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Owen, Robert

Born: 1771 AD
Died: 1858 AD

1771 – He was born on the 14th day of May this year in Newtown, Montgomeryshire. His father was a sadler and ironmonger who also served as local postmaster; his mother came from one of the prosperous farming families of Newtown.


1787 – He moved to Manchester in the employ of Mr. Satterfield, a wholesale and retail drapery merchant.


1790 – He borrowed £100 from his brother William and set up independently with a mechanic named Jones as a manufacturer of the new spinning mules. After a few months he parted with Jones and started business on his own with three mules as a cotton spinner.


1792 – He applied for and was appointed manager of Peter Drinkwater’s new spinning factory, the Piccadilly Mill, where he quickly achieved the reputation as a spinner of fine yarns, thanks to the application of steam power to the mule.


1795 – Drinkwater had intended him to become a partner in his new business by this year, but a projected marriage alliance between Drinkwater’s daughter and Oldknow caused the cancellation of the agreement with Owen. Hurt and unwilling to remain a mere manager, Owen left Piccadilly Mill in this year.


1796 – In this year, the financial basis of the company was broadened with the inclusion of Thomas Atkinson, thus constituting the Chorlton Twist Company, which in 1799 negotiated the purchase of David Dale’s New Lanark mills.


1800 – There were four mills making New Lanark the largest cotton-spinning complex in Britain, and the population of the village (over 2000) was greater than that of Lanark itself. New Lanark made Owen’s reputation as a philanthropist.


1812 – At New Lanark, Owen involved himself in the public affairs of the day, the most important being education, factory reform, and the improvement of the Poor Laws. His first public speech was on education in this year.


1813 – This year, it was elaborated upon in his first published work, The First Essay on the Principle of the Formation of Character.


1824 – Owen crossed the Atlantic and viewed the Rappite community at Harmony (Indiana), which was for sale. He bought it for£30,000 and in April 1825, initiated New Harmony,


1834 – Breaking with these labor movements in this year, Owen turned back to his plan for a community and founded a journal, The New Moral World (November, 1834) and an organization, the Association of All Classes of All Nations (May, 1835) to prepare public opinion for the millennium.


1853 – He became a spiritualist this year.


1858 – He died on the 17th of November this year in the Bear Hotel, next door to the house in which he was born.