FOX, WILLIAM JOHNSON, orator and political writer, the son of a small Suffolk farmer, who afterwards settled as a weaver at .Norwich, was b. in 1786. lie gave early promise of talent, and was sent to Homerton college, to be trained for the ministry of the independents. He subsequently seceded to Unitarianism, but ultimately shaking off all allegiance to existing Christian churches, he delivered a series of prelections at his chapel in South place, Finsbury, which marked him out as the leader and organ of English rationalism. When the anti-corn-law league enlisted the ablest platform orators of the day in the service of free trade, his bold and impassioned rhetoric greatly contrib uted to arouse and intensify public feeling. M. Guizot quotes his speeches as the most finished examples of oratory which the great conflict produced. Their effect upon the vast metropolitan audiences to which they were addressed was electric. F. also contrib uted by his pen to the success of free trade, and his Letters of a Norwich Wearer Boy were largely quoted and read. After the abolition of the corn laws, he was invited to
stand for Oldham, which borough lie continued to represent till 1863 since 1847. Like most men who enter the house of commons late in life, F. did not altogether realize the oratorical promise of his platform and pulpit career. His best parliamentary speeches were upon the education of the people. As a politician he was ever a consistent member of the advanced liberal party. A succession of illnesses in his late years interfered with his attendance in parliament. He was among the earliest contributors to the Westminster Review, edited for many years the Monthly Repository, and largely contributed to various other 'organs of public opinion. His Lectures, chiefly addressed to time Working-Classes, were published in 3 vols. He is the author of a philosophical dissertation on Religious Ideas, and other theological works. He died in 1864.