Sir William Fielden (13th March 1772- 21st May 1850)

Term: Member of Parliament for Blackburn for the Liberals from 1832-1841, Conservative MP 1841-1847.

Biography: William Feilden was ​the third son of Joseph Feilden of Witton. Miller suggests that like many younger children, William was educated for the church, receiving part of his education at the Blackburn Free Grammar School but also briefly tutored by Rev. Thomas Wilson and a 'Dr Owen'.[1] He completed his education at Oxford, Brazenose College. On March 30th 1797 he married Mary Houghton Jackson, eldest daughter of Edmund Jackson. William Feilden had a close personal friendship with the great industrialist and inventor Richard Arkwright, whom he would apparently visit on horseback.[2] Together with his brothers he founded the Harley-Street Mill worked by Feilden, Throp and Townley, which gradually developed into the great range of sheds known as 'Feilden's Factories'. According to Miller he was one of the pioneers of the factory system.[3]

In 1798 he bought Feniscowles estates and built Feniscowles New Hall, beginning another branch of the Feilden family.

Election: Feilden was one of the four candidates for the 1832 seats of parliament in Blackburn, the other candidates were William Turner, John Bowring and John Fowden Hindle, the latter of which withdrew before the contest. After a tumultuous event Blackburn's first two M.Ps were returned William Feilden and William Turner. Feilden 377, Turner 347, Bowring 334. In 1835 the candidates were again Feilden, Turner and Bowring, the first two being returned again. In 1837 the third candidate, J.B Smith of Manchester retired so that Feilden and Turner were returned unopposed. At the fourth election, in 1841, the candidates were William Feilden and John Henry Hornby (Conservatives) and William Turner (Whig). The results: Feilden 441; Hornby 427, Turner 426. The defeat of the popular candidate once again led to rioting as in 1832, which was only suppressed by the intervention of the military.

Reputation: R.D Woodall in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph of 24th August 1986 describes Feilden as a reformer M.P 'who helped build democracy' and was against monopolies while favouring secret voting. Described by Abrams as "A cultured and kindly man, and remarkable for a tenacious memory."

Voters List: William Feilden is registered on the voters list for 1832 as qualified via a Cotton Mill with residence on King Street. On the more detailed 1835 register Fielden appears again but without listed monetary values for property, though again on King Street.

[1] George C. Miller, 'Blackburn Worthies of Yesterday: A biographical Galaxy' , pg. 123-124

[2] ibid.

[3] ibid.​