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Benjamin Kirkman Gray

(1862—1907) historian of philanthropy and social policy


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Gray was born in Blandford, Dorset on 11 August 1862, the son of a Congregational minister, and died at Letchworth, Hertfordshire on 23 June 1907. At the age of fourteen he went to work in a warehouse in the City of London, but a Christian conversion when sixteen caused him to resume his studies and return to Blandford to be a schoolteacher. He went in 1886 to New College, London to train for the Congregational ministry. His reading of economics, psychology and philosophy there enabled him to gain the Ricardo Economic Scholarship at University College, London. It was difficult for him to gain a ministerial appointment because of his unorthodox theology, but in 1892 he undertook social work at Belgrave Chapel, Leeds and gave lectures to co-operative societies and labour clubs. Increasingly a mystic and free thinker, he moved to Unitarianism and became a Unitarian minister at Warwick (1894–7). In 1898, the year of his marriage to Eleanor Stone, he took up social work at Bell Street Domestic Mission, Edgware Road, London, as well as forming the Christian Social Brotherhood. Failing physical strength brought his resignation in 1902. In 1905 he gave a lecture course on ‘The Philanthropy of the Eighteenth Century’ at the London School of Economics, and visited Germany to study the practice of municipal philanthropy.

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From The Biographical Dictionary of British Economists in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Economics.


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