Faulkner, George (1790?-1862) (DNB00)

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FAULKNER, GEORGE (1790?–1862), the supposed originator of the foundation of Owens College, Manchester, was born about 1790 in Oldham Street, Manchester, in which town his life was spent. In 1812 he entered into partnership in a well-established firm of silk, cotton, and linen manufacturers, which still, though no longer under his name, continues to prosper. For a time its business included a fine-spinning mill, in which Faulkner's intimate friend, John Owens [q. v.], was one of his partners. At some date before Owens's death, which happened in 1846 he is said to have informed Faulkner that he had made his will, in which he had left all his property to his friend. Faulkner, the story continues, refused point-blank to accept another fortune in addition to his own. Owens's irritation at this singular conduct, however, ceased after a few days, when Faulkner suggested to him the plan of leaving the bulk of his wealth for the foundation of a college which should supply a university education unconditioned by religious tests. According to a paper ascribed to the late Professor Henry Rogers (Good Words, 1864, p. 573) Faulkner was himself indebted for the original suggestion of his generous conception to Samuel Fletcher, a public-spirited and philanthropic Manchester merchant, who, unlike Faulkner, was a nonconformist. In any case the advice was taken, and when in 1851 Owens College was actually called into life at Manchester, Faulkner was elected the first chairman of its trustees. He filled this post efficiently till August 1858, taking repeated opportunities of supplementing his friend's munificence by liberal benefactions of his own. He died 21 Feb. 1862, leaving behind him a justly honoured name.

[Thompson's Owens College, Manchester 1886, pp. 52–8.]

A. W. W.