Volume 28 Number 2 (April 2023) of the Transactions of the Unitarian Historical Society is now ready and, as ever, it is full of interest. It contains:
To give ‘occasional contributions’ and ‘annual subscriptions’ to
promote ‘those great principles of religious truth’:
Unitarian Fellowship Funds in the early nineteenth century
by David L. Wykes
Dr David Wykes
Our first article is by Society Vice-President David Wykes who has researched in great detail the story of the Unitarian Fellowship Funds. Although these were not long-lasting they deserve attention as an early national initiative which expressed a Unitarian identity and which found outlets all over the country. The Funds have long been neglected by historians but they are a very important indication of lay involvement in Unitarianism. They embraced both the poorer strata of society for a denomination that was often seen as appealing only to the rich, as well as gave an opportunity for women to be more actively involved in church life. The article includes a check list of Fellowship Funds and richly illustrates a movement that was one of the earliest expressions of a Unitarian denominational identity.
Emily Ronalds (1795–1889) and her social reform work
by Beverley F. Ronalds
Emily Ronalds. Photograph by Edmund Wheeler, Brighton, 1880. Courtesy: Auckland Library, New Zealand, Sir George Grey Special Collections, NZMS 1235
Beverley Ronalds, a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, uncovers the life and contribution of Emily Ronalds, a much-neglected Unitarian figure who played an important part in the extension of infant schooling. In her youth she was, by nature, a retiring figure, she was later described by the American social activist Frances Wright as ‘clever’ with ‘energy of character’, while Henry Crabb Robinson spoke of her ‘vivacity & good spirits’. She had close links with many of the most advanced thinkers of her day and contributed to experiments in socialist co-operative communities, the abolition of slavery and the development of feminism.
William Sunderland Smith (1833 – 1912) and his family
by Ian Wood
William Sunderland Smith photographed by his son William Ivan Smith in 1902. Courtesy: the family of W.I. Smith
William Sunderland Smith was the twelfth student to enrol in the Unitarian Home Missionary Board (later College) and went on to have a succession of ministries in England, Scotland and Ireland. Ministering, in turn, at Aberdeen, Rawtenstall, Doncaster, Tavistock and Crediton, his final and longest ministry was at Antrim. Ian Wood, his great great grandson, traces his life and that of his family, along with his theological and political ideas. A writer and journalist he developed extensive scientific interests, contributing ‘Nature Notes’ to the Northern Whig newspaper, and made numerous contributions on natural history and Irish history to the Ulster Journal of Archaeology.
The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions
by Alan Ruston
Alan Ruston contributes a Review Article on The Oxford History of Protestant Dissenting Traditions, a five volume investigation of the place of Protestant Dissent not only in England and Ireland but also the Empire and Commonwealth, the USA and ultimately all over the world. Alan reviews all five volumes but pays especial attention to volumes two and three which contain a great deal concerning Unitarianism.
In addition we have our review section.
Dr Williams’s Trust and Library: A History
by Alan Argent
A Short History of the
Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church of Ireland.
Including Sketches of Individual Congregations
and a Fasti of Ministers who served in them
by J.W. Nelson
These Eighty Years. A Recollection
by Alan Ruston
All reviewed by David Steers,
Editor of the Transactions
Professor Sir Tony Wrigley, FBA (1931-2022):
a Unitarian appreciation
by David L. Wykes
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