Richson, Charles (DNB00)

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RICHSON, CHARLES (1806–1874), educational reformer, was born at Highgate, Middlesex, in 1806, and became an usher in a school in Durham. At an unusually late age, he entered St. Catharine's Hall, Cambridge, and graduated B.A. in 1842, and M.A. in 1845. In 1841 he became curate at Preston parish church. He removed to Manchester in 1843 to be clerk in orders at the collegiate church, now the cathedral. This position he held until December 1854, when he was appointed a canon residentiary of the cathedral, and rector of St. Andrew's, Ancoats, Manchester. Subsequently he was also sub-dean of the cathedral and a proctor in convocation.

For nearly thirty years Richson was one of the most prominent public men in Manchester, especially devoting himself to education and sanitary reform. As secretary of the Church Education Society in 1843, he was largely concerned in establishing the Manchester commercial schools, which long held a foremost position among such institutions. He was the chief originator and supporter of the Manchester and Salford education committee, which insisted on the necessity of combining religious with secular instruction in elementary day schools. His zealous labours influenced subsequent legislation, and many of his views were embodied in Forster's Education Act of 1870. One of his last acts in this connection was the drawing up of an important report (February 1870) for the convocation of York on primary education. His efforts on behalf of sanitary reform were almost equally vigorous, and with a few friends he founded the Manchester and Salford Sanitary Association in 1853.

He wrote a large number of pamphlets on popular education, several lesson-books on drawing and writing, papers on decimal coinage and the ruridecanal organisation of dioceses, and some occasional sermons, including a remarkable one on the ‘Observance of Sanitary Laws,’ 1854. Some of his papers were printed in the ‘Transactions of the Manchester Statistical Society.’

He died, after a long illness, on 15 May 1874, at his house in Shakespeare Street, Manchester, and was buried at Birch Church, near that city. His wife, a daughter of Samuel Chambers of Briston, Surrey, survived him. He had no children.

[Manchester Courier, 16 May 1874; Manchester Guardian, 18 May 1874; Raines's Lancashire MSS. vol. xlii. (Chetham Library); Memoir of Thomas Turner, 1875, p. 182; Memoir of W. M'Kerrow, 1881, p. 180.]

C. W. S.