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QUAKER PIONEERS IN FINNISH ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: JAMES FINLAYSON AND THE WHEELER FAMILY By Roberta G. Selleck* A LTHOUGH the work of Daniel Wheeler, Senior, for Russian¦£*- economic development in the early 1800's has been recorded in some detail, the activity of British Friends in Finland at the same period is less well known. This activity centered around the person of James Finlayson and, geographically, around the small, inland city of Tampere (Swedish: Tammerfors), where he set up his textile mills in 1820. Even after Finlayson retired in 1836, Quaker connections continued for another decade through investments in the firm by the Wheeler family. As a supplement to the record of Quaker work in Russia, the Finlayson enterprise may be of interest to modern Friends. Documentary sources are limited, but from the monographs of Finnish historians, and in particular from the archives of the Finlayson-Forssa Company at Tampere,1 much of the story can be reconstructed. Little is known of James Finlayson's early years. Biographical accounts agree that he was born in Glasgow in 1771, that he worked as a builder of flax and wool spinning machinery in England, and that he emigrated to Russia with his wife, Margaret * Roberta G. Selleck, Ph.D. (Radcliffe) , formerly a Teaching Fellow at Harvard, is now in Finland as a Fellow of the American Association of University Women. 1 Documents from these archives are cited as FF, followed by archival code number. I wish to express my appreciation to AB Finlayson OY for permission to use the materials, and to Bureau Chief Nils Snellman for his kind assistance. Research for this article has been made possible by a fellowship awarded by the American Association of University Women from the Helen Dwight Reid Educational Foundation for 1960-1961. 32 Quaker Pioneers in Finnish Economic Development 33 Wilkie, sometime around the turn of the century.2 In 1799 the Russian government had established the Alexandroff textile mills near St. Petersburg to promote domestic industry. Finlayson was employed in these mills, at the Kolppana machine shops. The pattern was not uncommon, for while the export of textile machinery from Great Britain was prohibited until 1843, foreign governments resorted, instead, to the recruitment of British mechanics. Their emigration was forbidden down to 1825, but Finlayson, like many others, seems to have ignored the statute. When and how James Finlayson came into contact with Friends is not clear. The contact was apparently established by 1818, when the Wheeler family arrived in Russia. Daniel Wheeler, Sr., settled first at Ochta village, near St. Petersburg, in order to direct the agricultural development of Crown lands. On First and Fifth Days a small meeting for worship was held regularly in his home. William Allen and Stephen Grellet arrived in St. Petersburg later in 1818, on their extensive continental tour, and William Allen records in his published journal for First Day, Eleventh Month 22nd, that "we dined with Daniel Wheeler, in company with a person named Finlayson, who, though not a member of our Society, attends our meetings." On the following First Day, when inclement weather prevented a trip to Ochta, he notes that "James Finlayson . . . came and sat with us in our little meeting."3 Finlayson's name does not appear in the minutes of the Ochta Meeting for Discipline, established under Balby Monthly Meeting, and no evidence for his formal membership has been found, but Daniel Wheeler describes him in 1820 as "thoroughly 2 See the entry of "Finlayson, James" in the following reference works: Finsk biografisk handbok (Helsingfors, 1903), by G. Granfelt; Kansallinen elämäkerrasto, II (Porvoo, 1929), by Väinö Voionmaa; lso tietosanakirja , III (Helsinki, 1932), by Emil S. Simóla; and Suomen elämäkerrasto (Helsinki, 1955), by Ilmari Heikinheimo. See also Lennart Gripenberg, "James Finlayson," Tampere, tutkimuksia ja kuvauksia, Tampereen Hist öriallisen Seuran julkaisuja, I (Tampere, 1929), 173-190. 3 William Allen, Life of William Allen (Philadelphia, 1847), I, 319, 321-322. Cf. Daniel Wheeler, Memoirs of the Life and Gospel Labours of the Late Daniel Wheeler, ed. Daniel Wheeler, Junior (London, 1842), pp. 74, 88. 34Quaker History convinced of our principles," and Finlayson's respect for Quaker testimonies, his use of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 32-42
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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