His Own Man – A Victorian ‘Hidden’ Muslim: The Life and Times of Robert ‘Reschid’ Stanley


Robert Stanley was a respectable, northern working-class Victorian man who converted to Islam. But his family managed to keep his Muslim identity a secret – for nearly a century. Robert grew up in the cradle of Britain’s Industrial Revolution and was part of the Christian Israelite sect. Self-educated, this grocer and tea-trader made it his mission to help northern working men bribed by rich factory owners during elections. He rose to become one of Britain’s first working-class magistrates and mayors, witnessing first-hand some of the most violent riots, radicalism and progressive reforms of the Victorian era. Robert was committed to justice for all, even when his public challenges to an unfair British foreign policy caused troubles for him. In 1898 at the age of 69, he sold his pub and took the astonishing decision to convert to Islam, moving to Manchester and becoming close friend of famous convert – Abdullah Quilliam – Sheikh of Islam of the British Isles, who had set up the country’s first mosque, in Liverpool. After his death, his conversion was ‘hidden’ for nearly a century. But by a strange twist of fate, Robert’s own great x 3 grandson, had converted to Islam too – nine years before Robert’s life and decisions were discovered. Always ‘His Own Man’, Robert ‘Reschid’ Stanley’s life and times are brought into the light for the first time – thanks to the painstaking family history research of his own descendants and through the words of his great x 3 granddaughter, Christina Longden

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