Famous 18th Century Social Reformers

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 1 
William Wilberforce
(Abolitionist)
William Wilberforce
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Birthdate: August 24, 1759
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Kingston upon Hull
Died: July 29, 1833
William Wilberforce, an independent MP from Yorkshire, was a champion for the British anti-slavery movement and made a significant contribution to the passage of the 1807 Slave Trade Act and the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act. He supported missionaries in India, founded the Church Mission Society, and was against animal cruelty.
 2 
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
(Socio-religious Reformer)
Raja Ram Mohan Roy
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Birthdate: May 22, 1772
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Radhanagore, West Bengal, India
Died: September 27, 1833

Raja Ram Mohan Roy was an Indian social and religious reformer. He is credited with co-founding the Brahmo Sabha, a social-religious reform movement. Often referred to as the Father of the Bengal Renaissance, Roy has had an influential role in fields like politics, education, and religion. In 2004, he was ranked 10th in BBC's Greatest Bengali of all time poll.

Robert Owen
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Birthdate: May 14, 1771
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Newtown, Montgomeryshire, Wales
Died: November 17, 1858
While working as an apprentice to a clothes manufacturer, Robert Owen often spent hours reading at his employer’s library. He later explored the textile industry and led a Manchester firm. Remembered as a pioneer of the co-operative movement and utopian socialism, he improved the working conditions of factory workers.
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 4 
Lucretia Mott
(Abolitionist, Women's Rights Activist, Social Reformer)
Lucretia Mott
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Birthdate: January 3, 1793
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Nantucket, Massachusetts, U.S.
Died: November 11, 1880

Lucretia Mott was an American women's rights activist, abolitionist, and social reformer. Mott played a major role in the events leading up to the Seneca Falls Convention, the first gathering supporting women's rights in the USA. Lucretia Mott's work influenced Elizabeth Cady Stanton whom she mentored. In 1983, she was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame.

 5 
Josiah Henson
(Abolitionist)
Josiah Henson
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Birthdate: June 15, 1789
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Charles County, Maryland, United States
Died: May 5, 1883

Josiah Henson was an American abolitionist, author, and minister. Henson escaped to Upper Canada after being born into slavery and founded a settlement for other fugitive slaves in Kent County. Josiah Henson's autobiography about his escape from slavery is said to have inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's title character in her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin.

 6 
Granville Sharp
(Abolitionist)
Granville Sharp
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Birthdate: November 10, 1735
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Durham, England
Died: July 6, 1813

Granville Sharp was an activist who became one of the first English campaigners to support abolitionism in the UK. Sharp devised a plan to settle people in slavery and black people in Sierra Leone. He also established the St George's Bay Company and is thus considered a founding father of Sierra Leone. Sharp also worked towards correcting other social injustices.

 7 
Gerrit Smith
(Politician)
Gerrit Smith
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Birthdate: March 6, 1797
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Utica, New York, United States
Died: December 28, 1874

Gerrit Smith was an American social reformer, politician, abolitionist, and philanthropist. Although he was a prominent candidate for President of the USA in 1848, 1856, and 1860, Smith served only 18 months in the federal government. Throughout his life, he was a major financial contributor to the Republican Party and the Liberty Party.

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 8 
Rowland Hill
(Teacher)
Rowland Hill
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Birthdate: December 3, 1795
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Kidderminster, England
Died: August 27, 1879

Born to a schoolmaster, Rowland Hill followed in his father’s footsteps to become a teacher and explored subjects such as astronomy and math. He is, however, best remembered for his reform of the postal system, including increasing the speed of letter transfer and introducing the prototype of the postage stamp.  

 9 
István Széchenyi
(Political reformer)
István Széchenyi
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Birthdate: September 21, 1791
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Vienna, Austria
Died: April 8, 1860

Remembered as "the Greatest Hungarian,” István Széchenyi was a reformer and author who had initially fought against Napoleon I. He had served as the minister of public works and transport and improved his country’s waterways and roadways. Charged with sedition against Austria’s reign over Hungary, he later committed suicide.

 10 
William Thompson
(Philosopher)
William Thompson
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Birthdate: June 30, 1775
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cork, Ireland
Died: March 28, 1833
 11 
Elizabeth Montagu
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Birthdate: October 2, 1718
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: York, England
Died: August 25, 1800

Part of the 18th-century London intellectual circle, socialite Elizabeth Montagu was a pioneering member of the Bluestockings, a group of women who engaged in evening conversations as a substitute to card-playing. The wife of affluent landowner Edward Montagu, she inherited his riches and later built the Montagu House.

 12 
John Fielding
(Magistrate)
John Fielding
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Birthdate: September 16, 1721
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Abergavenny, Wales
Died: September 4, 1780

In spite of being blinded in an accident at age 19, John Fielding managed to become a magistrate. The half-brother of author Henry Fielding, he was nicknamed Blind Beak and was able to recognize criminals by their voices. He established the Bow Street Runners and revolutionized the juvenile justice system.

 13 
Fowell Buxton
(Politician)
Fowell Buxton
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Birthdate: April 1, 1786
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Essex, England
Died: February 19, 1845

British politician and philanthropist Fowell Buxton was a prominent figure in the campaign for the abolition of slavery and was thus instrumental in the passage of the 1833 Abolition Act. Though the British government sponsored an anti-slave-trade expedition to Africa, inspired by his works, it failed to materialize due to multiple deaths.

 14 
Francis Place
(Social Reformer)
Francis Place
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Birthdate: November 3, 1771
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London, England
Died: January 1, 1854

Initially a leather breeches manufacturer, social reformer Francis Place participated in various working-class movements, before launching his tailoring shop. His socialist streak pushed him into politics, and he successfully campaigned against the Combination Acts that prohibited trade unions. He also became a Malthusian at one point.

 15 
Richard Oastler
(Abolitionist)
Richard Oastler
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Birthdate: December 20, 1789
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Leeds, England
Died: August 22, 1861

Nicknamed the Factory King, Richard Oastler was a prominent English social reformer who is known for his relentless campaign for shortening work hours, eventually leading to the 1847 Ten Hours Act. While in prison for opposing the Poor Law Amendment Act, he penned Fleet Papers, a collection of his social theories.

 16 
Benjamin Lundy
(Abolitionist)
Benjamin Lundy
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Birthdate: January 4, 1789
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Hardwick Township, New Jersey, United States
Died: August 22, 1839

Born into a Quaker household, Benjamin Lundy had developed anti-slavery sentiments quite early in life. He grew up to become one of the leading abolitionists of the 19th century. He also launched papers such as The National Enquirer and the anti-slavery association Union Humane Society.

 17 
Samuel Romilly
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Birthdate: March 1, 1757
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: London, England
Died: November 2, 1818

British lawyer and legal reformer Samuel Romilly is best remembered for bringing about significant reforms in the English criminal law. Known for is campaigns against capital punishment for minor offenses, he was also knighted for his achievements. Unfortunately, distressed at his wife’s death, he committed suicide later.

 18 
Nicolaus Zinzendorf
(German religious leader)
Nicolaus Zinzendorf
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Birthdate: May 26, 1700
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Dresden, Germany
Died: May 9, 1760

Born into one of the noblest Austrian families, Nikolaus Zinzendorf devoted his life to the welfare of the poor. Recognized as a distinguished leader of the Moravian church and a reformer of the Pietist movement, he created a worldwide missionary network that he hoped would sustain an ecumenical Protestant movement.

 19 
Samuel Bamford
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Birthdate: February 28, 1788
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Middleton, England
Died: April 13, 1872

The son of a weaver, Samuel Bamford quit school and worked as a weaver and a warehouseman. He later penned many poems, expressing his support for the working class. Charged with inciting violence at the Peterloo massacre, he was also jailed for a while. He later became a journalist in London.

 20 
Pavel Kiselyov
(Reformer)
Pavel Kiselyov
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Birthdate: January 19, 1788
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: November 26, 1872
 21 
Father Mathew
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Birthdate: October 10, 1790
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: County Tipperary, Ireland
Died: December 8, 1856
 22 
John Cartwright
(British politician)
John Cartwright
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Birthdate: September 17, 1740
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Marnham, England
Died: September 23, 1824

Known as the Father of Reform, John Cartwright made significant parliamentary reforms, which later became part of the People’s Charter. An English naval officer, he had also been part of the Seven Years’ War. He also worked for universal suffrage and, in his later life, invested in crop trials and agricultural improvement.

 23 
Julie Billiart
(Religious leader)
Julie Billiart
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Birthdate: July 12, 1751
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Cuvilly, France
Died: April 8, 1816
 24 
Barthélemy-Prosper Enfantin
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Birthdate: February 8, 1796
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 1, 1864
Christian Ditlev Frederik Reventlow
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Birthdate: March 11, 1748
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Copenhagen, Denmark
Died: October 11, 1827
 26 
Daniel Ernst Jablonski
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Birthdate: November 20, 1660
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Mokry Dwór, Poland
Died: May 25, 1741
 27 
Antoine Court
(Reformer)
Antoine Court
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Birthdate: March 27, 1696
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Villeneuve-de-Berg, France
Died: June 13, 1760
 28 
John Jebb
(Reformer)
John Jebb
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Birthdate: February 16, 1736
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Unknown
Died: March 2, 1786