More on William Fox Part 1

This is from The Rise and Progress of Sunday Schools: A Biography of Robert Raikes and William Fox by John Carroll Power

William Fox, the subject of this Memoir, was born February 14, 1736, at the village of Clapton, a few miles northeast of the city of Gloucester, in Gloucestershire, England. I have been unable to procure anything like a satisfactory account of the genealogy of the ancestors of Mr. Fox in the male line. His immediate ancestors were agriculturists—his father farmed the ancient family estate near the village of Clapton.
Both his parents were active Christians—they were members of the Baptist church at another village near Clapton, called Bourton-on-the-water; the church was then under the pastoral care of the Rev. Benjamin Beddome, A. M.
The family consisted of father, mother, and eight children—William being the youngest. How many were sons and how many were daughters I know not— there were two sons besides William, if no more; their names were Samuel and Edward.
The father died in 1739, when William was in his third year. Left with so large a family of young children, it is said Mrs. Fox felt the burden upon her to be very heavy, accustomed as she had always been to the counsels and assistance of the kindest of husbands. But she did not shrink from the task. Being a woman of superior intellect, she nobly met the responsibility—and as evidence of her success the life of this son need only to be cited.
He however relates other evidences of the esteem in which she was held by the people of the village. If advice or assistance was needed in cases of affliction, their usual expression was “go to Mrs. Fox.” 
When William was seven years of age, his eldest brother, who was a farmer in the town, found him employment by sending him into the fields to keep the birds from the corn. When a man becomes eminent for any particular trait of character, it is not difficult to find that his childhood abounded in incidents pointing in that direction, although the same events would have been passed unnoticed had he remained in obscurity. An incident is related in the life of William Fox to show that perseverance was a prominent element in his character. When he was about ten years old, still watching the birds in the fields of his brother, he sat down under a tree and wept bitterly. “All my brothers,” said he to himself, “are well provided for— but there is no prospect whatever of a comfortable provision for me.” At length he came to the following conclusion, or rather formed a resolution most extraordinary for a boy in his circumstances at such an age —and which would ordinarily be looked upon as a childish whim. Said he—“I will get into some profitable business, and will pursue it with industry and care until I have acquired sufficient property to purchase this farm of my brother's—nor will I be content until I possess as my own the whole of this village and the lordship which belongs to it.”
The most remarkable thing about the whole affair is, that he succeeded in about forty years after in carrying out his designs, although he doubtless many times lost sight of his object—but in the end he that had been the destitute orphan became lord of the manor of Clapton, and this without any aid from his ancestors, the law in England giving to the eldest son the estate of his father.
His employment in the fields prevented him from getting an education, although he earnestly desired to obtain one, and greatly lamented that so many barriers interposed between him and his desired object. The leisure which he occasionally had, he endeavoured to turn to the best account at the village school— and when the other boys were engaged at play in the intervals of school hours, he was found diligently employed at his studies. The following incident will serve to show the good opinion which his teacher had of his promising abilities and general good conduct. One of his teachers had a brother at Abingdon in Berkshire, who wanted an apprentice, and he selected William Fox as the most suitable for the situation—and although he was but. ten years of age, this teacher recommended him to his brother. Anxious to get out into the world, not forgetting his dreams of becoming lord of the manor of Clapton, and having obtained the consent of his affectionate mother, William went to Abingdon and entered with ardour upon the duties of his new situation. The work he was called upon to perform was soon. found too laborious for him, so that at the end of six months he was compelled to relinquish his situation and return home, where he again resumed his employment on the farm, and continued to do so until his seventeenth year.
With the little education he had obtained, he, as many others have done at that time of life, made several attempts at poetry, and although he was not destined to become eminent as a poet, these efforts were not without their good effects—for one of his elder brothers happened to see a copy of some of his verses, and from the merit which they developed, he insisted that William should be placed if possible in a situation more suitable to his tastes and inclinations for improving his mind. 
Failing in his efforts to place him in a school, this brother found means in the year 1752 to introduce him to Mr R, a mercer and draper at Oxford, (one account says York was the place, but that is a mistake) and this circumstance proved to be that event, or turning point which led, under the direction of the Supreme Being, to the accomplishment of his wishes.
Having begun to learn a trade later in life than was common in England, it would require more than ordinary exertions to become proficient in his business at the usual age. It has not been possible to obtain much information concerning his manner of life during his apprenticeship. What can be procured, however, establishes the fact that his conduct was unexceptionable, and might safely be adapted as a model for other young men in similar situations. To confirm this, it need only be stated that his employer soon placed him at the head of his business, and two years before the expiration of his apprenticeship, gave up to him his house and shop, with the stock of goods, amounting in value to between three and four thousand pounds— fifteen and twenty thousand dollars.
This act of his employer was the more remarkable from the fact, that he was a man whose parsimonious habits were proverbial—and besides, he had two nephews in his employment, both of whom were older and had been longer in business than the subject of this memoir. ....

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