Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Fletcher, Joseph (1813-1852)

FLETCHER, JOSEPH (1813–1852), statistician, born in 1813, was educated as a barrister. From the age of nineteen he was engaged upon works and reports in connection with the health, occupations, and well-being of the people. He acted as secretary to the handloom inquiry commission, and afterwards to the children's employment commission. His valuable reports of these commissions formed the basis of useful legislation. The disclosures of the children's employment commission in particular established the necessity of parliamentary control. In 1844 Fletcher was appointed one of her majesty's inspectors of schools; and his voluminous reports were among the most serviceable contributions to British educational statistics. For many years Fletcher was one of the honorary secretaries of the Statistical Society of London, and in this post he earned wide recognition among statists at home and abroad. He was also during the same period editor of the ‘Statistical Journal,’ and responsible for the collation and arrangement of the vast collection of documents published in that journal. Fletcher was a member of the council of the British Association, and on several occasions acted as secretary to the statistical section, contributing also a series of memoirs to the association reports. In 1850 Fletcher published a ‘Summary of the Moral Statistics of England and Wales;’ and in the following year a work on ‘Education: National, Voluntary, and Free.’ He paid great attention to foreign educational systems, and issued (1851–2) two treatises on ‘The Farm School of the Continent, and its Applicability to the Preventive and Reformatory Education of Pauper and Criminal Children in England and Wales.’ Fletcher died at Chirk, Denbighshire, 11 Aug. 1852. He was an ideal statistician, having in a singular degree the power of grasping facts and realising their relative significance. He was buried in the graveyard of Tottenham Church.

[Gent. Mag. 1852; Journal of the Statistical Society, 1852; Athenæum, 1852.]

G. B. S.