Online Encyclopedia

JAMES FRASER (1818-1885)

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Originally appearing in Volume V11, Page 39 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JAMES FRASER (1818-1885), English bishop, was born at Prestbury, in Gloucestershire, on the 18th of August 1818, and was educated at Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury, and Lincoln College, Oxford. In 1839 he was Ireland scholar, and took a first class. In 1840 he gained an Oriel fellowship, and was for some time tutor of the college, but did not take orders until 1846. He was successively vicar of Cholderton, in Wiltshire, and rector of Ufton Nervet, in Berkshire; but his subsequent importance was largely due to W. K. Hamilton, bishop of Salisbury, who recommended him as an assistant commissioner of education. His report on the educational condition of thirteen poor-law unions, made in May 1859, was described by Thomas Hughes as " a superb, almost a unique piece of work." In 1865 he was commissioned to report on the state of education in the United States and Canada, and his able performance of this task brought him an offer of the bishopric of Calcutta, which he declined, but in January 1870 he accepted the see of Manchester. The task before him was an arduous one, for although his predecessor, James Prince Lee, had consecrated no fewer than 130 churches, the enormous population was still greatly in advance of the ecclesiastical machinery. Fraser worked with the utmost energy, and did even more for the church by the liberality and geniality which earned him the title of " the bishop of all de-nominations." He was prominent in secular as well as religious works, interesting himself in every movement that promoted health, morality, or education; and especially serviceable as the friendly, unofficious counsellor of all classes. His theology was that of a liberal high-churchman, and his sympathies were broad. In convocation he seconded a motion for the disuse of the Athanasian Creed, and in the House of Lords he voted for the abolition of university tests. He died suddenly on the 22nd of October 1885. A biography by Thomas Hughes was published in 1887, and an account of his Lancashire life by J. W. Diggle (1889), who also edited 2 vols. of University and Parochial Sermons (1887).
End of Article: JAMES FRASER (1818-1885)

Additional information and Comments

James Fraser was the subject of my thesis for an MEd at Manchester. Initially I focussed on his work for education which I then was asked to develop. In my later research I looked at the whole of his life and work and presented it for my PhD. He had been spoken of as having a narrow view of education, not true, and Messenger in his book follows the lead of earlier historians even labelling him as a conservative. A summary of my findings was published by the History of Education Society. It presented a reappraisal of his work for education
In my earleir feedback I might have added that apart from his work on the Newcastle and the Taunton commission, Fraser was on the Commission looking imto the conditions of women and children in agriculture. This linked into his work on education and brought him into contact with early rural cooperatives. He later became a staunch supporter of the Co-opertive movement which forged a connection with Hughes.
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