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Beliefs and Businessby Hearts and Minds MediaWe have seen that at various times in the past, there was a clear social expectation on business people to do good with their money through personal philanthropy. In certain industries this took on the nature of a race, with those who competed against each other in the commercial arena also trying to outdo each other when it came to their charitable deeds. The brewing industry was one such example. In the 19th century, almost all of the figures behind the biggest beer brands of the time were significant donors. This was almost certainly in part a response to the ongoing criticism of their brewing activities by the vocal temperance movement. For instance,it is noted of the Liverpool brewer and philanthropist Andrew Barclay Walker (who gifted to the city the art gallery bearing his name)that ‘his business interests in the brewing trade made him a controversial political figure in a city riven by sectarian and religious differences’, and that ‘many saw Walker’s philanthropy as a crude attempt to establish his own cultural status in the town and to curry favour with metropolitan artistic elites’.349 Critics saw his support for the arts (which admittedly came somewhat out of nowhere) asnothing more that an attempt to ‘buy a knighthood through showy displays of philanthropy’. Whatever the motivation behind their donations however, and notwithstanding such criticisms, it was clear that ‘. . . brewers were expected to be involved with the community and to be charitable’. In fact, so ubiquitous was charitable giving among the major figures in brewing (dubbed ‘the Beerage’ ), that a failure to give was reason for raised eyebrows. Fred King, of the still-famous Greene, King and Sons, for instance, ‘may be the only brewer of whom it never seems to have been claimed that he made the world a better place by some means other than his beer’.You will get a PDF (3MB) file.
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Doing Business The Quaker Way
Beliefs and Business: The experience of Quaker Companies
Produced by Hearts & Minds Media 2017 - J Horsfield
Sir Adrian Cadbury
A talk in the Faith Seeking Understanding series - May 2003
Few are aware of the extent of Quaker involvement in business in the 18th and 19th centuries. Some may know that the four main chocolate companies - Cadbury, Fry, Rowntree and Terry - were all Quaker businesses in their origin. Quaker leadership, however, covers a wide range of industry and commerce of the period. The iron and steel industry of the country owes its origin to the Darbys of Coalbrookdale (don’t miss a chance to visit Ironbridge) and to Huntsman of Sheffield (steel). Our railway system began with the Pease’s of Darlington, who ran the first train from Stockton to Darlington in 1825 on what became known as the Quaker Line. To know what train to catch, you consulted Bradshaw’s - he was another Quaker. Banking was dominated by the Quakers. Lloyds were bankers and ironmasters and all the founding families of Barclays were Quakers. In addition, the majority of the country banks were Quaker owned and run.
They were involved in brewing. Although much concerned with the scourge of cheap spirits, brewing ale was considered acceptable. Barclay Perkins were the main Quaker brewers and that business was formed when Mrs Thrale sold the Anchor Brewery in which Dr Johnson was an investor. She famously wrote about the sale, “God Almighty sent us a knot of rich Quakers who bought the whole and saved me and my coadjutors (which included Dr Johnson) from brewing ourselves into another bankruptcy”.
The Quaker influence extends to shoes - Clark’s of Street, K of Kendal and Morlands of Glastonbury, to pharmacy - Allen and Hanbury, to chemicals - Albright & Wilson and Sturge, to matches - Bryant & May, to food - Huntley & Palmers, Carr’s Biscuits, Reckitt’s and Horniman’s Tea, to engineering - Ransome’s of Ipswich, and they are just examples taken from a much longer list.
The remarkable thing is that in 1800 Quakers were only 1 in 500 of the population. Thus 0.2% of those living in the country played an important part in the transformation of Britain into an industrial nation.
Why were they in business?
One reason was that they were debarred from any official positions, from most of the professions and from going to university because of their religious beliefs. With the restoration of the monarchy, a number of laws were passed in the 1660s to prevent those outside the Church of England from having positions of influence. They suffered persecution and particular problems were their refusal to swear oaths and to pay tithes to the Church. Their refusal to swear meant they would not take the Oath of Allegiance to the Crown which could be interpreted as disloyalty, if not treason.
Industry and commerce were therefore outlets for people with drive and energy and who, in religious terms, thought for themselves. They were also educated, largely through their own efforts, since they all learnt to read and write in order to spread the word. They were not however the only group who were considered outsiders, since Catholics suffered from the same disabilities, but this did not lead them to any extent into the field of business. Looking at the particular beliefs of Quakers helps to explain why, having entered business, they took the lead in so many fields. It is however impossible to separate the kind of people who became Quakers from the beliefs which brought them to join the Society of Friends. It is the combination of the two which accounts for their remarkable record of business leadership.
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