Sadler, Michael Thomas, MP

Linen merchant, born on 3 January 1780 at Snelston, Derbys. He was the youngest son of James Sadler of Old Hall, Doveridge, who cultivated a small estate on the borders of the two parishes. His family were the first Methodists in the district. In 1817 he wrote a stinging pamphlet, An Apology for the Methodists, and soon afterwards began preaching. He moved to Leeds c. 1800 to go into business with his brother Benjamin, a linen merchant and in 1810 they and Samuel Fenton established a firm importing Irish linen. On his marriage he became an Anglican and was elected to the corporation. An enthusiastic Tory, he was elected MP for Newark in 1829 and for Aldborough 1830-1832. With his friend Richard Oastler he advocated and campaigned for factory reform, moving the reading of the Ten Hour Bill in 1831. His first book, Ireland: its Evils and their Remedies (1828) advocated paternalistic solutions for the rural destitution of that country. When the Reform Act of 1832 deprived him of his seat, he unsuccessfully contested Leeds against the Whig candidate, T.B. Macaulay. He retired to Belfast, where he had a factory, and died there on 29 July 1835. One of his sons, Michael Ferrebee Sadler (1819-1895) entered the Church and became a leading Tractarian.


'Aldborough could boast of … being represented in Parliament by the most distinguished historic Methodist member of the time, the great Christian philanthropist Michael Thomas Sadler, whom the late Earl of Shaftesbury acknowledged to be the parent of the beneficent social legislation which the latter statesman so happily accomplished.'

Benjamin Gregory, Autobiographical Recollections (1903) p.73

  • R.B. Seeley, Memoirs of the Life and Writings of Michael Thomas Sadler (1848)
  • J.T. Ward, 'Michael Thomas Sadler', in University of Leeds Review, December 1960, pp.152-60
  • Oxford DNB

Entry written by: DCD
Category: Person
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