Sue Young Histories

Edward Miall 1809 – 1881

April 05, 2009

Edward Miall 1809 – 1881 was an English journalist, apostle of disestablishment, founder of the Liberation Society, and Liberal Party politician, Member of Parliament for Bradford (1860-1874), having previously (1852-1867) sat for Rochdale. Miall was Congregational minister at Ware (1831) and Leicester(1834), and in, 1841 founded the Nonconformist newspaper.

Edward Miall was an advocate of homeopathy, using homeopathy exclusively for over 7 years and stating that he would choose it ‘when facing eternity’ (Arthur C Clifton, James Epps, Henry Turner (Eds), Homeopathic record, Volumes 1-2, (1851). Page 294).

Miall was the first person to come out in defence (Anon, The Journal of Health and Disease, Volume V, (Piper, 23 Paternoster Row, 1849). Page 299) of Charles Thomas Pearce when he was so unjustly accused by Thomas Wakley, and he also came out to support John Epps when he spoke out about the College of Medicine.

Henry Kelsall (?-?) Rochdale’s first non conformist Justice of the Peace, proposed an infirmary in Rochdale, with an amendment from Alderman Robinson for a homeopathic ward to be added to the new institution ‘… in recognitition of the strong tradition of this medical practice in the town, because of the increased subscriptions that would accrue as a result, and with people obviously more likely to subscribe to an institution that encompassed their specific medical beliefs… The proposal was seconded by Counsellor Hoyle and a stormy debate ensued in which is became obvious that the orthodox medical profession in the town, as represented by Doctors Elliott, March and Wood, objected, at times quite vitriolically. ‘No connection with quacks’ was one of the phrases used by Dr. Wood, a Medical Officer in the Dispensary, at the prospect of homeopaths practicing in the proposed Infirmary. Nevertheless despite these objections the proposal was carried and a pledge of £3650 *[£166,805.00 in today’s money] _taken from the various people present…’ _However, the course of the proposed homeopathic Rochdale Infirmary became mired in the perennial argument between old and new medicine. In Rochdale, the supporters of homeopathy were primarily non conformists, dissenters and Liberalists, and included John Bright, Benjamin Butterworth, Dr. Cox, Thomas Hahnemann Hayle,  Dr. Holland, Edward Miall, George Morris, J K Cheetham, and Joseph Seed amongst many others. The Homeopathic Infirmary in Rochdale was never  built as a result of all this upset. (From Helen Kelsall, [The Development of Voluntary Medical Institutions in Rochdale 1832-1872), Transactions New Series Number 4,*]( (1994, Rochdale Literary and Scientific Society)).

From Miall was born at Portsmouth. He was Congregational minister at Ware (1831) and Leicester(1834), and in, 1841 founded the Nonconformist, a weekly newspaper in which he advocated the cause of disestablishment.

Miall saw that if the programme of Nonconformity was to be carried through it must have more effective representation in Parliament. One of the first fruits of his work was the entrance of John Bright into parliamentary life; and by 1852 forty Dissenters were members of the House of Commons.

This was due largely to the efforts of the Anti State Church Association, afterward known as the Liberation Society, which Miall had founded in 1844. The long fight for the abolition of compulsory church rates was finally successful in 1868, and then in 1870 Miall was prominent in the discussions aroused by the Education Bill.

He was at this time Member of Parliament for Bradford (1860-1874), having previously (1852-1867) sat for Rochdale. In 1874 he retired from public life, and received from his admirers a present of ten thousand guineas. He died at Sevenoaks.