John Relly Beard was born in Portsmouth on 4 August 1800 and died in Ashton-on-Mersey, Cheshire on 22 November 1876. He was the son of a small tradesman and educated at a local grammar school. From the age of sixteen he taught in a nearby Universalist tabernacle, but later moved to the Unitarian church in the High Street. Wealthy supporters of the congregation found money to send him to a boarding school in France, where he first acquired a facility in languages. In 1818 he entered Manchester College, then York, a dissenting academy, where he was a contemporary of James Martineau. From 1825 to 1864 he served as the Unitarian minister at Strangeways in Manchester and its predecessor at Dawson's Croft, Salford. He founded and ran a boarding school with pupils later to gain eminence in Manchester's professional and business life. In 1838 he was awarded the honorary degree of DD by the University of Giessen (Germany). With Revd William Gaskell he was a driving force in the founding of the Unitarian Home Missionary Board (later to become the Unitarian College, Manchester) and served as its first principal (1854–74). His final ministry was at Sale in Cheshire.
From The Continuum Encyclopedia of British Philosophy in Oxford Reference.