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Thomas Scales

(1786-1860), Slavery abolitionist

Sitter in 4 portraits


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Richard Steel

28 August 2015, 02:03

Thomas Scales was born into a Dissenting family in Leeds in 1786. A good scholar, he left school at 15 and was apprenticed to a draper. In 1806 he entered the Hoxton Academy and was ordained as a minister at Wolverhampton in 1810. At this time he also married Christiana Simpson, a daughter of his Principal. After some very successful years building that congregation, he was invited back to Leeds in 1819 building a new very large Independent Chapel at Queens Street in 1825. He was a founder of the Silcoates School, and edited and published widely including a book 'Principles of Dissent', as well as being very involved in liberal politics and the anti-slavery movement. In July 1843 'a public meeting of the Leeds anti-slavery society was held in Queen-street chapel. The Rev. J. W. C. Pennington, a gentleman of colour from the United States of America, attended and addressed the meeting.' Rev. Scales detailed knowledge of non-conformist history made him a valuable witness in the Lady Hewley Case and he left a manuscript life of James Scott, tutor of Heckmondwike and collected materials for a History of Nonconformity in the West Riding of Yorkshire which formed the basis for the book Congregationalism in Yorkshire 1868. With failing eyesight, Rev. Thomas Scales resigned from Queen Street in 1850, baecoming chaplain and secretary at Silcoates for some time. He died suddenly in 1860 while travelling by train to preach the funeral sermon of a friend.

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