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Shaw, Charles
1832-1906; e.m. 1853

MNC minister, born in Tunstall. He spent part of his childhood in the workhouse and part working on the pot-banks, recounting his experiences in his autobiography When I was a Child (1903; reprinted, 1977), which form the (unacknowledged) basis of chapter 5 of Arnold Bennett's Clayhanger (1910). He left the WM Sunday School where his workhouse clothes were disapproved of and joined the local MNC Sunday School. He became a local preacher in 1853 and was in the MNC ministry from 1853 until suffering a nervous breakdown in 1861. Between 1861 to 1897 he managed a cotton mill in Oldham, and then his own mill. When his business failed, he re-entered the ministry in 1897 until his retirement in 1905. He died at Oldham on 5 March 1906.

Shaw's ardent Liberalism was expressed in the leaders he wrote for the Radical Oldham Express. He also contributed to the MNC Magazine. The reprint of his autobiography in 1977 gave it new currency as a moving account of child labour in early industrial society.


  • WHS Proceedings, 40 pp.51-3
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: EAR
Category: Person

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