Francis Place

English social reformer (1771-1854)

Francis Place (3 November 1771, London – 1 January 1854, London) was an English social reformer.

Francis Place.


  • I saw among them, much merit - much patient suffering - wonderful endurance - industry - care and desire to be and to appear respectable. I saw also the oppression of the laws as well as of most of their employers, and that also in which in its immediate effect is even more intolerable, the contumely with which all who thought themselves above them treated them. I not only saw all this but I felt it also, and I resolved never to abandon the working people and I never will.
    • Cited in: Dudley Miles (1988), Francis Place, 1771-1854: the life of a remarkable radical. p. 49

Illustrations and Proofs of the Principle of Population. 1822


Francis Place, Illustrations and Proofs of the Principle of Population. 1822

  • It were once clearly understood, that it was not disreputable for married persons to avail themselves of such precautionary means as would, without being injurious to health, or destructive of female delicacy, prevent conception, a sufficient check might at once be given to the increase of population beyond the means of subsistence ; vice and misery, to a prodigious extent, might be removed from society, and the object of Mr. Malthus, Mr. Godwin, and of every philanthropic person, be promoted, by the increase of comfort, of intelligence, and of moral conduct, in the mass of the population.
    • p. 122

The life of Francis Place, 1771-1854, 1898


Graham Wallis, The life of Francis Place, 1771-1854, 1898

Chapter 1, Early life
  • My desire for information was, however, too strong to be turned aside and often have I been sent away from a bookstall when the owner became offended at my standing reading, which I used to do until I was sent away... I used to borrow books from a man who kept a small shop... leaving a small sum as a deposit. At the age of twenty, Place had worked through the histories of Greece and Rome and some translated works of Greek and Roman writers.
    • p. 17
  • I taught myself decimals, equations, the square, cube, and biquadrate roots. I got some knowledge of logarithms, and some of algebra. I readily got through a small schoolbook of geometry; and having an odd volume, the first, of Williamson's ' Euclid,' I attacked it vigorously and perseveringly. Williamson's is by no means the best book on the subject, yet I am still of opinion that it is the best book I could have had for the purpose of teaching myself.
    • p. 18
  • I was sometimes brought to a standstill, and at times almost despaired of making further progress... I knew no one of whom I could ask a question or receive any kind of instruction, and the subject was therefore at times very painful.
    • p. 18, as cited in: Ernest Green, Harold Shearman. Education For A New Society (RLE Edu L Sociology of Education), 2012, p. 85

The Autobiography of Francis Place: 1771-1854, 1972


Francis Place, Mary Thale (ed). The Autobiography of Francis Place: 1771-1854

  • It may be supposed that I led a miserable life but I did not I was very far indeed from being miserable at this time when my wife came home at night, we had always something to talk about, we were pleased to see each other, our reliance on each other was great indeed, we were poor, but we were young, active cheerful and although my wife at times doubted that we would get on in the world, I had no such misgivings.
  • I can imagine nothing except being a footman or common soldier as more degrading than being either a barber or a tailor.
    • p. 216

Quotes about Francis Place

  • At the age of twenty, Place had worked through the histories of Greece and Rome and some translated works of Greek and Roman writers. When unemployed, and for many months practically starving, he read many volumes in history, politics, law and philosophy, Adam Smith and Locke, and especially Hume's Essays and Treatises.
    • Graham Wallis. Life of Francis Place.
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