Michael Gutteridge offers £5,000 at the Methodist Church Conference Cardiff in 1911 to start a fund build a theological college in Cambridge for the training of graduates for the Wesleyan ministry.
The Committee of the Theological Institution reported back to Conference. They wanted to take advantage of Gutteridge's generous offer but couldn't commit to detailed planning until more funding became available.
With very little progress on the scheme in the previous two years the First World War was declared in 1914. Richmond College was placed at the disposal of the war effort and over the next four years all but one of the theological colleges of the Wesleyan Church was closed down.
In the aftermath of war a special committee was set up to look at the supply and training of candidates. It reported to Conference and specifically mentioned the importance of setting up a post graduate college in Cambridge. It was deemed the college should have places for 20-30 students and a chair for Dogmatic Theology and one for Pastoral Theology. In an interesting example of ecumenism from the start it was envisaged that arrangements could be made with Westminster College for lectures in other subjects.
Founders and Benefactors
Founder and Benefactor
Michael Gutteridge made his money as a draper working in Italy - where he was well known for his ethics and refusal to open on Sundays. He had retired back to the UK when he made his offer to the Wesleyan Conference of 1911 that he would give £5,000 for a scheme to build a theological training college in Cambridge.
At the time of his death the funds in his name totalled £62,687/0/7 (£4.5m in today's money).
In 1920 Cotton Manufacturer, William Greenhalgh, left £20,000 in his will (2020: £900,000) towards the establishment of Wesley House.
Greenhalgh was introduced to Michael Gutteridge in 1913 by his friend and minister, The Revd Dr Maldwyn Hughes, who was later to become Wesley House's first Principal.
William Greenhalgh started life in Bolton in a weaving shed and, himself lacking the privileges of education, instructed that the income from his endowment should be "applied as far as practicable for the special benefit of students who possess exceptional natural capacity and gifts but by reason of restricted means have not been able to take a degree in arts".
Albert Edwin Reed was a paper manufacturer born in Devon. He established a newsprint manufacturing company in Kent in 1894 and by 1903 owned seven mills. The following year he supplied the newsprint for the Daily Mirror.
Albert Reed's original contribution was £5,000 (2020: £225,000)
Image: One of four plaques on the front of the Leysian Mission in London.
Rt Hon Thomas Robinson Ferens
Thomas Robinson Ferens was a British Liberal politician, a philanthropist, and an industrialist. He was the Member of Parliament for Kingston upon Hull East for 13 years, and served the city as a Justice of the Peace and as High Steward. He helped establish Reckitt and Sons, a manufacturer of household goods, as one of Kingston upon Hull's foremost businesses. His career with the company spanned 61 years—from his initial employment as a confidential and shorthand clerk until his death, as chairman, in 1930.
Thomas Ferens' gift to Wesley House was £15,000 of shares in Reckitt and Sons (2020: £900,000)
Image from Hull Museums
The first Theological Trustees
Appointed 29 Sept 2019
Rev William Theodore Aquila Barber
Rev Herbert Brook Workman
Rev Frederick Luke Wiseman
Rt Hon Walter Runciman
Albert Edwin Reed
James Vanner Early
The first Foundation Trustees
Appointed 30 Sept 1919
Michael Gutteridge, Chairman
Sir Henry Holloway, Treasurer
The Rev Dr John Holland Ritson, Secretary (pictured)
Rt Hon Thomas Robinson Ferens
Henry Holloway co-founded Holloway Brothers builders in 1882 whose notable contracts incuded new naval barracks at Chatham and the Admiralty Building on Horse Guards Parade. (Interestingly, Holloway Brothers was acquired by John Laing plc, founders of a trust that provided a grant to Wesley House in 2019 to refurbish 31 & 32 Jesus Lane). In 1913 Henry Holloway became a Member of the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society.
John Ritson, who was one of two General Secretaries of the British and Foreign Bible Society from 1900 until 1931, became friends with the Gutteridges when he visited them in their home in Naples in 1906. Michael Gutteridge was a Vice President and a Member of the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Society. Read John Ritson's obituary
TR Ferens was also a Committee Member of the Bible Society, becoming a Vice President in 1910. His wealth came from manufacturing household products including starch and Dettol at Reckitt and Sons.
Williamson and Edmund Lamplough, steamship owners and underwriters, were Dr Ritson's brothers in law. Since 1905 Williamson was Treasurer of the Bible Society, and later its Chairman. Williamson died a fortnight before the buildings were officially opened; Edmund later gave the Chapel in his memory. Read Edmumd Lamplough's obituary.
Mr John Finch first visited Wesley House in 1922 and from then funded a scholarship for students to spend a year studying abroad. He maintained this commitment throughout his life and left £5,000 in his will to continue the scholarship.
Mrs Hughes's history