Dictionary of Welsh Biography


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RATHBONE , WILLIAM ( 1819 - 1902 ), philanthropist ;

his career is sketched in D.N.B. Second Supplement , and there is a biography ( 1905 ) by his daughter Eleanor Frances Rathbone . He was b. 11 Feb. 1819 , of a Liverpool family whose eldest sons for six consecutive generations were named ‘ William ’ — as many as four of these figure in D.N.B. The family was originally Quaker , but in later times became Unitarian ; very prosperous in business, the Rathbones were withal generous and conscientious philanthropists , and convinced Radicals . The William Rathbone noticed here came first into contact with Wales in Nov. 1880 , when he was elected Member of Parliament for Caernarvonshire ; when in 1885 that electorate was divided, he continued to represent its northern division till 1895 , retiring then because he disagreed with the growing political nationalism of his fellow-members for Wales . He took a leading part in the inception of the University College of North Wales ( 1884 ); it is true that he felt at first that Aberystwyth College should have been recognized as the college for North Wales , but as soon as Bangor was fixed upon, it was Rathbone who asked ( Sir ) Henry Jones (q.v.) to draft its charter (pp. 350-5 of the biography), and he contributed and collected money towards scholarships ; he was vice-president of the college from 1884 till 1892 , and then president till 1900 . In and out of Parliament , he worked hard for the Welsh Intermediate Education Act of 1889 ; he was especially interested in the school at Bethesda, Caerns. , where he saw an opportunity for technical education, a matter of keen interest to him. He d. 6 March 1902 . His great-niece (see J. E. Griffith , Pedigrees , 134), MARY RATHBONE (d. 1937 ), did much for the University College at Bangor , and for the adult education movement; she received an honorary LL.D. degree from the University of Wales in 1934 .

Author:

Emeritus Professor Robert Thomas Jenkins, C.B.E., D.Litt., Ll.D., F.S.A., (1881-1969), Bangor

Published date: 1959