"Christians should feel and act for
those whom Christ so eminently loved, and declared
that of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."
(Richard Oastler, Letter to the Leeds Mercury, 1830)
Richard Oastler was known as the Factory King. His Christian
beliefs led him to campaign, as leader of the Ten Hour Movement, for reduced
hours and better conditions for children working in factories. He
suffered the loss of his job and imprisonment for debt, but was rewarded
by the passing of the 1847 Factories Act. It is not clear why he declared
a wish to be buried in St Stephen's Church, although local legend has it
that he passed by the church and seeing it was so beautiful wished to be
buried there. Possibly its proximity to the mills, whose workers he
had so passionately defended, might also have attracted him. He, along
with members of his family, was buried in what is now the Oastler Vault.