Anthony John Mundella
Anthony John Mundella PC (28 March 1825 – 21 July 1897), known as A. J. Mundella, was an English
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 manufacturer, reformer and Liberal Party
Liberal Party (UK)
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties of the United Kingdom during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a third party of negligible importance throughout the latter half of the 20th Century, before merging with the Social Democratic Party in 1988 to form the present day...

 politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1868 to 1897. He served under William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 as President of the Board of Trade in 1886 and from 1892 to 1894.


Mundella was born in Leicester
Leicester is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England, and the county town of Leicestershire. The city lies on the River Soar and at the edge of the National Forest...

, the son of Antonio Mundella, an Italian refugee and his wife Rebecca Allsop of Leicester. He worked in the hosiery
Hosiery, also referred to as legwear, describes garments worn directly on the feet and legs. The term originated as the collective term for products of which a maker or seller is termed a hosier; and those products are also known generically as hose...

 trade and became a partner in the firm of Hine and Mundella, manufacturers of Nottingham
Nottingham is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands of England. It is located in the ceremonial county of Nottinghamshire and represents one of eight members of the English Core Cities Group...

, Loughborough
Loughborough is a town within the Charnwood borough of Leicestershire, England. It is the seat of Charnwood Borough Council and is home to Loughborough University...

, and elsewhere. He was Sheriff of Nottingham in 1852. In 1859 Mundella originated and organized the first Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration to settle disputes between capital and labour. He was a J.P.
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

 for Middlesex and for Nottingham Borough and was an Alderman, President of the Chamber of Commerce, and president of the Board of Arbitration for Nottingham.

Political career

Mundella was elected as Member of Parliament
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

 for Sheffield
Sheffield (UK Parliament constituency)
Sheffield was a borough constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom 1832 to 1885. It elected two Members of Parliament by the bloc vote system of elections....

 in the 1868 general election. He had been asked to stand by trade unionist William Dronfield
William Dronfield
William Dronfield was a British trade unionist.Born in Sheffield, Dronfield became a compositor. In 1849, he was a founder member of the Provincial Typographical Association, and from 1852 to 1855 served as its President....

, to defend the interests of labour in the wake of the Sheffield Outrages
Sheffield Outrages
Sheffield's early success in steel production had involved long working hours, in desperately unpleasant conditions which offered little or no safety protection. quotes a local doctor, Dr. Knight, regarding the so-called "Grinder's Asthma" suffered by the Sheffield cutlery workers in the mid 19th...

. He served as President of the second day of the first ever Co-operative Congress
Co-operative Congress
The Co-operative Congress is the national conference of the UK Co-operative Movement. The first of the modern congresses took place in 1869 following a series of meetings called the "Owenite Congress" in the 1830s...

 in 1869. When the Sheffield constituency was divided under the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885
Redistribution of Seats Act 1885
The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was a piece of electoral reform legislation that redistributed the seats in the House of Commons, introducing the concept of equally populated constituencies, in an attempt to equalise representation across...

, he was elected as MP for Sheffield Brightside, a seat he held until his death.

Having made a close study of the educational systems of Germany and Switzerland, Mundella was an early advocate of compulsory education in England. He rendered valuable service in connexion with the Elementary Education Act of 1870, and the educational code of 1882, which became known as the "Mundella Code," marked a new departure in the regulation of public elementary schools and the conditions of the Government grants. To his initiative was chiefly due the Factory Act of 1875, which established a ten-hours day for women and. children in textile factories; and the Conspiracy Act, which removed certain restrictions on trade unions. It was he also who established the labour department of the board of trade and founded the 'Labour Gazette'. He introduced and passed bills for the better protection of women and children in brickyards and for the limitation of their labours in factories;. and he effected substantial improvements in the Mines Regulation Bill, and was the author of much other useful legislation. In recognition of his efforts, a marble bust of himself, by Boehm
Joseph Boehm
Sir Joseph Edgar Boehm, 1st Baronet, RA was a medallist and sculptor, best known for the Jubilee head of Queen Victoria on coinage, and the statue of the Duke of Wellington at Hyde Park Corner.-Biography:...

, subscribed for by 80,000 factory workers, chiefly women and children, was presented to Mrs Mundella.

Mundella served under William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone
William Ewart Gladstone FRS FSS was a British Liberal statesman. In a career lasting over sixty years, he served as Prime Minister four separate times , more than any other person. Gladstone was also Britain's oldest Prime Minister, 84 years old when he resigned for the last time...

 as Vice-President of the Committee on Education
Secretary of State for Education and Skills
The Secretary of State for Education is the chief minister of the Department for Education in the United Kingdom government. The position was re-established on 12 May 2010, held by Michael Gove....

 between 1880 and 1885. He then served under Gladstone and later Lord Rosbery
Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery
Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, KG, PC was a British Liberal statesman and Prime Minister. Between the death of his father, in 1851, and the death of his grandfather, the 4th Earl, in 1868, he was known by the courtesy title of Lord Dalmeny.Rosebery was a Liberal Imperialist who...

 as President of the Board of Trade (with a seat in the cabinet) in 1886 and between 1892 and 1894. In 1880 he was sworn of the Privy Council.

The system of price regulation, which, as President of the Board of Trade he imposed upon rail freight, was a disaster for the railways and, in the longer term, for the railways' customers. It was based on the fallacious, but widely held assumption, that the cost of moving a ton of freight was proportional to the distance moved. In fact, the cost per ton mile depends mainly on the number of tons being carried and the amount of loading and unloading involved. It does not cost very much more to move 100 tons 100 miles than to move them 1 mile. The practical consequence was that the railways had to turn away traffic that could be efficiently and profitably moved by rail whilst they were not permitted to raise prices for unprofitable traffic.

Personal life

Mundella's 1894 resignation from the Board of Trade was brought about by his connection with a financial company which went into liquidation in circumstances calling for the official intervention of the Board. However innocent his own connection with the company was, it involved him in unpleasant public discussion, and his position became untenable. Mundella died in July 1897.

External links

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