|The Robert Owen Museum. Photo by "Indigo Goat" Some rights reserved|
The Last Years
"I will lay my bones whence I derived them".
By 1845, Robert Owen was an old man, although he remained active. He visited the United States and France and continued to write, publishing his autobiography in 1857. Somewhat surprisingly, he turned to spiritualism in his last years.
In 1858, although a very sick man, he insisted on attending the Social Science Congress in Liverpool, but he was unable to complete his speech. Shortly afterwards he travelled to Newtown accompanied by his faithful secretary, Rigby. Robert Owen stayed at the Bear Hotel, and because he was now very ill, his eldest son was summoned from London. Owen asked the Rector to call a meeting which he would address on the reform of the schools. He died peacefully the following morning. Despite protests he was given a Christian burial and laid to rest, according to his wishes, by his parents in St. Mary's old churchyard. The grave became a place of pilgrimage and in 1902 the Co-operative Union erected the handsome railing around the grave.
A bare chronicle of dates and brief biographical details do not do justice to this remarkable man,. His epitaph on the Owen Memorial in Kensal Green Cemetery London reads:
"He organised infants schools. He secured the reduction of the hours of labour for women and children in factories. He was a liberal supporter of the earliest efforts to obtain national education. He laboured to promote international arbitration. He was one of the foremost Britons who taught men to aspire to a higher social state by reconciling the interests of capital and labour. He spent his life and a large fortune in seeking to improve his fellowmen by giving them education, self-reliance, and moral worth. His life was sanctified by human affection and lofty effort".