William Farrer Ecroyd

William Farrer Ecroyd (14 July 1827 – 9 November 1915) was an English politician.[1]

Ecroyd was born into a Quaker family and joined the family firm, his father being a Lancashire mill owner. He was widely known as an unselfish employer. Reading the works of theologians, Ecroyd abandoned Quakerism for Anglicanism after his father's death, and abandoned the traditional family Liberalism for Conservatism.[1]

He stood unsuccessfully at Carlisle in the 1874 general election. As a young man he had been a member of the Anti-Corn Law League and was widely read in political economy. However, in the late 1870s his firm began to greatly suffer from foreign imports. In 1879 he published a pamphlet, The Policy of Self-Help, arguing that if Britain imposed import duties on wheat and manufactured goods, this would give her the leverage to negotiate with other countries in order to secure reciprocal free trade. Free imports from the colonies would also strengthen the cause of imperial federation and prevent Britain's decline into a third-rate power.[1]

At the 1880 general election Ecroyd stood for North East Lancashire on this platform, denounced by his opponent Lord Hartington as "Ecroydism".[1]

Ecroyd won the Preston by-election, 1881 on a fair trade platform.[1]

He stood down at the 1885 election due to ill health, however Lord Salisbury appointed him to the Royal Commission on the Depression in Trade and Industry, an outlet for his fair trade views.[1]

With over fifty years service at his firm, Ecroyd retired in 1896. His retirement address (A Few Words to the Workers at Lomeshaye Mills) was on the duties of employers, with the factory viewed more as a venue for moral training than for accruing profits. In retirement he praised Joseph Chamberlain's agitation for Tariff Reform and possibly wrote several Tariff Reform pamphlets.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 A. C. Howe, ‘Ecroyd, William Farrer (1827–1915)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 16 Jan 2014.


Further reading

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Edward Hermon
Member of Parliament for Preston
With: John Holker until 1882
Henry Cecil Raikes in 1882
Sir William Tomlinson, Bt from 1882
Succeeded by
Robert William Hanbury
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