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BRAY, John Francis, 1809-1897, economist

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0097 COLL MISC 0072
Held at: British Library of Political and Economic Science
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Full title: BRAY, John Francis, 1809-1897, economist
Date(s): c1823-1973
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 2 boxes
Name of creator(s): Bray, John Francis, 1809-1897, economist


Administrative/Biographical history:

John Francis Bray (1809-1897) was born in Washington in the United States, the son of a singer and comedian who was descended from West Riding farmers and cloth manufacturers. In 1822 the Bray family returned to Leeds. When his father died a few days following the family's return to Yorkshire Bray stayed with his aunt who was a milliner. During the 1820s he became apprenticed to a printer and bookbinder in Pontefract, West Yorkshire. He later moved to Selby, North Yorkshire to complete his apprenticeship. In 1832 Bray returned to Leeds and in the following year worked on the "Voice of the West Riding" periodical. He then moved to York and contributed to the "Leeds Times" until 1837 when he moved back to Leeds. He became involved in the town's working class movement and helped to set up the Leeds Working Men's Association. He became its treasurer and delivered a number of lectures on its behalf. Bray returned to the United States in 1842 and became a printer in Detroit. From 1856 to 1865 he ran a daguerreotype gallery in Pontiac, Michigan. In the following decade Bray became involved in the Young American Socialist Movement. He helped draft a number of political tracts, addressed public meetings in parts of the mid-West and was a correspondent on economic and social questions. By this time Bray was living on a farm near Pontiac, Michigan, where he spent the rest of his life producing corn and fruit for market. He joined the Knights of Labour in 1886 and the Pontiac branch of the knights subsequently took the name the "John F Bray Assembly". Bray died on 1st February 1897 at his son's farm in Pontiac.
His publications include: "Labour's wrongs and labour's remedy" (1839); "Government and society considered in relation to first principles" (1842); "The coming age devoted to the fraternisation and advancement of mankind through religious, political and social reforms. No. 1 Spiritualism founded on a fallacy" (1855); "No. 2 The origin of mundane and human energies unfavourable to spiritualism" (1855); "American destiny what shall it be? Republican or Cossack? An argument addressed to the people of the late Union North and South" (1864); "God and man a unity and all mankind a unity; a basis for a new dispensation social and religious" (1879).


Scope and content/abstract:

Manuscripts of major works, essays, notes, correspondence, newspapers articles and printed material belonging to John Francis Bray. Also some photocopies of Bray material deposited in the USA. The collection has been divided into 5 sections and three appendices:
Part 1 Major Works.
Part 2 Essays and Works.
Part 3 Newspaper articles and correspondence (with notes by A Inglis).
Part 4 Family correspondence.
Part 5 Note by A Inglis.
Part 6 Bray additional. Agnes Inglis deposited additional material in 1947. This consists mainly of photocopies of manuscripts in the Labadie Collection of the University of Michigan, and her own notes on Bray.
Appendix 1 "The Bray collection in the British Library of Political and Economic Science" by Croft and Dickenson.
Appendix 2 Biography of J F Bray for the Dictionary of Labour Biography.
Appendix 3 Former and present catalogue references.
In addition a further number of Bray's manuscripts and essays were deposited, 1938-1939. A genealogy of the Bray family by Carolyn Clark was deposited in 1974.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

27 volumes and files. The collection was originally catalogued as 14 separate items, but in 1984 the collection was reunited and re-catalogued as Coll Misc 0072. The arrangement of the material has been determined by the way in which the items have previously been bound together. There are notes by Inglis about the manuscripts throughout the collection.

Conditions governing access:


Conditions governing reproduction:


Finding aids:

Printed handlist available

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Allied Materials

Related material:

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on May 8, 2002

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
8 May 2002; revised 20 May 2002

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