Cobden, Richard (1804 -1865)
Richard Cobden, was born in Heyshott, near Midhurst, Sussex, on 3rd June, 1804. One of eleven children, he spent his early life in extreme poverty and was eventually sent to live with an uncle in Yorkshire. In 1828 he entered business selling calico in London, and in 1831 opened a calico-printing works in Lancashire in partnership, and became wealthy. In 1832 Cobden settled in Manchester but went on to visit America and the Levant. Consequently he published England, Ireland and America in 1835, and Russia in 1836. In them he preached free trade and fiscal non-intervention by the government. In 1837 he stood as a parliamentary candidate for Stockport on a free trade platform but was unsuccessful. The same year he became a member of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, and was one of the first men to be elected as a Manchester alderman. In 1838 he became one of the seven founding members of the Anti-Corn-Law League in Manchester. He conducted lecture tours all over England and stood again as MP for Stockport in 1841, this time successfully. Richard Cobden was now a national hero but neglect of his business in Manchester placed him deeply in debt. His supporters raised £8,000 as a reward for his efforts and he used this money to purchase Dunford, the farmhouse where he was born in Heyshott. Cobden was opposed to the Crimean War, and as a result of his stance lost his parliamentary seat in 1857. In 1859 he was re-elected as member for Rochdale, and was offered the position of President of the Board of Trade by Lord Palmerston, but he rejected the offer. He now switched his attention to campaigning for parliamentary reform and state supported education.