given name (includes a list of people with the name)
* New Testament people named Mary, overview article linking to many of those below
* Mary, mother of Jesus, also cal ...
) of the marriage.
Lilian Hughes perished in the sinking of the RMS ''Titanic''
in 1912. The youngest child Mary Hughes was a well known Poor Law
guardian and volunteer visitor to the local Poor Law infirmary and children's home.
A Hughes Scholarship was founded at Oriel College, Oxford. It was a closed award, open only to members, or sons of members, of some Co-operative Societies, in which aspect the award reflected Hughes's involvement with the Co-operative Movement. The first scholar was elected to Oriel in 1884. It was later combined with an award honouring the social reformer Edward Vansittart Neale
A statue of Hughes (pictured above right) stands outside Rugby School Library: the sculptor was
Sir Thomas Brock (1 March 184722 August 1922) was an English sculptor and medallist, notable for the creation of several large public sculptures and monuments in Britain and abroad in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
His mo ...
, and the statue was unveiled in 1899.
*'' Tom Brown's School Days
*''The Scouring of The White Horse
*'' Tom Brown at Oxford
*''Religio Laici'' (1861)
*''A Layman's Faith'' (1868)
*''Alfred the Great'' (1870). In the '' Sunday Library for Household Reading
'', this was a largely political work, and was history verging on fiction.
*''Memoir of a Brother'' (1873)
*''The Old Church; What Shall We Do With It?'' (1878)
*''The Manliness of Christ'' (1879)
*''True Manliness'' (1880)
*''Rugby Tennessee'' (1881)
*''Memoir of Daniel Macmillan'' (1882)
*''G.T.T. Gone to Texas'' (1884)
*''Notes for Boys'' (1885)
*''Life and Times of Peter Cooper'' (1886)
*''James Fraser Second Bishop of Manchester'' (1887)
*''David Livingstone'' (1889)
*''Vacation Rambles'' (1895)
*''Early Memories for the Children'' (1899)
*This entry incorporates some public-domain text originally from the ''
1911 Encyclopædia Britannica
A notable ongoing event was the Comparison of the Amundsen and Scott Expeditions, race for the South Pole.
* January 1 – A decade after federation, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory ...
'' but has been heavily edited.
* The Aftermath with Autobiography of the Author ( John Bedford Leno
published by Reeves & Turner, London, 1892)
* Briggs, Asa. "Thomas Hughes and the Public Schools": in Briggs, ''Victorian People'' (1955) pp. 140–167online
Historic Rugby, TennesseeThomas Hughes correspondence collection is held at The National Co-operative Archive, Manchester.
19th-century English novelists
Alumni of Oriel College, Oxford
English Christian socialists
English male novelists
British children's writers
Liberal Party (UK) MPs for English constituencies
UK MPs 1865–1868
UK MPs 1868–1874
Oxford University cricketers
People educated at Rugby School
People educated at Twyford School
People from Vale of White Horse (district)
People from Wimbledon, London
Presidents of Co-operative Congress
English King's Counsel
English trade unionists