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Robert Raikes (1725-1811)

Robert Raikes was born in Gloucester, the son of the founder and publisher of the Gloucester Journal. Raikes inherited his father's newspaper business and used the Journal to publicise philanthropic causes such as prison reform.

In 1780 Raikes established a Sunday School and although he was not the first to set up such institutions, his enthusiastic reporting of their benefits in his newspaper did much to popularise them. The Methodists were particularly enthusiastic in their support and in 1785 a society was set up in London to promote their use. By 1787 it was reported that 432 schools had been established providing rudimentary education on Sundays for a quarter of a million poor children.

Raikes retired from business in 1802 and devoted the rest of his life to the Sunday School movement.

Source: Dictionary of Evangelical Biography, edited by Donald Lewis (1995)

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