The Mackies and Philanthropy

Education, Religion and the Deserving Poor

John and Mary Mackie were wealthy and influential public figures in Victorian New Mills. As well as building St James the Less and the neighbouring almshouses, John and Mary were both supporters of many other churches and charitable causes, particularly education.

The Mackies’ attitude to charitable giving was typical of people in their social position. Philanthropy was considered to be a religious and moral duty for well-off Victorians. There was an emphasis on providing education as a means for working class people to improve their lot in life by their own effort.

Today the provision of services like clean water, sewage disposal and free schooling are taken for granted. During the Mackies’ lifetime these duties were only beginning to be taken over by public bodies. The industrial revolution brought huge changes to New Mills and public provision struggled to keep up. People like the Mackies helped to bring about much needed improvements to the growing town.

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