Rev Robert Hall

Who was Robert Hall?

Rev Robert Hall

Name: Robert Hall

Dates: 1764-1831

Born at Arnesby in Leicestershire in 1764, Robert Hall Jnr was a weak child who very nearly died at birth. The youngest of Robert Hall Snr’s 14 children, young Robert was taught to read by his nurse using the inscriptions on the stones in the graveyard.

A fine scholar he soon grew too clever for his local tutors and so after a period at the Rylands school in Northampton, Hall removed to the Bristol Baptist Academy. He later gained his A.M. from Aberdeen University before returning to become a tutor at Bristol Academy and co-pastor at the Broadmead Church.


In 1791, Robert Hall moved to the Pastorate of the Baptist congregation at Cambridge where, during his 16 years of leadership, his reputation as an eminent preacher grew, and hundreds crowded in to hear his oratory. In 1807 Hall accepted the call to lead the congregation which met at Harvey Lane Leicester, the predecessor of [the Robert Hall Memorial] Church, where again his reputation grew to be perhaps the finest preacher of his day. The building had to be extended as during his 18 years as minister, the congregation more than trebled in size.

Rev Robert Hall statue in De Montfort Square, Leicester

Robert Hall's ministry in Leicester ended on his return to Broadmead Church in Bristol and his call to be the Principal of the Academy, in 1826. He died there on February 21st 1831.

During his physically and mentally very painful life - he suffered extreme pain from a number of conditions - Robert Hall became known for his defence of the rights of the framework knitters of Leicester, and for his many writings on subjects such as liberty and freedom. He was a major contributor to the Baptist Missionary Society in the early years and he wrote on several trinitarian and evangelical issues, greatly contributing to the development of Baptist Principles at the time.

When the Frame-work knitters of Leicestershire were hit by a terrible recession in 1819, Robert Hall guided the formation of the Friendly Society to help them in their poverty. He defended their rights against an attack by William Cobbett in 1821 and he was involved in local demands for Parliamentary reform. One modern writer has suggested that Hall's activity in forming the Framework Knitters Friendly Society was indeed the earliest organised Trade Union in history.

After his death, Robert Hall was described in these terms: "Thus has terminated in the 67th year of his age, the brilliant mortal career of this extraordinary man, distinguished alike for his piety, his humility and his genius .... We can scarcely expect to see them (these gifts) again combined in that harmonious proportion, which gave such peculiar grace and lustre to the character of Hall” [The Baptist Magazine Vol 23 1831]

Robert Hall's grave is at the rear of what has become a Christian Conference Centre in the South Leicestershire village of Arnesby (next to the Cock Inn).

Rev Robert Hall - bust in RHMBC

Further biographical detail on Robert Hall:
Leicester Chronicler
New Walk (Leicester City Council)

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has an article (11982) and bibliography, which can be accessed through many public libraries.

Rev Robert Hall2
Second part of Rev Robert Hall History