Page navigation

Illuminating Faith: Art and Culture form the Middle East

Personalities: Edward Cadbury (1873 - 1948)

Edward CadburyEdward Cadbury, the eldest son of George and Mary Cadbury was born in 1873. He spent his childhood and boyhood in the house which is now Woodbrooke. He was a member of the Society of Friends. He studied in London and Germany, and visited the Middle East. He joined the Cadbury firm in 1893. His professional interest was in economics, and he wrote several books on management and organisations, applying his principles, including workers' welfare and women's employment rights, to the Bournville workplace. This is described in 'Workers' welfare and the Chocolate Factory' in The Birmingham Magazine, no. 11.

From an early stage, he took a great deal of interest in academic activities in Birmingham. He was instrumental in setting up the Selly Oak Colleges, which now is mostly part of the University of Birmingham, and giving it all the necessary support to continue in its ecumenical, inter-faith and mission work. He was its first Chairman and Treasurer of Council for many years. His interest in the scholarly activities of James Rendel Harris and Alphonse Mingana led to his sponsorship of Mingana's three travels to several countries of the Middle East. Mingana collected Christian Arabic, Syriac and Islamic Arabic manuscripts which Edward Cadbury generously named after its Collector. Recently catalogued archives of Alphonse Mingana, supported by a donation from the Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust, include correspondence with Edward Cadbury over many years when Mingana continued to add manuscripts to the Collection from European antiquarian booksellers, forwarding the bills to Edward Cadbury for payment. The correspondence usually started with business matters invariably ending with personal communication about members of the family.

Edward Cadbury incorporated the Mingana Collection into the Rendel Harris Library and built a new library in1932 to house them both, naming it the Selly Oak Colleges Library. Mrs Dorothy Cadbury opening the Library pronounced:

"My husband and I have much pleasure in giving this building to the Selly Oak Colleges. It is our earnest hope for all who use this Library, a fuller knowledge may be acquired, and with it a deeper reverence."

Edward Cadbury's other legacies to the University included St. Francis Hall, his support in setting up the University's Theology Department, where he established the H.G. Wood Chair of Theology. The annual Edward Cadbury Lectures continue to this day, given by eminent scholars in the field of Theology. The 2005 Lectures will be given by Abdulaziz Sachedina, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia. In recognition of his contribution Edward Cadbury was granted an honorary doctorate of the University.

Edward's philanthropy continues beyond the grave in the establishment of the Edward Cadbury Charitable Trust which again came to the rescue when late 20th century educational demands deemed it necessary to provide better educational facilities for the new millennium. Thus the Orchard Learning Resources Centre came into being, to which the contents of the old Library, including the manuscripts were moved.

Tributes to him, on his death in 1948, were published in the Bournville Works Magazine, No. 12, vol. 46, December 1948, pp. 243-248, which aptly demonstrates the philosophy he espoused and which continues at Cadbury in Bournville.

Exhibition and Events

Exhibition at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
12 February - 02 October 2005

Displays included manuscripts from the University's Mingana Collection, textiles, ceramics and metalwork.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery
Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH

Events from December 2004 - August 2005

Events included calligraphy, music, drama, talks and workshops for all ages.

More information

For more information about this project please contact:
Meline Nielsen or Zelina Garland