Greg, Samuel (DNB00)

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GREG, SAMUEL (1804–1876), philanthropist, was fourth son of Samuel Greg, a mill-owner at Quarry Bank, near Wilmslow, Cheshire, by his wife Hannah, and therefore a brother of Robert Hyde Greg [q. v.] and William Rathbone Greg [q. v.] He was born in King Street, Manchester, 6 Sept. 1804, and educated at Unitarian schools at Nottingham and Bristol. After leaving Bristol he spent two years at home learning mill-work, and in the autumn of 1823 went to Edinburgh for a winter course of university lectures. In 1831, with his youngest brother, William Rathbone Greg, he studied and practised mesmerism with great enthusiasm, and to such practice he attributed his subsequent ill-health. He took the Lower House Mill, near the village of Bollington, in 1832, and having fitted it up with the requisite machinery, commenced working with hands imported from the neighbouring districts of Wilmslow, Styall, and other places. For about fifteen years the mill and the workpeople were his all-absorbing objects of consideration and pursuit. Some account of his proceedings is found in two letters which in 1835 he addressed to Leonard Horner, inspector of factories, and which were printed for private circulation. He first established a Sunday school, next a gymnasium, then drawing and singing classes, baths and libraries, and finally he instituted the order of the silver cross in 1836 as a reward for good conduct in young women. In 1847 he was employed in making experiments on new machinery for stretching cloth. This idea was unpopular in the mill, and the workpeople, instead of coming to him to talk the matter over, surprised him by turning out. Other troubles followed, and it was not long before he was obliged to retire altogether from business, a comparatively poor man. In 1854 he wrote and published 'Scenes from the Life of Jesus,' a work of which a second edition was printed in 1869. His 'Letters on Religious Belief' appeared in 1856, but came to a conclusion after the seventh letter. He entertained Kossuth on 22 March 1857, at his residence, the Mount, Bollington, and in the same year commenced giving Sunday evening lectures to working people in Macclesfield, a practice which he continued for the remainder of his life. During 1867 he gave scientific lectures to a class of boys. In 1863 he formed the acquaintance of Dean Stanley, with whom he afterwards continued a pleasant intercourse. After a long illness he died at Bollington, near Macclesfield, 14 May 1876. In June 1838 he married Mary Needham of Lenton, near Nottingham, by whom he had a family. She was the writer in 1855 of 'Little Walter, a Mother's first Lessons in Religion for the younger classes.'

[A Layman's Legacy in prose and verse. Selections from the papers of Samuel Greg, with a prefatory letter by A.P.Stanley, Dean of Westminster, and a Memoir (1877), pp. 3-63; Good Words, 1877, pp. 588-91; H. A. Page's Leaders of Men, 1880, pp. 264-77; Unitarian Herald, Manchester, 12 Feb. 1875, and 26 May 1876.]

G. C. B.