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Jonas Hanway

(1712—1786) merchant and philanthropist


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(1712–86). Philanthropist. Hanway was born at Portsmouth into a family with naval connections. He went into overseas trade, spent twelve years in Lisbon, joined the Russia Company, and from 1743 until 1750 was in Russia, travelling as far as Persia. He published an account of his journeys. In 1756 he became a supporter of the Foundling Hospital and was later elected a governor. His Marine Society, founded at the start of the Seven Years War in 1756, started boys on careers in the navy, and in 1758 he helped to establish the Magdalen hospital for penitent prostitutes. An indefatigable pamphleteer, Hanway campaigned on behalf of climbing-boys and parish children, in favour of Sunday schools, and against the ‘pernicious’ effects of drinking tea. The last crusade brought him into a literary conflict with Samuel Johnson. Carlyle, with some justice, called Hanway a ‘dull, worthy man’ and his writings, though well intended, are not sprightly.

From The Oxford Companion to British History in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: British History.


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