Richard Oastler

Richard Oastler

Did you know?

Richard Oastler was born in Leeds in 1789. As a child he attended Fulneck Moravian School.  His original intention was to become an architect but poor eyesight prevented him from entering the profession.

By 1807 he became interested in the political scene and was a supporter of William Wilberforce in his anti-slavery campaign.

In 1820 he took the position of steward at Fixby Hall near Huddersfield. He supervised the work of tenants.  Having met the Bradford mill owner John Wood, Oastler became convinced that the objections to transatlantic slavery could equally be applied to the working conditions in the mills.  

To begin his campaign against children's working conditions, Oastler wrote a letter to the Leeds Mercury which was headlined 'Yorkshire Slavery'. Although the letter was not well received by local mill owners, Oastler proved to be an inspirational speaker and this earned him the nickname 'The Factory King'.

Oastler was imprisoned in the Fleet prison in London for debt but supporters campaigned successfully for his release and in 1844 he returned triumphant to Huddersfield and continued his campaign.


Oastler died in 1861 in Harrogate.


Architect - someone who designs buildings

Inspirational - gives people ideas

Moravian - a type of Christian religion

Steward - a kind of manager

Transatlantic - something from across the Atlantic ocean

Triumphant - showing pride in achieving something

Document icon Learning article provided by: Huddersfield Local Studies Library | 

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