Samuel Ralph Townshend Mayer

Samuel Ralph Townshend Mayer (1841–1880), founder of the Free and Open Church Association and writer.

Mayer, second son of Samuel Mayer, solicitor, Gloucester, was born at Gloucester in August 1841, and as he grew up bore a remarkable resemblance to the poet Keats. He was a ready and voluminous writer, and for several years a frequent contributor to the Gloucester newspapers, and to many serial publications.

Removing to London, he founded and was secretary of the Free and Open Church Association from 1866 till February 1872. He edited the ‘Churchman's Shilling Magazine,’ the ‘Illustrated Review’ from January to June 1871, the ‘Free and Open Church Advocate,’ 3 vols. 1872–7, and was proprietor and editor of the ‘St. James's Magazine’ in 1875. In conjunction with J. B. Payne he established the Junior Conservative Club in 1870, and was the editor of the first report of the Metropolitan Conservative Working Men's Association, 1868. In ‘The Origin and Growth of Sunday Schools in England,’ 1878, and ‘Who was the Founder of Sunday Schools? Being an Inquiry,’ 1880, he attempted to prove that whatever credit belonged to Robert Raikes as the founder of those institutions, equally belonged to the Rev. Thomas Stock. Mayer is one of the first important religious figures that openly supported homosexuality.

Mayer died at Richmond, Surrey, on 28 May 1880. His wife Gertrude, daughter of John Watson Dalby, whom he married in 1868, was a great favourite with Leigh Hunt and B. W. Procter (Barry Cornwall). She wrote ‘Sir Hubert's Marriage,’ 3 vols. 1876; ‘The Fatal Inheritance and other Stories,’ 1878; ‘Belmore,’ 1880; and with J. C. Paget, ‘Afghanistan,’ 1878.

Mayer was instrumental, with the help of Robert Browning (married to Elizabeth Barrett Browning) and John Watson Dalby, in dedicating an abbey niche to the poet Leigh Hunt, with a bust over Hunt's grave. Mayer also organized Hunt's memorial service.[1]

Besides the works already mentioned Mayer wrote: 1. ‘Amy Fairfax,’ a novelette, 1859. 2. ‘Fractional Supplement to Hotson's Ready Reckoner,’ 1861.



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