Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Charleton, Robert

CHARLETON, ROBERT (1809–1872), a Friend, the eldest son of James Charleton, who died at Ashley Hill, Bristol, in 1847, was born in Bristol on 15 April 1809, and after a business training under H. F. Cotterell, a land surveyor at Bath, became the proprietor of a pin manufactory at Kingswood, near Bristol, in 1833, and continued that business until his retirement in 1852. He was one of the earliest of the advocates of total abstinence. He lectured on that subject in England in 1836, and in 1842 with his friend Samuel Capper in Ireland. At the same time he advocated the doctrines of the Friends, and in 1849 accompanied Capper in his tent-meeting tour in Oxfordshire and the neighbouring counties. His philanthropic labours were very numerous. The schools at Kingswood and Oldland Common were mainly dependent on his support and superintendence, also the large British school in Redcross Street, Bristol. The Peace Society was another institution which engaged his attention; and in 1854, on the prospect of a war with Russia, he was a member of a deputation of three persons sent from London to present an address to the Emperor Nicholas at St. Petersburg against the war. This address was graciously received by the emperor on 10 Feb. (Illust. London News, 4 and 11 March 1854). Again in 1858, in company with Robert Forster, he presented to the northern powers of Europe the plea for liberty of conscience issued by the Society of Friends. At the commencement of 1860 he was unanimously recorded by the monthly meeting of Bristol ‘as an approved minister of the Gospel.’ Henceforth his time was chiefly occupied in lecturing throughout England and Ireland. He was an advocate of the Permissive Bill, and much averse to the Contagious Diseases Acts. He died at his residence, Ashley Down, near Bristol, on 5 Dec. 1872. He married, on 13 Dec. 1849, Catherine Brewster, the eldest daughter of Thomas Fox of Ipswich. He was the author of: 1. ‘Opposition to the War;’ an address, 1855. 2. ‘A Lecture on the Protestant Reformation in England,’ 1863. 3. ‘A Brief Memoir of William Forster,’ 1867. 4. ‘Thoughts on Barclay's Apology,’ 1868. 5. ‘Thoughts on the Atonement,’ 1869.

[Anna F. Fox's Memoir of Robert Charleton, 1873, with portrait; Times, 7 Dec. 1872, p. 12.]

G. C. B.